23 July 2010

Wheaton Sector Plan

Thank you for allowing me to represent the views of the Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee (WUDAC) today. For the record, I am Dan Somma, the Committee Chair.

The members of WUDAC are largely pleased with the Wheaton Sector plan. Several of us worked on the public process with Sandy Tallant and were briefed by her. We thank her for a very good job.

The Plan supports increased density where we think it needs to be – in the downtown’s core, along our three State roads and near the Metro. Conversely, it protects our long-established neighborhoods.

WUDAC supports the use of the new CR Zones because that zone will promote a more pedestrian-friendly downtown; will allow for mixed –use projects and the easier redevelopment of our many small in-fill parcels. Further, we applaud the elimination of the Overlay Zone, which we believe has contributed to the stagnation of our downtown.

The Committee believes that as the Sector Plan moves forward, it should place an even greater emphasis on including small retail in new construction along our arterials because this use creates street-level activity, and, importantly, Wheaton’s long- time identity as a “small retail” downtown. That said, while we cherish our “Mom and Pop” image, we don’t want the Plan to be defeatist about Wheaton’s ability to attract some office development with the creation of a signature building.

The Committee also wants to note, for the record, that while we appreciate the Plan’s strong reliance on the work of the Wheaton urban District to promote public activity and maintain the downtown, and to attract private partners, the District will need greater resources to carry out these goals.

We note also the recommendations for the County to “take back” Crossways for re-use as an elementary school and hope that if this occurs, the County will make every effort to relocate the wonderful Crossways program within Wheaton.

WUDAC members are pleased with the Plan’s recommendation to extend Price Avenue, which creates a more logical grid for the downtown and could ultimately serve as a connecting link to Westfield Wheaton.

Finally, we know that change happens slowly and that Master and Sector Plans guide us for about 20 years. Although the Wheaton Sector Plan has laudable long term goals, we would want to address some our particular short-term goals, including the enhancement and better use of Veteran’s Park and bringing some amenities or recreational facilities such as an indoor pool, to the downtown.

Thank you again for the opportunity.

21 July 2010

WUDAC members- please comment on the draft letter re: Washington Property Plan by close of business Monday July 26. You can respond to Sue.Koronowski@montgomerycountymd.gov or to Dan- both can post your comments to the blog. Thanks!

July 22, 2010

Ms. Franciose Carrier, Chair
Montgomery County Planning Board
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Dear Ms. Carrier and Members of the Planning Board:

Washington Property presented to the Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee (WUDAC) an overview of intent for the purchase of the First Baptist Church, sitting on 2.3 acres at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Viers Mill Road, for a 221-unit residential apartment project at 10914 Georgia Avenue. A rezoning application has been filed to go from the current zoning of R-60 (single-family residential) to TS-R/Transit Station Residential (multi-family residential). The property is located in the Urban District which abuts a largely commercial area.

The property’s redevelopment will include a building with 221 rental units, of which 12.5% will be MPDU’s. Seventy percent (70%) of the total units will be one bedroom and studio rentals.

Washington Property has met with the neighboring community, who are supportive of this redevelopment project.

The Wheaton Urban District Advisory Committee feels that this building will enhance the downtown by providing more density, which will benefit the local businesses. Also, it is a beautiful building that will enhance the “gateway” to the downtown as a first impression, thus inviting more business to Wheaton. WUDAC is pleased that the applicant will be mitigating the problem of storm water and the degraded stream buffer. This will be of great benefit to the community.

Thus, WUDAC supports the rezoning of this property from R-60 to TS-R to allow the Washington Property to construct this project.


Dan Somma

Cc: Isiah Leggett
Nancy Floreen
Damon Orobona

09 July 2010

Discussion on Washington Property's plan at the 1st Baptist site include:

I am in favor of the Washington Property’s plan to re-use the 1st Baptist Church site. The preliminary plan looks good. I agree with Marion that the issues of safety during an evacuation and storm water management be addressed in some way. --Jeannette

Hi All, regarding the Washington Properties proposed site plan: The rendering looks fine, however, I do have a concern regarding the one entrance and exit to the property. It was considered a safety issue in case of a fire. I remember this same dilemma with Hearthstone Village on University Boulevard. It is a tight development and this issue should be looked at. The suggestion could be a one way out at the rear of the development some way.

The storm water management was also a concern. -- Marian

Other than the above, I would have no objection to supporting the preliminary plan. Marian