johnsonproperty

UPDATED Dozens of Residents Attend Johnson Property Annexation Workshop (PHOTO)

johnsonpropertyUPDATED Dozens of concerned residents attended a community workshop at the Quince Orchard High School cafeteria to discuss the proposed annexation of the Johnson property on Tuesday night.

At the meeting, residents were divided into small groups to discuss three, key topics with a team of consultants:

  • Proposed Development,
  • Traffic and Pedestrian Safety, and
  • Schools.

The workshop was an outreach effort by the owners of the Johnson property, after a City Council public hearing, originally scheduled for Feb.1, on their initial plan was postponed.

The property is located at the corner of Darnestown Road and Quince Orchard Road, across from Quince Orchard High School.

Owner Russell Johnson addressed a cafeteria packed with concerned Montgomery County residents.

“Many of you attended our community meeting back in October and at that time we presented a plan that was perceived as kind of a done deal, we had done a sketch plan and that caused a great deal of concern in the community. Of course hindsight is 20/20, we now see we took the wrong approach in this process with everybody from the start,” Johnson said.

Johnson said property owners should have involved community members from the start.

“We’ve heard a number of concerns from many people in the community [about] various aspects of the plan…so we’re regrouping, taking a step back, going back to the drawing board and creating a new sketch plan,” he said.

Johnson also noted that commercial space, that was proposed in the earlier plan, is being “taken off the table.” However, for many residents attending the workshop, commercial space wasn’t their biggest issue with the plan. An increase in the area’s population due to high density development has community members worried.

North Potomac resident Michael Larhoff is the former President of the Orchard Hills Home Association.

“We have serious traffic issues in this area, we have issues of over capacity in the schools, and the idea of putting 180 units, where the current zoning is 30 single family homes is just plainly excessive,” Larhoff said.  “We think that the decision to try to end run the County process [through annexation] to the City, it does not leave us with a great deal of confidence in the developers motives. We want to protect our area, maintain the quality of life and we want to see that the process goes through the County that we have more trust in,” he said.

The current plan for 14 acres of the land is to build a total of 180 units; 155 townhomes and 25 single family homes. The Montgomery County Planning Board recommended a five-year moratorium on new developments on the property at a public hearing held in November 2015. The lack of a modified residential plan had community members at the workshop frustrated.

Katie Rapp lives in the Willow Ridge Community in Gaithersburg and says the plan discussed at the workshop isn’t feasible due to the Planning Board’s recommendation.

“So my concern is that, tonight, they were talking like they were going to be able to build 180 units on that property, which they can’t, it’s off the table for at least five years. It was very confusing about why they even had us here tonight or what the conversation was about because [they] were talking about a theoretical thing that’s not even possible right now,” she said.

Gaithersburg Councilmember Robert Wu was in the crowd at the event, he said he was there to simply to listen.

Owners of the Johnson property say that they are open to modifying the plan based on public comments.

“We will regroup after this, we’ll take a look at what everybody said and take that into consideration and go back to the sketch plan and look at how we’re going to work that out. It’s an open plan at this point in time and we’re willing to make adjustments to it,” Johnson said.

A MyMCMedia reporter and videographer were prohibited from recording video and taking photos from inside the workshop. According to Johnson Property representatives, owners wanted to keep the meeting private for the community. “We just wanted to have it more private, that’s all. This is something for the local community here to talk…and we just wanted to get their opinion without everything being recorded,” Johnson said.

For more information about the annexation or the community workshop, visit the Johnson Property website.


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Dozens of Montgomery County residents attended a workshop at Quince Orchard High School held by the Johnson Family about the annexation plan for the 14 acre parcel known as the Johnson Property. Residents were divided into small groups to discuss three key topics with a team of consultants including proposed development, traffic and pedestrian safety, and school capacity. […]

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UPDATED Dozens of Residents Attend Johnson Property Annexation Workshop (PHOTO)

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UPDATED Dozens of concerned residents attended a community workshop at the Quince Orchard High School cafeteria to discuss the proposed annexation of the Johnson property on Tuesday night. At the meeting, residents were divided into small groups to discuss three, key topics with a team of consultants: Proposed Development, Traffic and Pedestrian Safety, and Schools. The workshop was […]

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Maureen Chowdhury

About Maureen Chowdhury

Maureen Chowdhury is a multimedia journalist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at mchowdhury@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter at @MediaMaureen. Maureen authors the blog Sound Check on MyMCMedia.

Comments

One Response to “UPDATED Dozens of Residents Attend Johnson Property Annexation Workshop (PHOTO)”

  1. On February 24, 2016 at 10:52 am responded with... #

    30 single family homes. That’s what they should have been talking about last night.




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