New Update on Johnson property annexation issue

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We appreciate Steve Lawrence for providing the following update:

Last evening’s (July 26) meeting with CalAtlantic was interesting. They are the builder who wants to put homes on the Johnson property (the annexation we are contesting).  Listed below are the highlights:

CalAtlantic had tables lined up with big pictures of the proposed development and had various people at each discussing different aspects of their plan.  Besides CalAtlantic, there were people from the City as well as the engineering firm that did a lot of the previous engineering planning.  Johnson’s lawyer was in attendance – however, Russell Johnson was not.

The Plan was only slightly different than what has been presented in the past.  Their main goal was to communicate to the local community with the desire of keeping us informed and looking for feedback. This is not to be “nice” but to tell the city “we spoke with the neighbors” because next week they will present this plan to the City of Gaithersburg for approval.

The plan is now for a total of 106 homes.  Models are available to view in “Brickyard” (Beltsville) and “Norbeck Crossing” (Silver Spring).

    • 26 Single Family Homes asking $700,000, excluding any upgrade costs, with 5,000 square feet lots, offering various upgrades, options and amenities. That square footage (5k) is equivalent to one tenth of an acre. In practical terms this means only 10 feet between homes. You can practically pass a jar of mustard with your neighbor with your windows open. The single family homes don’t really have usable yards.
    • 80 Townhomes.  64 of them will be sold at “market rate” with 16 of them sold to lower income households.
    • No Condos and no apartments during this first round of building – they have no plans for developing the Safeway area yet.  There will be a new entrance basically where the small Johnson building is today, which will only allow east bound entrance and west bound exit.  Thus more potential U turns at Rifleford Road.  There will be a connection to Nursery Lane in the rear of the development as well as to the north side of the Safeway. Total of 3 entrances: 1) Rt. 28, 2) Safeway/gas station, 3) Nursery Lane.
    • They believe all the children in the community will go to Thurgood Marshall ES, Ridgeview MS, and Quince Orchard HS.  Lots of concern expressed with back and forth discussion in this area. They claim the community would add 30 (thirty) children to Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. They say that’s within the 150% overcrowding allotment and so don’t intend to infuse any money to enlarge Thurgood Marshall because they don’t have to.
    • One person in the audience who attends PTA meetings (Shannon Cisco sp?) said that Brown Station elementary has been enlarged and upgraded which will offset the impact of the students that were relocated during the Brown Station construction.  This needs to be investigated further. Shannon claimed that 30% of the kids currently at Thurgood Marshall come from Brown Station homes.  Funniest thing added was…”Last thing we want is another Rachel Carson catastrophe.”  Really? Sounds like we’re about to get one.
    • The roads will be 20 feet wide. That’s pretty tight. Used to be roads were 36 feet wide in older communities. Some roads will have an extra eight feet of width for visitor parking (parallel parking). There will be 76 parallel parking locations.  All visitor parking will be on the street and not in front of Townhomes.
    • These houses will have natural gas.
    • These houses will have gravity fed drainage, so no grinder pumps will be required.
    • They will have their own HOA community but in theory the one acre “tot lot” they are building is open to everyone.
    • They will build a row of trees to separate their community from Willow Ridge.  It will be approximately 10 feet wide separating your backyards from theirs.
    • Rob Robinson (City of Gaithersburg employee) will be the main lead on this project within the City. He was at this meeting and spoke for about 3 minutes. He is the person that presented the Johnson plan to the City back late last year.

When asked initially about the Annexation CalAtlantic said that it was approved and they assume it will go forward.  When asked about the legal litigation and dispute, they quickly recognized this issue and said that all current efforts are plans and anything performed is at their risk.  Since they don’t plan on breaking ground until next summer (2018) at the earliest, their risks are very low. They plan to start sloping the ground in July 2018 and in April 2019 start building homes.

Construction traffic will use the Route 28 entrance mainly.  Once they start the development, it could continue to 2020 or 2021, depending how fast they sell.

Robert Wu, City Council member, showed up to support the community.  We tried to talk him into running for our district!

BTW, 30 plus people attended from all the local communities to listen and participate in our lively discussion.  A bit light but numerous people had conflicts.

I am sure we missed some details and advise all to review the information available from CalAtlantic.  We will keep you apprised of future related developments.