Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Council committee temporarily scales back size of Westbard plan along much of River Rd., demands more low-income housing

The Montgomery County Council PHED Committee had several disagreements, a minor dust-up between councilmembers, and an unusual reprimand of residents, on its way to postponing redevelopment along much of River Road at a Monday worksession. Members also dealt a blow to advocates of naturalizing the Willett Branch stream, strongly emphasizing it was an afterthought compared to their stated top priority of affordable housing.

"We may have overpromised on Willett Branch"
- George Leventhal

Planning Director Gwen Wright warned the committee that "if we do no rezoning, we have to be realistic that there will be no change on River Road." Only two properties there were recommended for upzoning by the committee: a sizable redevelopment of the land currently occupied by American Plant, Roof Center and Talbert's; and the Kenwood Professional Building, a non-conforming 90' office tower that would be made conforming by passage of this plan. The committee recommended retaining the existing zoning on all other properties along River Road, and shifted McDonald's from a floating 75' zone back to its existing zoning.

After a heated discussion about affordable housing, the committee adopted a 15% across-the-board affordable housing requirement, which means (just as I predicted) that heights and density bonuses will add stories to several of these buildings. But with that new expense factored in, and the burden falling most heavily on developer Equity One, the proposal to naturalize Willett Branch appears to be in limbo.

Councilmember George Leventhal said the plan as drafted by the Planning Board is "collapsing under the weight of the multiplicity of objectives." Leventhal and Councilmember Hans Riemer expressed a clear preference that affordable housing be the clear stated priority in the Westbard plan, not the Willett Branch. They ultimately voted for the 15% affordable housing rate to apply to all properties. Council President and committee chair Nancy Floreen abstained from the vote, which was 2-0-1, saying she was concerned that other amenities would be lost.

What is the bottom line on the changes made yesterday?

First, there is a fairly-sizable short-term (major emphasis on short-term) victory for Kenwood, in that the Whole Foods/Sunoco/self-storage sites will not be able to redevelop immediately. They, and several gas stations, another self-storage business, the bank, McDonald's and the 7-Eleven would have to wait for a Minor Master Plan Amendment. Highly-controversial, that approach has been taken twice in recent years by the Council. It could happen within the next decade, next year or next week, under the powers they have with those precedents.

But some major conveniences will be preserved for at least a few years longer, and I am pleased about that and commend the Council for that decision.

Second, Kenwood is not out of the woods yet regarding the Washington Episcopal School property. The portion approved for a 97' senior housing tower could still go forward. Council staff member Marlene Michaelson designed a dual zoning plan that would supposedly make it unattractive for the current developer to drop its age-restricted plan by reducing the Floor Area Ratio of a building not limited to senior housing. Likewise, the rest of the WES site would be zoned to encourage its retention as a school site either for WES, or another public or private school. Still, the site's zoning could allow a clever developer to build a sizable commercial building, should WES sell their land.

Councilmember Marc Elrich criticized allowing any significant height for the tower should it not end up as senior housing, as that was the whole rationale for giving it the unusual height. Not only did the committee reject that concern, but ended up giving the building a height boost to 100'! That's a loss for Kenwood.

Third, while the public will get few-to-none of the amenities promised for River Road in the near-term, the American Plant project will allow a 75' building with 350 residential units.

Fourth, the big losers Monday were the communities of Springfield, Westwood/Westbard Mews and Sumner. Congratulations, you are getting the brunt of the development, the tall buildings towering over single-family homes, and all the construction you can handle. The heights are what was approved last Monday, but now with bonus height, due to the 15% low-income housing requirement.

Fifth, the third through lane at River and Little Falls Parkway remains vaguely on the table. Councilmember Roger Berliner said his constituents were taken by surprise, and yet another modified proposal was put forward yesterday, to make a right turn lane that would begin west of Greystone Street. Berliner said he "would prefer to hear from my constituents" before taking final action on it. Other concerns Berliner raised regarding the Floor Area Ratio of 1.0 for the Westwood Shopping Center, and the 55' townhome height on the Manor Care property, were disregarded by Floreen altogether. Berliner said he would bring them up at the full Council worksession. And there will be no mention of affordable housing at the Little Falls Library site in the plan.

