Yes, an infamous Star Trek villain was invoked, and a citizen created some very minor drama, at last night's meeting of the Rockville Planning Commission at City Hall.
The final bell is tolling for the venerable retail center at 1592 Rockville Pike, home to Radio Shack, Fuddrucker's and Pier One. I'll be sorry to see it go.
In the near future, the property will most likely be known as Twinbrook Metro Place, and will rise over its namesake community at around 150 feet.
Last night, the applicant, Twinbrook Partners, LLC, presented its site plan to the Rockville Planning Commission.
One initial complaint by a speaker was that notification procedures had not been followed. Unable to get the answer he wanted from city staff, he turned to the applicant's attorney, Heather Dlhopolsky, reminding her, "You're under oath!"
Planning commissioners corrected him, clarifying Dlhopolsky was not under oath.
Later, the same man rushed to the podium and interrupted commission deliberations on the project, prompting Chairman Jerry Callistein to respond, "You're out of order."
The building that will front to the Pike has a glass facade, which raised concerns about glare among some commissioners.
Beyond that, there was a question as to how well this fits in with 1-2 story structures nearby.
Commissioner Jack Leiderman found the proposed design "very different in architectural character" from its surroundings. Leiderman pressed for design changes throughout the meeting, saying the city would not want to end up with a "Borg cube" in the middle of Rockville Pike. He also questioned how the contrast in aesthetics would create a "sense of place."
Commissioner Dion Trahan asked planning staff if the site would be part of the region's growing bikesharing network.
City Transportation Planner Rebecca Torma said there are no plans for a Twinbrook bike sharing station. However, the project does have around 200 bicycle parking spaces.
Commissioner David Hill wanted to know if it was feasible to retain street trees along the Pike.
Assistant City Forester Elise Carey noted sidewalk expansion there will require removal of street trees.
Commissioner Don Hadley inquired as to how many street trees would be subject to removal.
"5," responded Carey.
Twinbrook Civic Association President Christina Ginsberg pointed out that Tilden and Farmland public school parents should be notified of development along this stretch of the Pike, as they are two schools that will have to accomodate children who live in these buildings.
A majority of the commission concluded that the site plan was worthy of approval, but requested two conditions: that the building facade facing the Pike be altered to fit less-imposing city design requirements, and that any compartmentalizing of on-site parking facilities be approved by city staff.