The Montgomery County Planning Department briefed the Montgomery County Planning Board on the update to the implementation of the 2017 Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan at their meeting on July 28, 2022. The 2022 Annual Monitoring Report details the plan’s progress between May 2021 and May 2022 on school capacity, new parks and open spaces and transportation adequacy. The report also presents information on recent development activity in downtown Bethesda and the status of the Bethesda Overlay Zone (BOZ).
This annual monitoring report is presented to the Planning Board in the spring/summer of each year and transmitted to the Montgomery County Council for review.
Highlights from the report
- Construction: The following projects are currently under construction: 7000 Wisconsin Avenue, Metro Tower, 8015 Old Georgetown Road, 7607 Old Georgetown Road, the Claiborne, and Auburn Avenue.
- Schools: In the current academic year, schools in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster are experiencing the following capacity utilization rates: 88% at the elementary school, 78.3% at the middle school and 96.7% at the high school.
- Parks and Open Space: Since 2017, sixteen development sites have been approved with Park Impact Payments (PIPs) requirements totaling over $19 million. So far, eight PIPs have been submitted totaling $14,244,808, and the remaining approved PIPs are expected to be paid during the next few years.
- Transportation: The County Executive and Montgomery County Department of Transportation are no longer pursuing the Bethesda Unified Mobility Program (BUMP) and are exploring alternative funding mechanisms for local infrastructure.
- Implementation Committee: The Planning Board reappointed three members to additional terms and appointed two new members to the Bethesda Downtown Plan Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC).
- Design: The Design Advisory Panel has reviewed four new projects since April 2021: 4901 Battery Lane, 8001 Wisconsin Avenue, 4725 Cheltenham Drive, and 7126 Wisconsin Avenue.
Bethesda Overlay Zone (BOZ) Update
The Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan recommended the creation of the Bethesda Overlay Zone. The Montgomery County Council, through Zoning Text Amendment 16-20, Ordinance No. 18-28, adopted the Bethesda Overlay Zone in July 2017 to implement the recommendations of the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan as it relates to density, building heights, affordable housing goals, parks and open space and design.
About the Bethesda Downtown Plan
The 2017 Approved and Adopted Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan is being implemented through focused coordination between public and private interests. The plan’s vision stems from the goals and recommendations within this Sector Plan to enhance Downtown Bethesda over the next 20 years. The aim of the Plan is to achieve a truly sustainable downtown by focusing on components that will bolster the elements in most need of enhancement including increased parks and open space, affordable housing, environmental innovation, economic competitiveness and design excellence. The Plan’s vision will be implemented through various actions, including zoning, a park impact payment, and annual monitoring and reporting.