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More National Builders Competing for Local Parcels

Centex can still learn a thing or two from local builders, namely community outreach.

Residents of eastern Rockville are watching closely to see whether Centex's plans for a 12-acre site on North Stonestreet Avenue jibe with the surrounding community of small detached homes.

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"We are not interested in a generic mix of townhouses or McMansions for this community," Rockville Mayor Larry Giammo said.

The site on North Stonestreet Avenue that Centex wants to build on is a warehouse and storage site for Montgomery County public schools. The school system and Centex had an agreement that in exchange for the land, Centex would build a new $14 million warehouse and printing facility for the school system in Gaithersburg, said Janice Turpin, a team leader in the school system's Department of Facilities Management.

In meetings with community members, Centex has proposed informally building more housing units on the site than allowed under a recently completed master plan that seeks to transform North Stonestreet Avenue into a boulevard with residential and arts-related uses. Residents, who just spent a year hashing out the details of the master plan, want Centex to build fewer houses on the parcel.

"We have reached an impasse and the process calls for our city government to get involved," Phyllis Marcuccio, president of the East Rockville Citizens Association, wrote in an e-mail.

"[Centex] totally disregarded the master plan," Giammo said. "It was the wrong way to start a conversation with the neighborhood."

Centex hasn't submitted a formal proposal yet. Turpin said they are awaiting the outcome of a Stonestreet master plan implementation study, which the city will release shortly.

Despite the community's reaction, Katz has no intention of giving up. "The goal of any in-fill project is to be able to reach some commonality and understand the neighborhoods and the impact the development is going to have there. It's not easy," he said. "You have to have patience."

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