Sixth, this was a huge setback for stream advocates. Berliner protested, but was overridden by Leventhal and Riemer, who made clear that the Willett Branch project was not a priority. Wright again warned the committee that raising costs for Equity One would likely hurt other priorities like the Willett Branch. "We have to remember," Wright said, "we're going to the well many times" with Equity One, which is expected to contribute "tens of millions of dollars and open space" as it stands now. "Something is going to have to give," she said.

Before I get into the details of the affordable housing debate, here's the bottom line analysis of what I think is happening with the plan.

The Council has clearly heard the overwhelming opposition of the community to this plan. They are not entirely convinced that they will be voted out of office if they pass it, as evidenced by all that they have thumbed their nose at residents about on the Equity One and Capital Properties sites. But to the minimal extent that they fear retribution at the ballot box in 2018, they need to put forward a message that they downsized the plan.

Equity One and Capital Properties are ready to go. Despite their declarations otherwise, the committee has basically given both of those developers everything they really wanted within reason. American Plant is ready to go, but in a few years after Equity One. So they're getting approval via the floating zone.

Then you've got all these River Road properties where people are thinking longer term. Whole Foods isn't ready to close right now. So why inflict a lot of political damage on yourself for little reason on River Road?

And there's one more thing, which I touched on last week. The Purple Line.

Just connect the dots here. Most of River Road not ready to go in the next few years. The Council committee making the Kenwood Professional Building and Westwood Tower conforming so that they can be redeveloped. Think about that for a minute. You wouldn't do that unless you imagined them being torn down, right? And you wouldn't tear down a 90' or 140' builiding to put up a 75' building, right?

So the KPB and Westwood Tower are now envisioned as being even taller, under a...guess what, Minor Master Plan Amendment for the Purple Line. With that coming through, the 110' non-transit precedent set by this plan at non-Metro Westbard indicates that heights allowed with a Purple Line would be equivalent to downtown Bethesda. Remember, Chevy Chase Lake with Purple Line is supposed to be capped at 12 stories.

Now you've got all of that River Road property with transit-oriented density with a Purple Line, and the "Urban Active Recreational Park" the County is eager to acquire land for by the Capital Crescent Trail becomes the Purple Line station and rail yard/maintenance facility.

The urbanization and overpopulation of Westbard Avenue, meanwhile, will be used and cited as a major reason "we need the Purple Line to extend to Westbard."

Brilliant, right?

So on the face of it, the Council has scaled most of River Road back. I certainly won't complain about that. But it's one Minor Master Plan Amendment away from not only being restored, but supersized. And again, cutting back on River Road may for now reduce some of the pressure on schools, but does nothing to help neighborhoods up around Westbard Avenue that are still getting urbanized.

It does nothing to help reduce the amount of low-income housing that will be dumped there, 392 units. That's around 800 low-income residents in one block, far from Metro and supportive services, and with no recreation center planned. Nuts. And that's before you add in the one-percenters in all the market rate units.

Berliner argued that there was already a significant amount of affordable housing in the plan. He noted the estimated cost of 15% affordable housing for Equity One would be about $5.7 million, "coming at the expense of what?" Wright predicted "one or two [public amenities, including Willett Branch] won't happen. Some of them will not happen. As Councilmember Leventhal said, that may be your preference" that affordable housing come at the cost of the stream project.

Apparently believing that businesses eat costs, rather than passing them on to the consumer (not surprising for a Council that has failed to attract a single major corporate headquarters in over a decade), Leventhal assured everyone that the additional burden wouldn't raise housing prices at their developments.

