GNPRC Fact Sheet - Belward

 

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.

 
Belward Farm from Johns Hopkins' presentation.
 
Fact Sheet for Belward Farm and the Science City

 

Belward Farm was sold to Johns Hopkins for $5 million, much below 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 the wishes of Ms. Banks and the community by proposing high-density high-rise buildings to accommodate over 13,000 people on the undeveloped portion of Belward Farm:
2,856,666 sq ft - office and industrial space
300,000 sq ft - residential space (300 dwelling units)
75,000 sq ft - retail
1,428,333 sq ft - “other”

 

At present, the proposed job density of the undeveloped portion of the farm would equal a downtown Metro area yet the farm is five miles from the nearest Metro.

 

The Planning Board has approved 150 ft buildings near the Corridor Cities Transit stops, including Belward farm which would be approximately 15 stories.  The high-rise buildings are planned for a part of the farm that is 50 feet above the Muddy Branch Road-Darnestown Road intersection, which would make the buildings visually much higher.  The commercial buildings presently in the vicinity of Key West and Shady Grove are 3 to 5-stories.

 

Even though Johns Hopkins Real Estate is required to preserve 10 to 12 acres around the historic Victorian house and barns, there has been no commitment from JHU to preserve the character of the farm with visually compatible architecture that would enhance the historic structures and blend with the surrounding community. The farmstead area on the slide above is shown much larger than it will actually be.  The historic easement will only be about one-tenth of the farm.

 

The west side of the farm near Muddy Branch Rd will have a buffer of 300 feet, but the buffer on Darnestown Road will be only 60 feet.  This will create a tunnel effect with the noise walls on the south side of the road.

 

The proposed Science City includes Belward Farm, the area around the hospital, the commercial area north of Key West Ave, the Public Services Training Academy, and the land that includes the University of Maryland and Human Genome Sciences.

 

At completion, without JHU’s requested increase, the Science City could have a population of approximately 70,000 people including the residents of 5,000 additional housing units.  The county has proposed the Corridor Cities Transitway even though it is expected to be a bus and will carry only about 15% of the workers.  Five inappropriate, multilevel highway interchanges similar to those on Rt. 29 near the Montgomery Auto Sales Park in White Oak are proposed for the highways around and through the Science City which will be widened to six and eight lanes.

 

Even though we expected further development, and support the biomedical industry, the incredible density proposed for Belward Farm and the remainder of the Science City is not in scale with nor is it compatible with the surrounding established, residential, suburban neighborhoods.  This massive project will increase congestion dramatically and further overcrowd the schools.  The staging requirements cannot and will not ensure that the proper infrastructure will be in place to mitigate the effects of this enormous project.  It is not “smart growth”.  It is not “transit oriented”.  It’s just unrestrained growth and it simply does not make sense.

 

Donna Baron

baron234@comcast.net

The Gaithersburg – North Potomac – Rockville Coalition