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Town Considers Legal Advice on Purple Line Concerns

The Town of Chevy Chase Council proposes seeking legal advice on how to make its Purple Line concerns heard.

The proposed Purple Line's path between Bethesda and New Carrollton. Credit: Courtesy of the Maryland Transit Administration.
The proposed Purple Line's path between Bethesda and New Carrollton. Credit: Courtesy of the Maryland Transit Administration.
While plans to build the Purple Line progress, one town in the light rail's path is considering legal assistance to make sure that the town's concerns about the line are addressed.

The Town of Chevy Chase Council is "unanimously opposed" to the Purple Line as it currently is conceived, Mayor Patricia Burda wrote in an email to town residents, which number about 3,000.

A public hearing will be held this week to give residents a chance to speak up about whether or not they think the town should allocate funds to hire a law firm to help address Purple Line concerns. The council has proposed hiring a law firm for about 18 months, which will cost about $360,000, the town reported. The hearing takes place during the town council's meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. 

No strategies have been decided upon yet—the hearing is only to help the council decide if the town should hire legal advice, Burda wrote in her email to town residents. 

The town council is opposed to the Purple Line for a variety of reasons, "not the least of which are the actual impacts to the Town and the Capital Crescent Trail, the impacts to the entire region through increased development with no reduction of traffic, and the overall rising costs of the project to the residents in the county and state," Burda wrote.

"We have specific concerns about noise, visual impacts and safety issues for communities such as ours that are adjacent to the line, the impact of construction on the environment with respect to trees and a potentially endangered species, and the proposed Public Private Partnership (P3) funding mechanism and its potential for adding financial burden to counties throughout the entire state," she added.

"Our goal is to be sure that our concerns are dealt with both at the state and federal level. As part of any strategy, however, we will continue to reach out to other communities as well as environmental groups, which share these concerns," Burda wrote.

Residents have until the end of January to submit comments (to townoffice@townofchevychase.org, or to 4301 Willow Ln., Chevy Chase, MD 20815) on the proposal to hire legal advice. The council will vote publicly on the proposal at its February council meeting. 

The council voted in a December executive session to hire a law firm for one month to provide legal advice related to the Purple Line, but with the understanding that any additional legal advice would be subject to a public hearing and council decision, Burda wrote.

When Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley stopped by the Bethesda Metro station—just a few blocks away from the Town of Chevy Chase—to talk publicly about the Purple Line last August, he was greeted by both cheers and jeers, Patch reported. Some cheered about the jobs that are expected to be created by construction of the line, while others decried the line's cost and the impending loss of many mature trees to build the line along an old CSX railway bed and the Capital Crescent Trail

In response to resident concerns that the trains will be too noisy near homes, the Maryland Transit Administration is planning on constructing noise-reduction panels to shield the houses from rail noise, Patch reported last September.

A little more than a year ago, the Sierra Club named the Purple Line one of the best transportation projects in the country in its list of the 50 best and worst projects nationwide.

Read more about the Purple line on Patch and on the Maryland Transit Authority's website.
jag January 08, 2014 at 03:21 AM
The Town of Chevy Chase is so nutty I can't believe it. There have been plans for this rail connection for decades. before that it was a freight rail line (talk about noise!). Yet these people pretend like they're caught off-guard by the Purple Line. It'd be infuriating if it wasn't so dang laughable. If people bought houses in the neighborhood without doing their due diligence and learning about the Purple Line then that's totally and completely on them.
cpgreen January 08, 2014 at 01:25 PM
The concept of the Purple Line may have been around for a long time, but the planning has been poor. For example, the planners didn't understand the complexity of siting the Bethesda/Wisconsin Ave. terminal under an existing building and now are pressuring the owners of the Apex building to tear down the building without adequate compensation. The assurances that a walking/bike trail could run alongside the train are laughable.

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