Montgomery County staff has until December to negotiate transit center right of way -- Gazette.Net


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A dispute between the county and a nonprofit about the right of way needed for the Silver Spring Transit Center will not be resolved until December.

The county wants the right of way from Pyramid Atlantic’s property, a nonprofit arts center at Georgia Avenue and Ripley Street in Silver Spring.

The nonprofit would lease 15,500 square feet on the new Silver Spring Library’s ground floor. In exchange, the nonprofit would offer free art classes to county residents.

That deal, however, hinged on the transfer of a right of way that Pyramid Atlantic owned on its Georgia Avenue site and that is needed for the new Silver Spring Transit Center.

But, when the group entered into a contract to sell the property at 8230 Georgia Avenue to Harvey Maisel for $2.5 million, the agreement failed to include the right of way transfer to the county.

The Montgomery County Council is now giving the county executive’s staff more time to work with Maisel and Pyramid Atlantic to determine the county’s costs on acquiring land for the right of way.

On June 22, the county council voted on a resolution to extend the time for it to take action to Dec. 31.

The action would be to block or delay approval of a Pyramid Atlantic lease

in the new library until the right of way issue is resolved.

Councilman George Leventhal (D-At Large) of Takoma Park said the decision was made because the “executive branch has not yet concluded its negotiation.”

Leventhal said Pyramid Atlantic did not meet the county’s expectations.

“We want to ensure what we always wanted to ensure: the right of way on Ripley Street. ... Having said that, I am hoping that there will be a reasonable outcome,” Leventhal said.

The nonprofit also would be responsible for building the library space, including interior walls and utilities at an estimated cost of $1.3 million, according to Jose Dominguez, the nonprofit’s executive director.

The county needs 19½ feet of frontage on Georgia Avenue and part of the property that extends along Ripley Street for road development to serve the transit center.

Leventhal said taxpayers should not cover the cost of purchasing the right of way.

“Pyramid Atlantic wants to move to the library. ... We understand the county’s need for the right of way. However, that is a matter that needs to be negotiated between Mr. Maisel and the county,” Dominguez said.

The library, at Fenton Street and Wayne Avenue, is scheduled to open in the fall.

“Pyramid Atlantic has no authority to grant the county the right of way. Mr. Maisel does, and we hope that Mr. Maisel and the county can come to an understanding that will move this process, that is behind schedule, along,” Dominguez said.

abarros@gazette.net