Showing posts with label ZTA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ZTA. Show all posts

Friday, July 9, 2021

Rockville zoning change would allow self-storage use at office buildings in mixed-use employment zones

U-Haul, Inc. has filed a request with the City of Rockville for a zoning change that would permit a self-storage use on existing properties citywide that are currently zoned as MXE (mixed-use employment) zones. The applicant is seeking the change because it would like to install self-storage units in an office building it owns at 1355 Piccard Drive. Self-storage warehouses in MXE zones were eliminated as a permitted use in 2019 by the Mayor and Council, and became a conditional use, and only if the site adjoins property that allows heavy industrial uses.

A zoning text amendment (ZTA) proposed by U-Haul would allow the self-storage use under the following conditions

  • Self-storage would be operated in conjunction with an existing permitted use in the MXE zone
  • Access to the self-storage units is internal-only, from inside the building
  • Self-storage use is located inside an existing office building

The Rockville Planning Commission will receive a briefing on the proposed ZTA at its July 14, 2021 virtual meeting. 

Planning staff have advised against adopting the ZTA. At U-Haul's Piccard Drive building in particular, staff suggests the area proposed for conversion to self-storage is large enough to make that the principal use, rather than a use "in conjunction with" an existing principal use. The change would also reduce the job-creating potential in existing office buildings, staff argues. Any existing, "underperforming" office building could add self-storage as its principal use under the ZTA as proposed, which staff indicates goes against the reasoning behind banning self-storage facilities in MXE zones in the first place.

The ZTA will come back before the Planning Commission on July 28. At that time, commissioners will have the opportunity to discuss and make a formal recommendation to the Mayor and Council on the ZTA.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015



Rockville's Mayor and Council voted 3-2 to ban self storage facilities located within 250' of schools last night, an action that will stop Siena Corporation's already-approved facility at First and Taft Streets in East Rockville. 

Nearby residents, and parents of children at the adjacent Maryvale Elementary School, have expressed concerns about pedestrian safety, crime, fires and even homeland security concerns, as cited by federal officials. Materials used in the 1993 World Trade Center and 1995 Oklahoma City bombings were kept in self storage units prior to those attacks.

Councilmember Tom Moore and Siena attorney Bob Dalrymple were having none of it. Moore has repeatedly asked Council colleagues to specify the perceived dangers, relative to other potential uses of the industrial site. He sought to delay the vote 30-60 days, to allow Siena to enter negotiations with residents to attempt a compromise.

Dalrymple was eager to do so. He implored the Mayor and Council to bring the citizens to the negotiating table, tell them to act like adults, and "work this damn thing out."

Suddenly, all of the previous public testimony and petition signatures were seemingly
back on the table again.

But only Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr was willing to support Moore's work group proposal. The substitute motion failed 3-2. "This is where you lose me," Councilmember Virginia Onley said to Moore. She said the city is always free to participate in negotiations between an applicant and residents, but that it is not the city's place to create the group, or force residents to negotiate. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said, "it is not up to the city" to compel residents to enter negotiations. 

Dalrymple's performance proved ineffective. He reversed himself while pleading his case, initially asserting that Siena had never threatened to sue the city if it passed the ban. "It wasn't just you," Newton countered, but a second Siena attorney, as well. Siena's threats were reported by several media outlets, including the Gazette:

Asked after the discussion if Siena will pursue legal action if the measure is approved, Robert Dalrymple, an attorney representing the company, answered in one word: “Absolutely.”

"We're not going to roll over," Dalrymple answered, reversing his earlier claim.

At times, the vote took on the trappings of a public hearing. Residents testified that Siena has been "kicked out" of at least two communities where they had sought to build facilities, and that they had not been forthcoming about fire and crime incidents at their properties. "If you had done your homework, you would know this as well," one said to Moore. East Rockville resident Kashi Way said Dalrymple's sudden interest in negotiations was "a stalling tactic," noting that Siena could have arranged such negotiations weeks or months ago. "They had our addresses, they know where we live," Way said.

Dalrymple argued that there were really only 3 residents opposing the facility. "It's not just 3 people," Newton countered, noting the large number of petition signatures gathered, and turnout at public hearings in opposition to the proposal.

The ZTA passed 3-2, with Newton, Onley and Councilmember Beryl Feinberg voting for, and Moore and Palakovich Carr opposed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


School sign indicates Maryvale ES
is nearby proposed self storage site
at First and Taft Streets in Rockville
A zoning text amendment that could scuttle a planned self storage facility near Maryvale Elementary School in Rockville will be presented by staff to the Mayor and Council at their January 12 meeting, following a vote instructing staff to do so Monday evening. The ZTA would prohibit self storage facilities to be place within 250 feet of schools, which would disqualify the facility currently proposed by Siena Corporation on Taft Street.

