In this issue: Preparing for the Next Emergency | My Opinion on Zoning and Density Issues in Chevy Chase | Membership Application | Ch/Art’s First Pop-Up Show and Sale April 18 | Join the Murch Auction on March 20 | Broad Branch Road Rehab Planned For 2023 | Lafayette Park Signs to Tell Pointer Family History | Northwest Neighbors Village Walks and Talks

March 2021

Preparing for the Next Emergency

On ZOOM 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 17 

Sponsored by CCCA and Northwest Neighbors Village

Speakers: John Donnelly, D.C. Fire and Rescue Chief, Ned Sherburne, Fire/Rescue Chief for Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, Samantha Nolan, Metropolitan Police Department Citywide Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention Trainer 

Are you prepared for the next emergency? Are your emergency contacts written down? How about prescriptions, allergies, and other critical medical information? Do you know where an emergency technician would look for this information? Should you call 911 or Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue? What hospital would you go to? Would this be different if it were a particular kind of injury, for example, eye problem? Has COVID changed how emergency services respond? Is an evacuation possible and what do I need to do to be prepared for such a contingency? Think about the questions you need answered and join us March 17. 

Please click the link below to join the webinar: 

Passcode: 488928 or iPhone one-tap: US: +16465588656,,82838471215# or +13017158592,,82838471215# Or Telephone: US: +1 646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 

Webinar ID: 828 3847 1215 

Fire and EMS Chief John A. Donnelly, Sr. has led the 2,100 member DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department since December 2020. Chief Donnelly started his career with DC Fire and EMS in 1992 and over the course of his career  has served in a variety of roles, including Division Commander of Special Operations, Homeland Security, and Apparatus Division. Chief Donnelly serves on numerous committees supporting regional and national preparedness, including the International Association of Fire Chiefs Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s Fire Chief’s Committee. 

CCCA officers from left to right: Jory Barone, secretary; Sandra Cihlar, treasurer, Robert Gordon, president

Members should look for an email this week inviting you to renew your membership, which you can do by visiting and clicking on “renew” at the top.  Dues are $20 per year for two members from one household.  We hope you will continue to support CCCA.

Fire/Rescue Chief Edward G. (Ned) Sherburne has been a member of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad since 1978. He has led the predominantly volunteer department for 12 years. Chief Sherburne serves in the Montgomery County Fire/Rescue command structure at the Duty Operations Chief level, maintains certification as a Maryland/National Registry EMT Paramedic and is an active MCFRS command officer. Chief Sherburne is also experienced in medical support of law enforcement operations, emergency preparedness and continuity planning. Chief Sherburne commands a dedicated group of volunteer officers who manage the 150 active volunteer members. 

Samantha Nolan is CERT and Neighborhood Corps trained and a member of the Neighborhood Corps Council for the District of Columbia. In this position, she works with city officials to develop emergency preparedness programs citywide. She developed a portable “To Go Kit” for residents to use in case of an emergency evacuation. She serves as the MPD Citywide Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention Trainer and has trained more than 4000 block captains citywide. She is a member of the Chief of Police Citizens Advisory Council and the Chair, Emerita of the Second District MPD Citizens Advisory Council. She has been an active member of the Chevy Chase Citizens Association for more than 20 years and served as the Association’s President from 2014 - 2016.

President’s Corner

My Opinion on Zoning and Density Issues in Chevy Chase

Office of Planning’s Small Area Plan: Legit or “Bait and Switch”?

by Robert Gordon

Alarm bells are going off among people who are paying close attention to land use planning in Chevy Chase. Forces are in motion that may reshape the look and feel of Chevy Chase for decades. Recently the D.C. Office of Planning (OP) launched a taskforce to develop a Small Area Plan (SAP) for land use and property development along the Connecticut Avenue corridor. The resulting recommendations will be presented to the City Council for consideration this year. Once approved, that SAP will be included in the District’s overall Comprehensive Plan.  

Last month, I offered an overview of the several planning, zoning, and other government initiatives that are laser-focused on the Chevy Chase Community. Today’s spotlight is on residential zoning in Chevy Chase. 

“Gentle density” advocates argue that greater density housing, i.e., duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and small apartment buildings, should replace single-family detached residences because that will promote urban livability; offer better modes of transportation; contribute to environmental stewardship; and create inclusivity, affordable housing, that leads to racial and economic diversity in the neighborhood. Similarly, “missing middle” refers to multi-family housing such as duplexes, fourplexes and higher that can be established in the interstices between single-family zones and the higher-density urban corridor. (Note: Definitions are provided below.) 


