Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Westbard plan opposition causing Westbard Derangement Syndrome among MoCo political cartel

"We need a Councilman who
doesn't get all weak in the
knees when a developer
walks in the room"

- Robert Dyer, 2014

ANGER! MEAN! NASTY! RESENTMENT! TRUMP! These are the takeaways from named and unnamed sources among the tiny group of supporters of the Westbard sector plan who spoke to Washington Post reporter Bill Turque. The resulting article has been endorsed by developer Equity One, which is now using it in its PR campaign (see photo above). Opposed by the vast majority of residents, the plan is scheduled to be voted on by the Montgomery County Council this afternoon.

I commend Mr. Turque for giving this topic the coverage it deserves in the final weeks of the debate, and thought the article had many strong points. But since the loud voices of those representing the developers are being amplified by those developers after the article's publication, I have to make a few points to balance the scale. (Many of the anti-resident comments you see on the Post are coming from a developer-funded cadre based in the District who hang out daily at the Greater Greater Washington blog, a pro-developer blog whose owner has declined to reveal who funds his website; and the Coalition for Smarter Growth, another developer-funded entity)

While the article noted that 70 protesters marched outside the Council office building last week, it did not mention that hundreds of residents had marched at previous protests. While the (justified and appropriate) "boos and jeers" were mentioned, left unmentioned was that Equity One called in 4 police cruisers, hired security "muscle" and a tow truck to threaten protesters, and chase children and grandparents from the shopping center at a previous protest.

Also unmentioned were the nasty, personal attacks and anonymous threats directed at me on this blog, and toward other opponents of the plan online by its supporters. Yet, Councilmember Roger Berliner is portrayed as a weak victim of angry, nasty constituents. "The vitriol that has been expressed is the most I've ever experienced," Berliner is quoted as saying in the article.

While the nasty attacks against plan opponents have been very public here and elsewhere online, I have yet to see a shred of evidence of the "vitriol" Berliner claims to have received from opponents. Where is it?

Booing at a protest, when you come out and basically tell your constituents to "get over it" - while they are paying your six-figure salary, and their wishes are being completely ignored by their elected officials? To quote Gene Simmons, "Look at my little violin." It seems that "nasty vitriol" has about as much physical evidence as the "support" for the plan.

Those willing to go on the record to attack plan opponents included Timothy Tutt, senior minister at the Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ. Taking the side of out-of-state developers over his own neighbors, he lumped opponents of a development plan in with "the Trumpification of America - that it's okay to be mean and nasty to each other."

First of all, Mr. Tutt, show us evidence of any opponent of the Westbard plan being "mean and nasty." Please show us, sir. Second, do you condemn the "mean and nasty" attacks that people on your side actually have made publicly? I haven't heard you disavow those "mean and nasty" attacks and threats, sir. The absurdity of using "Trump" to attack a majority-Democratic neighborhood is only exceeded by the irrelevance of partisan politics to a land-use debate. Period.

Out of left-field comes an attack from Jeffrey Slavin, the mayor of the Town of Somerset, who calls those of us who oppose the plan "Johnny-come-latelys." I'm a life-long resident, Mr. Slavin, as are quite of few of those opposing the plan, and many more are longtime residents.

The Post article described Slavin merely as "a veteran neighborhood activist." It did not mention he is a real estate broker. It also did not mention that he put big money into a City of Rockville election to back a slate of candidates who favored a particular set of development projects. One of the development firms with a project endorsed by that slate was - EYA, Equity One's partner at Westbard! In fact, members of that slate voted to change Rockville's school capacity standards to permit the EYA development, over resident objections (sound familiar?).

I am shocked. Shocked! to hear that Mr. Slavin supports EYA's Westbard plans. He also made a completely false statement that "most of the communities are 'very pleased'" with the plan. Only 3% of residents favored the plan in a poll released yesterday, and opposition has been overwhelming in every form of public comment, testimony and email to County officials.

The article also omits that Slavin has been a NIMBY himself, attacking the Bethesda Fire Department's plan for a development closer to his home than the Equity One project. His "mean and nasty" attacks included calling the BFD board "tone deaf."

At least those two were willing to go on the record.

Many talking points in the article are clearly coming from Councilmembers, developers and planning officials. But they are not named. "County officials," "veteran neighborhood activists," "planners and lawmakers." But too scared to go on the record.

"Smart growth"? "New urbanism"? The Westbard plan is neither of those things. "Westbard" is nowhere close to being walking distance to Metro. Transit is nearly non-existent. There isn't even direct bus access to downtown Bethesda!

Contrary to the article's statement that emails between planning officials and developers "show nothing improper," the emails in fact reveal a secret meeting between Planning Board chair Casey Anderson and developer Equity One. In violation of ex parte communication rules, Anderson (and potentially other commissioners) failed to disclose that meeting at the next public business of the board.

