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Votes

Potomac Master Plan: What Could Change

August 5, 2002

<bt>Some places in Potomac are likely to change as a result of the new Potomac Master Plan, the 20-year blueprint for landuse that was approved by the County Council on March 5, 2002.

This map shows some of changes the new Plan would allow or encourage. (Minor changes as well as changes to portions of North Potomac and Darnestown may not be included here.)

For a full version of the Master Plan, call Community Relations at Park and Planning at 301-495-4600 or visit the Web site at www.mc-mncppc.org

<mh>Cabin John Center

<bt>The Cabin John Center, a 25.3-acre site that was originally developed in the 1970s in the northeast quadrant of Tuckerman Lane and Seven Locks Road, will almost certainly be redeveloped at some time during the life of the 2002 Potomac Master Plan, possibly soon.

The redevelopment will include up to 135 townhouses or condominiums — as long as 75 are reserved for elderly or affordable housing — retail shopping, offices and open space. Each store must not exceed 8,000 square feet with the exception of one grocery store limited to 50,000 square feet and one additional "anchor" store that is limited to 30,000 square feet.

Currently, the 213,824-square foot community center consists of a two-story mall with 38,351 square feet of retail space and 41, 723 square feet of office space and an 116,260 square-foot strip mall, with 17,260 square feet of office.

Callum Murray, Potomac team leader anticipates the project will take place in the medium-to-long-term future (5 to 15 years). The owner of the Exxon Gas Station on the Coddle Harbor Drive is in the middle of a seven-year lease and some of the store owners have long-term leases.

Neighboring citizens associations and Carl Freeman Retail, Inc., the owner of the center, have been deliberating over conditions of possible redevelopment for a couple of years. Issues that still prove to be contentious are the number of feet required as setback between the center and Inverness Knoll townhomes and the number of housing units to be created at the new center.

<mh>Stoneyhurst Quarry

<bt>Potomac is the home to four operating quarries, three of which are located near the intersection of River and Seven Locks roads and the beltway.

While Tri-State Quarry on Seven Locks Road still has extensive reserves and expects to continue operating for at least 20 years, Stoneyhurst and Giancola quarries — both located on River Road — could deplete their reserves by the end of the 20-year cycle of this Master Plan.

County Council rezoned both properties, allowing townhouse development.

Stoneyhurst Quarry sits on 13.3 acres on the north side of River road west of Seven Locks Road, next to the beltway.

The Master Plan recommends RMX-1/TDR-6 zoning to create a residential community, allowing 80 to 97 residential units. Townhouses or multi-family units will be options available during redevelopment, and affordable and elderly housing is a suitable special exception use.

Design plans for Stoneyhurst development will be controversial and will be resolved at the time any application is presented to the Planning Board. Attorneys for Stoneyhurst and West Bradley Citizens Association agreed to specific terms — much more specific than usually called for in a Master Plan — and illustrative drawings proposed for redevelopment. Planning Board staff said that the illustrative plan agreed to would result in a "600-foot-long building, two times the length of a football field."

By a 5-4 vote, the County Council on March 5 decided to include the drawings over Planning staff objections. The Planning Board will be the ultimate arbitrator once plans are underway.

<mh>Giancola Quarry

<bt>The Master Plan recommends rezoning Giancola Quarry — a 4.87 acre piece of property on the northeastern quadrant of the intersection of River and Old Seven Locks roads — from R-200 to R-200/TDR-8. The rezoning will allow for a maximum of 40 townhouses if the quarry is developed. The Plan also recommends a waiver of the requirement for detached dwellings since this is a site that offers an opportunity to add housing other than single-family detached. The site will be considered for affordable or elderly housing units.

However, the Master Plan will indicate that access to the townhomes should be from River Road and may be problematic; the number of homes may need to be decreased if those problems cannot be addressed at subdivision.

<mh>Churchill Elementary School Site

<bt>While discussing the Potomac Master Plan, County Council looked for as many opportunities to provide for a mix of housing options — especially elderly and affordable housing — which is called for in the County's Housing Policy.

Three of the four school sites in the Potomac Master Plan that may be declared "surplus," or unneeded for building new schools, will be open to redevelopment or other uses by the County.

The Council and the Master Plan recommend that Churchill Elementary School site, located near Cavanaugh Road and Shady Grove Road, be considered for a range of options, including affordable and/or elderly housing, ballfields or parkland if the school board ever declares it a surplus site.

However, Callum Murray, Potomac team leader, said he thinks the Churchill Elementary site may ultimately be used for its original planned use, to build a new public school in the future, due to the growing number of students in North Potomac.

<mh>Kendall Elementary School Site

<bt>The Kendall Elementary School, located near Bradley Boulevard and Kentsdale Drive, will also be considered for a range of options including affordable and elderly housing if the school system declares the site surplus.

While this site could become a surplus site, according to Callum Murray, Potomac team leader, any timetable would be difficult to predict since it is dependent upon the needs of the school system.

<mh>Brickyard Junior High

<bt>The 20-acre site on Brickyard Road between Brent and Kingsgate roads, unused by the school system since 1973, has been leased to Nicholas Maravell for use as an organic farm.

The property could be used for ballfields or affordable or elderly housing in the future.

