Showing posts with label Twinbrook Parkway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Twinbrook Parkway. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 11, 2014



Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has withdrawn the county's request for a 4-story office building on the Broome School site on Twinbrook Parkway. In a memo to County Council President Craig Rice, Leggett says he has determined that "the County can relocate the [Children's Resource Center] in the existing Broome School [building], and can therefore defer construction of a permanent building to house the CRC at this time."

Twinbrook Forest residents may find the final 3 words of that statement reason not to celebrate just yet. While a 4-story building won't be plunked down in their residential neighborhood "at this time," there is no assurance that such a project won't be reintroduced in the future. After the upcoming county elections, for example.

Clearly, the county has heard the expressions of opposition in the community. What's unclear, is the future of the Broome site.

A fantastic residential neighborhood, Twinbrook Forest has enough trees to live up to its name. It also boasts distinctive and historic architecture amongst its homes. And has convenient bus service along Twinbrook Parkway. Yet the neighborhood had dealt for years with public services jammed into the Broome site, some of which were clearly incompatible with a quiet, residential neighborhood for families (including a meth clinic[!]).

Just when those services had been moved out of the Broome site, suddenly the CRC project was dropped on the neighborhood. Such a location for non-school or park/recreation use is certainly inconsistent with county leaders' stated goal of "smart growth." A new office building construction more than half-a-mile from the nearest Metro station would hardly have been "smart growth."

There's also the question of how the withdrawn plan, as well as the CRC relocation that remains on the table, interface with the recreational facilities onsite. Will agreeing - to the extent that Rockville can impact decisions regarding Montgomery County Public Schools properties - to relocation of the CRC to Broome mean ensuring an expansion of that facility in the future on Twinbrook Parkway? And will the traffic impact be negligible, or of concern to pedestrians or children playing in the neighborhood (or attempting to reach the recreational facilities at Broome)? I've found that "trips generated" estimates accepted by the county planning board tend to be wildly low in the vehicle trip numbers they predict. Yet they are accepted as accurate.

While schools can be noisy during recess, or generate traffic twice a day, many people can probably - if not begrudgingly - accept having one in a residential neighborhood. Placing other services and facilities in such locations is more problematic, and their impacts should be carefully considered. Certainly, the services provided by the CRC are beneficial to many county residents. And more compatible with a school property such as Broome, compared to other potential uses.

But without more detail, one wonders how the CRC will use the existing Broome building, when the county's application explicitly said such a move was impossible. In Item 8 under the heading, "Community Outreach," the county responded to the community's query regarding the CRC using the existing building, rather than constructing a new one, as follows:

MCPS has informed the County that the Broome Middle School renovation project is “inevitable”. The County will continue to hold this facility until MCPS formally requests it back. In the meantime, the County is unable to use bond funds to renovate the existing Broome building for CRC use. This is due to the County’s requirement that bond funds can only be used on buildings with anticipated life of 20 years or more. Therefore, the funding would need to come from the County’s annual operating budget. Given the County’s current fiscal situation, and the inevitability of MCPS taking Broome back, CRC use of the existing building is not a feasible option.

Was this statement misleading the community? Or has the county found a workaround solution at the last minute?

These are just some of the issues confronting the Rockville Planning Commission, which is scheduled to take up the new CRC Broome proposal at Wednesday night's meeting at City Hall.

Friday, December 20, 2013


The Montgomery County Planning Board voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to abandon the Aspen Hill Road Extended right-of-way between Veirs Mill Road and Twinbrook Parkway. "I don't see any reason not to abandon it," board chair Francoise Carrier said. This vote clears the way for redevelopment of the Halpine View garden apartments, which currently comprise one of the few existing affordable housing complexes in Montgomery County. Such redevelopment will surely allow luxury apartment buildings to loom over the adjoining Twinbrook neighborhood within the City of Rockville.

I do not know who might have submitted written testimony on the matter besides me. But the questions raised in my testimony were never addressed by the board. In fact, my written testimony was entirely ignored. The only significant issue of any sort, which was not in my testimony, was raised by Commissioner Casey Anderson. Anderson expressed concern that some notation be made in the record to preserve the county's right to provide trail access from Twinbrook Parkway for pedestrians and cyclists.

It is simply beyond belief that a body responsible for planning and transportation can simply decide not to consider the future uses of such a right-of-way. And why the county continues to aid and abet the demolition of what existing affordable housing we have, is a serious question that needs to be answered.

During the discussion, it was revealed that conditions 3, 4, and 5 were revised - 4 substantively - since the staff report was made public. Not even the applicant had the language. Is this what passes for open data and citizen involvement in planning in Montgomery County?

