Robert Wilson, president of the West Fernwood Citizens Association, was misquoted in today's Maryland Weekly. Wilson was asked to comment on the Montgomery Council's decision to retain a proposed bridge over I-270 included in the North Bethesda master plan. Wilson praised the council action, saying it had "unanimously rejected the proposed sellout of the public interest to Martin-Marietta.
The Montgomery County Council voted 6 to 0 this week to keep in the North Bethesda area master plan a proposal for a bridge across I-270, despite indications that a major corporation will purchase land in the area for its regional headquarter only if the bridge is not built.
Council member John Menke was absent during the vote.
The company, which has not been named, is negotiating with the Martin-Marietta Corporation to buy five acres of land near Martin-Marietta headquarters, according to James Giegerich, head of the county office of economic development. The side is in an area known as the Davis Tract, where land is priced at around $100,000 an acre.
The company was contacted within two hours after the council decision, said Giegerich. "They said they were disappointed, but it would be okay and they would agree and discuss second and third choices in Montgomery County."
In the past, the company has said it wanted only the site on the Davis Tract, without the proposed bridge, Giegerich said. "They really were hoping to proceed on that (piece of land). But I really think this (Montgomery County) is the best place for them, and I have a feeling they think the same way," he added.
Giegerich said he will meet with representatives of the company to discuss other available sites.
"The prime sites are in Rockville and around that area. A good deal of the acreage we have is up-county," he said.
The council decision comes at a time when its members are especially sensitive to their role in attracting new and prestigious business to the county. Montgomery has not been as aggressive as neighboring counties in efforts to attract new business.
"Five years from now someone else might want to move into the area and keep the bridge," said council member Neal Potter, in explaining his reason for voting against removing the bridge from the master plan. "Let's see how development goes there. For one company, we shouldn't take chances with the development of the whole area."
"The thing that swayed me was that we might be selling future developments short at some time," said council member William Colman.
Potter and Colman said that citizens' objections to removing the bridge from the master plan figured strongly in their decisions.
Robert Wilson, president of the West Fernwood, Citizens Association, said, however, "The council has unanimously approved the proposed sellout of the public interest to Martin-Marietta. The council responded affirmatively to the citizens' cause. We felt we were losing an important piece of insurance against future need if the bridge were taken out of the master plan."
The bridge was included in the master plan to alleviate traffic problems that would be caused by rapid development on the Davis Tract, Wilson's assciation said.