Riemer picked up the Maoist argument for massive dumps of low-income housing in wealthy areas, saying he wants such housing in "parts of the County that have great school districts and wealthy neighborhoods." He didn't say how soon he would start working on a similar proposal for Potomac or Burning Tree (perhaps because those are where many of his weathy developer donors live - including development attorney Bill Kominers, who got invited up to the table for more time to talk; no residents were given that option Monday).

But here's the real rub on Riemer's John Oliver-reading-Mao's-Little-Red-Book-on-downers ideology - Riemer has a solid record of taking this do-nothing approach to Montgomery County's declining schools, in which the achievement gap has grown since he took office in 2010. Back when the report came out, Riemer's immediate response during a Council meeting was, "this is why we need to pass the White Oak sector plan."


What Riemer and those aligned with him want is this: they have no intention of bringing schools in the eastern part of the County up to Whitman standards. They believe in the developer-fueled idea that black and Latino students can only succeed if they are in a classroom with rich, white students (just ask Jaime Escalante about that theory, which he totally disredited back in the 1980s). In short, they don't believe in having excellent schools in every neighborhood. Their M.O. is to disparage and mock the "Whitman parents", and then try to drag down the successful neighborhoods by overcrowding the schools and destroying the character and functionality that made them successful.

Based on 82% of students failing Algebra I final exams, 62% failing Geometry I final exams and 57% failing Algebra II final exams...their strategy seems to be working.

Speaking of schools, Elrich shot a so-called "economic impact statement" full of holes earlier in the meeting. It actually turned out to be one of the more farcical moments of the worksession.

A man, identified as "Hagedorn", and a woman who never identified herself for the record, came forward at the behest of Council staff member Glenn Orlin. "Hagedorn" referred everyone to "Page 9". Page 9, in what? The public was never allowed to read or get a copy of this report. So you had two unidentified people presenting a report no one in the audience has a copy of, and which isn't even displayed on the screens around the room. We can't read it, and we certainly can't comment.

"Hagedorn" then declared that the sector plan as written would generate 867 jobs (flipping burgers, folding jeans in boutiques, etc.). But he failed to also mention that the plan as written would eliminate about 1000 of the existing industrial and commercial jobs, leaving the area with a net loss in employment.

Then Berliner asked, "where are the impact taxes in this analysis?" "Hagedorn" said they were not included. "Can you explain why not," Berliner asked incredulously. "There was a reason, but we can get that for you," the unidentified woman interjected.

"I think it's sort of important to have the overall fiscal picture," Berliner continued. "When I look at fiscal impacts, I look at impact taxes."

May I suggest that the reason for not showing the impact taxes, is that it would show they are insufficient to cover the costs of redevelopment to the taxpayers? Even with the lowball fiscal impact projections, they would not cover it.

"You don't have a cost of bonding in these calculations," Elrich observed. He then proceeded to demolish the data shown for cost of "educational operating expenses." The statement showed those annual operating costs as $5000, for 525 new students generated by Westbard redeveloping.

Elrich pointed out that Montgomery County Public Schools actually says the amount would be $14,000 a year, not $5000. "This number more than doubles," Elrich said, "and [the County] goes from making money to losing money. That's significant. That's hugely significant."

At this point, Kominers returned to the table for yet another turn to speak. Number of citizens who were able to speak? Zero. Kominers declared the HOC doesn't want a road through their property that would connect River Road at the Whole Foods intersection to Westbard Avenue. Planning Chair Casey Anderson proposed a compromise, saying that "to the extent that that [350-unit apartment building] can be accommodated, approve a road as specified in the plan."

"Is everybody OK with that," Floreen asked. No one spoke, and Anderson's idea passed without objection.

But Leventhal later strongly objected to Elrich's general suggestion that the Council and Planning Board have "cursed suburban communities."

Leventhal denied he had ever said such a thing, and demanded to know when that occurred.

