September 21, 2020
Site of the former Montgomery County Planning Department building will include residential, retail, green and open space and will include the planting of 18 trees
Wheaton, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) invites the community to learn more about the details of the 8787 Georgia Avenue mixed-use development project. Work will soon begin on a new development project with residential, retail, green and open space and an anchor grocer located at the corner of Spring Street and Georgia Avenue on the former site of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Headquarters (M-NCPPC) for the Montgomery County Planning Department (8787 Georgia Avenue.)
As part of a public-private partnership to move M-NCPPC to downtown Wheaton at a site owned by Montgomery County’s Parking Lot District, the county went through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process overseen by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT). This process resulted in an agreement for not only the relocation of M-NCPPC to their new Wheaton Headquarters (WHQ) building located at 2425 Reedie Drive, Wheaton, MD 20902, but it also involved an agreement to turn over the 8787 Georgia Avenue property for mixed use development.
Due to the new development project, five specimen trees will be removed. As part of the Forest Conservation requirements and Forest Conservation Plan approved by the Planning Board (on November 6, 2018), 18 trees will be planted. The project will also have extensive landscape plantings of native trees and shrubs that are above and beyond the requirements of the Forest Conservation Law.
Learn more about the 8787 Georgia Avenue project and some frequently asked questions and answers:
What will be developed on the former Montgomery Planning site?
The approved development, consisting of up to 413,821 square feet of development, will be a new, mixed-use development located at Spring Street and Georgia Avenue. The future development on the site will include up to 32,000 square feet of commercial space, with one recently announced tenant being a MOM’s Organic Market grocer, up to 400 residential dwelling units, and associated below grade parking. The development will also include major improvements to pedestrian and bicycle circulation in the form of a through-block pedestrian mews and separated bicycle lanes.
What about the open and green space of the project?
As a result of the redevelopment on this site, the project will provide a minimum of 18,653 square feet of open space (13.4 percent of the site area), which exceeds the 10 percent requirement for a development of this size. Planting two 4″-6″ caliper Willow Oaks and sixteen 3″ caliper canopy trees will enhance the site and mitigate the removal of five specimen trees on the site.
Why do trees have to be removed from this site?
The new development includes below-grade parking over much of the site. Providing below-grade parking is an important way to provide the necessary number of parking spaces, while still maintaining a ground-level environment that is friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists. It provides a more vibrant, urban neighborhood that will contribute to the fabric of the downtown area. In order to provide below-grade parking over much of the site and because of the necessary excavation and grading to build the project, the existing trees on the site must be removed.
Which trees will be removed?
There are five (5) specimen Oak trees to be removed for this project.
How will you use the wood from the trees?
The wood from the Black Walnut trees will be collected and processed to allow reuse. The wood will be used for tables in new Wheaton Headquarters, including in the second floor Commissioner’s Conference Room. Montgomery Parks arborists will handle the removal of the Black Walnut trees.
The Oak trees are hollow and can’t be used for furniture. One was hit by lighting about 15 years ago and is quite unstable.
What was the Planning Board approval process for this project?
There was a multiple-step process. First was a mandatory referral for disposition of the property. This was followed by a detailed preliminary and site plan. There was detailed discussion about the Forest Conservation tree variance to review the trees being removed and ones being impacted. The Forest Conservation Plan and variance were approved twice by the Planning Board. The community was involved throughout the process of reviewing the proposed development, with the predominant issues being building height, density and massing and traffic. The mandatory referral received a great deal of community correspondence and there was additional correspondence during the preliminary and site plan.
View information from the Forest Conservation and Mandatory Referral report regarding public meetings on this project: After the release of the RFP, the County and their development partner held a number of public meetings on both the Wheaton CBD development application and the Silver Spring CBD redevelopment. Meetings regarding the subject Property were held on June 3, 2013 and September 16, 2013, which provided adjacent residents the opportunity to review and comment on the proposed application. The meeting dates, proposals and goals for the redevelopment applications are highlighted on the County website: www.montgomerycountymd.gov. The M-NCPPC also adopted a resolution (Attachment A) approving the relocation of the current headquarters on the Property to the Wheaton CBD. Public notices for the applications for a Preliminary Forest Conservation Plan and Mandatory Referral for the disposition of the Property were mailed on May 5, 2014 identifying the date for the public hearing. Staff communicated with a number of residents who wanted more information about the application and more specifically, about the flagging that was associated with the trees on the site. There was quite a bit of community interaction and staff had numerous meetings with groups from Woodside and Spring Street.
Explain the sustainability features of the new project.
The Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (MCDPS) approved a Stormwater Concept Plan on October 17, 2018. The concept proposed to meet stormwater requirements through the use of micro-bioretention planter boxes and a water quality monitoring device.
In addition, the Applicant is required to provide a “cool roof” with a minimum solar reflectance index (SRI) based on roof slope. This will provide the environmental benefit of reduced energy use and help reduce the cumulative “heat island effect” associated with urban areas.
What are the features of the green and open space for this project?
The Applicant is required to provide at least 10 percent of the site as open space, but has been approved to provide an additional 3.4 percent beyond the minimum Zoning Ordinance Requirement for a total of 18,653 square feet of open space. Part of this open space requirement will consist of a through-block connection to provide connectivity to nearby areas for pedestrians and cyclists.
This project will also embody the Green Downtown themes of the Silver Spring CBD Sector Plan with streetscape improvements along Georgia Avenue and Spring Street consisting of street trees, paving and lighting.
What is the plan for tree replanting?
To specifically mitigate for the loss of two large Willow Oaks, the Planning Board has required the planting of two replacement Willow Oaks with a minimum diameter of 4″-6″ and a minimum soil volume of 1,000 cubic feet. Further mitigation is provided via 16 3″ caliper trees on site. Additionally, the landscape plan for this project shows other native trees and shrubs will be planted to provide further environmental and aesthetic benefit.
What is the county law on tree removal?
Section 22A-12(b)(3) of Montgomery County Forest Conservation Law provides criteria that identify certain individual trees as high priority for retention and protection. The law requires no impact to trees that:
All of the above are designated as a “Protected Tree.” Any impact to a Protected Tree, including removal or disturbance within the Tree’s critical root zone (CRZ) requires a variance. An application for a variance must provide certain written information in support of the required findings found in the County Forest Conservation Law, Section 22A-21. In coordination with the County Arborist, M-NCPPC Staff reviews each variance request and makes a recommendation to the Planning Board based on the stated impact and proposed mitigation.
How are trees considered as part of the Planning Board development process?
Prior to the submission of any development plan, applicants are required to submit a Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) of the development site. The NRI is a complete analysis of the existing natural resources and must contain specific information covering the development site and the first 100 feet of adjoining land or the width of the adjacent lot, whichever is less. The purpose of the NRI is to provide environmental information early in the concept development phase that will allow for more environmentally friendly site design. Existing forest and tree cover determined from recent aerial photos must be shown on the NRI inventory map. The applicant must also provide a detailed delineation of forest and trees within these boundaries.
Following the submission and approval of an NRI, the applicant may submit a development application using the NRI as a basis for consideration of environmentally sensitive features found on the site. This allows Planning Staff to assess impact to mature trees and/or forest on site and refer to Forest Conservation Law and local Master Plan language to recommend protection and mitigation.
How can residents submit questions and/or feedback about this project?
For questions related to this project or any communications-related inquiries, contact Communications Chief, Bridget Broullire: Bridget.Broullire@montgomeryplanning.org