Chevy Chase Small Area Plan

Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2021

This Act was signed into law effective August 21, 2021 (details here.) Documents up until that point can be found here.

Chevy Chase Small Area Plan

The DC Council allocated funding in FY2021 for the DC Office of Planning (OP) to undertake a Small Area Plan (SAP) in the Chevy Chase neighborhood along Connecticut Avenue, NW. Councilmember Mary Cheh was instrumental in leading this effort to finance this aspirational planning effort that the ANC 3/4G fought hard for after working on the Comprehensive Plan amendments.

According to information found on OP’s dedicated website,

Led by OP, the SAP will be developed in coordination with partner agencies undertaking the design plans for the Chevy Chase Community Center / Library redevelopment project and the Connecticut Avenue Reversible Lane Study.

 

The District’s amended Comprehensive Plan proposes a moderate increase in density along Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase (in blue on map) [from low density commercial and residential to low density commercial/moderate density residential]. The Chevy Chase SAP will explore how new buildings could look and function, to support the commercial district and provide new housing options including affordable housing, subject to future zoning changes.

 

The Chevy Chase SAP boundary covers the two-blocks around the proposed land use change area, west to 41st Street, NW, south to Military Road, NW, and east to Nevada Avenue, NW. This area includes side streets with low density residential (semi-detached, detached homes) and Connecticut Avenue’s medium density residential (apartments and condominium homes). No land uses changes are proposed for these areas. Community participation is also not limited to the SAP boundary.

Commissioner Gosselin and I have been serving as the ANC’s representatives on OP’s Community Advisory Committee on the Chevy Chase SAP. OP held its first public meeting on March 4, 2021. On February 22, 2021, April 12, 2021, April 26, 2021, April 26, 2021*, the Commission passed resolutions on various aspects of the SAP process to enhance the community’s engagement. The Commission held a special meeting with the Director of OP on April 21, 2021, for a dedicated Q&A session to give our community a chance to share their concerns, support, and ideas.

* This resolution, “ANC 3/4G Resolution For the Commission to Foster More Informed Community Engagement in the Chevy Chase Small Area Plan,” is the one I sponsored and fought for over a few months and two ANC 3/4G public meetings before it finally passed and led to the ANC 3/4G-hosted Information Exchange Series below.

ANC 3/4G-Hosted Information Exchange Series

Starting Fall 2021, the Commission began organizing a series of information exchanges to engage and involve residents in the next phase of the Chevy Chase Small Area Plan process, led by the District’s Office of Planning. The process in Spring 2021 addressed broader questions of “WHY” and “WHAT” (vision and goals — see: https://publicinput.com/P1554). Later this Fall the small area planning process will address specific questions of “HOW” and “WHERE” by focusing on urban design and developing specific recommendations intended to realize the vision and goals for the Connecticut Avenue corridor.

The Information Exchange series involves conversations with planning experts, advocates, and officials to learn about affordable housing development models, hear from non-profit developers and community trust experts, discuss opportunities for the Chevy Chase Public Library and Chevy Chase Community Center campus that includes affordable housing, and engage in other topics of interest. The purpose of these exchanges is to help our community make informed decisions as it relates to the Chevy Chase Small Area Plan.

The Commission has hosted six Information Exchange Panel Sessions on various topics related to the SAP so far, including:

SESSION 1: Wednesday, September 22, starting at 7 pmSmall Area Plans: An Outside Expert Talks About What to Look For, Ask About & What to Avoid, with Jeff Farner, Deputy Director, Department of Planning & Zoning, City of Alexandria, VA. Over forty neighbors showed up for our kick-off session. Click on the session title above for links to the Video Recording and Q&As/Chat.

SESSION 2: Thursday, September 30, starting at 7 pm for a panel discussion on “Perspectives of High-Rise Residents in Chevy Chase, DC,” Kristina Svensson, single mother of two teenagers; Eric Spencer, single father of two grown children; and Maria Sims, single mother, Native Washingtonian, and longstanding President, La Reine Tenants Association. Click on the title session above for links to the Video Recording and Chat.

SESSION 3: Thursday, October 7, starting at 7 pm for a panel discussion on “Creative Use of Space in Chevy Chase, DC: Leveraging Underutilized Space, Supporting Creatives & Entrepreneurs, and Ensuring Economic Vitality,” with Kathleen Zeifang, founding member of Ch/Art and former EVP of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and Pallavi Chandra, organizer of the Chevy Chase Farmers Market. Click on the title session above for links to the Video Recording and Chat.

