The Washington Post

Clarksburg plan delayed until March 4 in response to business protests, staff concerns

File: Clarksburg Village (Katherine Frey/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice said Wednesday that he has moved back by one week final action on measures that would sharply limit future development in Clarksburg’s Ten Mile Creek watershed.

The vote originally scheduled for Feb. 25 is now set for March 4, said Rice (D-Upcounty). He cited a request by council staff--behind schedule because of recent snow storms--for more time to prepare the final form of the new land use plan and concerns by northern Montgomery business groups that said they haven’t had sufficient time to review the proposal.

“It was kind of a perfect storm,” said Rice, who as president controls the weekly council agenda. He also represents the Clarksburg and Germantown communities that have been at the center of the long-running land use debate pitting commercial and environmental interests. He is among the council’s staunchest pro-business members and has consistently opposed efforts to ramp back new residential and commercial construction in Clarksburg.

Last week, after more than a half-dozen work sessions and public hearings, two council committees approved plans limiting 500 acres west of I-270 to impervious surface of no more than 6 percent. If approved, the measure would sharply limit the size of a residential development planned by Pulte Homes. The legislation would also place a 15 percent impervious cap on two sites west of I-270, one of which was envisioned by the Peterson Companies as the site of major retail and hotel project.

In a letter to Rice Tuesday, Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce president Marilyn Balcombe said Clarksburg’s development “has been fraught with difficulties from the beginning.”

“This decision should not be rushed. The latest proposal needs to be given the same level of scrutiny as the initial Master Plan and the most recent proposed amendment from the Planning Board. The final fate of Clarksburg should not be compressed into a very short time span with no community input,” Balcombe said.

The Clarksburg Chamber of Commerce has posted a petition on urging the council to reject the so-called “6-15-15” plan. The chamber said it threatens the town’s historic district and construction of a new fire station.

County officials have agreed to search for a new site for the Clarksburg fire station, which was originally planned for a location within the Ten Mile watershed.

“Clarksburg should not be denied the amenities that other communities take for granted. Clarksburg has waited long enough,” the petition said. As of Wednesday morning, it had 122 supporters.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.

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