Rockville residents and business representatives urged the City Council this week to approve a planning department proposal to reduce by a third the maximum commercial development allowed along congested Rockville Pike.
"A reduction . . .is absolutely necessary in order to prevent uncontrolled development, increased traffic congestion and unacceptably high density along the Rockville Pike corridor," Patrick L. Woodward, president of the West End Citizens Association, told the council at a public hearing Monday.
The planning department recommendation calls for reducing the maximum floor space allowed in new buildings by one-third along the 1 1/2-mile stretch between Twinbrook Parkway and Veirs Mill Road.
About 75 percent of that area, which is served by new Metro stations, is zoned for commercial development.
The proposal calls for several traffic improvements at key intersections, including adding a third northbound lane and a third southbound lane at Rockville Pike and Veirs Mill Road.
The council is expected to decide on the proposal this month.
While a majority of the 12 speakers, including Rockville Chamber of Commerce representatives, supported the recommended reduction, a handful suggested that development be cut by even more than a third.
"I believe the council should give serious consideration to a deeper downzoning, at least until the planning process has had a chance to work," resident Stanley A. Klein said.
The proposal was presented to the council last month, after the council decided to extend a seven-month-old building moratorium along Rockville Pike until April 2. The council extended the moratorium to review a consultant's report warning that rush-hour traffic flow would become seriously impaired if construction is not restricted.
Last June, when the moratorium was imposed, planners predicted that up to 1.3 million square feet of office and commercial space would be built along the pike in the current fiscal year, and up to 2.6 million within the next decade.
Planners said that such growth would worsen traffic conditions along the six-lane corridor and strain the pike's sewage lines.