What kind of development is compatible with the pre-existing buildings on Montgomery Lane in Bethesda, about 900 feet from the Bethesda Metrorail station?
That was the crux of the discussion on Sept. 10, when the Montgomery County Council heard arguments for and against the construction of a seven-story, 70-foot-tall building with 100 to 120 units—15 percent of them moderately priced—at 4901 Montgomery Ln., at the corner of Montgomery Lane and West Lane.
The council voted to allow the height and density of the proposed building after the hearing.
Andrew Niebler, of the nearby Edgemoor Condominium Residences at 4821 Montgomery Ln., spoke in opposition to the planned building, saying that it was too big and massive for its site.
“Montgomery Lane is extremely narrow, and the addition of an extremely dense building will exacerbate” the situation. It’s “not smart growth,” he said.
He added that “it should be rejected as inconsistent with … the pattern of pedestrian use” in the neighborhood, which is between Arlington Road and Woodmont Avenue.
Stanley D. Abrams, attorney for City Homes of Edgemoor at 7405 Arlington Rd., echoed Niebler‘s statements.
It “throws off the character of the existing development,” he said.
Currently, the property has single-family, detached buildings used for residences and offices.
Attorney Patricia Harris of Lerch, Early and Brewer, representing developer SJG Properties, asserted that the development is “wholly compatible with the surrounding area,” and that small rental buildings would not be economically feasible.
“Reduction in size will result in the abandonment of the plan,” reversion to condominiums, and no moderately-priced dwelling units or housing diversity, she said.
The plan “does two of the most important things that the sector plan calls for,” providing “high density near Metro and affordable housing,” as well as a public space in front of the building.
Sector plan height recommendations are only recommendations, she said, adding that six projects in the surrounding area exceeded the height recommendations of about 65 feet, including other buildings at or above 70 feet tall.
“Residents of Montgomery County want to live within a [central business district] within walking distance of a Metro.” The building would provide that opportunity to some who otherwise couldn’t afford it, she added.
Do you agree that the planned project will work for Montgomery Lane? Is it "smart growth," in your opinion? Tell us in the comments.