Update and next steps

March 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

What is the current plan?

The property on Bowie Mill Road will have 40% market rate homes, 30% workforce, and 30% MPDUs.  From www.bowiemill.com (which is accurate as of today’s area median income):

Household Income Information

40% of the homes will be offered at market rate pricing.

30% of the homes will be Workforce Housing with family incomes up to $123,000.  Workforce Housing will be priced from $231,000 to $361,100.

30% of the homes will be MPDU (Moderately Priced Dwelling Units) up to family income of $72,000 (for family of 4).   MPDU pricing will be based on Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs guidelines at time of offering 

Housing Types

The Bowie Mill Development Team is proposing 114 homes with a mixture of detached and attached housing.
      37 Detached homes with front garages
      20 Detached homes with rear garages
      12 Town homes with garages (front and rear)
      45 Town homes with surface parking 

To see a picture of the layout, go to www.bowiemill.com

The Olney Coalition was formed in 2003 when it became clear the county owned the land and had several ideas of how to use it.  Since it was originally a school site, Olney Coalition argued to keep it as a school site but research indicated that it would not be needed for a school in the future (there is an unused elementary school site between Norbeck Grove and the new development Reserve at Fairhill, there is an unused middle school site along Cashell Road just south of Continental, and there is no need for a high school site in this area given the proximity of Blake, Sherwood, and Magruder).  There are several environmental features to be concerned about but they do not exclude any development on the property.  The immediate surrounding neighborhoods wanted to kept the zoning R200 like the areas around it (resulting in a maximum of 78 units).  In 2005 when the Olney Master Plan was updated, the County Council recommended R200 with a special zoning called PD3 (a maximum of 117 units) as appropriate pending a future approval by the council.  A hearing examiner took testimony from the public and recommendations from the Planning Board and made a final recommendation to the Council who approved the change in zoning to PD3 (http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/council/zah/pdf/2010_Reports/g-885bowiemill.pdf).  Based on the community’s input, the 24 two over two style units were removed and replaced with townhouses and the total number of units decreased from 117 to 114. 

My personal opinion is it is sad that the county approved the PD3 zoning.  Had the zoning stayed R200, the developer stated they would build all 78 units on the large parcel, leaving the small 4 acre triangle near Brightwood Rd undeveloped (too expensive to do the land prep for just a few units).  This area is just large enough for the much needed gymnasium and even though there are no funds to build it now, the land would be there when the financial situation of the county changes.   There would be 36 less units (of which 20 are affordable) but we would have gained a community asset for all to use.  Unfortunately, that argument did not sway the decision makers. 

The next step for this property is for preliminary and site plan approval from the Planning Board.  To learn more about the approval process, go to http://www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/info/resident_guides/index.shtm.

People can submit written testimony or even attend the hearing to give verbal testimony.  My guess is the hearing will be late spring/early summer – you can check weekly at http://www.montgomeryplanningboard.org/meetings_archive/.  You can also sign up to testify, listen to the Planning Board hearings, and/or to receive the weekly newsletter which includes the agenda and other upcoming events.  

If you would like to submit your opinions about the Bowie Mill project (or any project), emails should be sent to:  mcp-chairman@mncppc-mc.org.  (Current Chairman is Françoise Carrier) and refer to Preliminary Plan # 120110120 and Site Plan # 820110050.  You can read the Bowie Mill Rd application at http://www.mcatlas.org/Development_Info/Default.aspx?apno=120110120.  You can also call the Development Review Division at 301-495-4595 if you have questions.

My opinions on the current plan:  if I had to squeeze in 114 units on this property, I don’t know if I would have designed it much differently.  Since the number of units cannot be argued (the zoning is now set), we can only address compatibility/layout/public facilities.  I do not think of Olney as a place that utilizes alleys.  I’m not fond of the “new urbanism” design where the garage is accessed via a back alley essentially eliminating the backyard.  It may be appropriate in King Farm or Kentlands but I don’t see it in Olney.  Unfortunately I don’t see the Planning Board having an issue it (especially with Joe Alfandre – a developer of Kentlands – on the Planning Board).  I am also unhappy with the separate corner of townhouses across from Brightwood Road – there are NO market housing units there.  There are 5 mid-range workforce housing garage townhouses, 6 low-range workforce housing townhouses, and 16 MPDUs.  I know the design comes from not wanting to build a public road (the road there is private and thus smaller than a public road leaving room for all those units).  I also question the 1/3 of MPDUs potentially becoming rentals.  In this development, there are 34 MPDUs resulting in potentially 11 rentals.  If this was privately held property, then there would have only been 17 MPDUs required, with 5 potential rentals.  Given the development is already 60% affordable, I question the higher percentage of rentals that would result given the 30% MPDUs to start with.  We want a viable community.  Given the civic meetings I have attended, it seems the problems other communities have had result from the concentration of affordable housing in one area of a development.  In my opinion, a truly mixed income community can work as long as the affordable units are not segregated into one area.  Finally, I have an issue with traffic on Bowie Mill Road.  During the rezoning hearing, the developer’s traffic expert testified that traffic along Bowie Mill Road will actually be less once this development is built because everyone will be on the ICC.  Hmmmmm.  Granted only the first section has been built but from the posts to the Olney Brookeville Exchange and my personal experience on Bowie Mill Road, I question that “prediction”.  The expert claims from 114 units, there will be only 83 trips on the morning and 113 trips in the afternoon (see pages 23-27 of http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/council/zah/pdf/2010_Reports/g-885bowiemill.pdf).  The developer will only be required to mitigate for 10% of these (11 trips) via things like sidewalks and bus passes.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

There will be NO two over two style housing Ground Breaking Ceremony

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