WMAL Bethesda Project Nears Final Approval
Plans call for 309 homes at former radio tower site near Westfield Montgomery Mall
VIA Montgomery County Planning Department
Plans for a housing development on a Bethesda property that had been the home to WMAL radio towers and transmitter for seven decades are expected to get final approval from the county Planning Board this week.
Toll Brothers, one of the region’s largest builders, wants to put 309 houses on the 75-acre site, east of Greentree Road and north of the Capital Beltway.
The two-year-old plans have faced scrutiny and a lawsuit from neighbors who argued the development would worsen traffic and require the cutting of too many trees.
The Planning Board previously approved the project, but a drawn-out review process landed the project back before the board late last year. The Planning Board is expected to pass a formal resolution Thursday to complete the approval process.
In late 2017, a community group filed an unsuccessful legal challenge to the Planning Board’s approval. A Montgomery County judge said the site has been mostly empty for more than 50 years, except for an array of radio towers, and has long been slated for development.
Opponents said the Planning Board should require Toll Brothers to keep 15 acres of trees, as outlined in the county’s forest conservation standards.
To build roads and install noise barriers along the Beltway and Interstate 270, Toll Brothers said it can only save about 11 acres of trees.
Planning Board staff agreed that the conservation standards should be relaxed because of the property’s layout, the road design and the location of a 4.3 acre parcel the developer would to donate to the county for a potential school site.
Plans call for 159 single-family homes and 150 townhomes, complemented by 18 acres of open space and wetland protection.
While the land is listed on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, the designation does not restrict its use for housing.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at email@example.com