Olney Coalition testimony to Planning Board

On Thursday April 24, 2010, Olney Coalition testified to the Planning Board against the rezoning.   Here is the testimony:

                                                                                                                                  April 22, 2010

Dear Chairman Hanson and Planning Board Commissioners,

The Olney Coalition formed in 2003 and represents over 3,000 households.  Its mission is to preserve the semi-rural residential character of our community and the qualities of life we value – fine schools, excellent roads, and a healthy environment.  Olney Coalition was very involved throughout the 2005 update to the Olney Master Plan, attending every Planning Board work session and every PHED and Council work session.  This property received a lot of attention throughout the master plan update and part of Olney Coalition’s testimony was used in the recommendation for this property.

Olney Coalition is opposed to the rezoning of the Bowie Mill Rd Property from R200 to PD3.  The 24 two over two style units do NOT belong on this property.  The Olney Master Plan is very specific about what housing types are expected and lists “single family detached(,) duplexes, and townhouses excluding multi-family units.”  The reason specific housing types were listed was to be clear what would ensure compatibility with the surrounding neighborhoods (see attached transcript of the County Council’s discussion on this).  Two over two units are not listed as acceptable housing types for this property nor can they be defined as a duplex or townhouse (as defined by the Zoning Code – see attached).  The Olney Coalition believes two over two units should be formally classified as a multi-family structure given the shared nature of maintenance of the building.  (For example, who pays when the roof leaks?)

The purpose of the planned development zone is to facilitate and encourage a maximum of social and community interaction of those that live there.  The design of a two over two unit isolates the second floor families since there is little direct contact with outside.  In addition, all of the two over two units are going to be MPDUs.  On page 11-2 of the 30 Year Review of the MPDU Program presented to the Montgomery County Council in February 2004 asks the question “How does the type and location of a single family MPDU affect demand for the unit?”  In addition to condominiums in multi-family buildings and one bedroom MPDUs having limited interest….

“Piggyback and back to back townhouses with limited ground level access and storage space may be less attractive to families with children.  In addition, these unit designs often are perceived as less visually attractive, noisier, and potentially costlier to maintain.  HOC at times declines an opportunity to acquire certain units because of the difficulty in marketing them to moderate and low income households.  Units located in relatively remote areas of a subdivision that are distant from transit, shopping, and public services may be less attractive to HOC and other non-profits that rent units to low-income households with limited transportation options.  While the Planning Board has established MPDU site plan guidelines, no mechanism exists to adjust these guidelines to meet changing needs. “

The Olney Coalition also feels the project does not integrate the affordable housing units throughout the neighborhood.  Given that 60% of the units are affordable, it would be better to look at integrating the market rate units into the affordable units.  Olney Coalition can appreciate the difficulty to do this given the constraints on the size of the property and need for compatibility.  The current plan places the market rate homes around the perimeter in order to match lot lines with lot lines of the adjacent homes.  This leaves very few market rate homes to integrate with the affordable units resulting in segregation.  A Study of Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit Program Implementation reported by the Office of Legislative Oversight in July 2007 states as Objective #6 that “There are no standards for location and design of MPDUs.  The council should examine the advantages and disadvantages of establishing MPDU location and design standards.”  The Planning Board approved a document called Site Plan Guidelines for Projects Containing MPDUs in June 1995.  Two of the guidelines are:

“Prohibit back-to-back townhouse MPDUs unless it can be demonstrated that no other unit type is suitable to the site, that the disadvantages associated with that unit type are eliminated in the site design, and the MPDUs are scattered among market rate back-to-back units.” 

“Encourage a variety of MPDU unit types”

Even though there are no “back to back:” townhouses in this plan, two over two units are very similar (I don’t believe two over twos existed when these guidelines were written). If the rezoning to PD3 is approved, then some of the two over two units should be required to be market rate units and some of the detached homes should be MPDUs (possibly as duplexes that look like single family detached homes) in order to achieve a better mixture of affordable and market rate houses.  Ideally, retain the R200 zoning so there would be more space to integrate the housing types better.  Olney Coalition wants a successful community to be built on the property and believes integration of unit types is very important in making this happen.

Thus R200 is the better zoning because it provides the space to integrate affordable with market rate units as well as have no need for the two over two units which are currently used to reach the theoretical maximum yield of a planned development zone.  Therefore, Olney Coalition is opposed to this plan and the rezoning of the Bowie Mill Rd Property from R200 to PD3. 

