Westbard

Council Vice President Roger Berliner on Westbard Sector Plan (VIDEO)

Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner said his office is hearing from lots of constituents with concerns about the Westbard Sector Plan, and that pains him because of all the work that has gone in to scale back the current plan.

Find out more in this MyMCMedia Extra video, below:

Berliner said he knows the community very well. “I lived there. I drove my kids to school right there,” he said.

According to Berliner, it is not unusual for a lot of residents to disagree during a master plan process.

Save Westbard is a group of residents who say they want to maintain the character of the community by limiting redevelopment of the Westbard Shopping Center. They are planning a protest Friday and Saturday at the parking lot of the Giant Food Store. The group is asking the Council to delay an upcoming vote on the Westbard Sector Plan.

County Report This Week (VIDEO)

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The latest episode of County Report This Week includes reports on Noah’s Law signing, the Westbard Sector Plan, the Carver bus depot and more. You can watch the show, below:

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"21 This Week" Talks Elections, Westbard Plan and Metro (VIDEO)

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Casey Aiken¬†hosts the latest episode of “21 This Week.” ¬†Aiken and the panel discuss the Presidential election, the Westbard Sector Plan, the National Transportation Safety Board’s May 3rd report on the January 12, 2015 L’Enfant Plaza accident and the future of the proposed White Oak Silence Gateway Master Plan. This week’s panel of political observers […]

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Council Unanimously Approves Westbard Sector Plan (VIDEO)

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The Montgomery County Council approved new zoning for the Westbard community of Bethesda on May 3rd. The vote was unanimous, 9-0, for the Westbard Sector Plan. “It has been, to say the least, a bumpy ride,” said Council Vice President Roger Berliner, who worked to reduce the density in the plan and who also found […]

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Bethesda Residents Want County Councilmembers to Reduce Density in Westbard Sector Plan (VIDEO)

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Dozens of Bethesda residents protested outside the Council Office Building one week before the County Council scheduled a vote on the Westbard Sector Plan. The residents displayed signs that read, “Save Our Neigborhood,” and “Beautify not Densify,” as they took turns at the microphone sharing their thoughts on the current Westbard Sector Plan. They were […]

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Berliner on Westbard: "I Get That This is Not a Popular Stand" (VIDEO)

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Dozens of residents who say they are trying to “Save Westbard,” rallied in front of the County Council Office Building on April 26, one week before the County Council is scheduled to vote on the Westbard Sector Plan. Council Vice President Roger Berliner has worked to reduce the density in the plan for this Bethesda […]

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Councilmember Marc Elrich Addresses Save Westbard Group (VIDEO)

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In this MyMCMedia Extra video, below, Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich addresses the residents at the “Save Westbard” rally outside the Council Office Building on April 26th. Elrich said he shares the residents’ anxiety about the planning process. Take a look: The rally comes one week before the Montgomery County Council is slated to vote […]

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Save Westbard Group Plans Rally outside Council Office Building in Rockville

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Residents are organizing a Save Westbard rally to take place on Tuesday morning from 10 a.m. to noon outside the Council Office Building in Rockville. The rally comes one week before the Council is scheduled to formally vote on the Westbard Sector Plan. The last time the group organized at the Westwood Shopping Center, dozens […]

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Berliner Posts Open Letter on Westbard Sector Plan (VIDEO)

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Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner has posted an open letter about the Westbard Sector Plan on his Facebook page. “I believe this plan will enhance the Westbard area, not degrade it,” he writes on his Facebook page as as a preface. He also notes that the plan has been “reduced in half from […]

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Council President Nancy Floreen on the Westbard Sector Plan (VIDEO)

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At her weekly briefing, County Council President Nancy Floreen announced that the Council will take up the Westbard Sector Plan in early May. According to Floreen, it is unprecedented that the Council is leaving this much time between the straw vote and final vote for further conversations. Find out more in this MyMCMedia Extra video, […]

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Bethesda Residents Protest Westbard Sector Plan (PHOTOS & VIDEOS)

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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 […]

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Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at sburke@mymcmedia.org or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.

