Marriott Corp.'s plan to build a moderately priced Courtyard motel off Shady Grove Road in Rockville has run into opposition from a competitor in the area.
A lawyer for Days Inn testified before the Rockville City Council this week that the zoning change, special exception and accompanying variances sought by Marriott amounted to "creating a new zone" for the property.
Marriott wants to build a 148-room motel on a five-acre tract at the southeast corner of Shady Grove Road and Research Boulevard, an area fast emerging as the hotel hub of Montgomery County.
The Days Inn is on Shady Grove Road near Rte. 355.
If approved, the motel -- which would be built around a landscaped courtyard -- could be the first of between six and 10 Courtyard motels planned for the Washington area, Marriott officials said.
They added that the corporation already has a contract for a site in the Lanham area and is looking at other sites in the metropolitan area.
Marriott is asking the City Council to rezone the land from light industrial to industrial park, in which motels are permitted as a special exception.
The corporation also is seeking several variances that would allow parking spaces to come to within 20 feet of abutting roads, instead of the usually required 50 feet.
However, Charles S. Rand, a lawyer representing Days Inn and other interested parties, told the council that Marriott's requests were so exorbitant that they "constitute illegal, special-interest spot zoning."
"What is the public's purpose and necessity for such special treatment to be given to a single developer for a single development?" Rand asked.
Joseph A. Lynott, a lawyer representing Marriott, rebutted Rand's charge that the corporation's request amounted to "spot zoning."
He said -- and the city's planning department has confirmed -- that most of the surrounding property has been rezoned from light industrial to industrial park over the past decade.
"I have difficulty understanding that argument, because placing a spot of I-3 industrial park zoned land in an industrial park that is now almost completely zoned I-3, I don't see as spot zoning," Lynott said.
Lynott also rebuffed Rand's claim that the 250 additional vehicles generated by the development would worsen traffic conditions at four nearby intersections, all of which Rand described as "failing."
The two- to three-story motel would include a restaurant, cocktail lounge, enclosed swimming pool and whirlpool area, a game room and two meeting rooms.
Its main entrance would be on Research Boulevard, with a secondary driveway on Shady Grove Road.
Last June, Marriott announced it was expanding its Courtyard chain after several years of planning and a trial period in Georgia.
At the time, officials said they planned to open between 20 and 30 Courtyard motels over the next 18 months in five areas, including the Baltimore-Washington area.
The City Council will rule next month on Marriott's rezoning request, which has been approved by Rockville's planning department.
If granted, the city's board of appeals will decide March 2 whether to grant the special exception and accompanying variances.