The bottom line? The County political machine is having a temper tantrum, faced with an unprecedented resident uprising that is spreading countywide - Westbard, downtown Bethesda/Chevy Chase (CBAR citizen group), Luxmanor and the Walter Johnson cluster, the Carver coalition vs. the County Council over the wacky bus depot plan, Lyttonsville, Rockshire in Rockville, Keep Damascus Rural, the Belward Farm battle, the list goes on and on. The electoral consequences are clearly underestimated by the Council, just as Sid Kramer and other Election Day losers didn't know what hit them in 1990.

As the Council votes today, remember what I said back in 2014: "We need a Councilman who doesn't get all weak in the knees when a developer walks in the room." Get ready for a weak-kneed vote this afternoon from the Montgomery County political cartel, suffering from a "mean and nasty" case of Westbard Derangement Syndrome.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is great unbiased reporting! Thank you for telling the truth from all perspectives!!

Anonymous said...

Robert Dyer delivers only the truth! Al that matters is the opinion of the current Weatbars residents! Save Westbard from change!

Anonymous said...

Please county council don't allow the property owner to build on their own land. Please don't accept what they offer to the community in exchange for the more density the county might need but we don't want right here because it affects us too much and it's never enough that they give to others because it doesn't affect us enough. Anywhere but here, county council!

Anonymous said...

I moved here for the schools and now more people will move in to for the schools and it will be even more overcrowded! More people shouldn't be allowed to move in. Enough is enough. The schools are too overcrowded and this development will push it over the edge after my family!

Anonymous said...

Westbard is too far from the metro to build this kind of density. Push new development out of here and further away please!

Anonymous said...

@5:09

Uninformed comment.

This plan will get approved, so all of this is moot

Dyer, the secret meeting you keep bringing up is actually hilarious. Happens all the time for good reason. Guys, besides schools and traffic...which are valid concerns that will be addressed via traffic studies and agressive TDM plans, parking restrictions etc. (you can argue whether or not these are enforeable, but in a lot of cases they are)...there really isnt a whole lot to argue about here. Equity isn't knocking down anyone's homes. Nor are they reliquishing anyone's legal rights. People have a right to participate in this process, no doubt, but the sentiment here from Dyer and Save Westbard is really hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

Let's complain endlessly about overcrowded schools. Then let's complain even louder when the County proposes to build new schools to relieve the overcrowding.

Anonymous said...

Breaking News: Robert Dyer primary suspect in Damascus HS vandalism:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ChetpPWWwAAgR0X.jpg

Anonymous said...

Trolls sure are twitchy today.

Anonymous said...

I know who funds Greater Greater Washington -- the founder (Alpert) does. He was an early employee at Google and did well financially. The contributors on the blog do it for free, so it doesn't cost much to run the site.

I know this from trusted sources who have been to parties at his house, and have written articles for his blog. I'd also hardly call them pro-developer -- they seem strong advocates of public transporation, and were big supporters of the Purple Line for example.

Anonymous said...

6:29: Ah yes the PL which similar to the Westbard and greater MoCo over development fiasco, has zero public support.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a case of Dyer Derangement Syndrome. The Wash Post reporter did a fine job. I can understand why he didn't report on the previous protests -- he wasn't there, and the only accounts he'd have to go by are the Save Westbard people. A good journalist would need to thoroughly investigate those claims, which is hard to do without impartial eyewitnesses.

Also, Westbard is a lot closer to the Metro than many other high-density developments in MoCo. It also has 7 day a week bus service to the Friendship Heights Metro, and it would be easy to increase frequency should demand require it.

Westbard isn't Germantown or Clarksburg, where the nearest Metro station is 10 miles away down I-270. It's a dense area where the nearest Metro is a bit more than a mile away. It's even walkable on a nice day.

Anonymous said...

6:35: Right can't leave out the BRT supporters, another bizarre initiative. Decrease traffic and pollution......by adding more buses. Got it.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:40 AM - If you think that people riding buses instead of cars increases traffic, then you suck at arithmetic.

Anonymous said...

6:48 And if you think that BRT is going to fix anything, you suck at reality.

Anonymous said...

I predict that Dyer will sleep through the final vote on the Westbard plan and get scooped by other places, just as he did with the openings of the Montgomery Mall Transit Center, Tapp'd, the relocated Woodmont Avenue, and the parking garage on that same block.

Anonymous said...

You both suck at conversation, jesus

Anonymous said...

That's not a very nice thing to say to Our Precious Lord and Saviour.

Anonymous said...

7:11 - No conversation needed, BRT and PL are ill thought out projects with no public support. Short sentences will do.

Anonymous said...

