Ourisman Honda is demolishing a large concrete wall that was constructed as part of its garage expansion near the Capital Crescent Trail in downtown Bethesda.
On Wednesday, about half the wall had been torn down and pieces could be seen inside a dumpster on the car dealership’s property on Bethesda Avenue near Bethesda Row.
However, the wall’s removal doesn’t mean the garage under construction will be removed as well, according to land use attorney Robert Brewer, who is representing Ourisman in an appeals case against Montgomery County.
The county’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS) required the business to stop construction on its garage expansion in November after officials determined the structure encroached on the county-owned Georgetown Branch easement area where the trail is located. Ourisman is appealing that decision.
The concrete wall was added at the fire marshal’s request to provide additional fire protection for the garage, according to Brewer. But during the appeals process, county officials questioned whether it was necessary and Ourisman applied for a waiver from the permitting services department that would allow the removal of the wall. The company received the waiver and has started to take it down.
Photos: The full-size wall in a November photo (left) and the ongoing demolition of the wall on Feb. 22, 2017 (right)
Brewer said Ourisman and the county remain in negotiations about how to handle the garage encroachment issue.
“We’re still in a prolonged discussion with the county about the bigger picture,” Brewer said.
Judy Stiles, a county spokeswoman, said in an email Wednesday that Ourisman has been tasked with developing proposals to deal with the right-of-way issue.
“There have been ongoing discussions and site visits with both parks and DPS staff,” Stiles said.
Update – Feb. 23 – 4:20 p.m. – Council member Marc Elrich has weighed in on the ongoing Ourisman encroachment issue with a post on his Facebook page: