Followup to May 21 Worksession

Followup to May 21 Worksession

Live blogging from June 4, 2009 worksession of the Montgomery County Planning Board. Live streaming video is available at

At its May 21 worksession, the Planning Board considered what to suggest for the vacant land in the small triangle just north of the Montrose Parkway at Mid-Pike Plaza. The favored recommendation was to place fire and police facilities for the Sector on that land. Prior to deciding that recommendation, the Board asked for more input from the county fire and police services. Today the planning staff, represented by Master Planner Piera Weiss and Planner Nkosi Yearwood, reported on meetings with those agencies and with Peerless Rockville, a historical society active in the area.

Yearwood: two options, one on the north side, the other on the south side of the Parkway. Fire and rescue favored southern version because of easier access to Rockville Pike and areas north and south. Access on the northern site is more limited. So staff is recommending the southern location, on the Mid-Pike Plaza site, at the intersection of the new street B-16 and Rockville Pike.

Cmsnr Robinson: what’s the opportunity cost to society if we do that? Yearwood: public housing, auto facilities, in that area. Public uses. On the northern site, could be housing. Chairman Hanson: I can’t conceive of using that triangular section as housing. Yearwood: parking. Hanson: would be a “wonderful” entrance to the sector. Where will people go after they park there? Yearwood: commuters. Robinson: will the transportation improvements facilitate walking? Yearwood: as part of the Parkway. Hanson: if we agree with staff to move fire and rescue to southern, we still have the triangular area north of the Parkway. Right now the proposal is for parking on the triangle, I suppose served by busses. Surface parking. Yearwood: approximately 100 spaces. Cmnsr Cryor: surface parking? No structure? Where do they go? Yearwood: primarily NIH commuter parking. Cmsnr Presley: surface parking doesn’t fit with what we’re trying to do. Weiss: some structures must be on the north and some on the south, and the ones on the south must be compatible with residential uses.  Hanson: we will have a development pattern consistency requirement. Cmsnr Alfandre: so we’d turn southern into parking?

Hanson: I can’t see any reason to apply the CR zone apply to the triangle, because it’s not suitable for either commercial or residential uses. it’s a traffic island. Parking may be a suitable use if it’s structured parking. Issue is the effect of fire and rescue uses on the residential uses near the southern uses. Robinson: so we would need to coordinate with City of Rockville for commuter use on Rockville Pike.

Hanson: so I see on southern site, idea would be to give fire and rescue access to the new street in the development. Robinson: what does the private sector say?

Don Briggs: Federal Realty, developer of Mid-Pike Plaza. Board should consider if we are able to come to an agreemnt with the County or the State on how to integrate the northern site, we could look at the whole 24 acre site on how to accommodate public uses. The best mix of uses on this site could then be worked out. Having a fire station right there would be a detriment to our planned retail master street. We already have deals in play for the opposite corner and a fire station would be very detrimental. On the northern site, you could put a slave light on the Pike similar to what is on Connecticut, that would only be triggered in emergencies. Allow us to negotiate a beneficial solution for all parties. Hanson: ultimately, we’ll have to have a fire/rescue station in this area. Only way the north piece would work is if you did have a slave light there. Briggs: right, and we recommend that. Hanson: stacking on the Pike? Presley: would a slave light be a problem? Yearwood: we briefly explored that, but we knew that would be afunction of the state, we would not determine that. That would help to get access. Hanson: was their position on the northern site: “Hell, no!” Yearwood: no, just a preference. Alfandre: if the station went there, what is the chance of housing being built there? Briggs: none. That’s a retail street that leads to a great green square, and a fire station right there wouldn’t be compatible.

Hanson: I think we’ve got the picture here. Robinson: quality land is so scarce. Better to have fire and rescue on the north side. That’s where it should be. Hanson: Board agrees.

Weiss: talked to Peerless Rockville about Montrose school, and they are not interested in moving the site. They have access. The Montrose Parkway design works around them now, and they want to keep what they’ve got. No redevelopment potential. They have accepted their fate. Hanson: let them stay there. Weiss: we’ll leave it there.

Barnaby Zall


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