A Toll Brothers representative presented the development firm's early plans for the WMAL transmitter site at 7115 Greentree Road in Bethesda to the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board last night. Tom Mateya, the company's Director of Development, was introduced by Ellen Bogage of Chespeake Public Strategies, the firm hired by Toll to represent it in the community.
|2 potential development|
schemes for the WMAL site
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The firm has already done some geological and utility studies at the 75 acre WMAL site. Water, electric and gas service have been examined. Sewer and water were determined to be adequate in preliminary reviews, but Toll is aware of a 35-foot WSSC pipe section nearby which developer EYA is having difficulty with at their Rock Spring townhome site.
15% of the site is currently forested, and Toll Brothers wants to retain that. Many nearby residents have long used the site as an unofficial park, and have expressed concern about losing the green space. Advisory Board member Tara Flynn asked what plans the firm has to retain any of the green space, and who would control it, HOAs or the County. Mateya said they may reserve some space, potentially for parks and/or a school site. It would be up to the County how they would want to utilize it under that scenario, he said. Toll remains undecided on whether or not to include meeting or recreational facilities for the new community's residents, Mateya said. The company will ultimately decide based upon what it perceives as the current market demand for such shared facilities by its target homebuying audience.
Board member Scott Goldberg asked if pre-settlement solar energy would be utilized in the development. Mateya said there is no demand for solar in this area.
The biggest challenges Toll is dealing with on this project are schools, parks and transportation. Montgomery County planners and Montgomery County Public Schools recently hosted a school capacity community meeting to discuss overcrowding in the Walter Johnson school cluster, which a representative of the West Fernwood community last night said cannot hold another student at the moment. That meeting followed a Rock Spring redevelopment meeting at which residents pushed back on adding residential in an area with already-overcapacity schools.
Virginia Miller, the Board's resident representative, predicted there will be complaints if kids from the same neighborhood are forced to attend different schools. Yet, some Ashburton parents were pushing for redistricting at the aforementioned recent school capacity meeting.
Toll forecasts .575 K-12 students per home, meaning a potential generation of 189 students at the WMAL site. Those first students would arrive in either 2018 or 2019, as the first residents settle in the new neighborhood, Toll estimates.
Transportation is a major concern for nearby residents, but few feasible options exist. Board member John Bowis asked if a direct connection with Democracy Boulevard was possible. Mateya said that, while it is theoretically possible, and that Toll Brothers is still studying such a road, it is not likely. Stratton Park and a Bethesda Fire Department station stand in the way, and there would be engineering challenges regarding turn ratios and adequate space, he said.
|WMAL site, with|
stub at center-right
Mateya said that the company will submit its concept plan for the WMAL site to the Planning Board in November, and a preliminary subdivision plan in January 2016.
Concept plan renderings courtesy Torti Gallas and Partners
All rights reserved
Top photo of WMAL towers: Robert Dyer
Map via Google Maps