|Planning Commission Meeting, 6/4/2008||
MINUTES OF A REGULAR MEETING OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION
JUNE 4, 2008
Chair John Bauer called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. Present at the meeting were Vice-Chair Lenny Levy, Commissioners Matthew Hopkins, Lloyd Kaufman, and Danny Winborne, Alternate Commissioner Geri Lanier, Planning and Code Administration Director Greg Ossont, Planning Director Lauren Pruss, Community Planning Director Trudy Schwarz, Planners Jacqueline Marsh and Eliza Voigt, and Recording Secretary Myriam Gonzalez. Chair Bauer noted Alternate Commissioner Lanier would sit at the dais but would not actively participate this evening, since all Commissioners were present.
I. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
May 21, 2008, Planning Commission Meeting
Deferred until later in the meeting (see V. SITE PLAN).
II. RECORD PLAT
R-1133 -- Quince Orchard Park – Plat 33
Vice-Chair Levy moved, seconded by Commissioner Kaufman, to APPROVE the Record Plat Agenda
AFP-08-018 -- Thomas Residence in Pheasant Run
910 Pointer Ridge Drive
Addition of Deck and Screened Porch
AMENDMENT TO FINAL PLAN REVIEW
SP-06-0002 -- Criswell Used Cars Automotive
499 Quince Orchard Road
18,363-Sq.Ft. Car Dealership Building
EXTENSION OF APPROVAL
AFP-08-016 -- Allmond Residence in Longdraft Estates
435 Bostwick Lane
Two-Story Addition and Deck with Stairs
AMENDMENT TO FINAL PLAN REVIEW
Vice-Chair Levy moved, seconded by Commissioner Kaufman, to APPROVE the Consent Agenda
IV. RECOMMENDATION TO MAYOR AND COUNCIL
Z-308(o) -- Keystone REI
Request to rezone 2.1416 acres of land from the R-20 (Medium Density Residential) to the CBD (Central Business District) Zone, in accordance with Zoning Ordinance § 24-196 (Map Amendments) and § 24-198 (Optional Method). The property is located at 1 Water Street and 49 West Diamond Avenue, and is commonly known as Diamond House and Diamond Acres (Parcels 184 & 185). The schematic development plan proposes a 191-unit multiple-family building with structured parking.
Vice-Chair Levy noted that he was absent at the public hearing, but had reviewed the record and felt competent to vote.
Planner Marsh located the property on an aerial photograph and noted the development proposal includes a 191-dwelling-unit building with two underground levels of parking, each with direct external access. Also proposed is a 44 percent green area that includes a public use park on the northwest corner of the property, a public playground at the southern edge, and two roof-top courtyards. She briefly discussed the reforestation/afforestation proposal. She noted that although the project is not required to comply with the Residential Building Green Code or Affordable Housing requirements, the applicant has agreed to incorporate green building techniques and will be providing 15 percent of the units as work force rental units. She indicated the applicant has submitted a declaration of covenants, which she described.
Ms. Marsh referenced the Staff Analysis of this application, which recommends approval, as the application meets the criteria in Zoning Ordinance § 24-10A(2), with conditions as listed in the Staff Analysis. She answered questions of Commissioners Levy, Winborne, Kaufman and Hopkins about amenities for the tenants, work force housing units (WFHU), reasons for the rezoning request, and the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Chart submitted by the applicant. Commissioner Hopkins commented on the LEED and landscaping aspects of the proposal and noted that both need to significantly increase for the next stage of review. In response to Vice-Chair Levy, Ms. Marsh indicated that about 30 of the total units would be WFHU, to be evenly proportioned among the different unit types, i.e., one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio units.
In light of Commissioner Kaufman’s inquiries about the absence of moderately price dwelling units (MPDU), Chair Bauer pointed out the property was demarcated in the 2003 Land Use Element of the Master Plan for CBD zoning, which does not require MPDU’s or WFHU’s. Commissioner Winborne shared Commissioner Kaufman’s concern in light of the displacement of existing tenants and voiced his strong support of the proposal’s provision of WFHU’s, cautioning against removing affordable units as the project’s development design progresses through the review process.
Chair Bauer noted that the location of the property at the edge of Olde Towne supports its rezoning to the CBD category and sets it as the gateway of Olde Towne, with development consistent with the vision of the Master Plan. Commissioner Hopkins agreed and noted that this property’s CBD rezoning is essential for the expansion and thus the revitalization of Olde Towne sought by the Master Plan. Vice-Chair Levy agreed that the rezoning is very appropriate, as it would significantly facilitate the revitalization of Olde Towne.
The discussion then focused on density and traffic issues and it was noted that the Commission’s recommendation needed to be based either on a definition of density in terms of unit numbers and the impact on public facilities, or on building size/height in relation to the size of the property and compatibility with area developments.
Commissioner Hopkins noted that the project meets the criteria of the Traditional Neighborhood Development and Smart Growth requirements with its concentration of density in proximity to existing infrastructure for mass transit and town center amenities, its enhanced architectural and streetscape designs, a safe pedestrian environment and well-articulated units. Commissioner Hopkins also pointed out this project offers to the community amenities it needs, in addition to the combination of Smart Growth and green residential code criteria in its design. Commissioner Winborne agreed, favoring, in particular, the parking garage incorporated into the building.
Chair Bauer asked that Commissioner Hopkins’s comments be incorporated in the Communication of the Planning Commission (CPC) with the recommendation to the City Council. Commissioner Kaufman noted that the proposed number of units is appropriate as designed, and it was noted the Staff Analysis found the project in compliance with the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. Chair Bauer recommended adding language stressing the need for improvements to the circulation around the site, i.e., West Diamond Avenue and Water Street, and that the streetscape needs to link the site to Olde Towne. Commissioner Hopkins suggested considering a monument sign of the City’s Olde Towne as this site would be its gateway.
