Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

Poolesville’s main drag gets attention

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Plans to revitalize Poolesville’s main road have been pursued by town officials in fits and starts for more than a decade, but a five-figure grant and a proposed five-home subdivision have again brought Fisher Avenue into the spotlight.

The town recently received $50,000 from the Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County to hire a consultant to develop its long-discussed streetscape plan, Town Manager Wade Yost said after last week’s Planning Commission meeting.

The grant will be used to turn a conceptual plan for the street into a construction design, Yost said. The plan would create an improved downtown area encompassing a 1.9-mile stretch of Fisher Avenue between the green ‘‘Welcome to Poolesville” signs on either end of town, with the rest of the area remaining more rural.

According to the town’s fiscal year 2008 budget, the project is expected to cost $350,000. The town spent $30,000 on a design plan in 2005, which will be used in creating the revised construction plan, Yost said Monday. The town plans to pursue more grants, he said.

Once the consultant develops the construction plan, it must be approved by the town’s commissioners, Yost said.

Streetscape discussions began in 1997 when town officials initiated talks with the State Highway Administration for a joint urban reconstruction project along Fisher Avenue. A citizen committee completed a conceptual design in December 1999 after two years of work, but the plan languished due to the expiration of once-available state funding and other town priorities. A new committee of representatives from town staff and Poolesville’s planning commission and parks board formed in early 2005 to take another look at the project.

New businesses and residential developments along Fisher Avenue, such as the proposed five-home subdivision, must be compatible with the new design.

Poolesville’s planning commission got its first look at the development, to be located at the corner of Fisher and Westerly avenues, at the Aug. 15 meeting. The project will add four single-family homes to the 3.76-acre property and is designed around an existing house, according to a sketch plan presented by Jim Crawford, a senior associate at civil engineering firm Dewberry of Fairfax, Va. The project needs to be approved by the town before it can move to the county Planning Board, Yost said.

Landowner Hugo Quito first approached the town about the project about a month ago, Yost said. Quito purchased the property for $332,000 in 2002, according to online state property records.

The development would be the second construction project planned along Fisher Avenue since the development of the streetscape plan, Yost said. The first was Total Automotive & Diesel Service, which opened about two years ago, Yost said.

No votes were taken during the brief meeting, though board members gave feedback on the project, which is already on the town’s water allocation list. The plan will be reviewed by town engineers as well as the parks board before being sent back to the planning commission, Yost said at the meeting.