Something strange happened Sept. 24.
The Montgomery County Planning Board spent two hours listening to testimony of 14 individuals and group representatives lobbying against the special exception to allow the building of a 140-bed nursing home on Jones Mill Road in Chevy Chase on a 3.3-acre piece of land. The board voted 3-to-2 to recommend this proposal to the board of appeals.
The 166-bed Bethesda Retirement Nursing Center already exists on Jones Mill Road just 400 feet south of the site, and the Audubon Naturalist Society mansion is about 400 feet north. The new nursing home would be the third special exception within a half mile.
The representative from the Bethesda retirement center tried, in his five minutes, to show that the land area is not adequate for a nursing home of the size proposed. And yet the chairman, in his closing comments, indicated that this speaker had successfully shown the need for another nursing home in the neighborhood!
Every neighbor present had good reason to protest the proposal: increased security, traffic and drainage problems, tree destruction, the huge bulk of the building and its general incompatibility with the neighborhood. But the chairman just made the absurd analogy that he had a nursing home in his neighborhood and that it was no problem. Didn't he hear us? We already have one too!
Finally he became excited and said it would be wonderful for the nursing home residents to live near the park so they could enjoy it. How many patients in a skilled-nursing facility are able to take a walk on a bike path?
It was disappointing when the vote went as it did; the whole scene made us all feel that the chairman's decision had been made long before any of us had spoken. His decision was not made with any consideration of the testimony he had heard, nor after careful thought or discussion with other board members. The reasons given for approving the 140-bed nursing home were nonsense. We can only be glad that those who appointed this chairman will most likely be out of office on Nov. 6. LORRIE and HENRY KRAUTWURST Chevy Chase