Sincerely,

Barbara Falcigno
President, Olney Coalition

Transcript of portion of Montgomery County Council discussion of Olney Master Plan regarding limitations on the PD3 zoning for the Bowie Mill Rd Property.  March 15, 2005

Quick background: 

Council voted 5-4 to approve R200/PD3 zoning for Bowie Mill Rd property

Council voted 4-4 on a resolution to retain the R200 zoning with language regarding swap and specifying money from sale used to acquire affordable housing in Olney (Subin absent)

(Chapter 10)  Falcigno requested Council make a motion restricting commercial use and multi-family structures since the PD3 zoning encourages them.  Planning Staff is consulted who agree commercial would be inappropriate.  Discussion if can add to master plan if it has supremacy over the zone.  (Chapter 11) John Carter said PD zoning has a finding that it must be in conformance with the master plan

Michaelson:  If you look on circle 8 number 4 deals with this compatibility issue.  It says lot sizes, mix of housing (single family detached and townhomes) and the density are compatible with adjacent properties.  We could change the wording a little bit there and say limit to housing consisting of single family detached and townhomes to insure compatibility

Leventhal:  I would offer a motion of that effect

Silverman:  I’m sorry if I may before there is a motion. So in the category of be careful of what you wish for.  If we do that, have we then just basically killed the Olney Boys and Girls Club’s proposal?

Afzal:  No (and he continues to explain why – private club is special exception allowed in R200 and PD3)

Silverman:  So what language would we basically be saying?  We can’t say can only have housing because you then just precluded the use of a gymnasium.  I’m not interested in killing this proposal before it even gets off the ground.

Afzal:  You can say no retail or no retail commercial

Michaelson:  You can say change it to no commercial instead of saying just limited to housing

Leventhal:  so there would be an item 5 then on circle 8 page 37 add to the end of the page that follows item 5 Uses for the property should not include commercial uses or

Praisner:  multi-family

(Chapter 12) Michaelson:  Commercial development is inappropriate for this site.

Leventhal:  Commercial development is inappropriate for this site. 

Michaelson:  and I would read the prior one which says the mix of housing types single family detached and townhomes is effectively suggesting that is what the mix should consist of.  If you want to be more explicit…

Leventhal:  I agree with Marlene.  It seems to me if you are talking about lot sizes and the mix of housing types that’s already in there.  But with respect to commercial development is not appropriate for the site we could add that.

Michaelson:  we could say a mix of housing times (limited to single family detached and townhomes)

Afzal:  But that will get to Mr. Silverman’s issue that the gym might be if you say limited to housing types

Michaelson:  No housing types are limited it is the parenthesis after housing types

Leventhal then makes his case why he cannot vote against multifamily housing although he does not see it on this site  Resolution add #5 Commercial development is inappropriate for this site.  I really think this gets to the Olney Coalition’s concern.

Perez:  Can you reread it again?

Leventhal:  Sure.  It says It is item 5 that is what were adding and it says Commercial development is inappropriate for this site.

Perez:  Ok.  So that is what were   Is there any objection to adding that?  Ok, it will be added.  Mr. Knapp you had your light on I’m sorry.  Do you want to comment on that? 

Knapp:  No (hard to hear murmurs)

Perez:  Let’s stick to the commercial development issue.

(Chapter 13) Praisner:  I’m sticking to the zone and I’d like to say the mix of housing including single family detached, duplex, and townhouses are appropriate for this site. 

Leventhal:  Fine

Praisner:  So that would exclude multi-family. 

Leventhal:  All you are doing is adding duplexes right?

Praisner:  a duplex looks like a single family home but is two units or four units.  It is not a multi-family unit by our definition.

Leventhal:  That’s fine

Perez:  So without objection you have a word added to line four after detached duplex comma

Praisner: and also exclude multi-family

Leventhal:  No, I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that point.  You’re saying excluding multi-family. 

Praisner:  Yes

Leventhal:  I’m not comfortable with that.  So we’ll have to have a vote on that

Several talking at once

Praisner:  I make the motion that we exclude multi-family

Silverman:  Second

Perez:  So the motion on the table is to basically add duplex and exclude multi-family

Praisner:  I want to specifically want to say that

Perez:  Mr. Leventhal

Leventhal:  I may be the only one who feels this way.  He continues with history and his viewpoint with never voting against multi-family housing as a county wide housing policy even though he does not envision multi-family on this site. 

(Chapter 14)Perez:  Ok.  It has been moved and seconded to add duplex and add a provision excluding multi-family.  Moved and seconded.  All in favor signify by raising your hands

Passes 7 – 1 (Leventhal against, Subin absent)

From Zoning Code Chapter 59 A 2.