I can answer that. It occurred on July 3, 2013, to be exact. During a Council session that day, Leventhal declared "the suburbs" were "a mistake." He criticized those who thought they could escape the noise and dirt of the city and industry, and drive along "tree-lined parkways," in his words.

This rant went on for several minutes. Go ahead. Look it up.

But Leventhal has forgotten, and unfortunately, so have his colleagues, so no one could call him on it.

"I have never cursed suburban communities, ever," Leventhal insisted. Now, in terms of that precise word, "cursed," he is absolutely correct. But the general accusation was correct, as the July 3, 2013 monologue confirms.

The worksession ended on an unprecedented note - a reprimand of Westbard-area residents for their supposedly-rude and "hysteric and incivil" communications toward councilmembers, Council staff and the Planning Board and Planning Department, to use Leventhal's term from earlier in the meeting.

After receiving a round of applause from residents in the hearing room for his futile efforts to preserve the Willett Branch naturalization and other "amenities important to our community" from being overridden by affordable housing, Berliner then picked up on Leventhal's comment and launched into a reprimand I believe was inappropriate.

Berliner invoked the name of Donald Trump to characterize the manner of these unnamed residents. Does it make any sense to compare an overwhelmingly Democratic neighborhood to Donald Trump? Then why bring the name up? What is "Donald Trump" code for?

He stated things were said in these communications that were "simply not okay."

First of all, I have a great deal of respect for Councilmember Berliner. Most residents, even if they disagreed with his alternative plan, I think appreciated his active engagement in the process at the appropriate point (unlike Mr. Anderson, who appears at meetings early in planning projects to harangue and propagandize for an already-determined end goal, which is completely out of order for a Planning Board chair). He did come up with an alternative plan to start the conversation, and the end result, while unsatisfactory, is objectively better than what we started with a couple of months ago.

I certainly never engaged in any language or communications of the type Mr. Berliner described. I've seen quite a bit of the email communications among community members, and between community members and the Council and Planning Board/Department. I have never seen anything like what Councilmembers Berliner and Leventhal described among those, either.

If one or two individuals did speak that way to them in a private email, I agree with them, that would be inappropriate and uncalled for. But why not privately reprimand them offline?

By making these statements, and this may not have been their intention at all, but they essentially smeared the whole community. And that was inappropriate, and I think Mr. Berliner and Mr. Leventhal owe the greater community an apology for that.

Combined with some of the loaded rhetoric used to describe the neighborhood - "very exclusive and not diverse" (Leventhal) - and telling residents they were "lucky" or "fortunate" to be able to live there, as if no one went to college, worked and saved money to get where they were, the characterization was not becoming of the Council. It's attempting to suggest that a bunch of spoiled rich brats are trying to stop a noble plan, which is actually just a plan designed to deliver high profits to developers (Maoist components aside). And which, even the Council admits, won't deliver even the pittance of amenities that were supposed to make all of this worthwhile.

There's something rich - pun intended - about councilmembers whose taxpayer-funded salaries ($136,258 annually in 2017) basically put them in the one-percent, speaking in condescending and scolding terms about "wealthy neighborhoods."


Anonymous said...

Long live the hegemony of the meritocracy.

Anonymous said...

The low-income housing seems fine to me. There's already a county-wide requirement of 12.5-15% of MPDUs, so the developer is being held to the higher limit of that (and gets a density bonus for it), just like elsewhere in the county.


Anonymous said...

Robert, was the MCPS situation addressed? Any way you look at it, this is going to add a lot of schoolchildren and all the schools in the Whitman cluster are already over capacity. How do they plan to address that?

Anonymous said...

So they finally gutted the Westbard plan? Good. That's exactly what the residents (who opposed the plan) deserve. Let them keep their wasteland. If I was Equity One I would sell their site and invest in downtown Bethesda instead. The residents of that area clearly aren't interested in quality retail or dining options.

"But to the minimal extent that they fear retribution at the ballot box in 2018, they need to put forward a message that they downsized the plan."

