Housing Opportunities Commission/Day Care parcel acquisition
MVF has learned that the Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) is in the process of purchasing the parcel at the intersection of Montgomery Village Avenue and Lost Knife Road (9845 Lost Knife Road) where a day care center is currently located, as well as over an acre of green space.
Staff met with Executive Director of HOC Stacy Spann and HOC’s attorney to learn if they had immediate plans for development of the parcel. They indicated that they wanted the day care to remain in operation because of its benefit to the Cider Mill Apartments, as well as the local community, and that they would investigate how to use the large green space as a recreation amenity for Cider Mill residents.
MVF has presented an estoppel certificate to HOC noting that there are no violations on the property.
2019 State General Assembly
The State General Assembly convened on January 9. This is the 429th session of the legislature. The broader issues that legislators will address include the education policy and funding, statewide minimum wage and the state budget.
Staff, the MVF Board and other COA and HOA leaders will be working with our own District 39 team and other legislators on bills that are filed during the session. It is expected that several bills will be filed regarding licensing of community managers, standardizing dispute resolution processes in homes corporations and other amendments to the state HOA act.
MVF staff met with representatives of the Columbia Association (President Milton Matthews, General Counsel for Columbia Sheri Fanaroff and lobbyist for Columbia Paul Tiburzi) to discuss the upcoming session and share intelligence on possible bills and our positions. We have been very successful working with Columbia because many of the bills would have the same impacts to their members or associations.
North Creek Pool Update
After the inaugural swim season of the renovated Peggy Mark Pool, planning for the North Creek Community Center pool and bathhouse renovation project began. In March 2018, MVF staff had a preliminary meeting with the North Creek Neptunes Swim Team representative to discuss ideas related to the future renovations to the North Creek pool and bathhouse. Shortly afterward, notices were sent to Village residents in the neighboring communities, and articles were put in the Village News inviting residents to come to the Recreation Committee meeting on April 2 to give their input regarding the pool renovation. MVF staff received five e-mails with resident input, and 12 individuals provided input at the Recreation Committee meeting.
In summer 2018, MVF staff put together a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to General Contractors for the design-build swimming pool/bathhouse renovation project at North Creek Community Center. In August, the RFQ was sent to known contractors who had experience in pool renovation projects and was also advertised in two trade journals, the Dodge Report and the Association of Building Contractors. Three contractors replied to the RFQ and all three were well qualified.
In September, MVF staff began putting together a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the project, based on staff and resident input received. The RFP was sent out to the three pre-qualified contractors on November 1 and a pre-bid meeting was held on November 14. Two weeks after the pre-bid meeting, contractor questions were due in writing, and MVF staff provided written responses to each question to all of the contractors.
MVF staff coordinated a preliminary review meeting on January 10, 2019 with Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services review staff and representatives from the bidding contractors. The purpose of the meeting was to try and determine what expectations/requirements the county may have with regard to the project, including stormwater management, ADA access and fire safety.
Bids for the North Creek Community Center pool and bathhouse renovation project are due on March 1. Presentations by the contractors will be given to MVF staff the week of March 11. Bids will be evaluated and a preferred contractor will be selected. At the Monday, April 1 Recreation Committee meeting, the preferred contractor will present their conceptual design options to the committee. The meeting will be advertised in the Village News, and notices will be sent out again to Village residents in the neighboring communities inviting resident input regarding the design options.
Following the presentation and community input, the committee will make a recommendation for the MVF Board to consider. The preferred contractor will also present the design options to the MVF Board at the Thursday, April 25 meeting, at which time a concept design will be chosen and negotiations with the preferred contractor can begin. Price negotiations and tweaking of the concept design will be completed in time for a contract award to be made at the Thursday, July 25 MVF Board meeting.
The design and permitting process is expected to take approximately 12 months, with construction to begin in August 2020, at the conclusion of the swim season. It is anticipated that the renovated pool and bathhouse will re-open for the 2021 pool season.
MVF staff has confirmed that two new grocery stores will be coming to Montgomery Village. Lidl will build a new grocery store on the old Professional Center site at the corner of Centerway Road and Montgomery Village Avenue. The store, as required by a covenant on the property, will be less than 30,000 sq. ft. Lidl will be working with MVF and other community stakeholders on the development of a site plan. The other grocery store is Aldi, which leased space at the Village Center and will occupy space next to Big Lots.
Staff met with Roger Waterstreet on January 11 to present a draft of the sign application. Waterstreet is the Department of Permitting Services’ liaison to the Sign Review Board. We reviewed the county’s standard application, as well as the exhibits and photos developed by staff to show the location of the sign, elevations and dimensions of the current and proposed signs, and distances from residences.
Waterstreet confirmed that the arguments in our application are on point and in line with the factors and questions that the Sign Board Review will consider. The variances that we are requesting are: (1) permission to put up this sign (which is larger than usually permitted) on a residentially zoned property; (2) permission to have an illuminated sign in a residential area; (3) permission to locate the sign along East Village Avenue, rather than at the entrance to Lake Marion Community Center; and (4) permission to change the sign more frequently than permitted in the zoning ordinance.
Waterstreet also confirmed that MVF’s basic approach, arguing that the Lake Marion Community Center property, while zoned RE-1, is more accurately characterized as a commercial use under the zoning code, and that MVF has a role in providing important services to the community, are valid factors in our goal of improving communication with the community through a modern digital sign.
At the meeting, a major concern that Waterstreet resolved was whether the current sign and its proposed replacement are in the county’s right-of-way. He had another staff person at the county review the right-of-way, and it was determined from records and aerial photos that the current sign and new location are not in the right-of-way, although they are very close. For the final application, we will need to have this confirmed through a survey.
Early on, MVF staff reviewed the Strathmore Music Center’s application for a digital sign in a commercial zone along Rockville Pike. Even in that commercial zone, the Sign Review Board required three separate hearings before finally granting the variance. Strathmore staff candidly shared with MVF staff that the most important thing they could have done to smooth the way for their application would have been to address the concerns of their neighboring property owners before applying.
To that end, MVF has obtained letters from the East Village Homes Corporation and Watkins Mill High School supporting MVF and the application for the sign. Staff is moving forward to complete two final elements of the application: (1) the survey showing the right-of-way; and (2) working with the tax assessors office to provide the Sign Review Board with the names and addresses of the numerous individual properties that adjoin or confront the Lake Marion Community Center property.