Bethesda Residents Protest Westbard Sector Plan (PHOTOS & VIDEOS)
UPDATED On a rainy and cold Saturday morning, dozens of Bethesda residents held umbrellas and protest signs as they marched along Westbard Avenue. It was the second day in a row that many of them took to the streets to protest the Westbard Sector Plan.
“Hey-hey, ho-ho! Density has got to go,” they chanted.
“We are not against the redevelopment. We want the redevelopment. We want it to be smart growth, and not at the expense of the area,” said Nancy Gray, who was one of the marchers on Saturday morning. Gray said she is worried about the impact of the plan’s density on local traffic and schools.
Westbard resident Barry Miller helped lead the protest on Saturday, and said he wants the Montgomery County Council to understand that there is a lot of local opposition to the Westbard Sector Plan.
“We don’t agree with what they are planning to do,” said Miller. “We want them to delay the vote and give vast more consideration to the consequences of the plan.”
Another popular chant from protestors: “Hey-hey, aye-aye: County Council hear us cry.”
Neal Davies said he has lived in the area for over 40 years.
“I think the Giant store and parking lot does need an update but not at the expense of urbanization,” Davies said. “We want to have a nice neighborhood community shopping center here. What the Council is proposing is a regional shopping center. Our traffic is bad enough as it is now.”
Davies said the whole neighborhood is against the plan.
The owner of the Westwood Shopping Center, Equity One, released a statement about the Westbard Sector Plan after a similar protest drew hundreds of people on Friday:
“Equity One has been actively working with the community throughout this process to ensure the plans for our properties fit with the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, we believe the Council’s decisions to date on the Westbard Sector Plan are reasonable, well thought out and respectful of the various interests of all who have participated.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Council and community as we pursue a long overdue remake of our properties that will provide modern amenities and numerous benefits to the Westbard community.”
The Westbard Sector Plan is a document that guides future development for the area. The County Council is expected to vote on the final plan later this month. Council Vice President Roger Berliner has worked to scale down the plan significantly.
“We are very grateful to Mr. Berliner for the scale back proposal,” said Gray. “But we feel that it is still too much.”
Protesters said they are planning to demonstrate next at the Council Office Building in Rockville. The date for that protest has not been determined. For more information about the Save Westbard organization, visit its website.
— Sonya Burke (@SonyaNBurke) April 9, 2016
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UPDATED On a rainy and cold Saturday morning, dozens of Bethesda residents held umbrellas and protest signs as they marched along Westbard Avenue. It was the second day in a row that many of them took to the streets to protest the Westbard Sector Plan. “Hey-hey, ho-ho! Density has got to go,” they chanted. “We […]