Friday, June 7, 2013

Takoma Metro site development plans

A joint DC-MD letter to the community --

Dear Takoma DC and Takoma Park, Maryland neighbors,

We are elected officials representing the area that includes and surrounds the Takoma Metro station. As officials, we reached out to WMATA (Metro) to understand the agency's intentions regarding development at the station. WMATA executives briefed us last Friday, May 31. We very much appreciate the executives' willingness to meet, and we feel community members also deserve to know about WMATA's plans.

Proposed New Building At Takoma Metro

WMATA is working with development partner EYA toward creating a 255-unit, five-story residential structure at the Takoma Metro site. The five stories include ground-level parking for transit users and a level of parking for residents with three stories of one- and two-bedroom apartments above the parking. There would be a step-back of the upper levels on the Eastern Avenue side to three stories.

The structure would replace the current paved parking area. The current set of bus bays would be preserved in place, with the addition of one bus bay and three bus layover spaces carved from the current park. WMATA would claim the right to place an additional bus loop or other transit functions in the park in the future. WMATA would also construct a bicycle-parking structure, for transit users, on the station grounds.

The revised design is at least a partial victory for community members, who had pointed out that EYA's previous design, over 80 townhouses with two-car garages and new surface streets to  support them, was the antithesis of transit-oriented design.

But 255 residences are more than twice the 65-95 units called for in the District of Columbia's Small Area Plan for the site. And this would be the largest project by far in the area around the station. The planned 255 units, supported by nearly 200 residential parking spaces, would have a significant Takoma-area impact that must be thoroughly analyzed.

Timing

The WMATA Board is set to hold its first vote on the project in late July. They would hold a public hearing in mid to late September. The public may comment throughout the WMATA process. The project also needs approval from DC's Zoning Commission as a Planned Unit Development.

We thank WMATA for a proposal that preserves for the immediate future much of the existing park, includes a bicycle facility, adds connections to the Metropolitan Branch Trail, includes a station-planning study, and makes future transit services possible at the site. However, a project of this size at a mass transit facility calls for a comprehensive traffic study which would thoroughly analyze this project's likely impacts on vehicular traffic and pedestrian safety. We ask that it be completed prior to the WMATA public hearing.

We think that the community needs more time to analyze the proposal and will ask to modify the timetable.

Next Steps

We are working to quickly gather information about this development and determine the best ways that the Takoma DC and Maryland communities can have their voices heard. For cross-neighborhood discussions, we invite you to join a new TakomaMetro email list. Join via the Web site or by sending a message to TakomaMetro-subscribe@yahoogroups.com . If you have ideas, please share them on the Takoma Metro list - or email us directly. We will be back in touch ASAP as we have more information and suggestions on how to move forward.

We will use the list and a Web site to keep you informed.

Sincerely,

Sara Green, ANC 4B01 Commissioner and ANC 4B Chair (ancsaragreen@yahoo.com)

Faith Wheeler, ANC 4B02 Commissioner and ANC 4B Vice Chair (fewdcc@gmail.com)

Seth Grimes, Takoma Park City Council, Ward 1 (SethG@takomaparkmd.gov)

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