Parents at Rockville school continue opposition to proposed storage facility -- Gazette.Net


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Parents at Rockville’s Maryvale Elementary School continue to express concern about the proposed construction of a storage facility near the school as the project awaits a hearing before the city’s planning commission.

The plan to build a 900-unit, nearly 110,000-square-foot ezStorage facility on Taft Street within two blocks of the school has drawn criticism from parents of students and some neighbors.

Representatives of Siena Corp. of Columbia, which wants to build the facility, gave a presentation at a meeting Tuesday of the East Rockville Civic Association.

The project has a public hearing before the Rockville Planning Commission tentatively scheduled for Sept. 10, but that’s not confirmed, said Robert Dalrymple, an attorney for Bethesda law firm Linowes and Blocher who is working on the project for Siena.

The facility’s loading area would be gated and fully secured, while the building would feature alarms, closed-circuit television and managers who live in an on-site apartment, said Craig Pittinger, a vice president at Siena.

Opponents raised concerns about possible criminal activity at the facility, plus potential traffic to and from the building, what types of items might be stored in the facility’s units and possible pollution from demolition of the building that’s now there.

Crime isn’t a problem at storage facilities if they’re properly maintained, Pittinger said.

“If you’re going to do those things, you’re going to go to a place that’s not adequately managed,” he said.

But Patrick Schoof, who has two children at Maryvale Elementary, said that two people in the storage industry with whom he spoke after learning of the Siena project expressed concerns about why a company would choose to build a facility within a school zone.

Schoof said he’s also concerned about dust that may contain asbestos or other dangerous substances when the current building is razed.

Another worry: the company’s inability to review, inspect or monitor the boxes and other items going into the building, he said.

“They have no idea what’s in any of those containers,” Schoof said.

Opponents of the project also took their concerns to the Rockville mayor and City Council at their meeting Monday.

Melissa McKenna, a member of the Maryvale PTA, said her group strongly believes the storage facility is the wrong use for the property.

PTA members are worried about large trucks and other traffic traveling through an area where children are walking to school, including students escorting their younger siblings.

They also think the size of the proposed structure is extremely out of proportion with the houses and other buildings around it, McKenna said.

rmarshall@gazette.net