by Mike Conroy
When the Professional Center was built by the Kettler Brothers, the Declaration of Covenants attached to the property stated that once Kettler ceased to own the property, Montgomery Village Foundation (MVF) had certain rights and responsibilities, including amending the Declaration which permitted uses for the property. The original uses for the property were defined by Kettler to be “professional pharmacies, doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, engineers, chiropractors, osteopaths, opticians and related, supportive or similar type uses.”
Currently, the new CRT zoning established with the Montgomery Village Master Plan allows for a broad range of uses to the site. However, in order to market the site to potential developers, the owner, NorthStar, wants to add to the list of potential uses for the property beyond Kettler’s original designation; MVF would have to change the Declaration for this to happen. In keeping with the Vision 2030 Plan and the new Montgomery Village Master Plan—which both encourage reinvestment in several commercial sites—the MVF Board of Directors set out to establish appropriate uses for the site, with cooperation from Whetstone Homes Corporation, whose property abuts the Professional Center.
The Zoning Ordinance list of uses was the basis for determining what could potentially work on the site. NorthStar’s attorney, Tim Dugan, along with MVF Executive Vice President Dave Humpton and MVF General Counsel Christopher Hitchens narrowed the list into a use table for further examination.
Humpton and Dugan attended the September 29 Whetstone Homes Corporation (WHC) meeting to discuss the need to update the Declaration and received direction from WHC as to what other uses would be tolerable that close to their borders. Prior to the WHC board meeting, Whetstone held a community meeting to discuss the use table.
Of the 58 items on the original use table, MVF staff eliminated several more based on the WHC board’s recommendation, including: community gardens; categories of household living; personal living quarters; major impact home health practitioners; hotels and charitable, philanthropic institutions. In total, 26 uses were eliminated from the use table.
In addition to specific parameters in the CRT zone (design standards, including public amenities), the county’s site plan regulatory requirements would protect the neighboring Whetstone residences. County planners have taken into account buffers, storm water management, landscaping, lighting, height and massing of buildings, rooftop structures (HVAC equipment), dumpster enclosures, etc. Within the Declaration, MVF retains architectural review, which again provides a level of control to help plan and build a project that is in harmony with the adjoining residential community. WHC’s concerns about compatibility and impacts such as increased traffic, schools, too much density, etc. can be addressed during the multi-step regulatory process which encourages public participation.
Along with the use table, other modifications to the zoning have been negotiated with the owner and will be incorporated into the final Declaration. These include: no drive thru (including gas service pumps or gas stations); no single retail store exceeding 30,000 sq. ft.; no pawn shops; commercial and residential “floor area ratio” (FAR) restrictions; and a maximum height of 75 feet.
The Declaration also allows MVF to retain the right to oversee maintenance of the property and requires the owner to reimburse MVF for any maintenance costs. Additionally, a new section was added that establishes a basis for future residential units to be annexed into MVF or for units to be brought in via a contract, if the property were to be developed with residential units.
At present, there are no plans on the table for changing the Professional Center, however NorthStar is looking to market the site to the appropriate buyers, given the agreed use table. As with any potential development, future concepts and other plans are subject to county processes and multiple opportunities for public and resident input.
To view the Third Supplemental and Amended and Restated Declaration and Grant of Easements, Covenants and Restrictions for the Montgomery Village Professional Center, including the use table, visit www.montgomeryvillage.com. Select “Development & Projects” from the “About MV” menu on the blue bar, then expand the section on “MV Professional Center.”