Advisory Group Urges Action on Bethesda Master Plan
A group of residents, developers and business representatives are urging the Montgomery County Planning Board and Montgomery County Council to expedite a revision of Bethesda's aging master plan as residential development ramps up. The Woodmont Triangle Action Group today approved a letter to Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier and members of the County Council that asks the bodies to move up the Bethesda Central Business District (CBD) Sector Plan Update in the work schedule. The 1994 Sector Plan, which the Planning Department still uses to judge proposed projects, is outdated and fails to account for "the balance of jobs, housing and public amenities that will allow the Bethesda area to continue to function as the economic engine for Montgomery County," the letter states. The Council is scheduled to make changes to the Planning Board work program at its first session of the year on Tuesday, but discussion of the Bethesda Sector Plan is not expected. The Planning Board is occupied with a number of Purple Line-focused Sector Plans, including Chevy Chase Lake, and last year the Council moved up the Clarksburg Sector Plan to deal with pollution from development near a creek. But WTAG members say while Bethesda is not unique, a revised plan for the CBD could serve as a model for others such as Silver Spring and Wheaton. Members want the Board to look at the "cumulative impact" of development in Bethesda, or how the wealth of new apartment projects affect the need for civic space and parks and how an influx of new residents might weigh on already clogged traffic and overcrowded schools. "Because the Sector Plan has not been updated in almost two decades, Park and Planning staff must be struggling to review development plans in light of current and future conditions and needs," the letter states.