Montgomery's science city monster

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Monday, May 3, 2010

The Montgomery County Council has proposed a reduction in commercial density for the "science city" to 17.5 million square feet, cutting the final phase by 2.5 million square feet [Metro, April 29]. This would reduce the scale of the commercial-residential development from 4.5 Pentagons to four Pentagons to be built five miles from the nearest Metro station.

This monster development is predicated on the construction of the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT), a light rail or rapid bus corridor that will meander through the area. But the CCT will carry only 12 to 15 percent of the 70,000 to 80,000 people, ensuring gridlock on the roads. The plan includes six- and eight-lane highways, offering little comfort for residential communities surrounding the science city. We hoped for a more substantial reduction in density to preserve some semblance of our quality of life.

The 40 percent minimum requirement for bioscience use does not even ensure a "world-class science center." Some of the density could be taken from the generic offices to leave sufficient space for expanding the biomedical organizations. Tens of thousands of other jobs are in the pipeline for nearby Germantown and White Flint.

No, our fears have not been allayed. County officials caved to the marketing rhetoric and demands of a powerful developer, Johns Hopkins Real Estate. Once again, the residents are collateral damage in the massive development plans of powerful special interests.

Donna Baron, North Potomac

The writer is coordinator of the Gaithersburg-North Potomac-Rockville Coalition.

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