Prior to the hasty vote, Carrier said, "I'm helping the developer here." No one can dispute that.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


The Montgomery County Planning Board will take up a landowner's request to have the county abandon its right-of-way through the Halpine View apartment complex, originally planned as an extension of Aspen Hill Road from Veirs Mill Road to Twinbrook Parkway, this Thursday afternoon.

A perfunctory planning staff report is recommending the board vote to abandon the right-of-way, citing the North Bethesda-Garrett Park master plan recommendation to do so.

The ramifications of the abandonment are far more complicated than the staff report would suggest, however.

First, and foremost, the main driver of the abandonment is neither sound transportation policy, nor concern for the environment (an Aspen Hill Road extension would cross Rock Creek). Rather, it is to promote and facilitate urban redevelopment of the Halpine View garden apartment complex. Halpine View is one of a dwindling number of affordable and spacious housing developments in the county. Its design, much like Privacy World in Glenmont, emphasizes a suburban scale setting, and well-maintained trees and green space. Certainly, the buildings are aging. But to preserve existing affordable units, renovation would be far better than turning the site into another "town center" for rich people. Current rents at Halpine View range from $1000-$1600 a month, and only about two blocks from the Twinbrook Metro station. This makes the complex a valuable one for working families in Montgomery County.

But much like Privacy World and other models for suburban, multi-family housing development, Halpine View is now sought after by developers for dense, urban-style development. Such "town center" density is entirely inappropriate at this location, literally across the street from single family homes in Twinbrook and Aspen Hill. Furthermore, the lure of redevelopment - dangled by developer-beholden council members for decades in front of landowners in Wheaton, Glenmont, Aspen Hill, Rockville, Bethesda, Long Branch, etc., has discouraged routine renovations and maintenance at some properties. After all, why spend money to upgrade your building(s) if you think you're going to be tearing them down in a few years? Remember that when supporters of redevelopment try to convince you that this or that shopping center or apartment complex is "shabby," or obsolete for "the modern amenities young professionals demand today." Any such amenities can be added to any building.

Rather than giving massive tax giveaways to developers, the county would be better off using those funds to assist property owners - as necessary - to finance such renovations and improvements. That would be a far better use of $72 million than just giving it away to White Flint developers, as the county council did a few years ago.

Beyond the crisis of affordable housing we continue to experience in Montgomery County, Aspen Hill Road extended is a potentially vital transportation facility. Current county leaders have no intention of completing the Rockville Freeway/Rockville Facility (a.k.a. Montrose Parkway, in part) all the way from Falls Road to the Intercounty Connector. Therefore, lateral traffic movement remains severely constrained in the county.

Should the Rockville Facility never be extended to Connecticut Avenue, Randolph Road and other local roads remain the only routes between White Flint and Aspen Hill. In that case, Aspen Hill Road Extended would be an important transportation facility.

There is also great potential for inappropriate use of "rapid transit" to upzone retail centers in Aspen Hill to high-density urbanization. Again, Aspen Hill Road Extended would certainly be a necessity under those circumstances.

Finally, a potentially high-traffic redevelopment is going to occur at the intersection of Aspen Hill Road and Connecticut Avenue - as a Walmart, or otherwise. Yet again, Aspen Hill Road would be a major route for patrons of that site.

In conclusion, there is no immediate need to abandon Aspen Hill Road Extended, other than private profit by a developer. The Planning Board should table this request indefinitely.

Retaining the Aspen Hill Road Extended right-of-way is in the best interests of the public, public safety, transportation needs, and vital to maintaining existing affordable housing units.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


A stolen car, several drug busts, and a sex offense were among notable incidents in crime data this week in Rockville.

Saturday, February 16:

Drug arrest. 5900 block Montrose Parkway.

Theft. 11900 block Bargate Court.

Disorder. 400 block N. Horners Lane.

Drug arrest. 600 block E. Gude Drive.

Sunday, February 17:

Theft from vehicle. 100 block Halpine Road.

Theft. 1700 block E. Jefferson Street.

Burglary. 600 block Twinbrook Parkway.

Assault. 2200 block McAuliffe Drive.

Disorder. 13200 block Twinbrook Parkway.

Theft from vehicle. XX block W. Montgomery Avenue.

Monday, February 18:

Stolen car. 100 block N. Stonestreet Avenue.

Burglary. XX block Ritchfield Court.

Disorder. 100 block Beall Avenue and 200 N. Adams Street.

Theft. XX King Farm Boulevard.

Tuesday, February 19:

Assault/"other sexual offense." XX block of Mannakee Street.

Disorder. 200 block Monroe Street.

Theft. 200 block Richard Montgomery Drive.

Drug arrest. 900 block Rollins Avenue and Chapman Avenue.

Theft. 1600 block Rockville Pike.

Theft from vehicle. 5600 block Randolph Road.

Theft. Sports Authority.