SESSION 4Thursday, October 14, starting at 7 pm for a panel discussion on “Community Land Trusts: How Can They Bring Affordability into a Neighborhood Like Chevy Chase, DC?,” with Coy McKinney, lead organizer for Southwest DC Action, and Ginger Rumph, Executive Director of the Douglass Community Land Trust. Click on the title session above for links to the Video Recording and Chat.

SESSION 5: Thursday, October 21, starting at 7 pm for a panel discussion on “Nonprofit Developers & Architects: How Do They Finance and Build Affordable Housing in the District? What Will It Take To Bring Significant Affordable Housing to Chevy Chase, DC?” with ANC 3/4G residents Susanne Slater, President & CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Washington, DC, and Michael Marshall, President & CEO, Michael Marshall Design, LLC.

SESSION 6. Thursday, October 28, starting at 7 pm for a panel discussion on “Vibrant Public Spaces: How Can We Create a Great Central Meeting Spot in Chevy Chase, DC? Can the Redevelopment of the Library and Community Center into a Campus with Affordable Housing Provide Such an Opportunity?” with ANC 3/4G resident Ellen McCarthy, Principal, The Urban Partnership, and faculty member, Georgetown University, Urban and Regional Planning Masters Program, and ANC 3/4G adjacent resident Matt Bell, Principal, Perkins Eastman.

Extra reading material suggested by Ellen McCarthy for those interested in the topic of placemaking and how to do it: Cities Alive: Towards a Walking World (Arup) and ASSEMBLY: Civic Design Guidelines | Promoting Civic Life Through Public Space Design (Center for Active Design, which originated in the NYC Office of Planning).

These recorded sessions generally had about 25 live attendees and an average of 161 views for each of the two FY 2021 session videos.

Commissioner Gosselin and I also held a Zoominar for residents in our Single Member Districts 5 & 6 noted below:

SPECIAL ANC 3/4G-05 & ANC 3/4G-06 Hosted Zoominar: Wednesday, November 17, 7-8 PM“Presenting Ward3Vision’s 30-Year Vision for Chevy Chase, DC” with neighbors Ron Eichner, Principal of New Legacy Partners and Ellen McCarthy, Principal of The Urban Partnerships, faculty member, Georgetown University, Urban and Regional Planning Masters Program, and former Director of DC Office of Planning. Click on the session title above for links to the Video Recording and Q&As/Chat.

Other Civic Organizations

Other civic and non-profit organizations have held their own webinars on topics of interest related to the Chevy Chase SAP and written articles concerning the Connecticut Avenue corridor.

(i) Historic Chevy Chase DC‘s Planning Our Future Series can be found here.

(ii) Ward3Vision‘s Shaping the Future of Chevy Chase DC can be found here. Its urban design concept through a collaboration with Coalition for Smarter Growth was unveiled at an Historic Chevy Chase DC hosted virtual meeting held on October 6, 2021 and can be found here and the video recording of that presentation given by Matt Bell, Principal, Perkins Eastman, and Ellen McCarthy, Principal of The Urban Partnership can be found here.

Commissioner Gosselin and I hosted a Zoominar on Ward3Vision’s “A 30-Year Vision for Chevy Chase, DC,” with ANC 3/4G-07 neighbors Ron Eichner, Principal of New Legacy Partners, and Ellen McCarthy, Principal of The Urban Partnership, for residents in our districts #5 and #6 which can be found here.

(iii) Coalition for Smarter Growth and Ward3Vision held an event on June 22, 2021 called, “Placemaking on Ward 3’s Avenues — What’s in the Streetscape Toolbox?” with several speakers which can be found here.

Coalition for Smarter Growth teamed up with Ward3Vision and held an event on April 27, 2021 called, “Building Inclusivity in Ward 3–What’s in the Affordable Housing Toolbox?” with several speakers which can be found here.

(iv) Chevy Chase Citizens Association‘s article, “Defining the Chevy Chase Gateway,” published in their February 2020 monthly newsletter discusses gateway corridors and the ANC 3/4G push for designation of a Chevy Chase Gateway.