Luxmanor and Windermere fight sidewalk proposal, residents weigh the cost of safety


Photo credit to Peter Herbert

Nearly 70 mature trees will need to be cut down in Windermere alone to make way for sidewalk construction, which will only be on one side of the street. Residents are concerned about property value, the environmental impact, and the changing appearance of the neighborhood they call home. This photo shows a lawn poster that is now a common sight throughout the Windermere and Luxmanor neighborhoods.

Noah Katcher, Business Manager

The Windermere and Luxmanor neighborhoods sit across from one another, with Windermere located south of Tuckerman Lane, and Luxmanor located to the north. Both of these neighborhoods are a part of the Walter Johnson school district and represent a large amount of the North Bethesda population. Luxmanor and Windermere currently do not have sidewalks in place and they were not designed to have them in place. Residents who walk around the neighborhoods walk on the edge of the street, which was designed to be pedestrian-friendly. Recent development issues have been brought up in community listservs due to the communities’ decision to cut down trees around the neighborhood.

Windermere Neighbors, a group of residents who formed an organization against the construction of the sidewalks, reported that a family in the Luxmanor neighborhood advocated for sidewalks on their street, Marcliff Drive, in 2017. A county councilmember then advocated for construction of 5-foot wide sidewalks throughout the entire Luxmanor-Windermere community. An arborist determined that nearly 70 trees will have to be cut down in the Windermere neighborhood alone, potentially having harmful effects on the environment.

Sidewalks will only be installed on one side of the street, damaging certain properties but not all, which is why residents are very divided. Many of the people who support the sidewalks have no impacts to their own property, and don’t seem to care about what this construction will do to other properties.

Peter Herbert, Windermere resident and founder of Windermere Neighbors, pointed out his opinions and views in an article he wrote for “The Patch,” a national online news site that specializes in local news.

“Home buyers, who shop for homes along the Tuckerman Lane, Falls Road and River Road corridors do not turn away if a community lacks sidewalks. In fact, homebuyers often compete to buy these comfortable homes because they are well located, and the curb appeal due to the visual appearance of the expanse of green lawn is enticing,” Herbert said in the article.

Property value is a main concern of those whose lawns will be impacted, since landscaping and mature trees will have to be removed, and 5 feet of concrete will cross their yard. Owners will be forced to pay for landscape removal, mailbox relocation (if necessary) and irrigation system relocation, even if they don’t agree with the sidewalk proposal.

“I think that residents should have known about the sidewalks sooner because it may affect their yards and I think that the proposal should be looked at again so residents will know exactly what will happen with the sidewalks,” sophomore Jake Silverman said.

Additionally, drivers have been speeding through the neighborhood, which has become a hazard for children and pedestrians.

“I think that [the sidewalks] are worth it because on Lux Lane especially, cars drive really fast and there’s no sidewalk,” senior Nikki Emamian said.

In early January, the Luxmanor Community Association (LCA) held its monthly meeting at Trinity Lutheran Church, to discuss community issues, one of which being sidewalks. Residents did not hold back, and were not afraid to voice their opinions. However, as the meeting continued, it began to get out of hand.

One particular argument between two residents in the Windermere neighborhood began to escalate, and eventually the board had to end the discussion. One resident voiced her opinion, saying that she has lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years, and she doesn’t want her yard changed for the sidewalks. Another resident then engaged in an argument over the sidewalk construction.

What started out as a proposal to increase safety in neighborhoods grew to a heated debate among residents, which is not even close to being over. Residents are continuing to fight for what they think is right, and fight against what they think is wrong.