Council Agenda: Twinbrook Metro Place, Historic Designation

'Smart' utility meters and an invitation from China are also up for discussion.

Discussions of a mixed-use development in Twinbrook and of a West End home nominated for historic designation are on the Rockville City Council’s agenda for Monday.

The at . The meeting will be broadcast live on Rockville 11.

Twinbrook Metro Place

The council is scheduled to discuss Twinbrook Metro Place. Twinbrook Partners LLC is proposing to build three 14-story residential buildings, a 10-story office building and a 10-story hotel on 6.73 acres at 1592 Rockville Pike, just north of Halpine Road. The site is home to a one-story strip mall that includes .

Residents expressed on the project on Feb. 27.

City staff is recommending that the council approve a resolution allowing the project to proceed with 43 percent fewer spaces than the maximum number of spaces that the city could require of a project of the size and scope of Twinbrook Metro Place. The maximum number of spaces that the city could require is 2,199. Developers are asking that the requirement be waived so that the project can be built with less than 1,300 parking spaces.

City staff also is recommending that the council grant the developer’s request to build up to 150 feet high—beyond the 120-foot maximum building height allowed in a mixed-use zone.

On Jan. 25, the city’s Planning Commission voted 5-0 to approve the project plan. The commission voted 5-0 in favor of a waiver of the city code that would allow a four-foot reduction (to 66 feet) in right-of-way dedicated to a new road connecting Rockville Pike to an extension of Rockville Pike.

Commissioners Jerry Callistein and Kate Ostell were not present at the meeting.

The commission also voted 4-1 against recommending a waiver to the parking requirements, with Commissioner Kathleen Cook in the minority. Commissioners asked the developers to submit more parking data for the mayor and council to review.

The commission voted 3-2 in support of the request for additional building height, with commissioners Don Hadley and Dion Trahan opposed to the height waiver.

If the council accepts the staff recommendations, the council would vote on April 16 on a resolution allowing the project to be built.

Historic designation for home

The council on Monday also will consider historic designation for a home at 103 Forest Avenue, in .

The home, on the corner of Forest Avenue and Harrison Street, was nominated for historic designation in 2002 by Tom Moore, a neighboring homeowner who is now a city councilman, and by , according to a city staff report.

The home has been preserved in “near-original condition” since it was built in 1925 for the family of Dr. Gilbert V. Hartley, whose medical practice was located in the home, the report said.

The homeowner, who is expected to attend Monday’s meeting, has since put the property up for sale and opposes the designation, the report said.

The city’s Historic District Commission recommended the home for historic designation in 2002, but agreed not to forward the recommendation to the City Council at the request of the Hartley family, which also opposed the designation.

The city has received questions about what can be done with the property, including renovations, the report said. Historic designation limits changes that can be made to the home.

The HDC was scheduled to receive a briefing on the property’s status last Thursday. This is the first time the council has discussed the property. The schedule for action on the proposal is as follows:

  • April 11: The city’s Planning Commission discusses and recommends action on the historic designation.
  • April 30: The City Council holds a public hearing.
  • May 14: The council discusses the historic designation.
  • June 11: The council votes on whether to amend zoning to include the property in the historic district.

Smart meters, Chinese invitation

The council will hear a presentation by Pepco, which is installing “smart meters” to help homes and businesses reduce their electricity use.

The council also will discuss an invitation from Jiaxing, China to attend a sister city summit.

The Rockville Sister City Corporation, with facilitates the city’s sister city relationship with Pinneberg, Germany, is recommending against the mayor and council attending the summit.

RSCC decided that the one-day summit, in China, is “too short and too focused on government relations,” according to a staff report. Airline tickets to China cost $1,771 roundtrip, according to the report.

Jeff Hawkins March 19, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Terrible idea for the Twinbrook Metro place, shorten the buildings. It will only add to the congestion.......not a good thing. Great idea for the Hartley house. I helped to paint that house in 1977, it's in a wonderful neighborhood. My parents almost bought the house across the street in the early 1950's. Old Reverend Fail of the Rockville Presbyterian Church lived next door for years. I hope it get's it historic designation.
Theresa Defino March 20, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Wonderful project for Twinbrook! Just as all the members of the council said last night. Height and parking and other issues can be worked out. Rockville needs new residents and vibrant, innovative developments like this one. We are lucky folks still want to come here, after how developers are consistently beat up by residents who just say NO NO NO to everything new.
Jeff Hawkins March 20, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Whenever all the council members agree, that should raise a "red flag", so look out! I believe none of these folks live in the Twinbrook area. I think the Twinbrook Civic Assoc. has raised some concerns about this, you know, the people that actually live near there. These concerns should be addressed now and not be told that they will be "worked out" later, that usually ends up in disaster. That area of Rockville does NOT need more congestion, traffic and chaos. So to this I say NO NO NO just like the Walmart project down the street......
Theresa Defino March 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM
You're simplifying the situation and miscasting the council as not having any concerns. The concerns are being worked out and the TCA's questions were addressed. I didn't watch the full meeting last night so I just can't say how exactly. I am not sure you're understanding what's planned. The idea is housing for people who live at the metro and won't have cars. This isn't Wal-Mart by any definition.
Temperance Blalock March 20, 2012 at 04:41 PM
The woman I saw who spoke on behalf of the Twinbrook Civic Association had previously fought against Victory Housing, and at that time she was extremely nasty and maligned the motives of supporters, so in my opinion she doesn't have a lot of credibility as to speaking "on behalf of" all of the residents. As far as I see it, she's just another shrill activist who's hijacked a group for her own anti-everything agenda. There is no area of Rockville that "needs" more congestion, traffic, and chaos, but the reality is that we must make decisions now about how the city will look in 20, 30 years and beyond, not base things on how to preserve an image that people have of what they "want" Rockville to look like. Keeping the status quo, as soon as you've moved in to town, is not a good policy for creating a sensible plan for the future.
Jeff Hawkins March 20, 2012 at 05:01 PM
"There is no area of Rockville that "needs" more congestion, traffic, and chaos, but the reality is that we must make decisions now about how the city will look in 20, 30 years and beyond" I think our "decisions" for that 20, 30 or so years down the road should be based on less "traffic, congestion and chaos." Indeed, we all have an "image" of what we would like Rockville to look like, my argument is................"less is more". As for the person speaking for the TCA and how she reacted to the Victory Housing issue is unfortunate, I personally support the Victory Housing for what it's worth. I know nothing of hi-jacking groups, shrill activists, or anti-everything agendas.
Jeff Hawkins March 20, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I like things "simple"........even "complicated" things :) I did not watch the whole thing either. Yes, I'm not sure I understand? Housing for folks who live at the Metro and won't have cars? You mean kind of like a "beehive"? :)
Theresa Defino March 20, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Residents of Twinbrook have spoken for this plan. TCA does not speak for everyone. I am not sure whether the association took a vote on this project.
Brigitta Mullican March 26, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Please remember there are a lot of silent people who don't have the time to comment on every City decision. That is why we have Boards and Commissions and the Mayor and Council. They have a responsibility to represent all residents. As far as civic associations are concerned, they could be more helpful if they did things in their community instead of testifying against improvement they personally don't like and aren't paying. I believe in the planning and development process. Nothing is perfect but regulations and policies are made for reasons. Unfortunately, we don't always agree. If there is reason to change a regulation (ordinance/code/procedure), there is a process to do that. When will people realize that if there are job and businesses here, we will have density and traffic? Once a transit station is built, it makes sense that congestion will follow. Smart growth is the answer. The economy is what drive it all.


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