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Votes

Only Exception Gets Approval

Eleven houses to be built on Piney Meetinghouse.

The Planning Board granted approval to the development which represents the single exception to the Piney Branch Restricted Access Sewer Policy mentioned in the Potomac Master Plan.

The development, called Potomac Preserve, calls for 11 houses to be clustered on a 28.55-acre parcel on Piney Meetinghouse Road, south of Boswell Lane, across from the Rockville Quarry.

The parcel includes three properties. which are being developed together. The houses will be placed around a cul-de-sac off of Piney Meetinghouse Road.

The area is zoned for one house per two acres, but an exception was made in the Master Plan to allow a cluster development with sewer access to proceed in order “to achieve a net environmental gain for the site.”

The Piney Branch policy generally requires homes built in the area to have a septic system, due to the environmental concerns involved in allowing sewer lines to be placed in the Piney Branch watershed, an environmentally sensitive area.

The area is currently home to a lumber yard, which the Master Plan and Park and Planning documents describes as “bereft of vegetation” and “has mulch piles that leach into stream waters.”

The new houses will be built on the lumberyard parcel, and around its edges. on approximately 10 acres.

“The great part of the combined site will be preserved in a forested area,” said Wynn Witthans of Park and Planning.

A pedestrian and equestrian easement will be provided across the southern edge of the property which will grant access to the forested area and Tanager Lane, and provide a connection to the Miller and Smith properties across Piney Meetinghouse from the property to be developed.

The County is in the process of acquiring the Miller and Smith properties under its legacy open space program. The area is part of a rare geologic phenomenon known as serpentine barrens.

Steve Orens, attorney for the developer, Piney Meetinghouse Investments, did not know when construction would begin on the houses, how large they might be, or what price range they would be in.

Orens’ client wanted to wait until after approval had been granted before moving ahead with those decisions.