• Key Maryland Land Use & Zoning Updates You Should Know
  • June 1, 2015 | Author: Patricia A. Harris
  • Law Firm: Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chartered - Bethesda Office
  • Bethesda CBD Sector Plan

    The Planning Staff is tentatively scheduled to present the Staff Draft of the Bethesda Sector Plan to the Planning Board on May 21, 2015. The Staff Draft will shed light on several eagerly awaited issues, including proposed densities. While the staff has shared proposed heights for the Sector Plan area, they have not revealed their thinking on the proposed densities. The draft is expected to be released before the Planning Board discussion in May, and the Planning Board public hearing will likely be scheduled for late June 2015.

    White Flint II Sector Plan

    In late March, the County Council approved M-NCPPC's commencement of the White Flint II Sector Plan. This area extends from the northern boundary of the White Flint I area (Montrose Parkway) north to the City of Rockville southern boundary (roughly Twinbrook Parkway), and extends west to include the properties along Executive Boulevard.

    M-NCPPC staff expressed some concern regarding the available traffic capacity in the area to accommodate future growth, given the planned and recommended development within the White Flint I Sector Plan area. However, the County Council saw an economic development opportunity for White Flint II and gave the green light to commence the Sector Plan update.

    Bethesda Parking Lot District Fees

    County Executive Isiah Leggett has proposed rolling back the Parking Lot District (PLD) tax to $0, as part of his budget proposal. If approved by the County Council, property owners of commercial and residential buildings within the County's four PLDs, who currently pay a PLD tax as a result of not providing the amount of parking otherwise required, would receive a reprieve from the tax. The County Executive's proposal does not eliminate the tax but resets the current rate to $0, allowing the fee to be increased in the future if necessary.

    Rockville: Adequate Public Facilities Standards

    Despite a concerted effort by many interested parties, the Rockville Mayor and Council declined to adopt an amendment to the City's Adequate Public Facilities Standards (APFS) that would have applied the County's APFS schools test to proposed development in the City. Ultimately, the justifications that the County - not the City - controls the schools and that the City's enforcement of a lower threshold means the schools will be "backfilled" with students residing in the County failed to sway the critical third vote that was necessary to adopt the revised APFS.

    Rockville: MPDUs and Parking

    As a matter of practice, until October 2014, the City of Rockville approached parking for Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs) in the same manner as the County and the City of Gaithersburg. If multi-family residential owners decouple rent from the cost of parking, resulting in market rate tenants paying a separate fee for parking, the owners may impose a similar fee structure on MPDU residents.

    However, in late fall it was brought to the City's attention that the law as written did not allow the MPDU fee structure to be approached in the same manner as the market rate fee structure. Earlier this year, the City staff introduced legislation to the Mayor and Council allowing MPDU parking fees to be decoupled from the rent. In late April, the Mayor and Council reached a compromise position to allow owners to charge MPDU residents up to 50 percent of the market rate price for the first parking space, as opposed to the full rate. Under the agreed upon proposal, owners may charge MPDU residents the market rate for any additional space(s). Final action by the Mayor and Council is expected on May 18, 2015.