Showing posts with label public hearing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public hearing. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Rockville Planning Commission to review site plan for new biotech development along I-270


There's a rare bit of good news on the high-wage employment front in Montgomery County, and not surprisingly, it's coming to us once again from the biotech sector of the economy. 2 Research Place, LLC (a shell company that appears to be an entity of Soltesz) has proposed a seven-story life sciences building for 2 Research Place in Rockville, along I-270. The development would include a six-story above-ground parking garage with 400 parking spaces, and a park. An existing office building and parking lot on the 2.82-acre property would be demolished.

Existing site as seen from I-270

The office building will be placed on the side of the property that fronts I-270, to take advantage of the visibility to the 250,000 cars that pass by the site on the interstate each day. This prominent vista will  "promote Rockville as the center for life science uses," the applicant's attorney, Pat Harris, writes in a letter to planning staff.  The building is being designed as a state-of-the-art research office building, with floorplates and ceiling heights scaled to the ideal measurements for laboratory uses as much as office use. 


I-270 is also figuring prominently in the office building's design. Its long facade facing the highway will be "sheathed in an iconic, high-performance glass and metal fa├žade system with variable panel shapes and spacings that amplify the feeling of movement, making a strong connection to the high-speed passersby," Harris writes. Alas, there are no high-quality renderings of the proposed architectural design available as of this writing, only the totally-uninspiring placeholder diagrams shown here.

Proposed site plan

The applicant is going above-and-beyond on several fronts. 100 more parking spaces than the 300 required by the City will be provided in the garage. And the development would include 12,267 square feet of public use space, essentially double the amount required by the City for a project of this size and use.

Office building rear with lobby entrance at left,
and loading docks at right

Side view of office building

The other side view

A centrally-placed large, central lawn will provide a park-like setting with seating. It will be placed in front of the rear of the office building and the parking garage. Auto traffic will circulate around it between the office, garage and main driveway access. A separate patio space with landscaping is also proposed for an area between the office building and the garage. The applicant is proposing a 4' sidewalk to connect the office building with Research Place, but is seeking a waiver to allow the sidewalk to be a foot narrower than the 5' required by the City.

Parking garage

The applicant is seeking a second waiver regarding the rooftop of the office building. Due to the specialized equipment required for life science research uses, the applicant is seeking permission to have more of the roof area dedicated to such equipment, and for the setback from the roof edge to be less than required under current City code. A 19'-high screen is proposed to hide the equipment from view.


Planning staff are recommending approval of the Site Plan, with conditions. The Rockville Planning Commission will review the plan at its meeting tonight, June 28, 2023 at 7:00 PM.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Rockville to hold public hearing tonight on voting age, size of the City Council in future elections


Rockville's Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to the city's election laws tonight, Monday, February 6, 2023 at 7:00 PM at City Hall. Changes being considered by the elected officials include lowering the voting age from 18 to 16, permitting non-citizens to vote, setting term limits, creating representative districts instead of electing all seats on an at-large basis, creating an administrative process to fill a vacancy on the council, changing election years to coincide with presidential or gubernatorial elections, and implementing ranked-choice voting. The Mayor and Council will consider the public input from tonight's hearing when it discusses the changes at its February 27 meeting, before taking a final vote.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Monday, December 26, 2022

Rockville office building could be replaced by townhomes


A vacant office building at 2115 E. Jefferson Street in Rockville could be demolished and replaced by a townhome development, if the Montgomery County Planning Board approves. Missing Middle Jefferson, LLC, is seeking to build 93 townhouses on the site, stating it has had no luck finding new tenants for the building due to the poor office market and high office vacancy rates of the county. The townhome community will not provide any additional affordable housing beyond the 15% required by Montgomery County. It will provide much more than the required open space, however, with 19.65% green space rather than the 5% minimum. The Planning Board will review the proposal at its January 5, 2023 meeting; planning staff are recommending approval of the project.
Proposed site plan for the new
townhome community


Friday, October 7, 2022

Rockville office building owner seeks height exemption for rooftop biotech equipment


Here is some good news from the King Farm area of Rockville. Instead of yet another request to convert office zoning to residential use, an office building landlord is seeking a waiver from the City of Rockville that could instead increase the number of high-wage jobs in King Farm. Banyan Street Capital has requested a height waiver for its existing office building at 805 King Farm Boulevard. It is seeking the waiver to allow additional rooftop equipment for a biotech tenant's needs, and a higher rooftop screen wall to block that equipment from view for aesthetic reasons.

