Tag Archives: bethesda sector plan

Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan Dissenter Speaks

Marc Elrich, the one Montgomery County Council member to vote against the Bethesda Downtown Sector plan explains his vote here.

Reflections on the Planning Process

Hi folks, just wanted to pop in and share a couple of thoughts about the County planning process and how it impacts our little town of Bethesda.

First, and most significantly, our little town is growing up (literally!) very fast. If you walk from Battery Lane in Old Bethesda to Barnes and Nobles in New Bethesda you will see 6-7 new apartment buildings that have either just been completed or are about to be completed. Each building means new, and more residents, more density of people and traffic and likely more, and new services, drawn to this emerging group. Each Bethesda resident will have their own take on this growth but it is real and (second point coming up) it is continuing! At the planning session last week it was interesting to see how the bulk of the time seemed to be spent with developers pushing for more density or trying to ensure the proposed increases would be set in stone. The number of large apartment buildings that have been proposed and that developers are advocating for, is astonishing.

Third, the new housing stock is high end and expensive. The MPDU rental program does not work effectively and people making decent money are being priced out of Bethesda – it is remarkable that young professionals making $40-50K can barely find housing that meets their needs.

Moving away from housing it is also worth noting that there is a lack of imagination at the county level when it comes to greening the community and making it more livable. That is a surprise for a place as progressive as Bethesda but a point worth noting.

The last point regarding the planning meeting is that it is crucial that the citizenry engage much more than they are currently doing. There are still opportunities to influence the Bethesda plan and if we don’t want to wake up and look like Northern Virginia the time to engage is now.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts below – these are important discussions that need to be had in public.