Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Rockville BRT choice will require demolition of at least 2 homes on Veirs Mill Road

The claims that Montgomery County's bus rapid transit boondoggle would not require demolition of homes and businesses were, well, demolished last night. Rockville City Councilmembers voted 3-0-1 to approve BRT Alternative 3, with Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton abstaining. The City's preference will now be considered by the State of Maryland as it makes a final recommendation on a BRT alternative in the coming months.

Alternative 3 will require the demolition of at least 2 homes, as well as 41 other property takings of various sizes, along the proposed Veirs Mill Road route of BRT. These are the numbers before the project even gets into the design phase, and station locations are not yet determined, either. Those later decisions, and issues that inevitably arise in any transportation project, could further impact property beyond what we know today.

Councilmembers Mark Pierzchala, Beryl Feinberg and Julie Palakovich Carr voted in support of Alternative 3; Councilmember Virginia Onley was absent. Newton was dissatisfied with the options presented, saying, "I don't think we're right yet." With homes threatened by the project, Newton called the decision a "rush to judgement," and a threat to naturally-occurring affordable housing in the Veirs Mill corridor.

Pierzchala said you can't have a major transportation project without having some negative impacts. He argued that the affordable homes lost would be more than replaced by future redevelopment of the Twinbrook Shopping Center, which would require affordable units. Pierzchala also said the affected homeowners would be "handsomely recompensed" for the value of their homes.

Newton countered that the money the homeowners will receive will not be enough to afford a similar home in Rockviille under current market prices. "Where are you going to buy another home for that price," she asked.

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