Testimony of the Chevy Chase Land Company on the Planning Board Draft of the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan
On Tuesday night, the Land Company presented its testimony to the County Council on the Planning Board Draft of the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan. Thirty-seven people testified at the public hearing, including Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier, who described the Board’s overall recommendations.
We are very grateful for the supportive testimony we heard from diverse groups like the Montgomery County and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chambers of Commerce, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, the Action Committee for Transit, and a number of individuals. In their testimonies, supporters cited the need for transit-oriented development, pedestrian and bicycle improvements, more housing for seniors and young people, and additional amenities like parks, restaurants and shopping.
We’d also like to thank all the residents who took the time to express their views and concerns about the Plan. We appreciate the frank and open discussion of these issues, even on those points where we disagree, and hope that as the plan progresses we can continue to engage in a thoughtful and constructive dialogue with our neighbors in this community.
Below is the complete text of our testimony, as given by David Smith, President and CEO of the Chevy Chase Land Company.
Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan Testimony on Planning Board Draft Plan before the Montgomery County Council March 5, 2013
Testimony of David Smith, President and CEO Chevy Chase Land Company
Good evening President Navarro and members of the Council. My name is David Smith and I serve as President and CEO of the Chevy Chase Land Company. Joining me is Miti Figueredo, who is leading the Sector Plan efforts on behalf of the Company. It is a pleasure to be here tonight to present the Land Company’s vision for Chevy Chase Lake.
All of you have visited Chevy Chase Lake and are familiar with the area, which includes a 62-year-old strip shopping center that is ready for redevelopment and located inside the beltway. While we have a preliminary approval to proceed with a suburban style retail/office strip center, this would be inconsistent with the “smart growth” vision that this Council has articulated in recent master plans and with the input we’ve heard from residents.
As we worked with the community on this project over the last two years, we heard that additional retail, restaurants and parks are wanted and needed. Residents would like a pedestrian-friendly destination where they can shop, dine, and see their friends and neighbors.
We would like to create this kind of destination within walking and biking distance of the neighborhoods in Chevy Chase Lake, and near existing job centers like NIH, Howard Hughes, and Navy Med. Because the proposed mix of uses is primarily residential, this project will have fewer traffic impacts than our approved preliminary plan for a strip center.
We have only one real area of disagreement with the community on Phase 1 of the plan, and that is regarding the height of the building on Connecticut Avenue just north of the Purple Line, for which the Planning Board recommended a 150’ limit. Compressing the building down threatens the open space and also makes it more difficult to design a beautiful, well-articulated building that steps back from Connecticut Avenue. It also makes the project less financially feasible—for every ten feet of height we lose a floor, which equates to at least 25 units. In order to make this project work, we anticipate needing 4 levels of underground parking. This is extremely expensive. Obviously, while it is much less costly to build the approved strip center, this is not what we should be building at this location. We are currently working with Planning Staff on the Design Guidelines so that we can ensure the best possible design for this building and the entire project. I respectfully ask that the Council retain the height that was approved by the Planning Board for this particular building. I would also ask that you support the Board’s recommendation for a completed road connection between Manor Road and Chevy Chase Lake Drive that passes underneath the elevated Purple Line.
We strongly support the Planning Board Draft Plan allowing the entire shopping center to be redeveloped in Phase 1 so that a mixed-use town center can be built sooner rather than later. We also hope and expect that the Purple Line will be funded and that we will able to proceed with Phase 2 so that we can create a node of transit-oriented development at this prime location inside the beltway and between two major urban centers. There is a strong demand for this kind of development, which will attract young professionals and seniors, among others, who want to live in a walkable, vibrant, transit-oriented community close to DC and other job centers.
The Chevy Chase Land Company has a long history in the community and cares about what happens here. We build, own and manage high-quality projects. Miti and I plan to continue our commitment to working with the community as this project moves forward. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to build something that will be a valued asset to the surrounding neighborhoods, to our future residents, and to the County as a whole for many years to come.
Thank you for your consideration.
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