BROOKDALE DOCUMENTS FROM 1997
THE FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS SECTOR PLAN
BROOKDALE CITIZENS' ASSOCIATION
THE PROPOSED FRIENDSHIP HEIGHTS SECTOR PLAN
The Brookdale community, bordering the GEICO site, is valuable to
Montgomery County and is recognized by the Bethesda-Chevy Chase
Master Plan as a desirable community to be preserved and
protected. Brookdale favors reasonable development and supports
the County policy of concentrating development near Metro
stations. For its part, the County has a longstanding commitment
for the GEICO site to remain a transition area from the Central
Business District to the adjacent residential community. The
Citizens' Advisory Committee underscored the need for the GEICO
site to continue to provide a transition.
The Planning Board's (Final) Draft Sector Plan broke this
longstanding commitment and rejected fundamental needs of the
community. The Board's approach to the GEICO site started with
high, unsubstantiated levels for square feet of office space and
number of dwelling units. With the Board's insistence that its
initial, arbitrary levels of office space and dwelling units were
fixed, the later introduction of needed green space leaves the
proposed Sector Plan with crowded, urban densities and intrusive
building heights. The community urges the Montgomery County
Council to adopt instead a Sector Plan that incorporates the
An adequate Sector Plan requires building heights and density
appropriate to a transition zone.
The visual intrusion into Brookdale of proposed nine-story
and six-story office buildings along Friendship Boulevard is
inconsistent with a transition zone. The height of any such
office buildings should be limited to four stories above the
level of adjacent streets. (The depression at the corner of
Willard Avenue and Friendship Boulevard allows actual building
heights greater than four stories.)
Similarly, four-story townhouses as proposed are
unacceptable. To provide the desired transition, the height of
any townhouse must be limited to two and one half stories.
Office space should be limited to the level now constructed.
The Planning Board's proposal exceeds the need for office space
projected by its own staff, and the current office building
provides more space than the owner needs.
The number of dwelling units must be limited to assure the
quality housing that the land value requires and to avoid
burdening the county schools further.
In addition, the combination of office and residential uses
must be low enough to avoid exacerbating the area's traffic
congestion, already intolerable. The 1974 Sector Plan scaled
down development, recognizing that existing roads were at
We expect that applying the above principles will result in
no more than 514,257 sq. ft. of office space and 200 dwelling
units. (The figure of 200 implies approximately twice the
current R-60 density.) This would total approximately 1 million
gross sq. ft. of development.
An adequate Sector Plan also requires an effective buffer between
Brookdale and new development.
A buffer of green space should continue along the entire
boundary between Brookdale and the GEICO site, from Western
Avenue to Willard Avenue. The buffer should extend a minimum of
120 feet from any existing lot line and the eastern edge of
Brookdale Park. To account for the configuration of lot lines
along Cortland Road, the eastern edge of the buffer along that
part of the boundary should be determined as 215 feet from
Cortland Road (assuming the current 95-foot lot depth).
Existing mature trees must be preserved, and additional
heavy landscaping must be implemented to provide a visual screen.
No road access should be contemplated between the GEICO site
The entire buffer together with the Brookdale park must be
dedicated to M-NCPPC, and the Plan must assure preservation of
the park's natural state.
Either location proposed in the Draft Plan for a playing
field, intruding upon the buffer or Brookdale Park, is
Adopted April 10, 1997
In answer to what's happening on the Friendship Heights
Sector Plan (10-24-97):
A committee of the County Council (the PHED Committee) is in the
midst of "work sessions" on the Plan. Their starting point has
been the Draft Plan prepared by the Planning Board. Committee
members are Hanna (Chair), Berlage, and Potter. Hanna is
considered to support the developers, without possibility for
influencing him; Berlage and Potter are thought to be more open.
The Committee has met twice, will meet again at 2 p.m. on Monday,
November 3, in Rockville. They probably will meet after that,
possibly November 17; but the time has not been set.
After the PHED Committee has gone through the Plan, it will make
recommendations to the full County Council about any changes to
the Draft. The Council will then act on the Plan, hoping to
finish before the end of 1997, but their debate will most likely
go into 1998.
Dave Montgomery has talked with Berlage and Potter about the need
for keeping the GEICO site as a true transition between
businesses and Brookdale. They both seemed somewhat sympathetic
but did not commit themselves to any position.
In preparation for the consideration by the full Council,
Association officers have also met with President Praisner,
Leggett, and Krahnke. Dacek will not vote on any of the Plan
(conflict of interest).
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