Siena's attorney, Robert Dalrymple, has previously threatened legal action against the city, should his client's project be stopped. The ZTA appears almost certain to pass, as Mayor Bridget Newton, and Councilmembers Beryl Feinberg and Virginia Onley have spoken in support of it. Feinberg and Onley both stressed Monday evening that, in their view, the ZTA is not targeted toward the Siena project. But passage of the ZTA is the only thing standing in the way of Siena's plans, particularly after the Rockville Planning Commission ruled that there was no legitimate reason to deny the company's proposal last month.

Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr put great weight on the commission's ruling, quoting from each commissioner's remarks during the discussion. Councilmember Tom Moore concurred, saying that while he often disagrees with the commission, he thought the decision was significant. Both warned Monday evening of the potential legal and fiscal consequences passing the ZTA could hold for the city. Moore attempted to grill Feinberg for more detail on what specific data should give the city pause about the potential dangers a self storage facility would pose toward schools and residents. He read from a list of other possible uses for the Taft Street property, including fuel filling station, temporary carnival and adult-oriented establishment, arguing that several on the list posed greater dangers to children and pedestrians than self storage. The meeting grew contentious as Moore pressed Feinberg for specifics. Feinberg later returned the favor, demanding data to back up one of Moore's points, saying, "I'm gonna do to you what you do to me."

As the debate began to circle further into the night, Newton chided Moore, saying, "people don't know when to stop repeating themselves."

Moore offered an amendment to grandfather the Siena project, but it was defeated 3-2, with Newton, Feinberg and Onley opposed. Feinberg suggested making the buffer 500 feet, but withdrew her amendment after staff could not demonstrate advantages in the city requiring the added distance. A third amendment by Moore would have required the city to set aside $3 million dollars in FY2016 for legal fees, which he believed would face the city should the ZTA pass. That measure, too, failed, only drawing support from Palakovich Carr.

Newton said the matter was a public safety issue, which should take priority over fears of legal action. Feinberg concurred, saying, "I'm not going to be intimidated or succumb to fearmongering."

Ultimately, the Mayor and Council voted 3-2 to instruct city staff to draft a final ZTA, and present it at the January 12 Mayor and Council meeting. Moore, who said he is "deeply concerned" about the zoning action, and Palakovich Carr, who lives in East Rockville, were both opposed to the motion.
Photo: Google Maps

Thursday, December 11, 2014


The Rockville Planning Commission voted 5-1 Wednesday night to recommend the Mayor and Council drop a proposed Zoning Text Amendment regarding self storage businesses. Commissioner Charles Littlefield cast the lone dissenting vote.

Self Storage facilities have been a hot button issue in recent months, as neighbors of a potential such facility fought plans to build one near Maryvale Elementary School. The attorney representing that EZ Storage project, Bob Dalrymple, warned commissioners that his client would pursue other avenues if they approved of the ZTA.

The sense that the ZTA was targeting the EZ Storage project ultimately led to its dismissal by the commission. A majority of commissioners found that the ZTA was too narrowly targeted, was arbitrary, and did not provide an adequate public process to sort the matter out.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Two current hot-button issues will come up during the next Rockville Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, December 10, at 7:00 PM. Commissioners and staff members Jim Wasilak and Deane Mellender will discuss the Adequate Public Facilities Standards changes proposed by the Mayor and Council. The commission will also take public testimony on a Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) that would prohibit the construction of self-storage facilities on land within 250 feet of a public school.

This comes during a major controversy over an EZ-Storage facility that is proposed to be built near Maryvale Elementary School in Rockville.

Two townhome projects that would add a total of 129 housing units to King Farm will also be reviewed. Those project sites are located at 900 and 901 King Farm Boulevard.

The meeting will be held in the Mayor and Council chambers at City Hall, and also broadcast live on Channel 11.

Friday, August 8, 2014


The Rockville Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend the Mayor and Council approve a Zoning Text Amendment allowing drive-thru restaurants at hotels on major highways in the MXE zone. That ZTA would facilitate a proposal by Potomac Foods Group to construct a new Burger King restaurant in front of the Red Roof Inn on Shady Grove Road.

Other hotels in the MXE zone whose properties have 200 feet of a major highway along their property frontage would also qualify for a drive-thru restaurant, should the Mayor and Council approve the ZTA.

A public hearing on the ZTA is scheduled for September 15.