May 3, 2010

Purple Line prompts look at Chevy Chase development

Spurred by a possible Purple Line Metro station at Connecticut Avenue, the county is updating a development plan for Chevy Chase. County planners are gathering business and resident input to help create the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan, which will create new growth, land-use and zoning guidelines around Chevy Chase Lake Drive and Connecticut Avenue, where a shopping center is located. Major changes could take place at the Chevy Chase Lake property, which is near a proposed elevated station for the Purple Line, a 16-mile light rail system that would connect Bethesda to New Carrollton.

"The construction there is going to be more intensive than it is in other areas," planner Melissa Williams said of Chevy Chase Lake.

Such intense development could also increase concerns about worsening traffic congestion along Connecticut Avenue. The Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan will revise a portion of the 1990 Bethesda-Chevy Chase Master Plan to address the anticipated Purple Line, a 16-mile light rail system connecting downtown Bethesda to New Carrollton and approved by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in August. Funding for the $1.67 billion project is being studied by the Federal Transit Administration.

The development principles will initially consider a two-mile radius of Chevy Chase Lake Drive and Connecticut Avenue, although the final scope will be smaller, said Williams, who said she expects the plan will go to the County Council for approval within 18 months to two years. A similar Sector Plan process is underway along the Purple Line's proposed route in the Long Branch area of Silver Spring, and a Sector Plan for the Takoma Langley Crossroads area, another possible location for a Purple Line stop, should be approved by the Planning Board in June for submission to the County Council.

Growth plans may be created for areas around the larger proposed Purple Line stations, such as downtown Bethesda and the Silver Spring Transit Center, Williams said. Thirteen municipalities and nine homeowner and civic groups and commercial stakeholders are scheduled to be included in the process. The first community meeting with planners was after The Gazette's deadline Tuesday. Although she does not think the guidelines would include her community, Town of Chevy Chase Mayor Kathy Strom said she is concerned about traffic impacts.

The Purple Line would not alleviate traffic on Connecticut Avenue, she said, and would amplify the problem if businesses are added around Chevy Chase Lake. SOURCE: Gazette

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