The Montgomery County Planning Board is recommending approval of a plan that would put a five-story residential complex adjacent to the Wildwood Shopping Center, but the proposal is meeting a flurry of opposition from the community.
The 3.5-acre site, south of the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Rock Spring Drive, houses a bank and the Wildwood Medical Center, a nearly 37,000-square-foot medical office building.
Property managers are seeking to amend a previously approved development plan in order to build a five-story, 58-unit apartment building. Wildwood Medical Center LLC must also seek a special zoning exception in order to build the housing complex.
The plan calls for 225 parking spaces, 114 of which would be located beneath the building and 111 surface spots that would serve the existing bank and medical offices.
Thursday, the Planning Board recommended approval of the amended plan and the zoning exception. Final approval must come from the Montgomery County Council for the development plan amendment, and the county Board of Appeals will have the final say on the zoning exception. A county hearing examiner will review both the zoning exception and the development amendment before final approval, according to Valerie Berton, a Park and Planning spokeswoman.
Several neighbors and the Wildwood Manor Civic Association, which represents a nearby residential community, have come out in opposition to the plan. The apartment building, they say, would exacerbate traffic congestion near the busy intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Democracy Boulevard.
“Adding so many more cars will make it unbearable to naviagate the roads, and with more cars the chance of pedestrian accidents is increased,” wrote neighbor Brian Lewis in an email to planners. “Combined with the new office and apartment buildings to be constructed across from Walter Johnson High School, driving will become a gridlock situation.”
The plan also lacks adequate parking, neighbors say.
“The [Wildwood] Shopping Center is already at capacity during peak times, with people circling around to find parking spots.” wrote neighbor Melitta Carter in opposition to the plan. “Adding so many extra cars is going to cause accidents, as people compete for spaces.”
A public hearing before a county Hearing Examiner is planned for July 27.