Montgomery County to reconsider proposed Silver Spring development

Residents in the Seven Oaks-Evanswood community are celebrating after county council members voted to revise development plans. Residents object to the plans of a developer to build 76 townhouses in the area, saying the project is too large for the historic neighborhood.

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Michael Gurwitz waited anxiously during Tuesday's hearing on development plans for his Silver Spring neighborhood. The council debated a major construction project that would bring dozens of new homes near the former Chelsea school.

“While we are willing to accept change in that development, we are not going to accept 76 townhouses forced on us, in the middle of our neighborhood,” Gurwitz said.

Local developer EYA asked to re-zone the land so it can build 76 townhomes in an area currently designated for single-family homes. Opponents like David Brown said the plan is overwhelming for the historic neighborhood.

Last month, a hearing examiner issued her report, which prompted additional concerns from residents.

“It concurs in the sensible, middle road approach, which is to remand, to deal with some severe problems that she saw in the current plans that need to be resolved before you vote on the rezoning proposal,” Brown said, asking to remand the application.

EYA objected, wanting to move forward.

“I believe a remand will only find us in a similar position six or eight months from now, having invested significantly more county and private resources both from EYA and the community,” an official with the developer said.

Council members were split: Some argued the current plan fulfills the county's growth needs, including affordable housing, while others said the numbers need to be reviewed again.

“I think what the residents are asking for is reasonable here, that this thing get remanded and that there is going to be change and there is going to be additional density, but the density should be at a level that fits with existing neighborhoods,” Marc Elrich said.

Council members eventually decided the application will be sent back to the hearing examiner, taking another look at the amount of new homes that can be introduced.

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