Dwelling and dwelling units:

    Dwelling: A building or portion thereof arranged or designed to contain one or more dwelling units.

     Dwelling, detached: See “dwelling, one-family,” and “dwelling unit, one-family detached.”

     Dwelling, moderately priced unit: See “dwelling unit, moderately priced.”

     Dwelling, one-family: A dwelling containing not more than one dwelling unit. An accessory apartment, if approved by special exception, or a registered living unit may also be part of a one-family dwelling. A one-family dwelling with either of these subordinate uses is not a two-family dwelling, as defined in this section.

     Dwelling, two-family: A dwelling containing not more than 2 dwelling units arranged one above the other or side by side.

     Dwelling, multiple-family: A dwelling containing 3 or more multiple-family dwelling units, which may or may not share a common entrance. For the purposes of section 59-G-4.3, title “Noncomplying multi-family dwellings,” multiple-family dwelling means a dwelling containing 2 or more dwelling units.

     Dwelling, multiple-group: A group of 2 or more multiple-family dwellings, occupying a parcel of land in one ownership and having any yard, compound or service area in common.

     Dwelling, one-family attached: See “dwelling unit, one-family attached.”

     Dwelling, semidetached: See “dwelling unit, semidetached.”

Dwelling unit: A building or portion thereof providing complete living facilities for not more than one family, including, at a minimum, facilities for cooking, sanitation and sleeping.

     Dwelling unit, one-family detached: A dwelling unit that is separated and detached from any other dwelling unit on all sides, except where the dwelling is modified to include an accessory apartment, approved by special exception, or a registered living unit.

     Dwelling unit, one-family attached: A dwelling unit that is in a structure consisting entirely of dwelling units, each of which (1) is attached to one or more other dwelling units, (2) has at least one direct entrance from the outside, and (3) has an abutting ground level outdoor area for the exclusive use of its occupants. This definition does not include a “dwelling unit, townhouse,” as defined in this section.

     Dwelling unit, one-family semidetached (duplex): One of 2 attached dwelling units located on abutting lots, separated from each other by a party wall along the common lot line, and separated and detached from any other dwelling unit on all other sides.

     Dwelling unit, townhouse: One of a group of 3 or more one-family dwelling units attached to and divided from each other by a vertical party wall. Each townhouse must have a minimum of 2 direct entrances from the outside, either on the front and rear or front and side. This definition does not include a “dwelling unit, one-family attached,” as defined in this section.

     Dwelling unit, multiple-family: A dwelling unit that is in a multiple-family dwelling and may share a common entrance to the outside with other dwelling units in the building.

     Dwelling unit, moderately priced: Any dwelling unit that meets the requirements for a moderately priced dwelling unit as set forth in chapter 25A of this Code, title “Housing, Moderately Priced,” and the relevant sections of this chapter 59.

Dwelling, carriage house: A second dwelling unit with separate entrance attached to a one- family detached dwelling, or part of a detached building accessory to that dwelling. The unit may be a maximum floor area of 800 square feet or one-third the floor area of the main dwelling whichever is less.

*********************************************************************

Two over two units are not officially defined in the zoning code.  They would be either

 “Dwelling, two family:  A dwelling containing not more than 2 dwelling units arranged one above the other or side by side.” 

Or

“Dwelling unit, one-family attached:  A dwelling unit that is in a structure consisting entirely of dwelling units, each of which (1) is attached to one or more other dwelling units, (2) has at least one direct entrance from the outside, and (3) has an abutting ground level outdoor area for the exclusive use of its occupants.  This definition does not include a “dwelling unit, townhouse,” as defined in this section.”

The applicant uses the second definition to defend two over twos as a single family unit (page 15 of staff packet).  No matter which definition is used to describe a two over two unit, they are not a duplex or townhouse.  Therefore they not what was envisioned in the master plan as appropriate for this site in order for the development to be compatible.

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April 26, 2010 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment

See the Proposed Plan

See the Development Plan and more information for the 32 acre property on Bowie Mill Road at

www.bowiemill.com

April 21, 2010 at 1:26 am Leave a comment

Hearings on the Rezoning of Bowie Mill Rd Property

Planning Board will discuss and make a recommendation on Thursday, April 22 at 1:00 (located at 8787 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, metered parking).  Their recommendation will be considered by the Hearing Examiner who will consider all testimony given on Monday, May 3rd at 9:30 am (100 Maryland Ave, Rockville, garage parking).   Once the record is closed, the Hearing Examiner will make a recommendation to the County Council who makes the final decision for or against the rezoning of this property from R200 (two units per acre = 78 homes) to PD3 (three units per acre = 117 homes).

