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Town of Chevy Chase
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Send Date:
11/12/2013 11:43:38 AM
Email Subject:
County Zoning Code Rewrite Update

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A full house of residents from the town and neighboring communities gathered in the Town Hall last month to hear about the local impact of Montgomery County’s first major zoning-code overhaul in 30 years.  Since that meeting, the Town has drafted comments which we will submit Tuesday night to the County Council committee currently undertaking the review.  Our draft comments are available for review here.

While the proposed code maintains the existing residential zone (R-60) throughout our town, there are several significant changes proposed that will affect Town residents. The meeting focused on several of these and on the importance of citizen participation now to let County Councilmembers know about residents’ concerns as the legislation is moving quickly to a Council vote.

Important changes proposed in the new zoning code:

  •          A new building type—Nonresidential Building—will be allowed within single-family neighborhoods “by right.” That means a building used for nonresidential activities could be built without any input from neighbors. A Nonresidential Building does not have to look like a house and it may have a surface parking lot. Nonresidential activities are allowed in single-family neighborhoods now, but they must be located in houses and so are less obvious and intrusive.

  •          Relaxed standards in the proposed “floating zone” process. The revised floating zone process would allow individual property owners, including those in single-family neighborhoods like ours, to more easily rezone their property to another zone type, such as high-density residential (duplexes, townhouses or apartments), commercial, industrial or commercial-residential zones. Once converted to one of these floating zones, very large buildings could be constructed and many nonresidential uses would be allowed.

  •          Fewer public amenities required for new commercial development. Under the proposed zoning code, developers of commercial properties surrounding the town and throughout the county can gain increased density and height for a project by choosing from a menu of “public benefit” options. The choice will be predominantly theirs with little input from adjacent communities. A County study of construction at White Flint reported that under the new approach to density bonuses developers are selecting market-driven amenities they would have included anyway—not those that offer real public benefits, such as the open spaces and community buildings communities have been able to negotiate for under existing zoning.

  •          Less open space in new commercial development- Much less open space will be required for new commercial developments under the optional method (the method used by most developers to gain increased height and density). The current requirement of 5% to 10% open space for projects on less than 3 acres is being reduced to 0% and the current requirement of 20% on larger lots will be reduced to 10%. And this reduction is occurring even for the new mixed-use commercial/residential zones (most of downtown Bethesda)!

County Council members need to hear your views as well. Send comments this week.  We’d recommend that they are brief, in your own words and polite. Also, let Council members know where you live.

Send these comments to Nancy Floreen, who is the chair of the committee undertaking the review this week.  We’d also recommend you send copies to both Nancy Navarro who is the President of the Council and to Roger Berliner, who is our District representative:

Nancy Navarro: councilmember.navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov

Roger Berliner: councilmember.berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov

Nancy Floreen: councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov

To find out more, visit the Town website at: www.townofchevychase.org.


Plain text message

A full house of residents from the town and neighboring communities gathered in the Town Hall last month to hear about the local impact of Montgomery County’s first major zoning-code overhaul in 30 years. Since that meeting, the Town has drafted comments which we will submit Tuesday night to the County Council committee currently undertaking the review. Our draft comments are available for review here [http://www.townofchevychase.org/DocumentCenter/View/971] .

While the proposed code maintains the existing residential zone (R-60) throughout our town, there are several significant changes proposed that will affect Town residents. The meeting focused on several of these and on the importance of citizen participation now to let County Councilmembers know about residents’ concerns as the legislation is moving quickly to a Council vote.

Important changes proposed in the new zoning code:


A new building type—Nonresidential Building—will be allowed within single-family neighborhoods “by right.” That means a building used for nonresidential activities could be built without any input from neighbors. A Nonresidential Building does not have to look like a house and it may have a surface parking lot. Nonresidential activities are allowed in single-family neighborhoods now, but they must be located in houses and so are less obvious and intrusive.

Relaxed standards in the proposed “floating zone” process. The revised floating zone process would allow individual property owners, including those in single-family neighborhoods like ours, to more easily rezone their property to another zone type, such as high-density residential (duplexes, townhouses or apartments), commercial, industrial or commercial-residential zones. Once converted to one of these floating zones, very large buildings could be constructed and many nonresidential uses would be allowed.


Fewer public amenities required for new commercial development. Under the proposed zoning code, developers of commercial properties surrounding the town and throughout the county can gain increased density and height for a project by choosing from a menu of “public benefit” options. The choice will be predominantly theirs with little input from adjacent communities. A County study of construction at White Flint reported that under the new approach to density bonuses developers are selecting market-driven amenities they would have included anyway—not those that offer real public benefits, such as the open spaces and community buildings communities have been able to negotiate for under existing zoning.

Less open space in new commercial development- Much less open space will be required for new commercial developments under the optional method (the method used by most developers to gain increased height and density). The current requirement of 5% to 10% open space for projects on less than 3 acres is being reduced to 0% and the current requirement of 20% on larger lots will be reduced to 10%. And this reduction is occurring even for the new mixed-use commercial/residential zones (most of downtown Bethesda)!

County Council members need to hear your views as well. Send comments this week. We’d recommend that they are brief, in your own words and polite. Also, let Council members know where you live.

Send these comments to Nancy Floreen, who is the chair of the committee undertaking the review this week. We’d also recommend you send copies to both Nancy Navarro who is the President of the Council and to Roger Berliner, who is our District representative:

Nancy Navarro: councilmember.navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov [mailto:councilmember.navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov]

Roger Berliner: councilmember.berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov [mailto:councilmember.berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov]

Nancy Floreen: councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov [mailto:councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov]

To find out more, visit the Town website at: www.townofchevychase.org [http://www.townofchevychase.org/Admin/www.townofchevychase.org] .

SMS message

Updates on the County Zoning Rewrite are available on the Town website at: www.townofchevychase.org.