The Gaithersburg - North Potomac - Rockville Coalition...

The Gaithersburg - North Potomac - Rockville Coalition  has joined with other civic and community organizations on www.scale-it-back.com . The information on this website has not been updated since June 16, 2009 but still serves as a source of background information and useful links.  

 

Please see www.scale-it-back.com for the latest information on the Gaithersburg West Master Plan.

 

 

The Gaithersburg – North Potomac – Rockville Coalition (GNPRC) is a large group of residents from over 40 subdivisions and areas formed to monitor the Gaithersburg West master plan.  We have many concerns about the “Science City” that will be created by the master plan. 

 

While we are not opposed to the expansion of the biomedical industry, this project will attempt to accommodate 60,000 workers in 20 million square feet of commercial space and 5,000 housing units in the middle of our quiet, established, suburban residential community.  The density would be that of an urban area around a Metro, yet we are five miles from the nearest Metro.

 

The area south of the Life Sciences Center, around University of Maryland and Human Genome Sciences, would have the lowest level of density in the “Science City”. The county has stated that “shallow bedrock and poor percolation rates severely limit development potential” but that area would have the density of NIH.
  
Another area in the “Science City” is Belward Farm which is one of the most beautiful properties in Montgomery County and is our most beloved landmark. The farm was sold to Johns Hopkins for $5 million instead of its $40 million value with the understanding that Johns Hopkins would continue the legacy of the farm which has been in the family of the former owner, Elizabeth Banks, for over 100 years.  Deed restrictions stipulate “agricultural, academic, research and development, delivery of health and medical care and services, or related purposes only”.  Ms. Banks loved her land and fought to save it from commercial developers.

 
Johns Hopkins Real Estate has ignored Ms. Banks’ wishes and has proposed high-rise buildings, with crushing density, to accommodate:
3,407,614 sq ft office and industrial space
300,000 sq ft residential space
88,518 sq ft retail
1,703,000 sq ft “other”
 
This is certainly not the bucolic academic or medical campus Ms. Banks envisioned on her property.  Belward Farm is not a vacant lot to be filled with non-descript, visually incompatible high-rise buildings which would dwarf the historical farmstead.  Belward Farm is a special place that deserves world-class site-sensitive architecture and landscaping, complementing the beautiful setting rather than overwhelming it. 

 

The traffic generated by the changes in the Gaithersburg West master plan will cause gridlock on our already congested roads and the additional housing will further overcrowd our schools where trailers have been used as classrooms for many years. The plan proposes the Corridor Cities Transit (CCT), most likely a bus, as well as six and eight-lane highways with seven multi-level highway interchanges.   The CCT is expected to carry only 15% of the workforce.  The proposed highways and interchanges are massive and inconsistent with a residential community.  Is this "transit-oriented" or "auto-dependent on steroids"?
 
We expected further development but we are shocked at the outrageous density and scale of the project.  To add insult to injury, while the Planning Board and Johns Hopkins Real Estate held “community meetings”, very few of our suggestions or concerns were reflected in the development of the draft plan.
 
The Gaithersburg - North Potomac - Rockville Coalition insists that the Gaithersburg West master plan must be scaled back to reduce congestion, protect our schools and the environment, and maintain the character of Belward Farm and bring the proposed development into scale with the community.