Montgomery to Buy Tract for Government Facilities

By Michael Laris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2009; 5:14 PM

The Montgomery County council reversed course Tuesday and voted to purchase a 127-acre property known as the Webb tract, giving a boost to plans by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) to reorganize government facilities and spur development near public transit.

The council voted to pay more then $46 million for the land, which is located near Montgomery Village and the county airpark. A pair of council committees had balked last week, recommending that the full council buy just part of the land. But property owner Miller & Smith dropped the price by $225,000 after last week's vote. A community group also weighed in, calling for the county to buy the full property.

The purchase implements "major pieces" of a far reaching plan intended to make county buildings greener, promote affordable housing, and increase scientific research jobs in the county, Leggett said.

"It has major implications for the shape of the county for years to come," said council member George Leventhal (D-At Large), who cited the price drop and citizen input in explaining his changed vote.

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