Comments

2 Responses to “Council Vice President Roger Berliner on Westbard Sector Plan (VIDEO)”

  1. On April 8, 2016 at 11:30 pm responded with... #

    Current zoning allows an increase of 580 residential units, equivalent to putting an entire new Springfield community (which has 650 residences) right on Westbard Avenue. Current zoning allows 50 foot tall buildings – 5 or 6 stories tall. The community is eager to see this development and modernization of the shopping center. Folks were biting their lips about increased traffic and the influx of new students to public schools, just trying to accept it.

    Then the Westbard Sector Plan was ginned up with MoCo planners working closely with developers, per recently released FOIed emails. The Plan would add 2,480 new residential units in towers up to 110 feet tall. Council member Berliner is proud that he has recommended that the unjustifiable, unaffordable, impractical, urbanization baldly recommended in the developer-driven Plan is reduced to increase by 1,382 new residential units on Westbard with heights still up to 110 feet. That’s still double the size of Springfield, and all on Westbard Avenue. Council members are clear that there is not money to handle the increase in students in the already overcrowded Whitman and B-CC clusters. Even if there were money, there is no way to handle the increased traffic. Tho and the video leave residents wondering why anyone would consider the change an improvement. This video suggests that Council member Berliner has forgotten and/or forsaken the suburban community he once lived in, and is deeply out of touch with the community and what is good for Montgomery County. He still has time to vote against increasing density and building heights. He apparently just needs to hear from more of his constituents, so call, e or write.

  2. On April 9, 2016 at 2:05 pm responded with... #

    I appreciate Councilmember Berliner’s hard work in effecting a compromise on the Westbard sector plan. Councilmember Berliner’s recommendations are certainly a significant step in the right direction, and I could live with the results. I consider Councilmember Berliner’s alternative an upper limit to an acceptable sector plan.

    That said, I would be even happier with implementation of the SaveWestbard plan, especially the restriction of building heights to 50 feet. The Council has never seriously considered this alternative, even though it delivers 580 residential units, including 72-87 units of affordable housing (depending on the final percentage of affordable units.). Why not? This is a plan that the community could support, which would also renovate the outdated Westbard shopping center, a goal supported by the community.

    The fundamental problems with the Westbard sector planning process are the following:

    1. The Planning Department, the Planning Board and many members of the County Council (Councilmembers Berliner and Elrich are exceptions) have frequently treated community residents as interlopers whose views are unworthy of consideration. Sure, lip service has been paid to valuing the input of residents, but the actual sector plan in no way reflects residents’ concerns. The Planning Board’s upsizing of the Planning Department’s already outsized recommendations was especially egregious.

    2. The Planning Department, the Planning Board and the Council have not been honest brokers. Instead, they have been highly responsive to the developer, without according residents the same respect. A few examples:
    -In public meetings, planners deferentially and repeatedly referred to Equity One, the primary developer at Westbard, as “the landowner.” That Westbard area homeowners are also landowners– and collectively own more land in the area than Equity One– went unmentioned. (An irate resident eventually pointed this out at a public meeting.)
    -After the public hearings had been concluded, the developer was able to testify at County Council work sessions to comment on proposed sector plan modifications. Residents were not.
    -As the Council debated a possible reduction in size to a proposed residential project at Westbard , Council President Nancy Floreen inquired: “Is the developer OK with that?” No such questions arose with regard to residents. (Instead, community members were lectured by Councilmember George Leventhal that behavior was “incivil” and that they were “lucky” to live where they did.)
    -Even the Berliner compromise plan (and I commend it and can live with it if necessary) was geared to preserve most of the height and density proposed by developers.

    3. The Westbard sector planning process has not been transparent.
    -No analysis has been released of comments received about the sector plan, including comments about height and density.
    -The County has been reluctant to release information on public reaction to the plan. StopWestbard requested a copy of all comments received on the sector plan and was initially (and contrary to law) told that a $1,000 fee would be required. The County has since provided the documentation at no charge.
    -Analyses of the plan’s effects on public school population and the County’s fiscal condition have been flawed and warrant additional scrutiny and assessment.

    Against this backdrop, it is no wonder that Westbard area residents are unhappy and upset with County officials. I agree that a final vote on the sector plan should be delayed, that more analysis should be conducted, and that additional redevelopment alternatives should be considered.




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