In a letter to the Rockville Planning Commission, Banyan Street's attorney, Pat Harris, says that the waiver and new rooftop equipment are "vital to the Applicant’s intended research and development (“R&D”) uses within the building, and the expansion of life science uses in the greater King Farm community." She adds that the new 12' Envel-paneled rooftop screen wall will be designed to closely match the exterior skin of the office building.

Banyan Street Capital completed its acquisition of four office properties in the King Farm employment zone earlier this year. It is making upgrades and amenity enhancements at all of those properties, in what it has branded as The District at King Farm. In addition to the rooftop equipment, Banyan Street says it will be opening a new cafe in the 805 King Farm Boulevard building.

The Planning Commission will consider the waiver request at its October 26, 2022 meeting. It is likely to approve the request, as it voted to allow a similar exemption for sister building 800 King Farm Boulevard in November 2021. A potentially great opportunity for more King Farm residents to be able to walk to high-paying jobs, which was one of the original visions for the community.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

New apartment building proposed by Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville


Development firm Hines, in partnership with WMATA, is proposing a new mixed-use development adjacent to the Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville, which would require approval of an amendment to the existing Twinbrook Commons project plan. The development would be built on an assembled lot of 1800 and 1818 Chapman Avenue and a portion of WMATA property at 1700 Chapman Avenue. A one-story auto repair business at the corner of Chapman and Thompson Avenues will remain in place, and is not part of the project sites being assembled.

The 120'-tall building proposed would include 437 apartments, 5,075 square feet of ground floor retail/restaurant space, a 7,800 SF courtyard and green roof, and a 437-space parking garage. 15% of the apartments would be moderately-priced dwelling units. Hines will work with the City to coordinate design of the public space on the property with a proposed future park and plaza to be constructed by the municipality. City staff noted that there is a lack of parkland in that area today. Unfortunately, the developer has not provided any renderings of the proposed architecture of the development.

New bus circulation routes proposed;
future building shown in gray

A new access point into the Metro station bus loop would be constructed off of Thompson Avenue as part of the project. Current city parking standards require 600 parking spaces for a project of this scope. The applicants are seeking a waiver that would allow them to provide only 437. City planning staff are recommending the waiver be granted, citing the location's proximity to Metro, multiple bus routes and Metro parking garage among the justifications.

One Twinbrook resident who lives on the other side of the Metro/CSX railroad tracks wrote to city staff in opposition to the parking waiver. He said overflow parking from the increasing number of multifamily developments with such waivers will spill over onto residential streets in Twinbrook. "I purchased my house in 1989 with my entire life savings as my down payment," he wrote. "I am convinced that my neighbors did the same thing. We should not be disrespected by the City by ignoring our concerns which directly negatively affect our daily lives." He also noted that there is already insufficient space for the existing bus routes that service the Metro station there, questioning how WMATA can afford to give any away.

There is currently insufficient
sewer capacity for the proposed
development, including this line
shown in orange far from the 
building site in Twinbrook

Another concern expressed by City officials, is sewer capacity.  On July 18, the city's Chief of Engineering, John Scabis, wrote that the Department of Public Works "has determined that portions of the City existing sewer system do not have adequate capacity to serve your proposed development." Scabis outlined several mitigation solutions that Hines will be required to fund and facilitate to receive approval for the project. The existing deficiencies extend to the sewer system in the Twinbrook neighborhood on the other side of the tracks, adding to resident concerns beyond the parking matter.

The sites proposed for assembly are currently home to two industrial buildings. You may recall that they were reviewed for historic designation last year, before the green light was given for their demolition. The project will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at its meeting tonight, July 27, 2022 at 7:00 PM. Staff are recommending approval of the amendment to the Twinbrook Commons project plan.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Rockville Historic District Commission to determine if N. Stonestreet Ave. house can be demolished


The Rockville Historic District Commission will consider whether or not the home at 903 N. Stonestreet Avenue should be declared historic at its April 21, 2022 meeting. An applicant is seeking permission to demolish the home and build another on the property. The one-and-a-half-story home was built in 1937, and has a later addition in the rear. An aluminum-siding shed is located in the backyard.

