Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. Our organization works to ensure that transportation and development decisions in the Washington, D.C. region, including the Maryland suburbs, accommodate growth while revitalizing communities, providing more housing and travel choices, and conserving our natural and historic areas.
We want to express our strong support for the West Lane multi-family residential project because it enhances the diversity of housing choices and number of MPDUs within such close proximity to the Bethesda Metro station. This is a great benefit to the county and the region because the building provides more housing, especially affordable housing, in a job-rich area, next to Metro. This reduces overall traffic in the region, shortens commutes, reduces household transportation costs, and gives more moderate income households access to the jobs and amenities of a highly desirable community.
After reviewing the proposed plans and public record, consulting with residents, and walking the site, we believe that the project offers its housing benefits through a sensitive and appropriate approach to the building design. The proposed building provides an attractive contribution to a pedestrian-oriented environment and complements the existing nearby residential buildings.
We are especially pleased to see the building’s relationship to Montgomery Lane which forms a supportive urban pedestrian environment. The existing and planned buildings along the north side of Montgomery Lane form a continuous street edge, which the proposed West Lane building completes. The 12 foot upper story setback provides visual interest to the building and addresses concerns of neighbors. A greater setback is not necessary or desirable. A greater setback will not further enhance the ground-level pedestrian environment. In addition, further unnecessary shrinkage of the building could threaten the number of MPDUs provided, while offering no increased public benefit.
The public use space provided at the corner of West Lane and Montgomery Lane is a good approach if it incorporates the main entrance of the building. The public use space at this location achieves two important objectives. It decreases the mass of the building by stepping back the building’s frontage, but still maintains the important building line along the street edge. It also provides a usable urban public space for people to wait or meet friends. The success of the public use space is dependent upon the entrance of the building opening up onto the public use space.
The appropriately scaled building and the well planned public use space are compatible with the neighborhood. The increased number of units ensures more pedestrians on the street – which is consistent with the Sector Plan and a benefit to all. The Sector Plan’s housing diversity goals are also furthered by the West Lane project. The proposed units are smaller and more affordable than those offered in surrounding buildings and include a substantial number of MPDUs – all within 950 feet of the Metro station.
For all of these reasons, the Coalition for Smarter Growth urges approval of the 4831 West Lane project.
Thank you for your consideration.