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Votes

Quarries

Potomac has four working quarries, three of which are located near the intersection of River and Seven Locks roads. Rockville Crushed Stone Quarry is located in North Potomac. The three quarries in Potomac are currently nonconforming uses, zoned R-200 (two houses to an acre) should they be developed

The Giancola and Stoneyhurst quarries might terminate operations during the life of the Master Plan and have requested that the Plan offer other development options. The Tri-State Quarry, which has been in operation since the 1920s, is anticipated to continue operating more than 20 years.

Redevelopment of the quarries will be among the most visible changes to Potomac when they exhaust their reserves in the future.

Stoneyhurst Quarry

Attorneys representing West Bradley Citizens Association and the Stoneyhurst Quarry, which is approaching exhaustion of its reserves, surprised Planning Board and County Council staff when they said the two parties reached an agreement regarding the future use of Stoneyhurst, a 13.3 acre quarry on the north side of River Road. The parties presented a detailed, illustrative concept plan for the quarry during the last Planning, Housing and Economic Development committee worksession.

"They agreed to building a 600-foot-long building, two times the length of a football field. We thought we could come up with a number of plans that look better than what is proposed," said Callum Murray, Potomac team leader with Planning Board staff.

The Master Plan recommends RMX-1/TDR-6 to create a residential community. Housing for the elderly is a suitable use.

"The language proposed by the citizens association and property owner provides a level of detail not typically included in a Master Plan," according to Marlene Michaelson, senior legislative analyst with council, in a memo to the full Council for today's worksession.

"Urban designers at Park and Planning believe the proposed development would not result in an attractive development for the property" and "believe that the illustration is non-consistent with the guidelines," wrote Michaelson.

Park and Planning staff drafted alternative guidelines and a revised illustration that they believe meets the objectives of the agreement between the parties while using language appropriate for a Master Plan.

Should the Council adopt the last-minute agreement between the citizens association and owner despite concerns of Planning Board and Council staff?

Council discussion:

"Language drafted was atypical for a master plan. Planning staff was concerned that what was drawn wasn't compatible with the neighborhood," said Marlene Michaelson, senior legislative analyst with council staff.

Howard Denis (R-1) said the agreement between the owner and community should be respected. "We should encourage people to talk and agree; this way you have a property owner and the community arrive at an agreement."

Despite the agreement, Marilyn Praisner (D-4) was concerned. "What is unusual here is we have staff saying it might not be compatible with the neighborhood."

"We said as illustrated it would be incompatible with surrounding development. That building is 600-feet long, the length of two football fields," said Callum Murray, Potomac Master Plan team leader.

"The owner and community want opportunity for 97 townhouses. You're going to take a lot more land with 17 additional townhouses. It will be very hard to fit 17 additional townhouses on the site," said Jean Kaufman, urban planner with Planning Board staff.

Blair Ewing said it is the role of the council to protect the public's best interest.

"While I agree it is a good thing to come together to talk about issues if they can agree to something, if it is not in the public interest or compatible to the guidelines we established in past, we ought to remember that it is our job to protect that."

* Council recommended removing illustrative concept drawings from the Plan, which could have made future site review difficult for the Planning Board. They supported verbal guidelines presented in the Plan and agreed to by the community and owner.

Tri-State Quarry

Issue (page 57):

Tri-State Quarry on Seven Locks Road is a fourth-generation quarry, owned by Ben Porto and Sons, Ltd. The operation started before the land was zoned.

Unlike Giancola Quarry and Stoneyhurst Quarry, which may exhaust their reserves during the 20-year life of the 2002 Potomac master Plan, Tri-State anticipates operating for at least 20 years, given its extensive reserves.

Ben Porto and Sons, Ltd. operates a non-conforming "building supply operation" on its property as well. While surrounding residents believe the owner needs to legitimize this operation through the special exception process, the Master Plan is taking steps to legitimize the quarry's other operation. The owners, maintain they are a "minor quarry," quarrying a high quality stone since the 1920s. They have requested an overlay zone to provide greater legal protection and recognition to the current use of the property.

Should the Council support provisions to allow the continued operation of Tri-State quarry without going through the special exception process?

Council action: Council supported the continuing operation of the quarry

Giancola Quarry

Issue (page 54):

Giancola Quarry, located at the northeast corner of Seven Locks and River roads right by the beltway, is now owned by Michael T. Rose Companies, a home builder.

The Potomac area doesn't have the mix of housing types called for in the Housing Plan that the Council approved this past July. Giancola is one of very few opportunities the county has to add housing units other than single-family detached. The company supports the Plan's recommendation to rezone the property to R-200/TDR-8, which would permit up to 40 townhouses on the 4.87-acre property. The Plan also recommends a waiver of the requirement for detached dwellings.

Access is an issue that could be problematic — a concern of residents — and the number of units may have to be decreased if those problems cannot be addressed at subdivision.

Should the quarry be rezoned R-200/TDR-8 to allow up to 40 townhouses? How will the Plan address access issues?

Council action: Council supports the change in zoning to allow up to 40 townhouses and recommended the inclusion of language to indicate that access may be problematic — that the number of units may be decreased if those problems cannot be addressed at subdivision.

Rockville Crushed Stone

This quarry is located on Piney Meetinghouse Road, covers more than half a square mile and is over 400-feet deep in some places. In the very long term — after the life of the 2002 Master Plan — it offers the potential of a reservoir after mining operations cease.

Because of the proximity to surrounding residential homes, the Plan recommends the creation of an advisory group to consider any future proposals for redevelopment or rezoning of the quarry. Does the Council support this recommendation?

Council action: Council supports this recommendation.