A structural engineer retained by the applicant determined that the home is in poor condition with extensive wood rot. Along with foundation cracks and water damage, the engineer concluded that the cost of repairs that would make the home habitable again would meet or exceed construction of a brand-new home. The home has been passed down through the same family since it was first built, and the new home proposed for the site would be for a nephew of the most-recent owner, who passed away in 2019.

City of Rockville Preservation Planner Sheila Bashiri evaluated the property, and has determined it does not meet any of the criteria for historic designation. Bashiri has therefore recommended against declaring the property historic.

Photos via City of Rockville

Friday, February 11, 2022

Rockville HDC to determine historic significance of Great Falls Road home


The Rockville Historic District Commission will consider the historic significance of a property at 500 Great Falls Road at its next virtual meeting, scheduled for February 17, 2022 at 7:00 PM. 500 Great Falls Road is a single-family home in the Rockville Heights subdivision. It was nominated for historic status by historic preservation non-profit Peerless Rockville.

Peerless Rockville nominated the home last year after it noticed the owner beginning significant renovations to the structure. The City of Rockville has asked the owner to state his position on the nomination, but has not received an indication of his approval or opposition to the proposed inclusion of the property in an historic district. However, the owner did request a certificate of approval from the HDC last year for the renovations. He told the commission that moisture retention by the stucco applied to the home was damaging the interior, and rendering the foundation unstable.

The original home at 500 Great Falls Road
flanked by HDC-approved additions now
under construction

The HDC ultimately granted approval for the owner's proposed changes to the property. However, it did not render an official judgement as to the home's designation as historic. Dr. Clara Bliss Hinds Finley, a nationally-known female physician who founded multiple organizations and lectured on women's and children's health, resided in the home during summers between 1916 and and her death in 1940. She is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

City of Rockville Preservation Planner Sheila Bashiri has determined that the property meets the following criteria for historic designation:  It represents the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, as the home of a women who was a pioneer in her field, Dr. Clara Bliss Finley, and her daughter, a prominent suffragist. Second, it embodies distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, as it is already listed in the city's Historic Buildings Catalogue as a prime representative of the Colonial Revival style. Finally, it is an established visual feature in the Rockville Heights neighborhood. Its surrounding lot, house footprint and massing are intact, and its Colonial Revival architecture and placing on the large corner lot have made it an established visual feature in that community.

For these reasons, Bashiri is recommending the HDC find that the home does meet the criteria for historic designation, and that the commissioners forward a recommendation to the Mayor and Council to place the property in the historic district zone.

Photos courtesy City of Rockville

Monday, January 10, 2022

Rockville Planning Commission to review Fortune Terrace development this week


A proposed residential development on Fortune Terrace in Rockville will go before the Planning Commission this Wednesday night, January 12, 2022 at 7:00 PM. Developer EYA has proposed building 99 townhomes, 96 multi-family units and 213 multi-family senior housing units at 11511 Fortune Terrace. An existing office building would be demolished to clear the way for the development if it is approved; 70,000 square foot Lifetime Fitness gym would remain on the site. Planning staff is recommending approval of the plan, with conditions.



Monday, December 6, 2021

Rockville Chase Bank branch project moving forward on Meixin Supermarket site


J.P. Morgan Chase is moving forward with its proposed Chase Bank branch on the site of the vacant Meixin Supermarket at 460 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. The Mayor and Council last month voted to deny historic status to the Jack Sullivan-designed retail structure, which will now be demolished. 


A Level 2 site plan for the branch will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at its virtual meeting this week on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at 7:00 PM. Planning staff are recommending approval of the plan, but with a whopping 28 conditions, ranging from lighting that does not cause glare for drivers to compliance with master plan requirements for a shared-use path and future extension of Dawson Avenue.

