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Zoning Retained in Long Branch Sector, Flower Theater Facade Preserved

The Long Branch Sector plan keeps in place the zoning for most of the existing multi-family developments along Piney Branch Road between Flower Avenue and University Boulevard.

Rendering of proposed Purple Line light rail on Piney Branch Road at Arliss Street. Courtesy of the Maryland Transit Administration.
Rendering of proposed Purple Line light rail on Piney Branch Road at Arliss Street. Courtesy of the Maryland Transit Administration.
The Long Branch Sector Plan, which covers development on and near Piney Branch Road between Flower Avenue and University Boulevard East in Silver Spring, received approval from the planning board on Thursday.

The county council approved the plan on Nov. 19.

The plan keeps in place the zoning for most of the existing multi-family developments along Piney Branch Road between Flower Avenue and University Boulevard. The proposed Purple Line light rail is slated to run along Piney Branch Road in the Long Branch Sector—with proposed stations near either end of this segment of the boulevard—and retaining the zoning prevents a loss of affordable housing units and "potential displacement of lower-income residents," according to a council statement.

The plan also aims to make Long Branch a more walkable area, with an emphasis on pedestrian safety, the council's statement added.

"This plan envisions a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, multi-cultural community that will be served by the Purple Line. This blue-print for potential future development will provide opportunities for increased mobility for residents, shoppers and workers in a way that will revitalize the area while maintaining a sense of community," Council Member Valerie Ervin (D-District 5) said in a statement.

Council Member George Leventhal (D-At Large) added, "I'm very gratified. As a neighbor, I've wanted to see progress in Long Branch for years and I know that the mix of shopping and amenities today is unsatisfactory to nearby residents. The Purple Line is the one thing that could change the economic mix and make the neighborhood more attractive for investment. This plan enables that to happen."

Council Member Marc Elrich (D-At Large) was the only council member to vote against the plan.

"I want to thank the council for changes that adequately protect the apartments that so many people there call home," he said.

"I am disappointed that we could not assure a similar level of protection for existing small businesses," Elrich added.

Also part of the plan is the historic preservation designation of the Flower Theater (8701-8739 Flower Ave.) on the county's master plan. The theater's "façade, two adjoining shoulders and a second wall to a depth of 40 feet from the [theater's] building line" are to be preserved.

The plan also provides guidelines to encourage future development to be compatible with the historic theater—which was built in 1950, according to the Maryland Historical Trust—and "states that new buildings along Flower Avenue should not rise above the theater’s height," the council's statement added.
Tony Hausner December 06, 2013 at 07:47 AM
See my blog posting on this topic Concerns with the Council Approval of the Long Branch Sector Plan - Opinion http://tinyurl.com/sspatchlongbranch

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