Haha. I seriously doubt that they "fear retribution." Only Berliner, Leventhal, Ehrlich and Riemer are elected by Westbard residents, and for the latter 3 they make up like 2% of their constituency. It was an easy decision. They gave the people what they wanted since Equity One is really the only developer that cares about Westbard (and they preserved the density on their land). With the Willett Branch daylighting, road improvements, etc., it would have been a net drain on the county budget since the proposed densities were so low.

"I certainly never engaged in any language or communications of the type Mr. Berliner described"

Hard to believe since Dyer refers to any and all commenters that disagree agree with his wild opinions as 'Dumass material'

Anonymous said...

Just turn those empty stores in Westwood Shopping Center into a charter school. You can fence off part of the large parking lot into a playground.

G. Money said...

"There's something rich - pun intended - about councilmembers whose taxpayer-funded salaries ($136,258 annually in 2017) basically put them in the one-percent, speaking in condescending and scolding terms about 'wealthy neighborhoods.'"

The top 1% of income is $428,713+, so you're off by more than a factor of three (and you're talking about an area with a significantly higher than average cost of living).

Anonymous said...

Do people actually read these insanely long, rambly near-daily posts about Westbard?

Anonymous said...

Yay - we get to keep the "ghetto of Bethesda", as my kids call this stretch of River.

What a shame, I would have liked to see some new options there other than endless storage facilities and fast food.

Nice job, NIMBYs.

Anonymous said...

Westbard: You allowed to flip burgers here but you are not allowed to live here until you earn it.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:18 AM - Robert Dyer is the unelected Mayor of unincorporated Westbard.

Anonymous said...

I love the picture of our heroic MoCo Machine snow removal crews in action, but what does it have to do with Dyer's War On Low- and Middle-Income MoCo Residents?

Anonymous said...

I started to read it, but then all I started hearing in my head was "blah blah blah blah blah" Keep 'em shorter and sweeter you Birdbrain!

Anonymous said...

"What Riemer and those aligned with him want is this: they have no intention of bringing schools in the eastern part of the County up to Whitman standards. They believe in the developer-fueled idea that black and Latino students can only succeed if they are in a classroom with rich, white students (just ask Jaime Escalante about that theory, which he totally disredited back in the 1980s). In short, they don't believe in having excellent schools in every neighborhood. Their M.O. is to disparage and mock the "Whitman parents", and then try to drag down the successful neighborhoods by overcrowding the schools and destroying the character and functionality that made them successful."

"Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!" says Dyer.

Anonymous said...

We all know "separate but equal" works. Just ask Topeka, Kansas.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post once again by Robert Dyer! So interesting to read the whiny comment of the trolls as they toss about their favorite developper created word: NIMBYs! What a hoot. Ok Reimerites crawl back under your slimy rock now...

At least there are some minor victories for Westbard residents. Good job and well done. Keeping what the Reimerites call "wasteland" is essentially keeping the conveniences of what makes a community well balanced and work well.

There are a dime a dozen restaurants just up the road, no one is hurting for a sit down meal out.

As always, grear reporting, amusingly told.

Thank you Robert.

And btw, they should all be worried about reelection, every single one of them except Elrich. Enough is enough. And while we are at it, get rid of that canker sore Casey Anderson. Yes, I believe that will do.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't get the idea of this insane plan. Crowd our roads and schools, all just to maybe get a Panera and more chain retailers?

Anonymous said...

@ 2:32 PM:

"They should all be worried about reelection, every single one of them..."

I refer you to 9:02 PM, who clearly is better able to do arithmetic than you:

"Only Berliner, Leventhal, Ehrlich and Riemer are elected by Westbard residents, and for the latter 3 they make up like 2% of their constituency."

Anonymous said...

Metro closed tomorrow??? What the what???

Robert Dyer said...

8:35: The only reference to school capacity at yesterday's session was the discussion over annual operating costs that I detailed in the article. So unless they discuss it at full Council next week, they seem to be ignoring that elephant in the (class)room.