Send written (no emails accepted) letters to:

Martin Grossman

Hearing Examiner for Application G-885

100 Maryland Ave

Rockville, MD 20850

Letters do not need to be long – just identify who you are and then stick to one or two key points (not compatible with any of the surrounding neighborhoods, no two over two units should be included, there is a poor mixture of affordable and market rate housing, development degrades Upper Rock Creek watershed,  and/or whatever you feel).

April 21, 2010 at 1:09 am Leave a comment

Presubmittal letter sent to Hearing Examiner by Olney Coalition

Martin Grossman

Hearing Examiner for Application G-885

100 Maryland Ave

Rockville, MD 20850

Dear Mr. Grossman,

The Olney Coalition formed in 2003 and represents over 3,000 households.  Its mission is to preserve the semi-rural residential character of our community and the qualities of life we value – fine schools, excellent roads, and a healthy environment.  Olney Coalition was very involved throughout the 2005 update to the Olney Master Plan, attending every Planning Board work session and every PHED and Council work session.  Part of Olney Coalition’s testimony was used in the master plan recommendation for this property.

Olney Coalition is opposed to the rezoning application G-885.  This pre-submittal letter asks that Barbara Falcigno be a party of interest in this case as well as be able to present testimony on behalf of Olney Coalition.  No witnesses are required and it is estimated that 20 minutes will be needed to present the case opposing the rezoning.  The following are the key points of Olney Coalition’s testimony:

  • Compatibility issues
  • The two over two units that are part of the proposed plan are not the housing types envisioned in the master plan
  • There is a poor mixing of the affordable and market rate homes throughout the development
  • The purpose of a Planned Development zone cannot be met with the restrictions (no multi-family and no commercial development) specified in master plan

The documents that will be referred to in this testimony include the 2005 Olney Master Plan, the County Zoning Code, the February 2004 Report titled “Strengthening the Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit Program:  A 30 Year Review”, and transcripts of the actual County Council discussion on this property.  I look forward to a lively discussion on May 3rd

Sincerely,

Barbara Falcigno

President, Olney Coalition

cc Jodi Kline

     Martin Klauber

April 21, 2010 at 1:01 am Leave a comment

Jan 22 , 2010 hearing is postponed

The January 22, 2010 hearing has been postponed due to additional technical changes by the applicant.  The tentative date is May 4 or May 7 with a Planning Board hearing prior that.  Stay tuned….

January 20, 2010 at 8:18 am Leave a comment

Timeline and Process

Bowie Mill Road Property Timeline and Process to Submit Comments

  • Planning Board staff makes recommendation to Planning Board.  Letters can be sent and you can testify but are not part of the Hearing Examiner’s record.  Everything sent to the Hearing Examiner is shared with the Planning Board and staff.  (Estimate: early Dec)
  • Chairman of Planning Board makes recommendation to Hearing Examiner
  • Hearing Examiner Public Hearing

          Currently scheduled for 9:30 am on January 22, 2010 (can change to a later date)

          County Council is NOT present

          Testimony by individual can be in person, by fax, or by mail.  Email testimony is NOT considered.  All testimony MUST have a signature.

          Testimony on behalf of a group MUST submit a pre-hearing package to Hearing Examiner and Applicant.  I can give more information to those in this category.

  • Record closes (Hearing Examiner decides how long after hearing to keep the file open).  Within 45 days of record closing, Hearing Examiner submits report to full Council.  Those who participate in the hearing will be sent a copy of the report
  • Anyone can request oral arguments (in front of the County Council) within the 10 days after the report is submitted.  No new information can be presented.  Other rules apply.

Mailing address for Hearing Examiner:

Hearing Examiner for G-885                                        

100 Maryland Avenue                                 

Room 200

Rockville, MD 20850

September 8, 2009 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

Why does PD3 Zoning Require County Council Approval?

The 2005 Olney Master Plan recommends the R200 and PD3 zoning for this property.  The increase in units must be approved by the County Council because it was not obvious that 118 units (PD3 zoning) would be the best recommendation at the time.  Therefore, a site plan must be submitted as part of the re-zoning application.  This increase is likely but not automatic.  If the County Council hears from hundreds of community members that R200 is the correct zoning for this property, then perhaps the Council will listen and vote to keep the property R200.  Be sure to have your voice heard the week before the Council votes on this.  You can request to be sent an email notification when this happens if you send your email, name, and address to bfalcigno at goca.org (I did not write the @ in the email properly so it is less likely to get picked up for spam).

June 14, 2009 at 10:45 pm Leave a comment

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