Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Residents want to protect the character of Fenton Village - Gazette

With projects under way and others proposed, forum hears concerns over density, aesthetics and infrastructure

by Jason Tomassini | Staff Writer | Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008

Residents and merchants in Fenton Village urged county officials and builders last week to protect the neighborhood's small businesses and residential character as developers look to revitalize the area through new zoning that allows for greater density.

More than 40 residents and county officials attended a forum Oct. 15 at the Nora School on Sligo Avenue to voice concerns about future projects planned for the neighborhood. While most agreed that revitalization was needed in Fenton Village, residents were concerned about possible negative impacts on the neighborhood.

"We do not have enough police, road capacity, recreation, electricity, water or sewers for the people who are here now," said Karen Roper, a member of the nearby East Silver Spring Citizens Association. "We want to know how we are going to accommodate this density."

Fenton Village is defined as the neighborhood just south of downtown Silver Spring, bordered by Fenton Street to the east, Georgia Avenue to the west, Wayne Avenue to the north and Burlington Avenue to the south. It is known for its long-established, service-oriented shops and locally-owned restaurants that contrast with newer shops in nearby Silver Plaza at Georgia and Colesville Road.

With several developments planned and a zoning text amendment allowing for greater density in the neighborhood, the forum gave residents a chance to voice concerns on everything from density to infrastructure, building heights and rents.

"This is an area that's starting to be developed," said Deborah Linn of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board. "… We hope that this is the next area [of revitalization]."

John Marcolin, an urban designer with the Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Commission, outlined the zoning changes approved by the Montgomery County Council in July that allow for a maximum height of 90 feet for buildings along Georgia within Fenton Village's planning area.

Zoning also allows building heights on Georgia at 110 feet to accommodate workforce housing units for middle-income families. A maximum of 60 feet is allowed on the west side of Fenton and the 45-foot building height on the east side can be increased to 60 feet for mixed-use projects.

That amendment benefits a hotel project planned near the corner of Fenton and Silver Spring Avenue.

Read more about the proposal for Fenton Village and community reaction to it in Wednesday's Silver Spring Gazette.

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