Robert Dyer said...

9:02: You are lying. Trolls are not "commenters that disagree," they are trolls. Stop lying.

Robert Dyer said...

2:09: So you didn't want to know what happened on every important point?

Anonymous said...

Could it be that Equity One's PR machine is busy writing the angry responses to Mr. Dyer's blog? Looks like it to me! But remember, folks, those who will be affected have had good reason to write many more than 20,000 communications against the Plan. Even with the changes being discussed, the result would still be an unbearable addition to congestion on our nearby roads and in our schools.

So pardon me if I don't cry for council members who have taken offense at the opposition's passion. Those of us who will bear the brunt of the county's arrogant and dishonest approach in this matter have much more right to be insulted. There is one bright spot---Marc Elrich is a brave and honest broker.

Thank you, Mr. Dyer for keeping the community informed. You are doing us a terrific service.

Anonymous said...

It's gotta be hard for Equity One's PR team. Usually developers they use the old "vocal minority" argument to crush citizen opposition. That argument is off the table with the vast MAJORITY of residents firmly against this insane plan.

Robert Dyer has been standing up against irresponsible development planning like this for awhile and probably has the scars to prove it.

Maybe Equity One fails and sells the property to a firm we can work with. A smaller scale village center rather than whats on the table now!

Anonymous said...


'Trolls are not "commenters that disagree," they are trolls.'

Haha this guy. Nice try, but anyone who disagrees with you is immediately labelled a troll and a "duma#*" or some other insulting name. Just a quick browse through the comments on recent posts proves my point.

Anonymous said...

6:45 PM Trolls are trolls. Can you debate without personal attacks?
Shameful that paid developer PR folks are trolling here, unleashing personal attacks on Robert Dyer.

Anonymous said...

Shills are shills. Can you debate without personal attacks?

Shameful that Dyer's family members are shilling here anonymously, unleashing personal attacks against anyone who challenges him.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree, a smaller village center sounds much more appropriate for the area.

Once again, nice job by Dyer on the thorough reporting. Thank You!

No Willett Branch daylighting or additional green space or recreation center or senior center in favor of large amounts of low-income housing and 100' buildings. Not even a decent median strip just paint. Now that's an Al Bundy, cheap!

The New Westbard should now be renamed-
" The Great Westbard Flim-Flam"

Anonymous said...

And you have evidence of this? Or are you just making libelous accusations? Lol.

Anonymous said...

I wish Equity One had gone with a village center concept. I wish they'd have listened to residents! Total bait and switch. And now using PR firms to attack Robert Dyer!

We're glad Robert Dyer and Marc Elrich are standing firm against this current Westbard plan. Can we get other councilmembers on board to oppose this insanity?

Anonymous said...

If the development plan falls through, I hope that every one of those gas stations gets replaced by a TD Bank.

And that Greenhill buys all the shops in the shopping center and turns them into vacant stores perpetually under construction but never getting any closer to opening.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:00 PM, 7:33 PM, 6:49 PM, 6:45 PM, 6:19 PM - Have you fulfilled your quota for tonight's shift yet? LOL

Anonymous said...

Robert Dyer has CERTAINLY never engaged in any sort of behavior toward County Council members which could POSSIBLY be deemed as unsavory. I'm not sure where Berliner could possible come up with this nonsense. Robert, can you think of any examples where you demeaned the County Council and said they were a bunch of outsiders who tour the area by bus and hate the residents there? I can't think of any. I can't imagine any reason why the Council or people who were interested in investing hundreds of millions of dollars in to the community would be upset. They also realize that McDonalds, self storage, and 7-11 are pillars of this wealthy community, and should not be touched.

Anonymous said...

And Talbert's. How could you forget Talbert's? Your place to go when you need a bottle of bumwine to accompany your bowl of Froot Loops - opens at 7 AM!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What PR firm to attack Dyer? You guys are nuts if you think that's true.

