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Plans to Build Memory Care Facility Near Germantown Elementary Worry Parents

While the plans have not been officially submitted to the Montgomery County Planning Board yet, Toledo, Ohio-based HCR ManorCare is planning to build a home for seniors suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other dementia on the property directly across the street from Germantown Elementary School on Liberty Mill Road.

The 64-bed single-story residence facility for will be called Arden Courts of Germantown. HCR ManorCare owns and operates three other Arden Courts memory care facilities in Montgomery County, one each in Silver Spring, Potomac, and Kensington.

The developer and other stakeholders in the project held a pre-submission meeting was held Monday night at Germantown Elementary School by the developer and stake-holders in the project to introduced the proposed plan and gauge community reaction.

HCR ManorCare would first divide the current single lot, which is directly across from the school on the corner of Liberty Mill Road and Dawson Farm Road, into two lots, according to Heather Dihopolshy, an attorney with Linowes and Blocher LLP, which represents HCR ManorCare. The large single family home at 19115 Liberty Mill Road will remain on the first lot, while the rest of the property, about 3.6 acres, would comprise a second lot where the Arden Courts facility would be constructed.

The facility, according to HCR ManorCare’s Bryan E. Palmer, would be situated on the property so that the bulk of the structure would sit behind the house-family house currently on the property, and face away from Dawson Farm Road, with the only entrance and parking lot being on Liberty Mill Road directly across the street from Germantown Elementary School.

The company will have to apply to the Montgomery County Planning Board for a Conditional Use Request to be allowed the construct the facility. The property is currently zoned R-200. Typically, the R-200 zone results in suburban land use patterns containing single-family residential homes on approximately half-acre lots. However, the Montgomery County Zoning Code also allows for the R-200 zone to be used for “independent living facility for seniors or persons with disabilities” on a conditional basis, which means the project would require Planning Board approval.

Palmer told the roughly 30 residents and neighbors gathered at the meeting that the facility would have fencing that would prevent the residents from wandering the area. The fencing and security allow residents to wander the property in safety under the care of full-time trained staff members at the Arden Courts facility, according to Palmer.

However, it was the prospect of additional traffic in the area of Germantown Elementary that concerned the largest number of people in attendance at the Monday night’s meeting. The area is already very congested during drop-off and pick-up times, often with traffic clogging both Liberty Mill Road and Dawson Farm Road, in both directions, due to the way the school is situated on the corner and the small parking lot. Parents have must form two lanes in the school’s small parking lot in an effort to get cars off the surrounding roads.

Indeed, the school has had an ongoing issue of parents parking in the parking lot at the abandoned post office at 19111 Liberty Mill Road and walking students across the road without a crosswalk or crossing guard, because of the congestion at drop-off and pick-up.

According to Palmer, the Arden Courts facility would be staffed by 20 people who would be arriving and leaving the property in often staggered shifts between 6:30 am and 9:30 am, and then again between 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm. Residents noted that students begin arriving at school between 8:45 am and 9:30 am and are dismissed at 3:50 pm.