Public Has Another Chance to Weigh in on Ourisman Bethesda’s Trail Improvement Plans Tuesday

Honda dealership negotiating with county to keep garage expansion that extends into trail right-of-way


The Ourisman garage next to the Capital Crescent Trail in January

Andrew Metcalf

The public will have another opportunity to weigh in on Ourisman Honda’s plans to widen the Capital Crescent Trail and build a new plaza near Bethesda Row.

The dealership pitched the improvements, which are estimated to cost more than $1 million, as part of a deal with Montgomery County, so it can keep a large garage expansion it built on a portion of an access easement for the trail.

People may comment on the agreement at a public hearing hosted by the county’s Department of Transportation at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

The county’s Planning Board OK’d the proposed deal in July. As part of its review, the board asked Ourisman to beautify the garage and work to reduce noise from the dealership.

Ourisman has said it will build this plaza and widen the trail next to where the trail intersects with Bethesda Avenue.

After the public hearing, the transportation department will forward its recommendations about the deal to County Executive Ike Leggett, who likely will send it to the County Council for approval, according to Chris Conklin, the county’s deputy director for transportation policy.

Written comments about the proposal will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Sept. 18 and can be submitted to Conklin.

The county ordered Ourisman to stop building the garage expansion next to the popular hiking and biking trail in November after a resident filed a complaint about the structure last year. The county determined the garage’s support columns stood about 10 feet inside the county’s side of a joint-access easement shared by the dealership and the county.

At a public meeting in May, several residents expressed their frustration that the county seemed to be acquiescing to the proposed improvement deal, despite their belief that Ourisman shouldn’t have built the garage in part of the easement.

However, county officials have maintained that the improvements would be more beneficial to the community than taking Ourisman to court over the issue.

Ourisman has also proposed adding a mesh screen to make the garage more visually appealing. 

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