Anonymous said...

Hahahah that would be funny. Kharma!

Anonymous said...

Good point. Councilmembers looked like tourists driving around Westbard in their bus.
If they had disembarked and spoke to residents, they'd have heard how unpopular the Westbard plan is!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait until the incoming Westbard residents comprise the majority of that currently-benighted community. It will be a new day. The prevailing retrograde attitudes will be wiped clean, and there will be a new spirit of optimism, diversity and inclusion.

Anonymous said...

"But the general accusation was correct, as the July 3, 2013 monologue confirms."

You fantasize that you are Bob Woodward, but you sound like Captain Queeg. LOL

Robert Dyer said...

5:01: Chairman Mao salutes you, sir.

5:15: I am Bob Woodward compared to the competition. Even the Council who sat there on July 3, 2013 couldn't remember Leventhal had savagely trashed the suburbs that day in an extended rant. Fortunately, I have fact-checked his claims.

"The way only a lifelong resident can bring it to you."

Anonymous said...

Ah, sweet megalomania.

Robert Dyer said...

5:38: Careful, the Council may reprimand you for daring to call them megalomaniacs!

Anonymous said...


Ok. Let me mansplain this to you. Yes, they should all be worried about votes, and btw you left out Nancy Floreen, the developer's eternal "girlfriend", Westbardians vote for her too, so Reimer, Leventhal, Floreen and Berliner should worry the blowback from Westbard. However, there are other sector plans in other districts that are getting equally poor reception from the people who actually live there, so you can always place the At Large council members on the chopping block and add your own Council person. Elrich is golden.

And to all of you trolls who seemingly have the needle stuck in the NIMBY crack, just know that this word was created by a developer pr firm to discredit opposition. Why would anyone do less when it comes to defending their biggest investment, hearth and home.

Anonymous said...

"this word was created by a developer pr firm to discredit opposition."

As they say on Wikipedia, [citation needed].

Anonymous said...

And then some!!

Anonymous said...

What if some of these non-coherent rants and comments are written by developer PR people to make those against development look like loony NIMBYs? Masterfully well done.

Anonymous said...

What if? But not likely.

Anonymous said...

Talberts is a fantasticl Ice and Beverage Shop, a centerpiece of the community, great location and history, 1960's style architecture, superbly quick service, and best of all ice cold beer! I even remember buying my baseball cards and Big Buddys there as a kid.

Perhaps a "Save Talberts" campaign is needed? Where else am I going to buy my Bud Lights?

Anonymous said...

"1960's style architecture"

You say this like it is a good thing.

"superbly quick service"

Self-service, with a cashier.

"ice cold beer"

Like every other beer and wine store nearby.

"Where else am I going to buy my Bud Lights?"

At the Giant, the Drug Fair, 7-11 or all those gas stations, once Maryland gets rid of its restrictions on alcohol sales at chains.

Anonymous said...

How can we boot these council members out of office?

We need a plan and funds.

If they do not listen to their constituencies, then they should go.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:24 PM is an Army of One. LOL

Anonymous said...

Unelected being the key word.

Anonymous said...

1960s architecture. Yuck.

Anonymous said...

Nostalgia plays a nasty part with consumer sentiment resisting change. Adapt or die, right?

Anonymous said...

Is every commentor that disagrees a troll in your opinion? Would this question count as trolling?

Anonymous said...

I think 2:09s point was that they don't believe what you say so what's the point in reading?

Anonymous said...

"Riemer's John Oliver-reading-Mao's-Little-Red-Book-on-downers ideology"

I think the proper question to be asked is, did you have an epileptic fit while playing Scrabble?

Anonymous said...

Exactly, I guess they didn't like my "Save Talbert's" idea? I was even there today, boy never a wait and everyone is so helpful, love that old place!