The Office of Planning is currently in the process of amending the DC Comprehensive Plan, a regular exercise started in 2013, that takes place about every 5-10 years in response to contemporary social and demographic trends and new government policies. Once completed, the 1,000 plus page Comp Plan goes to the D.C. Council for approval and becomes law. The Framework Element has already been approved by the City Council, but other elements await approval.

Among its many priorities, the administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser, led by the Office of Planning, is calling for an ambitious plan to add 36,000 housing units (including 12,000 affordable units) across all wards of Washington, DC by 2025. Our geographic area, called Rock Creek West (RCW), comprised of Chevy Chase ANC 3/4G plus five other ANCs, has the fewest number of affordable units in any planning zone. Currently this entire area has just 470 affordable units, not including rent-controlled apartments.

The Mayor’s goal calls for 1,990 additional affordable housing units in RCW by 2025. These include not only new housing production, but also converting existing units into subsidized housing. The bulk of the new housing anticipated by the OP is to be created along major thoroughfares such as Connecticut Avenue, Wisconsin Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue, Figure 1. 

Figure 1. Future Land Use Map (FLUM) Developed by Office of Planning

OP foresees accomplishing its goal by increasing the zoning density of the buildings along these three major corridors and providing for mixed uses, such as commercial on the bottom floor and housing above. “The Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) homes are apartments for rent or condos/townhomes for sale. Households that make 50%, 60%, or 80% of the Median Family Income (MFI) may be eligible.” The program requires that most new (and some renovated) residential developments include some affordable housing units that would be designated affordable and priced accordingly. 

In October 2019, the Chevy Chase ANC sensibly established a task force to study the Comprehensive Plan Amendments, to see how they might affect Chevy Chase and to provide feedback to OP. The task force reached out to the community with an online survey “to obtain their views about issues raised by the proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendments.” The survey was well constructed and attracted almost 700 respondents. Affordable housing was among the lowest priorities among residents. Quality public services was at the top of the list.

The ANC’s Resolution to OP concluded that among other things, Chevy Chase “needs more affordable housing that will promote income diversity and enrich our civic life.” It is an informative read. The report can be found on the ANC website. I believe that our community should participate whole-heartedly in the effort to add affordable housing along Connecticut Avenue: to provide for new residents, for the workforce that serves Washington, DC, and to promote equity and social justice. Washington DC, including Chevy Chase, has a regrettable history of exclusionary practices and must take steps to rectify them.

The ANC report’s key conclusion states: 

Most importantly, the Comprehensive Plan should mandate a Small Area Plan for the Chevy Chase Gateway (Note: Gateway is defined as the area comprising Connecticut Avenue from Chevy Chase Circle to Livingston St). 

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh was instrumental in obtaining $150,000 to fund the study and obtain other OP resources needed to construct the Small Area Plan, which has recently started. The SAP study area designed by OP is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. SAP Focus Area

Mission Creep?

The OP conducted the first-of-three public meetings on March 4, 2021. Participants were told that the mandate for the SAP has expanded to adjacent neighborhood streets in mid-February. The rationale for the expanded scope is that it is necessary to examine the parking, traffic, and other neighborhood impacts adjacent to Connecticut Avenue.

Recall that the ANC asked OP to provide a Small Area Plan that specifically studies the Connecticut Avenue Corridor and makes policy recommendations about its future. Comparing the study area carved out by this new set of SAP boundaries in Figure 2 with the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) in Figure 1 demonstrates the extent to which the boundaries have expanded. OP’s explanation that you need to look at the broader context when you study land use options may have merit. But it is also conceivable that other motives are involved. 

If it turns out that OP is looking for a justification for upzoning the adjacent residential properties encompassed in the boundary lines in Figure 2, then this hidden agenda is the “camel’s nose,” and that is a prickly matter. Many neighbors with whom I talk are concerned that the SAP will overstep its authority and explore the controversial issues of “gentle density” and “missing middle” housing across Chevy Chase. 

With its limited resources and brief timeframe, there are plenty of planning issues for the SAP to chew on while keeping its focus on the original properties identified in Figure 1, including the library/community center complex, the bus terminal, large parcels comprising the Wells Fargo Bank, Safeway, the older commercial and apartment building stock on the west side of Connecticut, the Exxon gas station, and so on. Planning the future of the Connecticut Avenue corridor is a big enough assignment. 

For the present, I want the SAP to stick with its original mandate to study the Connecticut Avenue corridor because:

  • The Comprehensive Plan Amendments shows that zoning in Chevy Chase, except for the Connecticut Avenue corridor, will remain unchanged.

  • The existing FLUM shows no zoning change to the residential side streets.

  • The ANC specifically asked for the SAP to study Connecticut Avenue, the “Gateway” area.

  • Councilmember Cheh, in a CCCA Zoom forum, stated that she opposed changing the zoning in the residential portion of Chevy Chase.

