Should the Town of Chevy Chase Buy 7624 Lynn Dr.?
The Town of Chevy Chase is accepting public comments and testimony about its possible purchase of an undeveloped parcel of land for a public park.
The Town of Chevy Chase is considering purchasing an undeveloped parcel of land—7624 Lynn Dr., adjacent to Zimmerman Park—for use as a public park.
The parcel—which was once two properties that have since been combined—would cost nearly $600,000, according to the town's website.
Two independent appraisals—commissioned by the town in 2009 and 2011—have valued the property at $650,000 and $710,000 respectively, and were based on the property being buildable, according to an email message from Town of Chevy Chase Mayor Pat Burda, who added that "from an engineering standpoint, a house can be built there, and the [town] cannot render this lot unbuildable through its building regulations."
And, if a house was built on the lot, the town "must provide driveway access to the lot through the adjoining [town] right of way, and the [Town of Chevy Chase] Tree Board in 2011 approved removal of a tree that would have prevented driveway construction," Burda added.
The town's purchase of the land is contingent upon the town holding a public hearing to determine if the purchase would be in the public interest.
If purchased, the property would become part of the adjacent Zimmerman Park, and would be "reserved for public open space in perpetuity," according to the town's website.
The website continues:
If approved, Town reserve funds, which remain very healthy in the context of the Town’s overall budget, will be used for the purchase. While not guaranteed, the Town also intends to apply for State Program Open Space (POS) funds to subsidize the purchase. These funds are not available this year, but are expected to become available in the future, and the Town has received assurances from the State that this project meets the eligibility requirements for access to approximately $360,000 in POS funds.
Mayor Burda continued, in an email message to the town:
The expenditure of these funds, if made, would not hinder our ability to fund any of the new services under consideration for residents (i.e. a bus service into Bethesda or new benches) if the community supports them, nor our ability to maintain the high level of services the Town currently provides, including 24-hour police coverage. As shared with the community in the February 2012 Forecast and all 2013 budget documents, the Town received an additional $1 million in income tax revenue from the State providing another increase to our surplus.
No final decision has been made on the issue. An initial public hearing on the town's potential purchase of the property was held on May 22, and a second public hearing will take place on June 13, at the next Town of Chevy Chase Council meeting, which starts at the town hall (4301 Willow Ln.) at 7 p.m. Residents are also welcome to comment publicly on the purchase by emailing the town at email@example.com before the June 13 meeting.
"The purchase is for the Town, and we would not want to move forward if Town residents do not feel it is in their interest," wrote Burda in a separate email message to the town. Read more about the issue on the town's website.
What do you think? Should the town purchase the land for use as a park?