Planning Chair Casey Anderson on the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan: ‘We are at the End of the Road’ (VIDEO)

Casey Anderson, chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board, answered some questions (see video above) about the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan, shortly before a work session on the plan with the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday morning.

The sector plan is a blueprint for development in Bethesda over the next 20 years or so.

“We are just about at the finish line for the new Bethesda plan,” said Anderson. “It includes not only what the new rules will be about real estate development but also an outline of how we can acquire new parks, get more affordable housing, improve energy efficiency, and also encourage people to take transit, walk, ride their bikes and find other ways to get around other than driving themselves to work in their cars every morning.”

According to Anderson, work on the plan has been going on for years at the planning department.

“I think we set a record of the number of work sessions at the Planning Board,” said Anderson. “The County Council has moved through it relatively quickly. I like to think that is because we spent so much time working out the issues when we had it at the Planning Board.”

Anderson said planners are at the end of the road on the broad outline of the plan, but he said residents will still have plenty of opportunity to weigh in as development proposals come forward.

“That will start with the Marriott project that is coming up in just a few months and will go from there over the next several years,” Anderson said.

The Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan also has stronger affordable housing requirements than any master plan in the history of the county, according to Anderson.

“Developers will be required to provide at least 15-percent regulated affordable units,” said Anderson. ┬áHe said the plan also includes steps to preserve existing affordable units that are not currently regulated. “I think we have done a great deal in this plan to address those concerns,” he added.

According to Anderson, there is more demand to live in the downtown Bethesda area by both young professionals and empty nesters who want to live right in the middle of the city where they can have convenient access to restaurants and other amenities. He said the plan addresses that demand.

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.

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