Monday, February 27, 2017

Westmoreland Hills Citizens Association donates $5000 to Save Westbard lawsuit against county

The Westmoreland Hills Citizens Association officially announced yesterday it is donating $5000 to the Save Westbard lawsuit against Montgomery County. WHCA includes the neighborhoods of Westmoreland Hills, Spring Hill, Overlook, Westgate, Westhaven and Yorktown Village. "The substance of the [Westbard sector] plan is dishonest," said Celia Martin, who is running unopposed to be the new president of the WHCA. She said the plan, which was opposed by an overwhelming majority of area residents, "disregards that schools and roads are inadequate" to handle the influx of the more than 3000 new residents allowed by it.

Martin said residents were concerned about private meetings held between county officials and developer Equity One. Even if the lawsuit were to fail, she added, it "focuses much attention on how Montgomery County is developed," such as the influence of developers on the County Council and the planning process. More than 70% of the campaign funds received by the current County Council come from development interests. "By helping ourselves, we help other communities," Martin told a standing-room-only crowd at the Washington Waldorf School last night.

Westmoreland Hills joins Sumner, which has already ponied up $5000 for the lawsuit, which Sumner Citizens Association President Sid Clemans called "really the only practical way to stop or slow this process down." Residents whose testimony was (literally) entirely disregarded by the Montgomery County Planning Board last Thursday would likely agree. He mentioned traffic impacts as a major concern for his neighborhood, which is already going to bear the brunt of thousands of new vehicles related to the new intelligence campus on Sangamore Road.

Of planners' laughable claims that there is less traffic than there was ten years ago, Clemans said, "I don't know anyone here who agrees with that," to chuckles from the crowd. In fact, a recent study showed the intersection of River Road and Western Avenue - which will be traversed each morning by a majority of the thousands of new cars brought by the Westbard plan - is the third worst bottleneck in Montgomery County.

Also in attendance at the meeting, were the Rev. Segun Adebayo, Pastor-Elect of Macedonia Baptist Church, and five-term Kensington Mayor Peter Fosselman, who is running for the District 1 seat on the Montgomery County Council. Adebayo expressed his frustration with Thursday's Planning Board decision, which allows Equity One to move forward with its development plans, while providing no written or legally-binding assurances that the African-American cemetery investigation on Equity One's land will be conducted properly and with full transparency. He said the church is currently reaching out to additional allies at the county and national levels, and is prepared for "a long struggle. We're going to fight them."

A lawsuit similar in scope to Save Westbard's recently prevailed in the District. Ironically, the McMillan development was also proposed by Equity One's Westbard partner, EYA, and utilized the same architecture firm, Perkins Eastman. Both projects' renderings are eerily similar, showing proposed buildings as a series of boxes lined up in a row.


Anonymous said...

"3000 new residents"

From where did you get this number?

Robert Dyer said...

6:04: Simple - just applied the standard number of occupants per market-rate and MPDU unit to the total number of each such units allowed on Equity One and Capital Properties sites at Westbard. It's actually more than 3000.

Anonymous said...

What is this "standard number of occupants"?

Anonymous said...

1374 apartment units are planned for Westbard. A population of 3,000+ equates to 2.2 persons per unit. This figure is very plausible because:
-Many of the 1-bedroom units will be occupied by 2 people: couples or roommates.
-The unit mix includes 107 three-story townhomes. Bethesda realtor Matt Maury expects that many of the buyers of townhomes will include families with children.
-125 units in the Capital Properties building are to be reserved as workforce housing for municipal employees and their families,
-Some of the affordable units in the new building to be operated by the Housing Opportunities Commission will be two or more bedrooms and are intended for family occupancy.

Hence the very reasonable estimate of 3,000 people, or an average of roughly 2.2 per dwelling unit.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the civic associations of Westmoreland Hills and Somerset for donating to the Westbard lawsuit. That is $10,000 from just those two organizations.

I hope that other Westwood area neighborhood associations will donate, too.

The lawsuit, if successful, would invalidate the current oversized sector plan and open the door to a rewrite that would do a better job of protecting the African-American cemetery site, prohibiting construction in the Willett Branch Stream buffer zone, incorporating more green space for the public and sizing the project for compatibility with the nearby neighborhoods.

I have donated to the lawsuit and hope that more neighborhood associations and area residents will join me. Every penny helps.

Anonymous said...

The lawsuit is the only chance to make meaningful changes in the design of the Westbard project.

I attended the Planning Board hearing on February 23. Despite a great deal of testimony about the lack of green space and the failure to protect Willett Branch, the Planning Board approved these aspects of the developer's plan then and there.

Although an investigation will be made about the African-American cemetery, the Macedonia Baptist Church does not think that it has been given a fair hearing by the planners or the Planning Board and is skeptical about the eventual results.

The current planning process may make a few small changes on the margins, but the lawsuit is the only possibility for significant revision. Those who are unhappy about the current plan have one avenue for change: The lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

So what did Council Candidate Pete Fosselman say at this meeting? Fosselman is being paid by taxpayers to preside over giveaways to developers in the outrageous White Oak master plan as Leggett's "White Oak Development Coordinator". 13-25 million square feet of new development 6 miles away from a metro station in an area already one of the County's most severely congested. Oh I see, we are just paying him to run for office. Good to know.

Anonymous said...

Instead of having to file lawsuits against the county you live in might I suggest voting for a couple conservatives to have a more balanced government. A government that is not completely beholden to their developer friends, special interests, and an ideology that they know what is best for us The People! Your dreams of Urbanization, electric cars, road diets, and the rest of this crap have been rejected. Wake Up!