Nearly a million square feet of office and retail space plus 600 new homes were approved for the Potomac planning area last week. The new development in Fortune Parc follows the guidelines of the Potomac Master Plan, and the preliminary concept gained unanimous approval by the Park and Planning Commission on July 3.
“The Master Plan gave very specific recommendations,” said Richard Weaver of Park and Planning. “We do have a plan here which meets both the zoning ordinance and the Master Plan.”
The parcel of just under 55 acres is located on the north side of Montrose Road, between 270 and Seven Locks Road. According to the conditions of approval the project can be built in phases and must be completed within 12 years of final approval.
It will consist of a total of 600 housing units and 850,000 square feet of commercial space, mixed between office and retail. “We’re pretty excited about bringing this forward,” said Barbara Sears, the attorney representing the developers.
Neighboring homeowners are generally supportive of the project. “Our association has expressed support of the project,” said Richard Kotz of the Treasure Oaks Community.
Kotz was there to make a formal request for landscaping and trail connections, both were improvements which the developer had already planned on putting in.
Kotz also requested that members of his community be allowed to purchase memberships to the community pool which is planned in Fortune Parc.
Sears said that the pool memberships would be unlikely.
Traffic mitigation within the City of Rockville was one concern raised in the review.
The Tower Oaks development, just north of Montrose Road in Rockville, was approved for 1.5 million square feet of commercial space in the mid 80s. To date, approximately 450,000 have been built. Rockville officials argued that the Fortune Parc developer should build a new traffic lane within the City of Rockville.
But county transportation planners, taking into account only 600,000 square feet of the Tower Oaks development, did not intend to require the developer to build the lane.
“Exactly how much are we going to assume they are going to develop,” said Jeff Zyontz, chief of the Planning Division.
Rockville officials asked that the lane be constructed.
Sears was given an opportunity to rebut the city’s request. “The beauty and the curse of Montgomery County is that they have rules,” Sears said. “The study has been done in full accord with the rules that apply in the county.”
Sears pointed out that if the projects had been in the county, the approvals would have expired. She stated that development in the county should not be forced to make improvements based upon possible development in the municipalities.
“I think what I find most troubling is the city stuff sitting there,” said Commissioner John Robinson. “I have reached the conclusion that the burden should fall on the city.”