- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

District and Maryland residents of Takoma Park are upset about a housing development plan put forth by Metro and the D.C. Office of Planning that residents say will overcrowd the area and wreak havoc on traffic.
The more than 20,000 District and Maryland residents living in the joint Takoma Park community have been at odds with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the planning office about the Takoma Central District Plan since 2000.
The plan encompasses both retail and residential development, all to be built on the District side, which the community supports. But the residents have misgivings about a part of the plan that proposes replacing the 158-car parking lot at the Takoma Park Metro station with a town house community of about 100 homes.
The 158 parking spots have been replaced by a new garage, but residents say that building town homes on the site of the old parking lot would leave town house residents with no place to park their cars except on the street, where those in the neighborhood now park.
"There are two housing development projects next to the station the additional homes on the property would simply overcrowd our little area," Mrs. Green said.
Metro has been in talks with Eakin/Youngentob Associates Inc. to sell the parking lot parcel and allow the developers to build the homes there. Metro is expected to net close to $2 million from the sale of the parking lot. It received the new parking garage free of charge from Eakin/Youngentob and will receive other free improvements from the company, including parking areas for Metro buses.
Mrs. Green said she was upset at Metro's lack of community cooperation. She said the nonprofit transit company was not forthcoming with the community and has never, despite recommendations, "come up with any alternatives for the land."
A draft of the Takoma Central District Plan designed by the planning office was forwarded to the D.C. Council late February. The council had 45 days to hold a public hearing. It has scheduled that hearing for May 14. It then has 30 days to vote to accept or reject the plan.
However, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission on the D.C. side and the Mayor and city council members of Takoma Park in Maryland drafted a resolution on April 15 asking the D.C. Council to reject the plan until a comprehensive traffic study was completed.
"We need to have a traffic study done to include the impact on both Maryland and District residents before we are comfortable with the Takoma [Central District] plan," Mrs. Green said.
The D.C. Department of Transportation presented an outline of such a study to neighborhood residents and members of the Takoma Park City Council on Thursday night, said spokesman Bill Rice.
Mr. Rice said the study would cost about $250,000 in salaries and materials and would not be completed until the end of the year too late to meet the D.C. Council's deadline to approve or reject the plan.
"Even if the council rejects the plan, we can always bring the plan back up for consideration," Toni Griffin of the office of planning said.
Metro and the planning office had similar troubles working with communities in Brookland last year. The planning office worked as an intermediary between the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the community to build row houses on a 4.5-acre parcel of land next to Brookland Station. The developer for that property was Eakin/Youngentob.
Residents said Metro acted in bad faith by not apprising them of the plans until the final hour and also did not account for how the project would affect the community.
The developers have an extensive business relationship with Metro. Eakin/Youngentob already have a high-end home-building project lined up for the Wheaton Metro station and have completed another near the Grosvenor station, both in Montgomery County.
The homes at those locations are selling for $300,000 and up.

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