Montgomery Planning Board Appoints Implementation Advisory Committee for Monitoring Progress of Development in Downtown Bethesda

December 21, 2017

The 14 committee members will ensure future Bethesda projects comply with Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan recommendations

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, appointed 14 members to the new Bethesda Downtown Implementation Advisory Committee on Thursday, December 7, 2017, including seven members from the property owner/business community and seven local residents.

At the meeting, Planning Department staff briefed the Board about the creation of an online program to track future development in downtown Bethesda, since the plan limits the amount of density allowed.   The guidelines intended to be used by the Planning Board and staff in the implementation of the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan were also discussed.

The Monitoring and Tracking Program will closely follow development projects submitted for review and approved by the Planning Board. This program will make sure that the square footage of approved development does not exceed the overall development cap set forth in the Bethesda Overlay Zone.

About the Bethesda Downtown Implementation Advisory Committee

As outlined in the approved and adopted Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan, the Planning Department is charged with establishing a representative and balanced Implementation Advisory Committee to coordinate and monitor the progress of development in the plan area, and ensure implementation of the plan’s recommendations. This committee replaces the Woodmont Triangle Action Group (WTAG) established by the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment to the 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan.

To form the committee, the Planning Department solicited nominations of members from various property and business owners and community organizations. These groups included the Coalition of Bethesda Area Residents (CBAR), the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP), Bethesda Green, the Town of Chevy Chase, East Bethesda Civic Association, Edgemoor Citizens Association, the Sacks Neighborhood, Chevy Chase West Neighborhood and various individual condominium associations within downtown Bethesda.

The staff report listing the recommended and appointed committee members can be accessed online. A webpage is currently being developed for the Implementation Advisory Committee on the Bethesda Downtown Plan website.

Such an implementation committee is needed because the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan comprises many complex elements, each of which depends on the success of other plan elements. In recognition of this complexity, the plan proposes annual monitoring and reporting of schools, parks and transportation adequacy.

The annual report will be presented to the Implementation Advisory Committee and Planning Board each year, and transmitted to the County Council for review. If any of the elements included in the annual report pose difficulties or challenges, staff will identify those issues and potential solutions for discussion during the annual presentation to the Planning Board.

Staff hopes to have the Monitoring and Tracking Program online and running in early 2018 and the Implementation Guidelines presented to the Planning Board in spring 2018.

View the approved and adopted Bethesda Downtown Plan.

About the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan

The 2017 approved and adopted Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan is an update to the approved and adopted 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan and the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment.

The plan builds on the success of Downtown Bethesda by offering ways to strengthen its centers of activity – Bethesda Row, Wisconsin Avenue corridor, Woodmont Triangle and other established and emerging districts – over the next 20 years. The plan focuses on creating a downtown that is economically sustainable, environmentally sustainable and socially sustainable.

The Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan offers exciting new ways to achieve its goals. An innovative tool that will be employed is a new way of allocating density. The plan assigns heights, but density will be allocated through the Bethesda Overlay Zone.

Developers of projects in certain areas of downtown Bethesda will have to contribute additional public benefits, such as parks and open space, through a park impact payment. They will be required to provide additional affordable housing, more energy-efficient buildings with increased green cover on private property and quality designs that will be reviewed by a newly established Design Advisory Panel.

In addition, the plan recommends a high-performance area that incentivizes energy-efficient buildings, increased tree canopy and innovative stormwater management to create a truly sustainable downtown.

Other recommendations will help create numerous new parks, preserve important community and historic resources, such as the Bethesda Farm Women’s Cooperative Market, and provide more affordable housing in the downtown. Projects will be required to provide a minimum 15 percent of moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs), not 12.5 percent as is typically required.

For questions or comments about the implementation committee and plan, please contact planner Leslye Howerton at tel. 301-495-4551 or Leslye.Howerton@montgomeryplanning.org.