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Gaithersburg City Manager Moving Forward to Negotiate Johnson Property Annexation (VIDEO)

Johnson Property.fwThe City of Gaithersburg Mayor and Council held a public hearing on the Johnson Property Annexation on Monday night. Owner of the property Russell Johnson, along with attorney Stuart Barr from Lerch, Early & Brewer, Joshua Sloan, VIKA Maryland, LLC representative, and City of Gaithersburg Planning staffer Rob Robinson presented a scaled back plan.

Johnson’s initial plan included 305 housing units, 275,000 square feet of additional commercial space, and a half acre park. Following input from the community, property owners have scaled back the plan to include, 110 housing units, with a cap of 28 single family homes and 82 town homes, eliminated multifamily housing units, added 110,00 square feet max for commercial space, a one acre park, and parking that park goers can use.

Representatives of the Johnson Family presented the scaled back development plan and provisions that the property owners would like the City to consider if annexed.

“The benefits we see [with] the city are tax revenue and economic development, development review authority, it was identified in the city’s master plan as a gateway into the city so it was something that we thought was substantial, it fulfills the city’s strategic plan as we saw and housing in that area. There’s very little affordable housing, it’s a real scarcity over there so some the property a percentage would obviously be designated affordable housing, in addition to that there would be…open space recreational opportunities,” Johnson said.

During the public comments section residents both for and against the annexation spoke. Key concerns from those opposed included density, impact on residents living around the property, traffic safety, and impact on already crowded schools.

“The residents of the local area are those most impacted..and we do not support this project going forward,” resident Mark Lombard said.

Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman noted that even if the annexation deal goes through, the actual development plans for the property would have to go through another approval process, where the public could provide input.

City Councilmembers Mike Sesma and Robert Wu cited their concerns for the affordable housing provision. Currently, the affordable housing would be limited to the town homes, Wu and Sesma would like to discuss extending the affordable housing to the single family homes as well. Ashman noted that he would like to include a more extensive traffic study.

Ashman and the Council voted to allow the City Manager to begin the negotiation process of the annexation. Once a deal is drawn up the Mayor and City Councilmembers will meet to discuss the annexation at an “anticipated policy” meeting scheduled for Nov. 21st.

For now, the record for public remains open until 5 p.m. Oct. 28th.

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.

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