How Tall Could Friendship Heights Become?
Under the proposed zoning code rewrite, buildings could stretch higher.
Friendship Heights—one of Chevy Chase's "newer" developments—may see some zoning changes ahead that could make the community taller, depending on how the county's zoning rewrite project review plays out.
County planning staff's draft of the new zoning code for the county was recently released for public comment, and is available online.
Those who have been keeping a close eye on the development of the new code have already identified some potential problem spots.
Patricia Baptiste, chair of the Chevy Chase Village Board of Managers and a community representative on the 23-member Zoning Advisory Panel, recently pointed out that the height of some buildings in Friendship Heights could potentially more than double under the zoning rewrite.
In particular, the Saks Fifth Avenue building (5555 Wisconsin Ave. in Chevy Chase), which is currently about 60 feet tall, could be built to a little more than 140 feet under the proposed code, Baptiste said at a public meeting earlier this summer at Chevy Chase Village Hall. (The Saks building is in the Friendship Heights neighborhood, but is technically part of Chevy Chase Village.)
Baptiste worries that changes under the new zoning code—which will "reduce or consolidate 123 existing zones into 30 proposed zones," the planning website states—are not sympathetic enough to current conditions.
"They’re making these changes with a cudgel ... they’re making these changes in a very crude way," she added.
"When the changes are approved and the new Zoning Code [is] enacted, there is a great likelihood that it will be applied comprehensively to EVERY property in the County, without sufficient or accurate notice to each property owner," Baptiste wrote in a meeting handout.
Baptiste added, in the handout, that it "is essential that residents demand the following:"
- "No changes to residential zones."
- "No rezoning of commercial areas until the Master Plan for the Area is reviewed."
- "No application of the new Zoning Code without notice to every individual property owner specifically listing every change in use and development standards for that property AND setting out changes in use and development standards for abutting, confronting and nearby properties that would impact the property owner receiving notice."
To read the draft of the zoning rewrite, visit the planning department's website.
To comment on the proposed zoning rewrite, add a comment to the planning department's website.
What do you think of the proposed zoning code rewrite? Is reducing the number of zones from 123 to 30 too drastic for Montgomery County? What about for Chevy Chase? Tell us in the comments.