In the many meetings we have had with community groups and other stakeholders, some common questions arise. If you have questions that aren’t answered here, please email me at email@example.com, and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Who owns the property in the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan?
The three primary property owners in the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan are The Chevy Chase Land Company, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County. The Land Company owns the property immediately surrounding the proposed Purple Line station.
Why did the Planning Board take up the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan?
Areas like Chevy Chase Lake are periodically reviewed by the Montgomery County Planning Board, an independent regulatory body that is part of the Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission (MNCPPC). The Planning Board reviews existing plans to ensure the land is being used in a manner that promotes current county objectives regarding housing, transit and economic development. Currently, the Planning Board is evaluating all of the Purple Line station area sector and master plans.
Who makes decisions regarding the sector plan?
Montgomery County is divided into master planning areas. Each planning area is reviewed once every 20 years or so by the Planning Board, which has responsibility for drafting master plans, reviewing and approving development applications, and other duties related to land use. Planning staff hold open meetings to obtain community input before submitting a staff draft to the Planning Board, which then holds a formal public hearing before making any changes to or ruling on the plan. Once the Planning Board approves a draft plan, it is transmitted to the County Executive for comment, and then to the County Council for final review and approval. The Council holds another public hearing and then the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) committee holds worksessions before submitting its recommendations to the full Council for final approval. To proceed with redevelopment under the newly approved master plan, property owners must submit sketch and site plans to the Planning Board. This development process includes additional opportunities for formal public input.
Will redevelopment occur without the Purple Line?
In 2005, the Planning Board approved a development proposal for the Chevy Chase Lake East Shopping Center, which would allow for the center to redevelop as a retail/office strip center. However, in the draft Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, the Planning Board has instead recommended that the Lake East Shopping Center redevelop in advance of the Purple Line as a mixed-use residential community with neighborhood-serving retail, underground parking, and a central park area.
Under the Planning Board’s draft sector plan, the remainder of the Land Company’s properties at the Chevy Chase Lake West Shopping Center and 8401 Connecticut Avenue would not be eligible for redevelopment until the Purple Line segment between Silver Spring and Bethesda is fully funded.
Is it true that if the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan is not approved, the Purple Line won’t be built?
This is not true. In 2009, the County Council voted unanimously to recommend that the Governor endorse the Purple Line as light rail on the Georgetown Branch right of way. Subsequently, Governor O’Malley filed a ”New Starts” application with the Federal Transit Administration, requesting federal funding for the Purple Line. Ridership projections for the Purple Line were based on current land use recommendations at the time the application was made. These projections did not include additional ridership numbers from the transit-oriented development proposed at Chevy Chase Lake, since the sector plan has not yet been approved.
Currently, the Maryland Transit Administration is completing preliminary engineering on the Purple Line, and construction is expected to begin as early as 2016. For more information on the Purple Line, including schedule updates, visit the Maryland Transit Administration’s Purple Line website.
The Land Company supports the construction of the Purple Line on the Georgetown Branch right of way, because of its economic and environmental benefits. The County and the State have recognized these benefits and made the Purple Line a priority.
How tall will the buildings be? How much density will there be?
The Planning Board draft recommends maximum building heights of 70 feet in the “town center” area along Connecticut Avenue, except for the two buildings just north and south of the future Purple Line station on the east side of Connecticut Avenue. The maximum height for these two buildings is 150 feet, or 13 stories.
To put these height recommendations in context, the existing building at 8401 Connecticut Avenue just south of the Purple Line station is already 150 feet tall, and another nearby building is 170 feet tall. The Planning Board’s recommendations would allow one additional 150 foot building in the sector plan area, which would not abut any residential neighborhoods.
If the Purple Line is funded and the properties in the sector plan redevelop to the maximum allowable density, there would be an additional 1,300 residential units and about 500,000 square feet of office and retail space in the Chevy Chase Lake sector plan area.
What is the schedule for approval of a sector plan?
The Planning Board transmitted the draft sector plan to the Montgomery County Council in January, and the Council held a public hearing on March 5. The PHED Committee held its first worksession on March 18. Furthur worksessions will be held in mid-June, but have not yet been scheduled.
How long is the plan’s time line? When will the first redevelopment occur?
Like all master plans, the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan sets forth a vision for the area’s redevelopment over the next 20-30 years. We anticipate proceeding with the redevelopment of the Chevy Chase Lake East Shopping Center in the next few years, but of course this is difficult to predict with certainty because it depends on market conditions. Further post-Purple Line development will likely take much longer.
What happened to the plan that the Chevy Chase Land Company presented in April 2011?
In response to feedback from the community, the Land Company reevaluated its original plans and made major changes. The plan presented at the 4H Center in April of 2011 is no longer under consideration.
What will the redevelopment do to traffic?
At the direction of the Planning Board, the Land Company conducted a transportation analysis which showed that the redevelopment of the Lake East Shopping Center as a mixed-use residential community would generate less traffic than would our approved preliminary plan for a retail/office strip center. For this reason, the Planning Board unanimously recommended that the preliminary plan be converted into an approval for a mixed-use development instead.
Post-Purple Line development can also be accommodated with certain infrastructure improvements that will improve traffic flow, including the planned and funded intersection improvements at Jones Bridge Road and Connecticut Avenue.
Most of the existing congestion on Connecticut Avenue results from through traffic rather than internal trips. As Council Staff pointed out in the March 18 PHED committee memo, the proposed new development will actually contribute very little additional traffic to the area.
It is also important to note that before any post-Purple Line development receives final approval for construction, it must satisfy additional traffic tests under the County’s Subdivision Staging Policy.
What will happen to the trail?
The trail will be built alongside the Purple Line, and will be a minimum of 12 feet wide. In certain areas where sufficient right of way is available, the trail will be 16 feet wide with an additional buffer between the rail and trail. Both the trail and the light rail will be elevated over Connecticut Avenue.
What businesses are coming to Chevy Chase Lake? Any new restaurants?
It’s too early to say what specific retailers or restaurants are coming, but a redeveloped Chevy Chase Lake will certainly include new neighborhood shops and dining options in a walkable, pedestrian-friendly environment.
What new amenities will come with the plan?
We’re still in the process of figuring out what the community would like to see! On the front page of this site on the right side you’ll see link to provide feedback. Please take a moment and send us your thoughts.