Ten Mile Creek image from Clarksburg, MD

Council Tentatively Approves Clarksburg/Ten Mile Creek Plan

photo of the 17th Montgomery County Council

The Montgomery County Council unanimously gave tentative approval on March 4 to a limited master plan amendment for the Ten Mile Creek area of Clarksburg that stays close to the original density projected in the 1994 Master Plan for the emerging community, but takes significant steps to protect the long-term health of a watershed area that feeds the Little Seneca Reservoir.

The Clarksburg/Ten Mile Creek Limited Master Plan addresses various aspects of future development in the northern Montgomery community that includes its historic area. The Council actions will alter the 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan for the area—which spans both sides of I-270—that was approved before there was any new development in the area. The measures tentatively approved by the Council also include a series of follow-up procedures to ensure that provisions of the plan are carried out.

The Council approved what became known as the “6-15-15” plan of maximum impervious surface for specific properties in Clarksburg. The plan follows the recommendations of the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee and its Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee to maximize the density to the extent appropriate, while limiting the impervious surface (paved areas). However, the plan protects the watershed area by significantly limiting the amount of land that can be developed (with a 6 percent maximum impervious surface cap on one property and a maximum of 15 percent on two others).

Council Vice President George Leventhal and Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, Cherri Branson, Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer indicated they will support the plan that is scheduled for formal adoption on March 25. Council President Craig Rice, who represents District 2 which includes Clarksburg, also said he would support the overall plan, but expressed disappointment at land-use decisions made on two of the major properties.

The Council straw vote supported the zoning recommended by the County Planning Board for the Pulte/King properties, but with a six percent limit on the impervious surface area and no limit on the mix of housing type for that property. The plan would allow up to 538 housing units (656 units including the Moderately Priced Dwelling Units bonus) and 80 percent open space.

For the Miles-Coppola and the Egan/Mattlyn Enterprises properties, the Council limited overall imperviousness to 15 percent in future development. Both properties are in the 635-acre Clarksburg Town Center District. They also are in the headwaters of Ten Mile Creek.

For the Miles-Coppola property, the plan splits zoning on the property, allowing the property owner to concentrate density and imperviousness on the southern developable parcel and use the other portions of the property for residential development. The plan would allow for up to 435,600 square feet of commercial or residential development on five acres near the proposed Town Center area. It also would allow up to 279 units over the remaining 93 acres (340 units with the MPDU bonus).

The Egan/Mattlyn property is in the Town Center District, but it is further from the Town Center itself. The tentatively approved plan would allow up to 300 housing units (366 with the MPDU bonus).

In October 2012, the Council directed the Planning Board to undertake a limited amendment to the 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan to determine whether development should be allowed to proceed under the zoning in the 1994 Master Plan or whether changes in land use and/or zoning were needed to adequately protect Ten Mile Creek. The amendment was limited to the Ten Mile Creek Watershed area.

For most of the provisions agreed to in the plan, the Council followed the recommendations of its PHED and T and E committee. Those committees met seven times in January and February on the Ten Mile Creek Area Limited Amendment. The committees heard from numerous experts testifying about the impact of future development on the water quality of Ten Mile Creek, which feeds the Little Seneca Reservoir.

“The Council heard from environmental experts of every description, and reduced the area available for development significantly in the Ten Mike Creek drainage area in order to protect the long term health of one of Montgomery County’s last remaining environmental resources,” said Councilmember Floreen, who chairs the PHED Committee. “Nonetheless, potential development opportunities proposed in the existing 1994 Clarksburg area remain possible under the Council’s approach, subject to stringent environmental controls. While the area for development is not as much as some might have preferred, the plan’s original intent to ensure a successful Town Center is carried through in the amended plan. The Council carefully balanced environmental issues with community sustainability and ensured Clarksburg’s continued ability to thrive.”

The 1994 Master Plan estimated the population of Clarksburg at build out at 43,000. There are approximately 20,000 residents in Clarksburg today, and there will be another 20,000 once the first three stages of development are completed. Stage 4 development, with the zoning recommended by the Planning Board, could result in approximately 4,000 additional residents.

“Yesterday, the Council voted to protect the Ten Mile Creek watershed for future generations,” said Councilmember Berliner, who chairs the T and E Committee. “I believe our role as public officials is to be careful stewards of the environment while balancing the needs of communities for ample and appropriate growth and amenities. After many months of hard work and deliberation, our council achieved that balance and approved a plan that will serve both the people of Clarksburg and the best interest of the County for years to come.”

Council President Rice was disappointed by the provisions imposed on two of the properties closest to the Town Center.

“Our responsibility was to both protect the environment and live up to our promise to the Clarksburg community to complete the vision of a corridor town,” said Council President Rice. “I recommended that we keep the impervious surface percentage low on the west side of I-270, where it was documented to have high quality stream conditions. However, for the east side of I-270, we needed to allow an opportunity for some development in light of its location as part of the Town Center District. We made promises over and over again to the residents of Clarksburg to move their town forward while also protecting the environment. What is being approved does not live up to those promises.”

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