"No public support"

Really?

Anonymous said...

STAND ASIDE, IT WILL BE BUILT.

Anonymous said...

7:25 Oh yeah, trolls are angry now. Little angry things jumping up and down. Huh.

Anonymous said...

I HEARD WESTBARD REDEVELOPMENT WILL MEAN MORE OBAMACARE DEATH PANELS FOR THE ELDERLY!!!!

Anonymous said...

FWIW, Dyer has given more in-depth and accurate coverage to the Westbard story than any other media entity. He's on the mark that:
-The Westbard sector planning process has been tilted toward the Intests of developers, in this case Equity One and Capital Properties.
-Planning Board chair Casey Anderson violated ex parte (sunshine) rules
-Most Westbard residentsare unhappy with the revised sector plan-- although it is an improvement over the original version. The issue isn't thr new retail, it's building heights and residential densities.
-The Westbard plan is a perversion of the smart growth principles that it purports to uphold.

G. Money said...

7:20 - You're insane, the Purple Line has plenty of support. I support it and I know many others who do as well. Maybe it has no support from people whose property it abuts between Bethesda and Silver Spring, but it will be an important addition for both Montgomery and PG counties.

Anonymous said...

And in 10 years, the developers are gone (they've gotten their big bucks,) the council members have moved on to jobs with those same businesses who put extra $$$ in their pockets, the transit never materialized & the schools are using portable classrooms.
The additional density has made prices even higher, the taxes aren't covering the costs> But it was worth it, we'd do it again! Say the developers and politicos, "we got rich from it."

Anonymous said...

7:30 I heard that typing in all caps is YELLING. Why so angry?

7:35: Agreed.

7:20 I very well could be insane, but not about the PL. Much has been written, discussed about lack of viability. It's been punted from one politician to another for years.

Anonymous said...

Sorry G Money. There are many of us who are against the PL who live nowhere NEAR the effected properties.

Anonymous said...

7:44 The developers (and their original set of investors) make their $$ and are out pretty quickly, then on to the next round of investors, retailers, etc. If the project loses money the developer doesn't take the hit.

Anonymous said...

Slavin is tossing rhetorical grenades at Westbard over the walls of his "town".

And Dyer reports that Slavin is a NIMBY with connections to EYA and is against upgrading our fire department.
You can't make this stuff up!

Anonymous said...

@ 7.30 am: You're shouting. You're boring. Can't you come up with something more substantial to say? Trolls out in force. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

7:59 I didn't say trolls out in force, I said they were getting increasingly angry and twitchy. Yawn backatcha, but au contraire, it's real entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Levels seem to be rising in conjunction with Westbard supporter levels of anxiety. Seems rather proportional.

Anonymous said...

7:49AM (#1), exactly.

7:49A< (#2) Slavin was in full NIMBY mode on other issues. He must be getting something for supporting Westbard developers. You can't make that up either.

Anonymous said...

@ 6.35 AM:
1)Dyer attended the earlier Westbard protests. The headcount was at least 200.
2)Westbard is about 1.3 miles from Friendship Heights, but it is an area dominated by well-established single-family neighborhoods. It is nearer to Kenwood Country Club (~.5 miles?) than Friendship Heights. This is a suburban area served by a shopping center and the commercial strip along River Road.
3)The plan before the Council will add approximately 2,000 cars in a .3 mile area. This is in addition to the 2,000+ cars that will be brought into the area by the new Intelligence Campus off of Massachusetts Avenue immediately south of Westbard. The Westbard area is already congested. What will 4,000 new vehicles per day bring?
4)You are correct that buses do serve the Westbard area, but service is inconsistent. I agree that service should be improved, but this is under the purview of WMATA, not Montgomery County. Yes, developer-run shuttle buses between the Metro and Friendship Heights will be helpful, but I think that it is safe to say that traffic in the Westbard area will increase significantly as a result of this redevelopment, especially in combination with the cars brought into the area due to the Intelligence Campus.
5)I support the redevelopment of the shopping center, its excess land and the parcels held by Equity One. The question is one of appropriate scale. The sector plan before the Council would permit the construction of 1,380 residential units at heights up to 110 feet. The Save Westbard group advocates a maximum building height of 50 feet (a height restriction supported by all or most community groups in the area) and the addition of 580 new housing units. What no one on the Council has explained: Why is there no room for additional compromise between these proposals?

Anonymous said...

@9.05 AM makes a good point: Why is there no room for compromise between Save Westbard and the Council?

Anonymous said...

Uh this is the compromise.

Anonymous said...

Additional compromise. Reading comprehension. SMDH.

Anonymous said...

9.10 AM... Not much of a compromise, That is the problem.

Anonymous said...

9:08 said "Why is there no room for compromise between Save Westbard and the Council?"