Time is of the essence as the SAP process gets underway. I am on the Community Advisory Committee for this SAP and am seeking input from CCCA members and Chevy Chase residents. Please send your comments and questions to I want every resident to be well-informed, to closely follow the SAP process, and to make their views known to the city planners. You may email the OP at Please participate in this democratic conversation for the sake of our neighborhood.

In my next column, I will report on updates from the ANC and SAP given that their meetings occur later in March. Perhaps my suspicions about OP are unfounded, and this is not the bait and switch that so many long-time residents fear. I will also explore more effective strategies that can be employed to address the complex issues of planning the future look and use of our neighborhood for the betterment of us all. 


From: Single-Family Zoning in the District of Columbia, April 2020, D.C. Office of Planning, #36000BY2025

Gentle density refers to allowing additional housing density by encouraging development that respects neighborhood character, while considering neighborhood priorities, such as affordable housing and public facilities. The types of housing that could fit within a singlefamily neighborhood will vary but could include many different types of missing middle housing that are compatible in scale and design with single-family homes. For example, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, residential flats, or accessory apartments can be nearly indistinguishable in a detached single-family neighborhood and a small multi-unit building may not be out of context in an attached single-family neighborhood. 

This report recommends that the District pursue gentle density in single-family zones in a targeted manner that prioritizes neighborhoods that are high-opportunity, high-cost, or near high-capacity transit. An important element of this recommendation is ensuring that the District maintains and grows a supply of familysized units as land uses change from single-family to multifamily.

Missing Middle housing refers to “a range of multi-unit or clustered housing types that are compatible in scale with detached single-family homes that fall somewhere between single-family home and a larger apartment building in their density. These types of units are often more affordable to low- and moderate-income families than single-family homes. (Source: Opticos Design,

From Wikipedia

Affordable housing is housing which is deemed affordable to those with a median household income or below as rated by the national government or a local government by a recognized housing affordability index. Income is the primary factor – not price and availability, that determines housing affordability. In a market economy the distribution of income is the key determinant of the quantity and quality of housing obtained. Therefore, understanding affordable housing challenges requires understanding trends and disparities in income and wealth. Housing is often the single biggest expenditure of low- and middle-income families. For low- and middle-income families, their house is also the greatest source of wealth. 

The most common approach to measure the affordability of housing has been to consider the percentage of income that a household spends on housing expenditures. Another method of studying affordability looks at the regular hourly wage of full-time workers who are paid only the minimum wage (as set by their local, regional, or national government). The hope is that full-time workers will be able to afford at least a small apartment in the area where they work. Some countries look at those living in relative poverty, which is usually defined as making less than 60% of the median household income.

MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION – Join or Renew your membership!

CCCA is your representative in many of the local programs that affect you, your home and your business. Chevy Chase Citizens Association is not government sponsored. We represent home and business interests throughout our community. CCCA is a founding member of Main Street and we sit on its governing committee. We are also a member of the DC Office of Planning’s Small Area Plan committee. As a CCCA member you get updates on all government initiatives and through us, access, and a voice with elected officials.  We also offer you: 

  • Monthly newsletters on community issues that affect you.

  • An influential voice and leadership role with local government initiatives.

  • Monthly meetings with government officials on key community issues.

  • A representative on the redevelopment of Connecticut Avenue.

  • Sponsorship of the Neighborhood Watch Program and crime updates.

  • Improvements and beautification to the Connecticut Avenue corridor.

  • Chevy Chase DC Day organizer.

To join or renew, go online to and press the RENEW tab, then follow directions. Please update any outdated information.

Ch/Art’s First Pop-Up Show and Sale April 18

Autumn Sky, Ronni Jolles, paper

Ch/Art, a Chevy Chase DC and MD group of local artists are holding their inaugural Pop-Up Show and Sale on Sunday, April 18th from 11 am – 4 pm in the parking lot behind PNC Bank on Connecticut Avenue. This talented group of your neighbors includes painters, sculptures, jewelry designers, textile art, glass and more. In a normal year, Ch/Art would be holding its annual Art Walk through the Chevy Chase neighborhoods and we look forward to reaching out this way again in 2022. As with so many things this past year, adjustments are necessary: This event will require masks and social distancing. Please come out and support your local community.

Join the Murch Auction on March 20

The Murch Elementary School Auction is on Saturday, March 20. All members of the community are invited to bid on silent auction items from March 17 through 9 pm on the 20th at this site:

Broad Branch Road Rehab Planned For 2023

CCCA hosted a discussion on the planned rehabilitation of Broad Branch Road between Linnean Avenue and Beach Drive on February 25. Over the years, Broad Branch has been plagued by issues including uncontrolled runoff, speeding, a lack of pedestrian and bicyclist access, and high traffic volumes. These problems, combined with deteriorating roadway conditions, have created unsafe conditions for pedestrians and motorists.Wayne Wilson and Austina Casey of the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) presented the results of the new DDOT Environmental Assessment, which updated a draft from 2013, and detailed proposed solutions for mitigating safety issues and environmental impacts. 

