Neighborhood groups near the Shady Grove Metro station are fighting a development proposal for high-density growth that would bring 6,000 homes and 7,000 jobs to the area.
Although officials describe the proposal as a smart-growth plan to put people and jobs near mass transit, residents say they aren't so sure it makes sense and are worried about traffic congestion.
"It's like the one guy said, 'Is this smart growth, really?' " said Janet Kogut, one of the organizers for the Mid-County Citizens Alliance.
Of particular concern is a proposal that would involve a land swap resulting in the relocation of county industrial facilities -- a bus depot, distribution warehouses, and storage and maintenance facilities -- to a site near Montgomery Village.
County officials are considering the proposed master plan for redevelopment in Shady Grove and are scheduled to vote on it this fall. With the proposed addition of thousands of homes and jobs, it will be one of the county's largest redevelopment efforts.
At a meeting last week attended by more than a dozen local elected officials, more than 200 residents voiced concerns over a proposal by McLean-based developer Miller and Smith, which owns the Airpark North property in Montgomery Village, often referred to as the Webb Tract.
If the Shady Grove master plan is approved, Miller and Smith has offered to swap the Webb Tract, on Snouffer School Road for the county's industrial facility property on Crabbs Branch Way near Shady Grove Metro, where the 6,000 homes have been proposed.
Residents fear the relocated industrial facilities could move too close to their neighborhood.
"It's just not a good location for it," said Terry O'Grady, president of the East Village Homes Corp.
Scott Reilly, assistant chief administrative officer for County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), said the county executive has favored the land swap with the condition that the relocation of the industrial facilities not be at county expense and that there be no impact on the ability of the facilities to serve their functions: distributing school meals, liquor and serving as a depot for hundreds of buses.
The land swap would be open to bidding, Reilly added, and Miller and Smith could be one of several developers to propose land swap deals in this process.
The county could essentially decide to move all, most or none of the facilities to the Webb Tract, said council member Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty).
Over the past few months, Montgomery Village residents have joined with the Mid-County Citizens Alliance and other groups to fight the proposal. Residents say they are worried not only about traffic, but air quality, quality of life and property values.
The proposals include upgrades to nearby roads, but area residents say that may not be enough to handle such a large traffic increase in an already busy corridor.
Knapp said there is still much time to decide what will happen to the Shady Grove plan. But one thing is certain, he said: "We can't just pass a master plan but not tell anybody where we think they're going to put it [the service facilities]."
By mobilizing early before the master plan is up for a vote, the coalition is looking to have a say in how the area develops, said John Zakian, executive vice president of the Montgomery Village Foundation Inc., a nonprofit group that provides public services to Montgomery Village.
"We realize we can't build a moat around the border of Montgomery Village, and we understand that there's going to be impact, but what we ask is that there is a reasonable and responsible approach" to developments in surrounding areas, he said.
Chuck Ellison, vice president of Miller and Smith, said the development firm is taking into consideration concerns raised by officials and residents.
"I think there's been very, very good dialogue with some very engaged citizens, ourselves, the elected officials, and I think there's a potential here for some good to happen to everybody," Ellison said.
Said Dave Ott, co-chairman of the Mid-County Citizens Alliance: "At the end of the day, we are not anti-growth, we're a pro-growth organization that wants to work with the county. We want a say in the matter."