Saturday, November 15, 2014


From Robert Dyer,
Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Posted Nov 15, 2014. 
For the full post go here.

"This is crazy!"
Friday brought one of the most contentious meetings of the Westbard Sector Plan charrette, and not surprisingly, the topic was schools. Current and future public school parents in the Wood Acres-Pyle-Whitman cluster acutely aware of existing overcrowding questioned how Montgomery County planners could recommend a high-density growth plan for Westbard in that context.
Concept 1 - all of the red
structures are new apartment
Planners released their first projections for total housing units, and students to be generated by the plan, at the meeting. Those numbers were met with skepticism. Under a full build-out of Concept 1, Westbard residents would find 2529 apartments dropped into their community. That would, under the current U.S. census bureau statistic of 2.58 persons per housing unit, bring 6525 new residents (and 12724 additional cars!) to the 153 acres that comprise the Westbard Sector. In other words, 43 people per acre, which is quite a change from the area's single-family-home suburban character.
The Planning Department projection calculated Friday predicts 306 new students, with 153 of them being elementary school students. Those numbers generated some grumbling among the crowd of residents at the meeting. If one has been on Westbard Avenue when the school buses stop there in the morning, you know there are quite a few students coming from those few buildings now. In fact, Park Bethesda alone has 59 students, and Westwood Tower adds 65. Unfortunately, the chart shown did not have the numbers for the Kenwood Place condominium, which is also in the Walt Whitman HS cluster.

MCPS' infamous forecaster Bruce Crispell made a late arrival to the meeting, but tried to generate some numbers more in line with what we've seen in the Westbard area. Crispell's calculator gave him a projection of 750 students, more than double what planners forecast - and equal to the size of the entire Wood Acres ES population, one resident noted. In the context of 6525 people coming under Concept 1, 750 still sounds a bit low.


  1. The outdoor parking lot location
    Is what drives us all to the site
    If it is cluttered with construction
    There will be a mass guest flight.
    The landscape will be filled with holes
    That the customers will swerve to miss
    Stray nails will cause a rash of flat tires
    And all the drivers will swear and hiss.
    So do us a nice favor Mr. Derfield
    And interview as many as you can
    For we love the free and open field
    And we will not come back again!

  2. This is what you voted for, politicians in the pockets of developers. Phil Andrews ran for county executive in the primary vowing to change this cozy cronyism. If you did not pay attention to the election and its issues, you are at fault for the results.

  3. Contemporary Morlocks building the infrastructure for the Eloi.

  4. Send an e-mail opposing the redevelopment by September 23 to these addresses: & &

    If you are not from Springfield, replace it with the name of your neighborhood. The County claims that so far nobody has opposed the level of density planned for Westbard.

    Subject: I Oppose Excessive Densities at Westbard

    Dear Chair Anderson,

    I am writing to oppose excessive densities at Westbard as proposed in the Draft Sector Plan submitted in July 2015.

    I am a resident of the Springfield neighborhood in Bethesda that is adjacent to the Westbard redevelopment site.

    I oppose the plan as it will add up to 2,000 residential units which will:

    •Double density an area that is not a major county employment center and has limited mass transit. Metrobus and Ride-On—are limited and inefficient.

    •Guarantee that traffic within the area will always be congested. Now, much of the traffic along River Road and Massachusetts Avenue is “pass through” traffic – commuters who live in areas west of Westbard and in Virginia. With the addition of approximately 5,000 new residents, traffic within our area will always be clogged.

    •Add 75 to 80 foot buildings into a sector where taller buildings are the exception, not the rule, a sector surrounded by single-family homes and townhouse communities. Adding additional 75-80-foot buildings will transform the sector to an urban center. Westbard is a village – not a TOWN CENTER.

    •Burden our already overcrowded schools in the Whitman Cluster. The Wood Acres Elementary School was so far over capacity that it is currently undergoing an expansion which will only accommodate the pre-renovation population of the school. The Pyle Middle School is already over capacity (115%) and the Whitman High School is already over capacity (101%).

    Please revise the Sector plan to reduce the number of residential units and lower the building heights. Westbard is a suburban village, not a urban city center.

    1. When you write a letter please mention that schools in the BCC cluster are also overcrowded. Redistricting is one of the "solutions" that the planners are proposing.

      What is perhaps most frustrating is that when you call Berliners' office with your concern about schools you will be told not to worry because the PTAs have it all under control. That is not true. Nobody has any idea where all those new kids from Westbard could go. All the schools are over capacity.

    2. Families in the B-CC cluster have to advocate for themselves because their cluster reps have not shown any interest in what is happening with Westbard. They have not communicated with anybody and have not signed up to testify at a public hearing on September 24. What a waste.


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