Friday, October 23, 2020

Rockville planning staff recommends removing "substantial retail" requirement for Rockshire Village Center in master plan

Rockville Planning Commission
Chair Charles Littlefield

Residents in the Rockshire community of Rockville have long asked the Rockville Planning Commission to preserve the retail-only use of the Rockshire Village Center property in the update of the city's Comprehensive Plan. Developers seeking to redevelop the property are asking for retail use to be minimized or deleted altogether, asserting that there is no market demand for retail at that location. The Planning Commission will consider the competing arguments at its 7:00 PM, October 28, 2020 virtual meeting. City planning staff has now weighed in with recommendations.

Planning staff "does not believe that retaining the restriction on the site that it may only be retail
is in the best interests of the community or the property owner," a staff report included in the meeting agenda states, in response to testimony by resident Randy Alton. Responding to testimony opposing retail use by Bob Youngentob of development firm EYA, staff goes further, recommending commissioners delete the word "substantial" from "substantial retail" as a condition for any residential redevelopment. 

Staff also notes that commissioners could remove the word "retail" altogether. "In that case," the report suggests, "the language could be shortened to simply say:  'Any housing development must provide a significant amenity that would be an asset to the broader community.' An amenity could include retail or community space, but neither would be identified explicitly."

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