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Advisory Group Concerned About Aging Master Plan

By Aaron Kraut

Monday - 10/15/2012, 1:35pm  ET

Some resident members of a local advisory group are concerned about the balance of jobs, housing and public amenities in Bethesda as a new wave of development begins.

In a draft letter introduced on Friday, members of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group asked for County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) and other Council members to look at moving up a revision of the 1994 Bethesda Central Business District (CBD) Master Plan, the document that dictates zoning guidelines and planning priorities for the area.

“Now is the time to recalibrate 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 draft letter read. “Residents of the CBD are particularly concerned that the level of new development allowed under the current sector plan may begin to tax the public services in the area.”

Not all the members of the Action Group, a group of residents, developers, business representatives, Bethesda Urban Partnership officials and other stakeholders created in 2006, shared that view.

The concerns have long been a point of emphasis of group member Jon Weintraub, chair of the Downtown Bethesda Condominium Association.

More than a dozen apartment, mixed use retail or office projects are planned or under construction in the CBD area.

Many of the projects require amendments to the 1994 Master Plan, which limited building heights and densities. Weintraub, who has previously said he is not against development, is concerned those case-by-case amendments don’t examine the cumulative effects development could have on roads, schools or Metro use.

The group will likely edit the letter before sending it to County Council representatives.

At its last semi-annual review of the Planning Department Master Plan schedule, the council was advised of a number of plans ahead of Bethesda in the work plan.

Planning staff is scheduled to begin work on the plan in spring of 2014, a process that could take up to three years.

Flickr photo by IamJomo