Imagine having something new and exciting in Westbard, like a new and larger River Bowl, or a nice old style roller rink with different style skate night music themes, or a wonderful new modern community recreation center with an indoor lap pool and basketball court and weight room.

I know this is very wishful thinking when it comes to greedy developers and their cohorts but don't we deserve some ammenities???

Anonymous said...

Well as Dyer often says, you're either first or you're last, or something like that. And seems like the developers are winning.

Anonymous said...

There are no amenities. There never really were any. If you actually believed that you were going to get all the developers promised, you are truly stupid. The only "amenity" is low income housing. When did low income housing become an amenity? Amenity for whom?

And yes, developers are fundamentally greedy, that is the nature of their business, to make money and lots of it. They are not out to give the community amenities, but if they give the County Council "amenities" in the form of low income warehousing, well then, they expect to get their bonus density increase.

So yes, greed is driving this sector plan, and the planners just keep "going to the well". God forbid they should actually use the high taxes we already pay to provide infrastructure improvements. Nope, the County wants to barter with developers hoping if they offer them enough "sky's the limit" promises on density they will "put out" and give the community the little pittance of "amenities" our tax dollars can't be used for.

Vote them out.

Anonymous said...

Telling a NIMBY that their own house was built by a "developer" is like explaining to a child how they were conceived.

Why should a property owner be required to offer NIMBYs "amenities" in exchange for the "privilege" of allowing others to live in their neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

NIMBY is SO overused by people like you when you have no substantive argument. Frankly, I proudly defend my home and community which is the biggest investment I have ever made. NIMBY, you say that as if it were an insult.

I am a NIMBY and proud of it.

i worked hard, and picked the community I wanted to live in carefully. If I had wanted to live in the city, I would have moved there. What about that don't you understand? No one forced you to move to a quiet suburb. Why do you live somewhere you don't like?

Trump3 said...

You are proving my point, change the word amenity to a service where people go and pay money. What is so terrible about that? There aren't any, none, zip, zero, zilch..
Our Council members have the worst negotiating skills ever, even worse than a local DC community organizer from Chicago, and that's bad, real bad. Who wants to pay top dollar for rent when there's nothing to do. You can only walk/run/ride so many miles on the CCT.
The developers will lose big $$$

"The Great Westbard Flimflam 2016"

Anonymous said...

@ 7:26 PM said:

"If I had wanted to live in the city, I would have moved there. What about that don't you understand? No one forced you to move to a quiet suburb. Why do you live somewhere you don't like?"

You don't own the land in question. What about that don't you understand?

@ 7:40 PM - Why do you feel that our County councilmembers need to negotiate to get you "amenities" or "services" from properties that you don't own? You sound like a moocher.

"community organizer from Chicago"

What's a reactionary fossil like you doing in Montgomery County? You belong in Texas or Mississippi. Or at at least, no farther north than Stafford County, Virginia.

Robert Dyer said...

3:38: They have to because they're asking for height and density beyond what is allowed.

Anonymous said...

I find the bastardization of "NIMBY" to be fascinating.
Originally it had a positive connotation. These were people who forced issues to be reviewed, all part of the idea of joining together and helping the community grow in a smart way that gave every side a say. It may have been a politician in England who coined the phrase.

The negative connotation seems to have started with developers who decided that any change to their plan was bad, and all the fault of NIMBYs. There's a push to go back to thinking NIMBYs are a help in moving plans forward.

Interesting reading.

Kathy Davies said...

This is a terrific analysis of the situation. Thank you for your excellent work.

Anonymous said...

@8:52, Thank you for defending us NIMBYS. The folks hurling the word around will someday have to eat crow when they end up defending their own patch of land or community.

I have seen self proclaimed "urbanist" who called others NIMBY suddenly get very freaked out and NIMBYESQUE when they saw plans to put a new road next to their house, planners called it better "connections" for the community. Lol, it seems there is a little NIMBY in all of us.

As it should be.

Thank you Robert for your well written and acurate reporting.