The Environmental Assessment process brought together stakeholders from the community, DDOT, the State Department, the National Park Service, and others to look at a number of options, adjoining land uses, and all modes of transportation. After the release of the revised draft in October, DDOT received public comments for a 30-day period. The final draft is expected to be completed this spring and can be viewed at

Most questions on last month's Zoom session involved concerns that the bike path would not span the full distance of Broad Branch Road to Beach Drive. The DDOT representatives said this was necessary because the path had to remain in the District right of way and could not cross federal or sovereign lands owned by various embassies.  Other questions related to ensuring that the impact of street lights was minimized and that retaining walls did not interfere with the natural esthetics of the surrounding area. DDOT and the Federal Highway Administration have been working on the rehabilitation of Broad Branch Road since 2011.  Once the final draft is released, project design should start this summer, and construction will start in 2023. 

Lafayette Park Signs to Tell Pointer Family History

Historic signage memorializing Black landowners who were evicted nearly a century ago from land now occupied by Lafayette Park is nearing completion, said Tim Hannapel, a board member of Historic Chevy Chase DC.

The two signs, funded by the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, will tell the story of the George Pointer family, whose descendants lived on and farmed the land for more than 80 years. They were part of a tight-knit Black community that occupied the six-acre site from the early 1800s until 1928, when they were forced out by eminent domain so a school and park could be built for white children.

The effort is part of a three-year campaign by Historic Chevy Chase DC to bring recognition to the nearly forgotten slice of local history.  HCCDC collected more than 500 signatures on a petition to ask the city to rename the park to reflect this history. It won preliminary passage last fall when the D.C. Council voted to change the park’s name to Lafayette-Pointer Park. Lafayette Elementary students also testified to the Council on how important this type of public recognition is to repair racial wounds from the past.

HCCDC has also partnered with the University of the District of Columbia to take a deeper dive into the effects of Black land loss. This semester, UDC students taught by Dr. Amanda Huron are creating oral histories of eight descendants of the Broad Branch Road community. This summer, the students will be joined by local high school students to consider what the loss of home and place has cost these families, and how to make amends today for racial injustices of the past.

The story of the Broad Branch Road community marks important milestones in our nation’s racial divisions. George Pointer was born into slavery in 1773 and was rented out to work on George Washington’s canal project in the Potomac River. He was able to buy his freedom at age 19 and became a superintendent engineer—a highly respected member of the company. It was his granddaughter who bought land along Broad Branch Road. Two of her sons fought for the Union Army in the Civil War, and at least four generations called this land home.

James Fisher, Pointer’s eighth generation direct descendant, and Tanya Hardy, a family genealogist, are members of the HCCDC board.

More information about the Pointer story is on the HCCDC website at

Northwest Neighbors Village Walks and Talks

Northwest Neighbors Village has several walks, talks and other live events planned that are open to the community. NNV sponsors many smaller group activites for members and volunteers. Information on all activities can be found at  Have a little extra time and energy? Become a Volunteer.

Let’s Walk! -- Mondays, 10 am

Meet at Albermarle and Connecticut (SE corner) for a moderately-paced neighborhood walk.

Live Jazz with Carey Smith -- Thursdays, 6 p.m. on ZOOM

Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt, America’s First Power Couple
Tuesday, March 16, 1 pm. Speaker: Paul Sparrow, Director, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum 

How to Avoid Being Defrauded in the Times of Covid-19
Tuesday, March 23, 11 am. Speaker: Suzanne McGovern, Senior Advisor, Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

What is Old Age For? Stories from The Fulfillment Project at Farther On
Thursday, April 8, 1 pm. Speaker: David Oldfield, Founder and Director of The Midway Center for Creative Imagination

An Update on the Political Landscape
Tuesday, April 13, 11 am. Speaker: Journalist Steve Roberts
Postcards from the Border:  Poems and Watercolor Meditations
Tuesday, April 20, 11 am. Speaker: Author, Poet, and Artist Nancy Arbuthnot

The Golden Era at the Washington Post
Thursday, April 22, 1 pm. Speaker: Bob Levey, Retired Washington Post Columnist

Centurion Justice for The Innocent & Imprisoned
Tuesday, April 27, 11 am. Speaker: Paul Casteleiro, Legal Director, Centurion

An NPR Correspondent's Life Covering COVID-19
Tuesday, May 4, 11 am. Speaker: NPR Science Correspondent Joe Palca

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