Westbard Sector Plan on PHED Committee’s Agenda

westbardThe Montgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee is scheduled to continue its review of the Westbard Sector Plan at 2 p.m. today. The plan would bring significant changes to the section of southern Bethesda near Friendship Heights.

The PHED Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Floreen and George Leventhal and Hans Riemer, meets in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. The meeting is going to be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and can viewed live via streaming at: http://tinyurl.com/z9982v8.

The Westbard Sector Plan covers an area of approximately 181 acres and was last updated in 1982, making it the oldest master plan in the county. Little has changed in the area over the past 30 years. The sector plan allows for the redevelopment of the older retail centers and provides new parks in an area that does not have a single County park. According to a Council news release, the restoration of the Willett Branch stream would both improve water quality and provide a significant amenity for the residents of Westbard and the surrounding communities.

At Monday’s worksession, the committee is expected to hear updated reports on the potential impact additional housing and commercial upgrades could have on area traffic. The committee also may look at the financial impact to the County that development might have.

The Council has received a large quantity of testimony and correspondence regarding the plan, much of which was general in nature rather than site specific. Most of those who contacted the Council supported some redevelopment, particularly of the Westwood Shopping Center, and there has been overwhelming support for the parks and open space recommendations (there was considerable enthusiasm regarding the restoration of the Willett Branch stream). However, most people also have expressed concern that the densities recommended in the plan would negatively impact the surrounding residential neighborhoods and overwhelm the area with additional traffic, incompatible land uses, and too many new school children.

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