Controversial or not, this townhome community project is going to start construction soon in Bethesda. The community, called Grosvenor Heights, will include 143 townhouses, 10 single-family homes, the widening of Fleming Avenue, the construction of an additional entrance, and alterations to the existing Fleming Local Park. While these plans have had months of approval by the Montgomery County Planning Department, residents in the Fleming Park neighborhood and Fleming Park Community Association (FPCA) have similarly had months of disapproval. Words used by the community to describe the project range from "alarming" to "strange." Due to the influence from the community and the attorney hired to combat the development, designs for Grosvenor Heights have changed again and again, but never seem to get any better results, whether for the community or the planners. While claiming that they are not opposed to the property development, FPCA President Rebecca Morley said, "These plans really could not possibly be doing anything more wrong." Regardless, a sign stands at the entrance property, announcing the development will come in early 2015 and start at $1.1 million.
The most discussed issues involve whether there is enough space to build the planned number of units and whether it is safe for the Fleming Avenue entrance of the community — the only entrance to the community — to be altered and added onto. In the original concept design, there were 153 townhouses planned as opposed to the current 143. After residents complained about there being too many townhouses with too little room, the number dropped, but residents found the change so meager that it could barely be seen as compromise. Similarly, after a row of townhouses were replaced with single-family homes, the FPCA both praised the change, but voiced concerns about how the garages would not be large enough to accommodate two family-size cars. On widening and adding onto the entrance of Fleming Avenue, the issue of safety has been brought up by both sides. According to the FPCA, widening the entrance would cause children to be unsafe, threaten curbside parking spots, and create more traffic. The planners argue that having only one 20-foot-wide entrance for the community is already creating too much traffic and could cause future issues for emergency access.
When the development begins, a ditch on a public softball field will be filled, a 10-foot bike and walking path will be built with trees planted alongside, and roughly 12 acres of Fleming Park will be preserved. Additions to the park will include new benches, 36 new trees for a park buffer, new grass seed for the softball field, lighting for the tennis and basketball courts, and a new hard-surface trail connection from the townhouses to the park, itself.
· Construction Set To Start Soon At Controversial Grosvenor Heights [Bethesda Now]
· Revised Grosvenor Mansion Development Still Doesn't Sit Well With Neighbors [Bethesda Now]
· Grosvenor Attachment to November 2013 Montgomery Planning Board Agenda [Montgomery Planning Board]
· Neighborhood Fighting Grosvenor Mansion Townhomes [Bethesda Now]
· Developer Plans Townhouse Complex At Historic Grosvenor Mansion [Bethesda Now]