Photo by Robert Dyer; rendering via City of Rockville

Monday, May 17, 2021

Rockville Mayor & Council to hold public hearing tonight on proposed annexation of King Buick-GMC dealership into city


Rockville's Mayor and Council will receive public testimony on the proposed annexation of the King Buick-GMC auto dealership property at 16200 Frederick Road into the city at their virtual meeting tonight, May 17, 2021 at 7:05 PM. A residential development has been proposed for the site by developer EYA. City zoning would permit the density EYA seeks for the development, whereas the current Montgomery County zoning would not.



Thursday, February 4, 2021

Rockville Planning Commission to hold public hearing on annexation of King Buick GMC dealership into city


Should the City of Rockville annex the King Buick GMC dealership at 16200 Frederick Road into the city limits? You can weigh in on the proposed plan at a virtual public hearing being held by the Rockville Planning Commission on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 7:00 PM. To participate, follow the instructions on the meeting agenda. If approved, the new land added to the city is expected to be redeveloped by EYA as a residential housing development.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Public hearings set for Rockville 2040 Comprehensive Master Plan

A three-year public process to update and revise a comprehensive master plan for the entire City of Rockville is coming to a close as the public will now have a chance to weigh in the document, which will then be voted on by the Mayor and Council. Public hearings on the Rockville 2040 plan will be held at City Hall on Wednesday, May 15, 2019; Wednesday, May 22, 2019; and Tuesday, June 4, 2019, all beginning at 7:00 PM.

You can review the Rockville 2040 draft plan online before preparing your testimony. There will also be public information sessions on the plan at City Hall on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 from 6:30-9:00 PM, and on Saturday, May 11, 2019 from 9:30 AM to noon.

More Montgomery County headlines:




Suburban News Network - MoCo's leading local news source

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Public hearing February 25 for N. Stonestreet Ave. Plan amendment

The public can weigh in on the proposed amendment to the N. Stonestreet Avenue master plan at a hearing scheduled for Monday, February 25, 2019 at 7:00 PM before the Mayor & Council at City Hall. You can see the draft of the amendment online.

To testify, call 240-314-8280 by 4:00 PM the day of the hearing, or submit testimony in writing to cityclerk@rockvillemd.gov or City Clerk’s Office/Director of Council Operations, City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Rockville Planning Commission to hold public hearing on Twinbrook Quarter/Wegmans project plan

The Rockville Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on B.F. Saul's project plan for its Twinbrook Quarter project on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 7:00 PM in the Mayor & Council chambers at City Hall. The project will be anchored by a Wegmans grocery store at the corner of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road near the Twinbrook Metro station.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

6th Congressional District gerrymandering commission public hearing TONIGHT at Montgomery College in Rockville

Gov. Larry Hogan's Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering will hold a public hearing tonight, Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the Theatre Arts Center building in the center of the Rockville Campus. This is your chance to weigh in on a potential redistricting that affects not only the voters who live in the 6th district, but also the 8th district. There's been much said about making the 6th more competitive for Republicans, but very little about how that is achieved without making the 8th an even-more-gerrymandered district for Democrats than it is already.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Rockville public hearing on school overcrowding sets up dramatic vote next week

Rockville's Mayor and Council are no closer to a consensus on changing the city's Adequate Public Facilities Standards test for school overcrowding despite postponing the matter until after the holidays. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton expressed disappointment that the extra time was consumed with "more finger-pointing," rather than solving the dilemma. The dilemma is shaping up as a vote on Wegmans as much as about schools, which is also the way it was framed prior to the holidays.

"I don't want this to be a 'Wegmans or schools' issue," developer B.F. Saul's Todd Pearson told the Mayor and Council at a packed meeting that continued past 11:00 PM last night. But Pearson added that he had "serious concerns" as to whether or not B.F. Saul could meet the requirements of its lease with the grocery giant if elected officials punt the decision past next Monday night. In December, Pearson had warned that Wegmans might back out of the deal if their timeline for the Twinbrook Quarter development is not met. Wegmans is currently expected to be the retail anchor of that development at the northeast corner of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road.

Councilmember Virginia Onley noted that Wegmans had already ended negotiations with Lerner at their former White Flint Mall site when that property became entangled in a prolonged court battle. The news of the store's lease at Twinbrook Quarter has been the main generator of excitement about the development among the public. But based on resident and civic association testimony last night, the public also largely opposes the proposed allowance of 150% of capacity school overcrowding.

