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Controversial Apartment May Have To Wait For Redevelopment

By Aaron Kraut

Monday - 6/24/2013, 4:10pm  ET

Newdale Mews apartments from the back of a home on Lynwood Place (file photo)A County Council Committee on Monday unanimously recommended no pre-Purple Line height change for the Newdale Mews apartments in Chevy Chase.

The Planning Committee, by a 2-1 vote, also recommended a 45-foot limit after the Purple Line is a sure thing for the apartments, which neighbors worried would be too tall and invasive under the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan as recommended to the Council by the Planning Board.

The apartments today are 35 feet and back up to the backyards of a row of houses on Lynwood Place, where residents aggressively came out against the Planning Board’s suggestion to allow for new 45-foot apartments before the Purple Line and 55-foot buildings after.

The apartment owner, Rob Bindeman, said the apartments are old and have structural problems that mean they need to be rebuilt.

“I stood in the living room of some of those residents and looked out the window and I can tell you that this drawing has no basis in reality,” Councilmember March Elrich (D-At large) said on Monday, describing a Planning Department diagram showing the apartments compared to the homes. “For us to sit up here and say, ‘We think this view is OK,’ we don’t live there. It’s somebody else’s neighborhood.”

Though Elrich said he’d prefer the zoning remain at 35 feet, he agreed with Committee Chair Nancy Floreen on the 45-foot compromise, the same recommendation Planning Department staff made to the Planning Board before the Board decided on more height.

Councilmember George Leventhal (D-At large) agreed with a 50-foot post-Purple Line compromise proposed by Bindeman and supported by County Council staff. The buildings would also need to be set back from the houses at least 35 feet.

The Committee agreed not to set a maximum setback number in the Master Plan to instead allow the Planning Board room to determine that when and if new apartments come up for redevelopment.