Despite opposition voiced by some neighbors, Planning Board staff first suggested that the site be used to reduce the shortage of ballfields in the Potomac Subregion since the land is clear of trees and generally flat.

Council staff voted that the site should be considered for a range of options, including affordable and elderly housing as well as ballfields.

The Council is eager to find locations in Potomac which are suitable for elderly and affordable housing to fulfill its goals in the county's Housing Policy, which was adopted last summer.

Callum Murray, Potomac team leader, said it is difficult to predict when any change might occur because such change is dependent on whether the site is declared "surplus" site by the school system.

<mh>Habibi/Srour Properties

<bt>The Master Plan states that the three properties at 10006, 10008 and 10010 Falls Road are also suitable for elderly housing. The Council retained the existing R-200 (two houses to an acre) zoning for the 2.96-acre properties, as recommended by the Planning Board, despite request from the owner for a zoning change to a commercial zone.

According to the County Ordinance, ideal locations for affordable and elderly housing are ones that are on transportation lines, close to activity centers and convenient to shopping, medical offices and other services, making this a good location. The properties are located in the northwest quadrant of Potomac Village across the street from shopping and on a bus line. The County recently completed a sidewalk project that would give residents increased access to the Village shopping centers.

<mh>Falls Road Fire Station

<bt>Station 30 of the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department, 9404 Falls Road, is the smallest station in the county. The station requires renovation and expansion to meet present and future functional requirements, including facilities for women fire and rescue workers.

The Master Plan states that the station should be renovated on site and that any renovation and expansion should maintain the fire station's residential appearance and compatibility with the surrounding residential neighborhood.

<mh>North Potomac Community Center

<bt>Council supported the recommended location for a North Potomac Community Center on the 13800 block of Travilah Road, adjacent to Big Pines Local Park.

Callum Murray, Potomac team leader, said that the county has already hired an appraiser and architectural engineers. He expects that the center will be built in five years or so.

<mh>Scotland Community Center

<bt>The Master Plan and Council recommend the future expansion of the Scotland Community Center, the focal point of the Scotland Community, which was built as a neighborhood center in the 1970s. The current center is too small to handle the diverse and recreational needs of its residents.

Currently, 31 programs operate from the center, but multiple programs cannot be accommodated at the same time due to the size of the center. The gym is roughly half the size of a typical elementary school gym.

Funding for the center is not included in the FY03-FY08 Capital Budget. However, the future expansion of the center has the backing of local legislators, including Sen. Jean Roesser (R-15) and Del. Jean Cryor (D-15), who are promoting a bond bill that includes the rebuilding of the gym. Because of the support the community receives, Callum Murray, Potomac team leader, is hopeful that the expansion will be within the general short-term future.

<mh>Tobytown Transit

<bt>With no public transportation in the vicinity, many residents of Tobytown are isolated from jobs and retail centers. The community, established in 1875, is located five miles west of Potomac Village at the intersection of River and Pennyfield Lock roads.

The Master Plan calls for a study of paratransit options for the Tobytown community, whose first residents were former slaves.

Callum Murray, Potomac team leader, is hopeful that such service will be provided for in the short-term future.

<mh>Fortune Parc

<bt>The wooded 50.91-acre site at the northwest quadrant of I-270 and Montrose Road will be rezoned I-3, allowing for a mixed-use center consisting of housing, retail and office spaces. The site could include 800,000 to 850,000 square feet of office, street retail, and hotel, plus 300 apartments, and 150 single-family homes. An additional 150 dwelling units might be provided as part of a TDR program.

<mh>Lower Greenbriar

<bt>Four parcels, a combined 144 acres, of environmentally sensitive property can be developed together with up to 60 homes, and preserving 60 acres as parkland. Because of the willingness of the different property owners to work together, the Master Plan will allow the extension of sewer service to this property.

<mh>Foo Fling

<bt>The Master Plan will allow for the extension of sewer service to this property, and rezone it from RE-2 (one house to two acres) to RE-2C (allowing for the houses to be clustered together on smaller lots). A small residential cluster development will eliminate a "very degraded" seven-acre commercial site, a former lumberyard. A conservation easement will preserve 22 acres of riparian forest with rare plants, protecting water quality.

<mh>Hanson Farm

<bt>This working farm of 170 acres across from the Potomac Horse Center will be rezoned to allow up to 170 new homes, clustered and including affordable housing. The plan will expand the stream valley park system and provide for a recreational park, which could serve as a backup site for the future North Potomac Community Center if the preferred site on Travilah Road falls through.

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<mh>Intersection Improvements

<bt>While the new Master Plan reaffirmed Potomac’s two-lane road policy, prohibiting roads from being widened to more than one lane in each direction, the plan allows for some road improvements.

The Master Plan states that congestion can be relieved with local intersection improvements:

"Local capacity and safety improvements throughout the subregion should be considered on a case-by-case basis using standards that would allow desirable development and limit severe community impacts."

Intersections that might be considered for improvements include:

<bt>Seven Locks Road at Tuckerman Lane

<bt>Seven Locks Road at Democracy Boulevard

<bt>River Road at Bradley Boulevard

<bt>Seven Locks Road at River Road

<bt>River Road at Piney Meetinghouse Road