Thursday, July 24, 2014


The Rockville Planning Commission voted unanimously to grant a parking waiver to Hungerford Retail, LLC at last night's meeting. While virtually every future transit-oriented project in the city will likely meet the basic criteria for a parking waiver, the issuing of one is at the discretion of the commission. The planning body reached a consensus around the suggestions of commissioners Charles Littlefield and Jack Leiderman. Littlefield argued that the impact of the future Dawson Avenue extension was detrimental to the JBG Companies' project at 275 N. Washington Street, and reduced their available space for parking. It should be noted that future Town Center road extensions will also impact the Walgreens and an Asian grocery store's property and parking, as well.

JBG was credited by commission chair Don Hadley for its efforts to work with the adjoining property owners, and the West End Citizen's Association, to revise its initially-disastrous waiver presentation. Susan Prince spoke on behalf of WECA, and expressed concern at the downsizing of the planned restaurant space in the development. Prince said the neighborhood would prefer that JBG be required to contract with its neighbor, to provide additional parking in its monthly garage.

Ultimately, the commission declined to stipulate such a contract, which Sam Stiebel of JBG said would put the developer in a poor negotiating position, were it required to make a deal. It deemed sufficient, with some reservations, a deal JBG reached with Town Center II neighbor Shelter Development, that will provide 18 attended spaces in its future Brightview residential project for 275 N. Washington Street customers. A below-grade garage will hold 45 spaces, in addition to some surface parking. In addition, a valet service must begin immediately, rather than the original proposed delay.

The eventual agreement was briefly threatened when Commissioner John Tyner made a motion to grant the waiver, as he preferred to include the findings of the basic waiver criteria in the language. Leiderman and Littlefield said they could not support such a motion. After Leiderman advised Tyner to present a motion a majority could agree upon, Tyner relented. Littlefield seconded Tyner's motion.

There was still a matter of JBG's ability to be released from the parking agreement, should it be able to show there was indeed a surplus of parking available on two occasions, between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM. A friendly amendment by Leiderman restored the criteria to the original number of 5 study times.

Overall, several commissioners expressed the feeling that the desire for development in Town Center Phase II - as well as JBG's good-faith efforts in revising their proposal - outweighed their remaining concerns that parking will be a problem there in the future.

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