Live blogging from April 13, 2009 meeting of the Montgomery County Planning Board. Topic for the evening is reactions by community organizations to proposals for development projects in the new White Flint. Meeting is live streamed at www.montgomeryplanningboard.org.
Dan Hoffman from Randolph Hills Civic Association. We are unique on its impact on the Sector. We represent the largest collection of workforce housing. Over 5,000 residents. Police officers, teachers and civil servants. Most of our residents are within walking distance of the core. White Flint is our principal commercial destination. Aging neighborhood, built in the 60’s. We need fewer abandoned homes. We just got rid of a large encampment of homeless. We just got a community center, but lost our rec center. More renters and turnover. We’re relatively affordable. We’re much more diverse. Many of the original owners have retired or moved on, so we have a lot of families. With young kids. Natural boundary in the railroad tracks, so we only have a few ways to get across. Cmsnr Cryor: foreclosures. Were they recently purchased or long-term owners whose lives changed? Hoffman: if original owners already owned it, so most are people who bought the homes.
Hoffman: Civic association formed in early 60s. Alfandre: how does it work? If younger families; we’re planning for them. How did you get involved? Hoffman: I volunteered. Our neighborhood is at a hinge point; we could go one way or another. We have an excellent location for a school. Already a demonstrated need. Robinson: offers the potential for a real solution.
Hoffman: MARC stop. We prefer the southern location. Practical, environmentally sound and realistic. Offers the possibility of an additional walking access over the tracks. One of our concerns is losing the Garrett Park stop. There’s no handicap access at existing station; we have to walk through Garrett Park to get there. This would be much more feasible for our residents.
RCA supports Sector Plan because of improved roads and connections to community. Need more emphasis on water and stream quality because of our proximity to Rock Creek Park. We want works, not what we currently have. Neighbor to White Flint in the next ten years; the Plan will have a significant impact, positive or negative, in the next ten years. A thriving Randolph Hills can contribute to a thriving White Flint.
Alfandre: catalyst. We’ve been looking at these dazzling commercial projects that ultimately going to not just become separate entities, but going to fail if don’t help to create this catalyst. Includes your neighborhood. This will generate authentic identity in this Sector Plan. Enhances value. Quality of life improves for you as well.
Cryor: residents have employment in present White Flint? Hoffman: absolutely. NRC major source of employment as are retail establishments. Secondary jobs at one of the businesses within the sector. We have significant number of homes where at least one person travels downtown for work, so we need transit. Cryor: favor school. Area for children to go out and play.
John Fry (Board member of Friends of White Flint), President of Fallstone Homeowners Association. We support the plan. No one opposed.
Mary Ward, Crest of Wickford Condominium Association. We support what Glen Adler said earlier. We want lower density. The developers are asking for greater density than what was approved in Bethesda, even though that was a viable development. Make sure Smart Core works. We need traffic data for more than rush hour, but also during weekends. “Complete the Street.” Improve the streets, with bike lanes, parking, trees, make streets available of all. Hanson: would proposed reconstruction of Rockville Pike make things better? Ward: adding some, but not whole sector. Air quality on Pike. More of a concern is access to the Sector; more roads are on private property. Hanson: we’ll have more influence on those than working with public agencies that build roads. Hanson: we’re expecting Gen’l Assembly gives Cmsn a seat on the board for state highways and bike ways. Gives us a voice in process. We’ll use that to encourage more bike systems on state highways. Woodglen extension of Trolley Trail will be put on sidewalk, but you need additional capacity for bike commuters. Rockville is doing the “complete streets” as presented on April 1, 2009. Plan calls for 100 ft building right next to our community. We object to that height on both sides of the Pike. Unlike other community organizations you heard from before, we don’t have a green buffer between our homes and the redevelopable areas. In addition, there’s a traffic bottleneck at Strathmore and the Pike. Storm water management needs to be improved. Hanson: we can do some things. But getting streams back to good results is extremely difficult. Trolley Trail is a joke; it disappears, goes on streets, isn’t well maintained, but it could be wonderful. But it’s not wonderful now.
Presley: do you have an option to take a bus? Ward: yes. Across the Pike. Presley: not very accessible. Ward: I do bike to work when the weather is nicer.
Alfandre: an inadvertant obsession with the core may preclude completing the streets. Density in one area may mean that completing the streets is blocked. We are completing the streets; that’s our primary change. What you showed? That is density. We’re undertaking a historic thing here. Coinciding with the future economic growth of our country. Architecture turned into commodities. Consumer economy. That economy is now ending. Will still drive things, but what we’re seeing is that we’re moving into the experience economy. New engine. Will capture new creativity, new cohort of people which we can cluster into places like White Flint. A sustainable engine of growth in good times and bad. Rockville Town Center is the last of the commodities we’ll see. New enhancement of the area. Enhance the quality of the sector, enhances the value of the Sector. Core not just about density. If we can do this Plan correctly, it will be effective for this next era.
Presley: heights currently shown. Piera Weiss: anywhere from 36-100′, but we want to be sure that height next to existing is lower. Presley: be sure it steps down. Weiss: no direct correlation between FAR and building height. It’s the kind of building and how you want to build it that determines it.