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Harris Teeter Developer Says Planners Misinterpreted Traffic Study

By Aaron Kraut

Wednesday - 4/24/2013, 1:35pm  ET

8300 Wisconsin rendering, via StonebridgeCarrasThe developer of the 8300 Wisconsin apartment and Harris Teeter grocery store project says Montgomery County Planning staff “over-counted” the amount of new car trips that will be generated from the building.

Attorneys representing Bethesda-based developer StonebridgeCarras will head back to the Planning Board next week to try for an amendment to the Preliminary and Site Plans that the Board approved last May. The amendment would allow building to start on the site, near the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Battery Lane, without satisfying what were previously binding traffic mitigation requirements.

In a January letter to the Planning Board from attorneys Bob Dalrymple and Heather Dlhopolsky, the developer argued Planning Department staff did not factor in vehicle trips already on the road, called “pass-by trips”, for a proposed grocery store.

The letter says that led to a trip number that required a binding traffic mitigation condition in the original Site Plan. The letter also says StonebridgeCarras brought this up to Planning staff before the hearing and in front of the Board last May:

Despite the materials provided by the Applicant to Staff in advance of the Planning Board hearing and the Applicant’s attempt to discuss the Project’s PAMR requirements at the hearing, the Planning Board would not permit discussion on these items at the hearing itself. As a result, the issue of interpretation of treatment of pass-by trips in applying the CBS Special Trip Rates was never really decided by the Planning Board.

Now, Planning staff is recommending the Board agree with the developer’s argument. The April 2012 traffic study projected 115 new vehicle trips to and from the apartments and grocery store in the weekday morning peak-hour period and 389 new vehicle trips in the evening peak-hour.

Crews have been busy with preliminary utility and environmental work at and around the site. The projected completion of the site was Spring 2015 with groundbreaking this month. The 359-unit, 430,000-square-foot apartment building will include 50,000 square feet of ground floor space for the Harris Teeter, which in February announced it signed a 20-year lease.

The traffic discussion is scheduled for the afternoon session of the Planning Board’s regular hearing on May 2.

Rendering via StonebridgeCarras