SSP Public Hearing Testimony

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I will deliver the following testimony at the Montgomery County Council’s public hearing regarding the Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP).

The SSP is an important document:

Its purpose is to evaluate individual proposals for development, determining if our transportation network and schools have sufficient capacity to accommodate the additional demand (page 3).

When, Where, and What to Wear

Why wear red? Because Metro Station Policy Areas are coded red in the Subdivision Staging Policy. Demonstrate that we are much more than CBDs (Central Business Districts). We are a powerful population!

Mary


Public Hearing on the Montgomery County Subdivision Staging Policy
September 13, 2016

Testimony from Mary Flynn, Coalition of Bethesda Area Residents (CBAR)
Email: mary@cbar.info | Mobile: (650) 450-9025


Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Mary Flynn. I have the honor of serving as a Town of Chevy Chase council member, but I am not representing the Town tonight. I am testifying as the founder of the Coalition of Bethesda Area Residents, or CBAR. CBAR is a grassroots coalition of residents who live in or adjacent to the Bethesda Downtown Plan area.

I start by supporting the testimonies of our public school advocates from the Montgomery County Council of PTAs, and request that you adopt their recommendations.

Next I urge you to reject the SSP Transportation recommendation that Metro Station Policy Areas such as downtown Bethesda be exempt1 from the Local Area Transportation Review (LATR).

This is relevant to my community of 22,0002 current and 17,0003 future residents because the draft Bethesda Downtown Plan recommends that 48 properties4 be upzoned to 200 feet or higher. Six of those properties, plus the Apex Building, are proposed for 290 feet.

The LATR in its current, imperfect, form looks at the impact of individual developments on public facilities. Consider the Apex Building at 7272 Wisconsin. Metro and Purple Line trains, sidewalks, and future bike lanes will be bustling with an influx of new residents, workers, and visitors as a desirable consequence of that single building.

But do not ignore the 800 parking spaces5 that are planned for that development. Add to that the delivery and service trucks needed to keep that building alive, and you have a sizable uptick in vehicle traffic.

Acknowledge that the increase in vehicle trips generated by 6 more 290-foot buildings, plus all the remaining upzoned properties, will further congest our roads and impede access for emergency vehicles.

Astonishingly, the SSP Transportation Recommendations relieves developers from LATR requirements. The SSP Planning Board Draft specifically exempts new developments in areas like downtown Bethesda from:

  • any mobility impact studies
  • travel delay and intersection testing
  • any type of mitigation, such as contributing funding for transit, bike lane, or sidewalk improvement projects

Large buildings, such as those typically built only in Metro Station Policy Areas, can have highly positive or highly negative effects. I argue that because of their large impact, large buildings require more scrutiny, not less.

We look to you individually and as a governing body for your leadership. Please demonstrate your commitment to the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance by directing staff to fix the LATR, and to reject the proposal to exempt developments in Metro Station Policy Areas from it.

Thank you for considering my comments. [end]

Table 1: Projected Population Increase in Downtown Bethesda

Housing Type6 Existing6 Proposed6 Increase (calculated) Multiplier7 Projected Population (calculated)
Multi-unit rental units 4669 8456 3787 1.9 7,195
Market-Rate Rental Affordable Housing Units 1992 7187 5195 1.9 9,870
Rent Restricted 826 Minimum 826, Maximum 1269 443 1.9 842
Total (calculated): 17,907

Table 2: Bethesda Downtown Plan – Properties 200’+ by District

District

Work-
session

200′ 225′ 250′ 290′

District Totals

Bethesda Row &

Woodmont Triangle

# 2

0 17 1 0

18

Pearl St.

# 3

0 0 0 0

0

Wisconsin Corridor

# 4

1 1 21 3

26

Eastern Greenway

# 5

0 0 0 0

0

Arlington &

Battery Lane

# 6

0 0 0 0

0

South Bethesda

# 7

0 0 0 0

0

Holdovers

# 11

0 1 0 3

4

1 19 22 6

48

Endnotes:

  1. Subdivision Staging Policy | July 2016 Planning Board Draft, Table 1: Transit Accessibility Mitigation Requirements by Policy Area, page 23.
  2. The population that lives within a 1-mile radius of the Apex Building at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue. Retrieved from Circular Area Profiling System (CAPS) on September 10, 2016 using 2010 Census data.
  3. See Table 1: Projected Population Increase in Downtown Bethesda at the end of this testimony
  4. See Table 2: Bethesda Downtown Plan – Properties 200’+ by District at the end of this testimony
  5. Bethesda’s Apex Building Must Be Demolished by Spring 2017, Bethesda Beat, June 23, 2016.
  6. Bethesda Downtown Plan | Planning Board Draft | July 2016, Table 1.01: Sustainability Performance Area Metrics for Bethesda, page 11.
  7. Emailed Leslye Howerton, Area One Planning Coordinator, Montgomery County Planning Department on September 10 to obtain the official multiplier. Using 1.9 as a reasonable estimate for now.

Additional Resources:

Mary Flynn is a resident of the Town of Chevy Chase and the founder of CBAR.

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