"I'm not wedded to 150%," Councilmember Mark Pierzchala said after all testimony had been heard, expressing a willingness to "go lower" to reach a deal. Pierzchala was the one who proposed the changes now on the table last year. The changes were put forward after Pierzchala realized that existing 120% overcrowding standards would trigger a development moratorium, freezing the Twinbrook Quarter project until Montgomery County Public Schools provide new capacity (although some residents have pointed out that this was known over a year ago). Resident Brigitta Mullican suggested that the city entirely drop any school test from the APFS, arguing that MCPS has total control over the matter and the city has none.

With no new compromise proposals yet emerging, a dramatic showdown is set for next Monday night at 7:00 PM, when the Mayor and Council are scheduled to vote on the matter. The drama will not only be from the potential for an elected official to be blamed for losing Wegmans or worsening school overcrowding, but also from the fact that the body is short a member. The recent resignation of Councilember Julie Palakovich Carr, who was elected to the General Assembly last November, leaves an even number of voters on the Council. Newton and Councilmember Beryl Feinberg could counterbalance the "Team Rockville" votes of Onley and Pierzchala, resulting in deadlock.

Newton held out some hope for a mutually-beneficial compromise to be worked out in the next five days. "It's not a one-person decision. It's not a two-person decision. It's a city decision," she said.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Public hearing set for North Stonestreet Avenue master plan amendment

The Rockville Planning Commission will hear public testimony regarding an amendment to the North Stonestreet Avenue master plan on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 7:00 PM at City Hall. If passed, the amendment will affect properties along North Stonestreet Avenue between Spring Avenue to the north, and Howard Avenue to the south. That area is currently occupied by Montgomery
County Public Schools and Crusader Baptist Church, in the historic former Lincoln High School.

You can read the hearing draft of the amendment online here.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Mayor and Council to consider abandonment of easement along Veirs Mill Road

Rockville's Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing on the potential abandonment of a City right-of-way easement located on the property of 2131 Veirs Mill Road. According to 1976 documents, the easement was granted to the Mayor and Council of Rockville at that time "for use as a public road or 'service road' to facilitate the interior flow of traffic along Viers (sic) Mill Road.

It's intriguing that an abandonment could occur prior to final decisions being made about the impact and needed right-of-way for the Bus Rapid Transit boondoggle planned for Veirs Mill. Quite a few homes and businesses will be partially or entirely condemned if that plan goes forward as generally described now. There is currently a bus stop in front of the subject property.

The current property owner is seeking the abandonment of the easement because it would hinder a building addition, and future redevelopment of the property, according to the applicant's attorney. A public hearing on the abandonment will be held at the Mayor and Council meeting on Monday, September 17, 2018 at 7:00 PM at City Hall.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Public hearing on allowing breweries, distilleries in Rockville set for Sept. 11

The Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed zoning change that would allow breweries and distilleries to operate in the City of Rockville at their September 11 meeting at 7:00 PM. If approved, the change would allow full production of alcoholic beverages in light and heavy industrial zones, and in mixed-use employment zones.

Microbreweries and pub breweries with limited production would also be allowed to locate in mixed-use business, mixed-use transit district, mixed-use corridor district and mixed-use employment zones. To testify at the hearing, call (240) 314-8280 before 4:00 PM on September 11 to sign up.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Asphalt crushing plant proposed for Rockville

M. Luis Products Company has proposed constructing and operating a reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) crushing and screening plant at 14900 Old Dover Road in Rockville. The Maryland Department of the Environment, Air and Radiation Management Administration (ARMA) has completed a review of the company's application, and is tentatively set to approve it.

But first, ARMA is hosting a public hearing to get community feedback on the proposed plant. The plant will crush 220 tons of reclaimed asphalt per hour, and be powered by two diesel engines. A public hearing will be held on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at 6:30 PM, at the County Council Office Building, at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville, in the 7th floor Hearing Room. You will be able to speak at the hearing.

The closest homes to the plant are on Moore Drive - a fair distance away, but the ARMA announcement does not state the decibel level of the crushing machinery. You can read the M. Luis application, and ARMA's report, at the Rockville Memorial Library at 21 Maryland Avenue, Suite 310. Ask for "Docket #02-17."