Rice to make last-minute push to allow growth in Clarksburg -- Gazette.Net







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This story was corrected on Feb. 28, 2014. An explanation follows the story.

County Council President Craig Rice is hoping he can convince a majority of his colleagues to support more growth in Clarksburg than currently proposed by Tuesday, when the council is scheduled to cast a straw vote about the future of the area.

“They had a chance to hear the community, and I’m hoping that they might move their previous position and side with the Clarksburg community,” Rice, (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said Thursday.

Rice, who represents Clarksburg, along with council members hosted a Clarksburg town hall meeting Wednesday night at Rocky Hill Middle School auditorium.

The meeting attracted a standing-room-only crowd of about 300 residents, countywide activists and developer representatives, according to Neil Greenberger, a council spokesman.

Residents and organizations remain split about how much development to allow for the remaining build-out of Clarksburg, which is still short infrastructure, population and amenities envisioned in the 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan, which acts as a guide for development. The County Council is in the process of amending that master plan.

After more than a year of study by the county Planning Board and two council committees, five of the nine council members support putting impervious surface caps of 6 percent on the Pulte Homes site west of Interstate 270 and a 15 percent on the Miles Coppola site east of I-270 where the Peterson Cos. had wanted to build a mixed-use Tanger fashion outlet.

The 15 percent cap would allow 5 acres of intense development on Clarksburg Road, and some housing on the rest of the site, which is intended to help protect the relatively clean Ten Mile Creek watershed downstream.

Rice said he’s going to propose a 25 percent cap on the Miles-Coppola site, which he said would help provide part of the Clarksburg Historic District with sewer lines and also provide an impetus for building the planned Clarksburg town center retail area.

“That’s what I’m going to be pushing forward,” said Rice.

Following the straw vote, which indicates the majority view of the council, staff will draft a detailed resolution for a final vote.

“It’s not economically possible for Peterson to build at the 15 percent,” said Kent Miles, whose family has owned the 100-acre Miles-Coppola site for three generations.

Miles said on Thursday that if the council votes for a 15 percent cap, Peterson Cos. will back away from developing the site, and along with it the sewer lines needed to open up development in the historic district, town center and on the 100-acre Egan property further north, as well as plans to extend transit lines to Clarksburg.

“The whole town will shut down,” Miles said.

Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda and four other council members, however, argue that limits are necessary because the rough and hilly Miles-Coppola site includes some of the headwaters of the Ten Mile Creek system, which flows southwest to the Little Seneca Lake, a back-up water supply for the region.

Berliner said the 15 percent cap would allow some additional growth in the final and fourth phase of the Clarksburg build-out, which will be nearly complete once projects in the first three phases are completed.

Increasing the amount of impervious surfaces would irreparably harm Ten Mile Creek, he said.

“Clarksburg requires and deserves its parks, roads, library and retail stores,” said Rob Shapiro, vice president of the Clarksburg Chamber of Commerce, which is pressing the Council to delay its straw vote on Tuesday.

“I moved here 10 years ago under the promise that we’d have a town center ... and we have nothing,” he said.

However, members of the Liveable Clarksburg Coalition are satisfied that the council’s decision to expand retail space to allow a Premium fashion outlet center in the Cabin Branch area outside the Ten Mile Creek watershed will help satisfy the need for stores and traffic improvements.

They support the 15 percent cap on Miles-Coppola site, as does the executive board of the Clarksburg Civic Association, said association President Barry Fantle.

Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Silver Spring, who had previously urged a 20 percent cap on the Miles-Coppola site, said she is working on language to include in the master plan and negotiating with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to solve the lack of sewer lines in the Clarksburg Historic District.

“We’ll be working on it in the coming months,” she said. “I think there’s a way to address it independently.”


The estimated attendance at the meeting in this story had been updated.