Commissioner Kaufman again voiced his concern over the displacement of tenants of the existing 52 units to be demolished on the site, although he recognized the rezoning and redevelopment proposal follow the guidelines of the Master Plan. Commissioner Winborne shared these comments. Chair Bauer noted that although this concern cannot be addressed within the Commission’s purview, it should be referenced in the CPC to the City Council. The Commission discussed the conditions listed in the Staff Analysis and made revisions and additions as follows:
Vice-Chair Levy moved, seconded by Commissioner Winborne, to recommend to the City Council APPROVAL of Zoning Map Amendment Z-308(o), with the following conditions:
- The applicant shall record the revised Covenant (Exhibit #74) for Z-308(o) in the Land Records of Montgomery County before the submission of final record plats;
- The applicant shall be required to provide a letter of map amendment showing that FEMA has issued a change to the flood maps to indicate the property is no longer in a floodplain before final site plan approval.
- The applicant shall receive approval of a revised natural resources inventory (NRI) and a preliminary forest conservation plan by the Environmental Services Division before final site plan approval;
- The applicant shall provide documentation of its ownership of the parcel of land known as the Bermuda Triangle or the current owner’s acknowledgement and consent before final site plan approval;
- The applicant shall obtain approval from State Highway Administration (SHA) to disturb any land in the current SHA right-of-way, or provide verification the land has been transferred to the applicant;
- The applicant shall comply with Gaithersburg Green Residential Criteria as adopted by Ordinance O-14-07 by the Mayor and City Council on October 15, 2007;
- The applicant shall designate 15 percent of the total units as Work Force Housing Units (WFHU), which shall be proportionately and evenly distributed throughout the project, as nine studio apartments, ten one-bedroom apartments, and ten two-bedroom apartments, in accordance with the WFHU Program Regulations; and
- The applicant shall continue to work with staff to implement Green strategies in pursuit of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification.
V. SITE PLAN
AFP-08-011 -- Quince Orchard Crescent - Lot 3
902 Wind River Lane
2,558-Sq.Ft. Reuse to Religious Facility
AMENDMENT TO FINAL PLAN REVIEW
Planner Voigt stated the City Council approved in May 2008 the schematic development plan (SDP-08-001) for the reuse of the facility. She located the site and introduced the applicant.
John Marchant, representing the applicant, Soka Gakkai International–USA, presented the site plan, noting it proposes 1,000 square feet of the total area of the reuse for assembly space with a seating capacity for 80-90 people. He also noted the balance of the area would be divided for a library, a small conference room, an office, and a small bookstore. He discussed the hours of operation and parking, noting the facility would operate primarily during weekends and some week nights and the parking needs would be minimal. Mr. Marchant concluded by noting that the plan before the Commission this evening has not changed from the recently-approved SDP.
Planner Voigt voiced staff’s recommendation for approval, as the plan meets the approval criteria of the Zoning Ordinance.
Chair Bauer spoke favorably on the proposal and the Commission moved as follows:
Commissioner Kaufman moved, seconded by Commissioner Winborne, to grant AFP-08-011 - Quince Orchard Crescent Lot 3, AMENDMENT TO FINAL PLAN APPROVAL, finding it in compliance with Zoning Ordinance §§ 24-170 and 24-172.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES (Continued)
Vice-Chair Levy moved, seconded by Commissioner Kaufman, to APPROVE the Minutes of the May 21, 2008, Planning Commission Meeting as submitted.
VI. FROM THE COMMISSION
Referencing the discussion earlier in the meeting about the CBD Zone or other commercial or semi-urban districts and the need for a density definition in terms of whether to base the definition on a density number or on the floor/area ratio (FAR), stated that using a form code would be more effective because it affords the Commission more flexibility to achieve a better development design. He noted that although a form code would be more difficult in its application, he favored the Commission’s expertise over a set density number, as a form code allows for better projects. Chair Bauer pointed out the need for educating the public in terms of complying with a proportion of space or number, or complying with guidelines to get quality of development.
Spoke favorably on recent projects that involved the siting of a variety of religious facilities within the City. He cautioned, however, against the Mayor and Council referring in City documents to a religious facility as an amenity for the public.
- Asked staff to provide a report on the City’s Media Policy and how it relates to the Planning Commission.
- Reported briefly on his recent attendance at the American Planning Association (APA) 2008 National Conference in la Vegas, Nevada, and noted that as always, the City of Gaithersburg was referenced in good leadership.
- Made a second announcement of a Commission/Staff training session on June 11, 2008, in the 2nd Floor Gallery at City Hall at 7:30 p.m.
VII. FROM STAFF
Planning Director Pruss
Reported on her attendance at certification and leadership sessions at the APA National Conference in April.
Community Planning Director Schwarz
Announced several joint public hearings with the City Council scheduled for July 7, 2008, and listed the regular meetings in June, July and August, noting that as customary, there would be only one meeting in August on August 6.
Planning and Code Administration Director Ossont
- Announced that a presentation by the Public Information staff on the City’s Media Policy is scheduled for the June 2, 2008, City Council Meeting Agenda. He noted that information on this subject is available on the City’s website at www.gaithersburgmd.gov.
- Referenced the earlier discussion relating to a definition of density and reported that Assistant City Manager Felton and himself have been researching and working on this subject. He noted that a presentation has not yet been scheduled.
There being no further business to come before this session, the meeting was duly adjourned at 8:40 p.m.