Not sure why he is SHDH when he never said additional compromise.

Any more compromise and it would be a compromise. Hahaha.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:17 AM: The Council put off its vote. Constituents are still very unhappy. Additional compromise would seem obvious. That's how representative government is supposed to work.

Anonymous said...

Why do Dyer's shills comments (such as @9:17) often sound like they were written in Morse Code?

"Any more compromise and it would be a compromise."

Quote of the Day. :P

Anonymous said...

Where is Dyer on this breaking news? There are Bethesdans who want to know.

And why is it on the developer who must "compromise"? How about some compromises from the NIMBYs?

Anonymous said...

@6.29: Worth pointing out that major developers actively support mass transit expansion because it creates more development opportunities. There's even a term for it: Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). TOD works extremely well in urban centers.

In the case of Westbard, though, the County Council is supporting the D (high density development) without the T-O (transit orientation.)

Yes, Westbard needs redevelopment, but on a scale suitable for surrounding urban neighborhoods,

Anonymous said...

Dyer is probably at the council meeting. Currently discussing Westbard.

Anonymous said...

9:05 wrote: "Why is there no room for additional compromise" on Westbard?

Excellent question.

The developers have not compromised to any meaningful degree. The revised Westbard plan up zoned the development sites of Equity One and Capital Properties.

The cutbacks affecting privately-owned land were all for sites not actively under development,

Anonymous said...

Hey, 9:17 here. The only thing I shill for is education. Morse code? You must mean the acronym SMDH. It stands for shaking my damn head. See how wonderful education can be?

Anonymous said...

@ 11:14: People who live in Westbard have already compromise to the tune of 1300+ housing units and 2,000 cars.

Now it is the developers' turn:

Anonymous said...

You were right that 9.05 was asking for additional compromise on Westbarf and that 9.08 was agreeing with 9.05,

I agree with them both. The Council and Save Westbard could meet in the middle on the amount of new development, the developers would still make a lot of money, there would be a new shopping center and housing, and the Council would have listened to constituents,

Why is that so hard?

Anonymous said...

Riemer is no friend to Montgomery County.
Berliner started out well, but did mention this Westbard plan will probably vote him out.
Elrich is the man, refreshing honesty. Not one insult of constituents. Even calling out how this process has been so flawed. He is phenomenal.

Anonymous said...

"Not one insult of constituents."

Robert Dyer could follow Elrich's example.

Anonymous said...

"Westbarf"? LOL

Anonymous said...

It is a good thing that Dyer covers Westbard. There is no alternative source for detailed coverage.

(Bethesda Beat occasionally reports, the WaPo has done some minor stories, but Dyer is the only one who has reported in depth. Of course, that's part of the problem-- without public scrutiny, the Council can do what it wants.)

Anonymous said...

And it's done and over. (Is Floreen on drugs? She sounds slurry.)

Anonymous said...

"I have yet to see a shred of evidence of the "vitriol" Berliner claims to have received from 'opponents. Where is it?"

LOL maybe you ought to take the hands from off your ears. Many Westbard Plan opponents have publicly acknowledged the vulgar and uncivilized behavior by many of their peers.

Anonymous said...

"yet to see a shred of evidence"
"maybe you ought to take the hands from off your ears"
Anatomy 101 - you don't see with your ears

Anonymous said...

them wealthy folk dont like it when low income housing is forced on the community. gotta keep them peoples out of here! gotta keep the neighborhood safe and wh_te! that's what this is really about.

Anonymous said...

Always funny how someone will post on another site, with their name, and then post the same thing here and think they're anonymous.

Anonymous said...

1:27, how many times did you post that same comment into multiple blog posts here. Hahaa

Anonymous said...

Each time i recognized someone from other area blogs.

Anonymous said...

You are so special!

Anonymous said...

Did Robert Dyer just quote himself from 2014?

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey Zane Slavin is not only a real estate broker, but also a developer in his own right. Mr. Slavin has been buying and selling land in Montgomery County for years and doing business with major real estate developers for many years as well.

Two and half years ago, for example, Slavin sold several acres of prime Rockville property to FinMarc Development (Bethesda) for more than $5.4M.

In the 2014 Montgomery County election cycle, Slavin gave $40,759.67 to local candidates.

Slavin routinely threatens to sue citizens and even locally elected officials for calling him out as a developer.

Slavin is only in it for his bottom line and his ego. He could care less about citizens and our children.

If you’ve had enough of pompous silver-spoon elites, like Slavin, feel free to give Jeff a call and let him know how you feel:

C. J. O'Shaughnessy, Inc. Realtors (Owned by Slavin)
200A Monroe Street
Suite 105
Rockville, MD 20850-4400

Home: 301-654-6767