The Montgomery County Council recently voted responsibly and courageously for a job ceiling in Silver Spring that will permit significant revitalization.
Many, including council member Bruce Adams, have criticized the majority's vote for an 11,250 job ceiling. But let's take a closer look at the numbers. Mr. Adams' vote for an additional 9,500 jobs would result in total employment of 42,000. The council's vote for 11,250 will permit a total of 43,750, a difference of 4 percent.
Far from being dramatic, the difference between the votes of Mr. Adams and Rose Crenca is marginal. In fact, the difference of 1,750 jobs translates into two extra cars on Colesville Road each minute during rush hour 10 years from now, after the last building is constructed and occupied.
The council's vote will permit 2,250 fewer jobs than could be accommodated by the existing road system, according to the testimony of both the county executive and the planning commission.
Mr. Adams has also said that the level of development adopted by the council will permit the likes of Montgomery Mall in the center of Silver Spring and all the office space of Bethesda on top of it. Not so. The Moore/Rouse project will add approximately 800,000 square feet of new retail space, compared with Montgomery Mall's more than 1 million square feet. In Bethesda, 2 million square feet of office space has been built in the past several years alone; the Moore project would include about 1 million square feet built over the next 10 years.
Mr. Adams also asserts that the project proposed by Lloyd Moore has far too much bulk for the limited land space available. However, Mr. Moore has assembled a parcel that totals approximately seven acres, a land area of remarkable size in a downtown area. Mr. Moore has proposed to build only as much office space on the site as a landowner can now build as a matter of right.
Although the threat of gridlock has been used as a weapon by those who want Silver Spring to remain essentially as is, traffic is not the issue. The real issue here is one of vision. The Silver Spring-Takoma Traffic Coalition testified in favor of gradual, low-rise development in the heart of a downtown that would continue to serve as a transportation hub for commuters and only incidentally serve the shopping needs of adjacent neighborhoods. My own vision recognizes the urban character of Silver Spring and favors the development of a significant retail center that will serve the large population in and around the downtown and spark a variety of cultural and commercial activities.
Our visions for Silver Spring may differ, and so may our judgments on how to get from here to there, but I don't believe the good faith of those on either side can be seriously questioned. GREG McBRIDE Vice Chairman, PROGRESS Silver Spring