The Montgomery County Planning Board, at its regular Thursday meeting, approved the preliminary plan and site plans for a development to build a 44-unit townhouse and two single family homes on a 5.86-acre tract of land near the MARC train station and Germantown Historic District.
The site, 19101 Mateny Hill Road, which is just off Dawson Farm Road, is currently occupied by two single-family detached residential units. One of the existing single-family units will be torn down and one retained. The approved plan also calls for one new single-family unit and 44 townhouse units to be built.
The project is being proposed by Elm Street Development, which is the development company behind the Clarksburg Village development. The original proposal to the Planning Board called for 42 townhouse units; the developer has since revised those plans and increased the number units with the submission of the new site plan.
The site is made up of two parcels of land which are zoned differently. The two parcels consist of a 3.71 acre known as the Wallich Property and 2.15 acre known as the Roose Property for a total of 5.86 acres. The Wallich Property parcel is zoned RT-12.5, which would is for residential townhouses while the Roose Property is zoned R-200, which calls for single-unit dwelling, but allows for townhouse development when Moderately Priced Dwelling Units are included in the development.
The property is located just south and east of the Germantown Historic District and is approximately one-third of a mile south of the Germantown MARC station.
The bulk of the new development will be on the 3.71 acres of the Wallich Property, which is adjacent to existing townhouses along Cherry Bend Drive. The approved plan would call for the building of a one-way private road which would curve through the townhouse community, with both the entrance and exit along Mateny Hill Road.
Kate Kubit, vice president with Elm Street Development told the Planning Board, “We are working to save over 26 trees that are existing on site and are planning to plant over 280 additional trees to the property,” The plan also adds sidewalks along Mateny Hill Road from Dawson Farm Road all the way through the frontage of our site, and connects up to existing sidewalks in the Germantown Station development.”
“To ensure compatibility, we looked at the site holistically and planned for a mix of units of larger townhomes for a better streetscape,” said Kubit. “We massed townhouses along Mateny Hill Road to make them feel like they were more like single-family detached units as you were driving through. We also did some massing up at Germantown Station to widen the greenspace of some units near Germantown Station.”
She also said that the current plans also included a half-acre of forest conservation, which will match up with an existing half-acre of forest conservation already existing on the Germantown Station development property. “This more than doubles that existing easement, and will have an instantaneous effect by planting larger stock trees in that area,” she said.
The Planning Board approved the plan with some conditions, including a requirement that the developer must include a walking path or sidewalk from the townhouse community to the western most portion of the property to encourage residents to walk to the MARC train station.
The plan did have some detractors. Some area residents expressed displeasure with the planned development at the Thursday’s meeting citing a loss of trees, historical flavor, and concerns about a lack of sidewalks along Mateny Hill Road especially along the curve near the MARC Train Station in the historic district.
At Thursday’s meeting, area resident Paul Steimel, who is also the president of the Germantown Station Homeowners Association, which is a development adjacent to the planned site told the Planning Board that the curve along Mateny Hill Road to the MARC Train Station presented a danger to pedestrians because of the narrowness of the road and a lack of sidewalk or paths.
“This corner is so dangerous for driving or walking. There are no sidewalks. There isn’t even a path. There is nothing there.” He said the Germantown Station HOA paid for and erected mirrors to help to make the corner safer for walker and drivers.
“The greenery goes right up to the edge of the road. If you want to get off the road because a car is coming, you have to go into the vegetation. It is dangerous. If the purpose of this development is to entice people to live near the MARC it is the wrong way to do it because it will add to the danger,” said Steimel.
Current Mateny Hill Road resident Clayton Townsend expressed doubt that the proposed one-way street would be adhered to by residents living near the entrance. “Who is going to police this? Is it going to be the Montgomery County Police? Is it going to the HOA? How will this be policed?”
In a letter to the Planning Board, dated April 1, 2015, resident Leslie Hubbell wrote, “The Germantown Master Plan (July 1989) speaks of striving for a better balance between attached and detached housing. In this case, where one person with one automobile lives now, this development would add a minimum of 42 new residents and, at least, the same number of cars.”
“This area contains some of Germantown’s history. The spirit of the original settlement should be preserved on Mateny Hill Road,” Hubbell’s letter concluded.
The entire Site Plan submission to the Board is available at the Montgomery County Planning Board’s website.
Top: The site plan for the Mateny Hill Road 44-unit townhouse development approved by the Planning Board on Thursday, March 31. The plan also calls for two single-family houses to be on the property.
Next: An aerial view of the property site with the lots outlined.
Next: The proposed location of the Mateny Hill Road development. Photo by Germantown Pulse.
Next: An artist rendering of the townhouses proposed for the site.
Photos courtesy Montgomery County Planning Department.