Dear Ms. Alfonso-Ahmed,
The Coalition for Smarter Growth appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Land Use Scenario Analysis (LUSA) shared with the community over the spring as part of the Plan Lee Highway visioning process.
CSG advocates for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all. The Lee Highway (future Langston Boulevard) corridor provides a great opportunity to plan for a future that accommodates new growth and development in a way that is inclusive, sustainable, and meets the community’s current and future transportation, housing, and livability needs.
CSG offers the following comments on the LUSA:
- The additional heights and greater potential for consolidation as part of the LUSA’s Scenario B will help facilitate more affordable multifamily housing in the corridor and help to produce more housing overall.
- Providing bonus heights to reach the maximum heights shown in Scenario B could be achieved in exchange for committed affordable units within those buildings. Similar zoning incentives are utilized elsewhere in the County. The Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Form Based Code allows for a bonus of either two or six stories for provision of affordable housing, and other RA zoning districts within the County are allowed up to 60 feet of additional height for projects with 100% committed affordable units.
- The edges of the commercial areas along the corridor are ideal places for Missing Middle Housing as a transition to the lower-density residential areas. As presented in the LUSA, however, it is unclear how the County plans to regulate development within the “two-family to low-scale multifamily residential” and areas of up to 4 stories in height. This lack of clarity has caused concern among some neighborhood residents. Since the Missing Middle Study is expected to include an analysis of this type of housing, it would be helpful for the county to conduct additional community outreach and discussions regarding the specifics of these transition areas once that study is further along.
To assuage concerns, the Preliminary Concept Plan should make clear that transition zones will be established to step down heights to nearby neighborhoods and include goals that these transition zones are expected to achieve and the potential forms that the development could take. It should further make clear that any action to move toward a possible redevelopment in these areas would be voluntary and that no forced acquisition or eminent domain will be a part of that process.
- The East Falls Church (EFC) area plan should be updated with the higher allowable heights and transition zones consistent with the rest of the corridor. The current EFC area plan does not allow for an adequate amount of development for a key Metro station that will also serve the future Route 7 Bus Rapid Transit. These updates should include not only the direct Metro station area but also the surrounding commercial and residential blocks to create a walkable, transit-oriented neighborhood befitting a major metro station area.
- The Cherrydale plan should also be updated to be consistent with the allowable heights and transition zones in the rest of the corridor. This means that additional height beyond what is in the original Cherrydale plan should be proposed.
Thank you for your consideration of our comments. We appreciate the opportunity to help develop a plan that helps guide the new Langston Boulevard corridor into a vibrant, inclusive, and transit-oriented corridor.