A New Life for the Willett Branch; A New Park for the Westbard Sector
New development is coming to the Westbard sector and it will increase the density of the area three-fold. New residential and mixed use building will be where small shops once operated. With this change, we MUST have green space. The Sector plan proposes a new Stream Valley Park and a naturalized Willett Branch creek which would run through the sector like "a green ribbon" providing residents with walking trails, seating and a way to enjoy the outdoors. The Park would also celebrate the rich and mostly forgotten African American history of the area - one that starts with pre-civil war plantations and ends when the community was displaced by development in the 1960s.
Plan was approved by the County Council on May 3! The next step is to make sure that the new Park is funded and that the new development is in line with the vision for a new stream valley park and greenway.
You can see the proposed plan HERE.
Email NOW! The Equity One Sketch Plan is going to the Planning Board for consideration on Thursday, February 23. The parking structure behind the Westwood Towers building has gotten bigger and taller - now filling the buffer, the sides of the lot and going up six stories. Click HERE to send an email to the Planning Staff and Board, the County Council, the Housing Opportunity Commission staff and the County Executive.
Equity One's plan include buildings that significantly encroach on the stream buffer in four different locations - the Manor Care Lot, the Westwood II building, Bowlmor Site and the Westwood Tower Apartment.
Further, it ignores the existence of an early African American cemetery, even though the Sector Plan calls for integration of local history into the development. Equity One has agreed to fund a cemetery delineation. However, at this point, they are showing a 6-story parking and residential structure on the cemetery site. All decisions about siting buildings in the area must be put off until the delineation is done and the descendant community can evaluate the results.
The Willett Branch Stream Valley Park is the central element which unifies the Sector Plan. The planners refer to it as the gem of the Montgomery County Parks system. Let the Planning Staff and Board know that you want a Park that is embraced by the new buildings and includes public access through inviting gateways, cafes that face creek side and more. Let them know that buildings in the 100-foot stream buffer should not be permitted for the health of the stream and for the success of the new Park. Ask for a cemetery delineation before the sketch plan is approved so that the graves of early residents are respected.
Learn about the history of the River Road African American community HERE.
Click HERE for list of reasons to OPPOSE the Sketch Plan.
Click HERE to read LFWA comments on the revised Sketch Plan submitted September 2016..
Click HERE to read our review of Environmental and Zoning Guidelines prohibiting building in stream buffers.
Click HERE to read LFWA comments on the first Sketch Plan submitted July 2016.
See the Revised Sketch Plan HERE.
We Want This. . .
Willett Branch as it could be.
Willett Branch as it is today.
More information is HERE
The December 3 presentation to the Planning Board is HERE.
A tour of the Willett Branch in the Westbard Sector can be downloaded HERE..
You can view the Sector Plan HERE and the Appendix for the plan HERE. The Appendix has a very good section on Site Specific Environmental recommendations pages 51-74, as well as a description of the proposed park starting on page 93. There is a history section on pages 103 - 105.