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by David Humpton, EVP

Village Center Site Plan
Atlantic Realty Company (ARC) submitted its official site plan to the Planning Department (M-NCPPC) on Wednesday, Aug. 9. Once the plan is accepted for completeness by the Planning Department staff, there is a 120-day window for the public hearing before the planning board, which leaves the possibility for a November/December hearing. The schedule for the project comes in multiple phases.

A community meeting was held on Tuesday, Aug. 8 at North Creek Community Center, and about 20 to 25 residents attended. This was a meeting required of the developer prior to submitting the site plan application to the Planning Department. There were no changes to the site plan that ARC had shared during a previous community meeting in March.

The plan proposes 121 housing units to be built on the site including 49 townhouses, 34 two-over-two condominiums (piggyback townhouses) and 38 rental apartments that would be built over existing retail, currently located on the entrance drive into the center from Clubhouse Road. The density for the housing is well below what had been contemplated in the Master Plan.

Also per the site plan, Centerway Road would be extended through the Village Center in a very purposely planned circuitous fashion to Watkins Mill Road, a park/gathering area would be built and major façade and other building improvements would be completed during the major rehab and reconstruction of the site.

Residents were most interested in the retail tenant mix, the identity of the new grocery store—which ARC has yet to release—and the schedule for the project. Several questions were about the site’s amenities, including the new park area and how it would be used and the need for bike share stations.

Professional Center
There is no plan yet for this site, but I am in regular contact with Transwestern who is the broker/property manager for this site representing the owner Northstar. They have yet to secure a contract for the site, but according to Transwestern, have had interest from several residential builders. They believe a residential use is appropriate for the site (and so do I) and will keep me informed of their progress.

The good news is that they so far have been great neighbors keeping the landscape tidy and responding to any issues noticed on the property very quickly. The site has the correct zoning to attract a developer to make the site once again attractive and active, but patience will be needed.

County Legislation
The county council will take up several bills this fall that will impact Montgomery Village.

Short term rentals (Zoning Text Amendment 17-03) - At the request of the county council, the planning board staff has researched and developed a proposed Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) to permit short-term (less than 30 days) residential rentals throughout most zones in the county. Currently, rentals for less than 30 days are prohibited, but the council recognizes the need to permit and regulate short-term rentals in response to county property owners and visitors who are arranging short-term property rentals through services such as Airbnb, Flipkey, Homeaway and VRBO.

The final version is likely to have two changes from the attached version: (1) owners will not have a limit on the number of days they can use their properties for short-term rentals, as long as the owner is present during the rental; and (2) an owner’s license may be revoked for one year in the event that an owner has three significant license violations in a one year period. The county council is expected to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Zoning Text Amendment – Telecommunication Towers – No formal bill has yet been submitted to the county council. The county executive is still getting public input, and there are several meetings scheduled, including one at the Silver Spring Civic Center on Monday, Sept. 18 and another on at Montgomery College in Germantown on Tuesday, Sept. 19. One of the provisions of this bill would be to allow smaller cell towers in the public right-of-way in residential zones. MVF staff has contacted zoning officials in the county to try to determine the applicability of the draft bill’s language to private streets.

County Roadway Reimbursement for Homes Corps – The council has sponsored Bill 22-17 that would repeal the county law providing for assistance to Montgomery Village homeowners associations to help them maintain private roadways in our communities. The county staff argues that since there was no appropriation for funding from FY11 through FY18, and that funding is unlikely for future county budgets, the law should be repealed.

They also indicated that repealing the bill would not affect the funding from the State Highway Administration, which would continue as a pass-through from the county to the HOAs. Tentatively, a work session before the county council’s Transportation and Environment Committee is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 14.

If you have comments or questions, please call me at 240-243-2322 or e-mail dhumpton@mvf.org.