The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday approved the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, deciding to limit the permitting of phase two development until construction starts on the planned Purple Line that will run through it.
The idea is that any second phase residential and commercial development would open at the same time or close to when the Purple Line is actually operational.
“It comes closest to ensuring that we align construction in stage two with completion of the Purple Line and that was really our fundamental promise to the community, in so far as we were really only taking up this plan in expectation of this Purple Line,” said Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Chevy Chase).
Residents in the area are concerned development will create more traffic in an area already backlogged with it. The staging decision made on Tuesday is meant to ensure some transit infrastructure is operational before all of the development is completed.
Construction of the stretch of the Purple Line between Bethesda and Silver Spring is estimated to take four to five years. The MTA is shooting for a 2020 opening of the 16-mile light rail system.
The Council also decided, with consensus from nearby homeowners and the property owner, to limit the height of redeveloped Newdale Mews apartments to 50 feet in the front. The building is expected to slope down toward the back end of the property line, which comes up against a street of existing single family homes.
The Council also clarified which properties would be able to go ahead with redevelopment before Purple Line construction starts: the Chevy Chase Lake East Shopping Center, the Howard Hughes Medical Center and the Housing Opportunities Commission property.
Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park, who criticized the idea of redevelopment in Chevy Chase Lake early on, voted against the Sector Plan.
“I’ve never seen anything like what has unfolded in the Chevy Chase Lake Master Plan,” Elrich said. “I’ve never seen a Planning Board or Council so utterly or completely, with a few exceptions, disregard the wishes of the community.”
For more on the final Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, here’s the recap of decisions made in the Council’s July 9 worksession.