The Montgomery County Council, citing neighborhood concerns about growing traffic congestion, notified state officials yesterday that it opposes using a site in Rockville for construction of a Motor Vehicle Administration facility.
The MVA has been considering a number of sites for replacing its Gaithersburg facility with a larger building in a move to ease consumer complaints about long waits to renew vehicle registrations and drivers permits. The site that drew the council's opposition is at the corner of Montrose and Seven Locks roads.
The council also voted to reopen the nomination process for the Planning Board's open seat in an effort to expand representation on the powerful five-member board to residents of the fast-growing upper county. On Monday, County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist vetoed the nomination of Rosalie Silverberg of Bethesda, and the council decided to seek a new appointment rather than try to override his veto.
The proposed 30,000-square-foot MVA facility with parking for 500 cars and a 10-acre driver test course would be double the size of the Gaithersburg building, which MVA says is too small to handle the 1,400 transactions there on an average day.
Establishing such a large operation at the site off two-lane Seven Locks Road would aggravate an already difficult traffic situation, according to County Council President William E. Hanna Jr., who introduced a resolution yesterday to oppose the construction of the building.
Hanna said the area can barely accommodate current traffic volume, and he expects additional local traffic generated by new development.
Although the council will not act on the resolution until next week, it voted yesterday to immediately send a letter to the MVA expressing its opposition to the site.
Hanna suggested in his resolution that the MVA conduct a feasibility study to determine if opening a new facility would cut costs more than using additional satellite offices. He also suggested exploring more suitable sites, creating "preference lines" at the present facility for residents adhering to a new staggered registration program that the state plans to phase-in this year, and developing an incentive plan for residents to mail their registrations early.
Some residents of neighborhoods around Montrose Road said the large building does not belong on a residentially zoned street.
"It's simply wrong for this kind of quasi-commercial kind of facility to be smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood," said Fernando Bren, president of the West Montgomery County Citizens' Association, a coalition of 500 members.
"This will add tremendous traffic," Bren said.
Thomas J. Bongiovani, special assistant to the motor vehicle administrator in Glen Burnie, said the MVA is conducting a study of the potential traffic impact on the Montrose Road area.
The site is being seriously considered because the land is owned by the state and the area would be accessible to I-270, Bongiovani said, but the agency also is exploring other sites.