Testimony before Rockville City Planning Commission:Support for Site Plan Application STP 2012-00112, 1900 Chapman Ave

Rockville City Planning Commission
111 Maryland Avenue
Rockville MD, 20850

RE: Support for Site Plan Application STP 2012-00112, 1900 Chapman Ave

Dear Commissioners:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. We are a regional nonprofit organization focused on ensuring transportation and development decisions accommodate growth while revitalizing communities, providing more housing and travel choices, and conserving our natural and historic areas.

We are pleased to express our support for the 1900 Chapman Ave project which will replace the old Syms building and surface parking lot with two street-oriented moderate-density apartment buildings. These new homes will be within a few hundred feet of the Twinbrook Metro station. We commend this proposal as the kind of transit-oriented development this city and region needs to remain sustainable and competitive.

Project fulfills city plans and smart growth goals

This project provides what the area needs — a significant amount of moderate-density multifamily housing next to a Metro station, with a pedestrian-oriented design that offers future retail space as the market matures. It fulfills the city’s intentions and plans to create a mixed use district where now outmoded commercial strip buildings and large surface parking lots dominate the landscape. This investment will make the area far more pedestrian-friendly. The project is an important contribution to accommodating demand to live in this area — close to jobs, stores and a Red line Metro station. Locating more housing in pedestrian-oriented development close to Metro is the best way to accommodate the strong housing demand in Rockville and the area. Accommodating growth here rather than elsewhere in the city or county reduces how much people have to drive and supports more walk, bike and transit-oriented retail and services. This project helps remake the auto-oriented commercial strip corridor into a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented, mixed use district next to a Metro station and transit corridor.

Project to deliver substantial number of moderately-priced homes

We commend the project for offering approximately 98 MPDUs (15% of total). These affordable units are an important contribution to a dwindling stock of housing that is within reach for moderate-income working households who are priced out of living in this job-rich corridor, let alone near Metro. Adding both the market-rate and affordable housing within walking distance of the Metro station, and close to tens of thousands of jobs is critical to reducing high-mileage commutes that contribute to clogging area roads and pollution.

City should reconsider parking standards

The relatively high parking supply conforms to city requirements. This parking standard is something the city should reconsider. Reducing parking would reduce vehicle traffic from the project. Through shared parking, greater use of carsharing services and more encouragement to ride transit, walk and bicycle, we could reduce the need for parking in new developments, especially near Metro. Reducing unnecessary parking also reduces costs, allowing for greater affordability or investment in other community amenities.

Project contributes to transformation of Rockville Pike into a sustainable, competitive place to live and work

By advancing this significant transit-oriented housing development, we are building a more sustainable community where new and existing residents can easily walk to Metro and nearby destinations. By walking, biking and riding transit more, residents can reduce how much they drive, reducing air and water pollution, and traffic. Providing more housing opportunities, especially more affordable housing opportunities in this area makes the city more competitive for employers concerned about recruiting a reliable workforce. Transforming Rockville Pike into a mixed use, pedestrian-oriented place will attract an exciting mix of young professionals, working families and retirees who all want to share in the convenience and enjoyment of walking more, driving less and interacting with their neighbors.

Thank you for your consideration.




Cheryl Cort
Policy Director