Mayor and Council to Consider Increasing Lots of Fees; Can it Untangle 900 Rockville Pike?
At its Monday, May 8, 2023 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss amending master fees for community planning and development services. On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are the pension plan for 2023. The Mayor and Council will also receive reports on the Vision Zero Action Plan, Bikeway and Pedestrian Master Plans, development of 900 Rockville Pike, and the historic preservation work plan.
Fees for building permits, inspections, and licenses are proposed to increase 2.5% to keep up with inflation; include a 10% fee to offset the cost of technology; adopt a fee structure based on square footage or estimated construction cost; and assess a separate application fee. For example, a building permit for new residential construction or to repair fire damage will be $0.25 per square foot, including the basement, garage, and roof; a license for short-term rentals is $450; and a building permit for a swimming pool or to demolish a building of any size is $553.
Interestingly, the staff report admits that the actual cost of providing services is unknown and it is uncertain whether the revenues from fees are sufficient to cover their expenses (170). Secondly, new construction accounts for 35-40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and “virtually every green rating program (LEED, USGBC, IgCC) recognizes the value of adaptive reuse” (173). Nevertheless, the City is comfortable granting inexpensive demolition permits (where does all that building material go? into the county dump!). Instead, it should encourage adaptive reuse by significantly increasing the demolition permit fees on a square-foot basis.
J. Danshes LLC has filed an application to build a 4,400 square foot one-story retail building at 900 Rockville Pike (southeast corner of Rockville Pike and Edmonston Drive, one of the narrowest lots on the east side of the Pike due to the railroad tracks). In 2006, the City adopted a Mixed-Use Corridor District zone for this small lot, which allowed up to 12,754 square feet of retail space. Despite this new proposal being a much smaller building, it is now subject to several new city regulations that have been adopted over the years plus it needs to accommodate the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route. As a result, this project has been in the pipeline since 2017 and is becoming an enigma wrapped in a puzzle—what would you do with this property when you’re faced with the following situation:
“To create the right-of-way land area dictated by the public agencies, the Applicant must dedicate 6,523 square feet of area (0.15 acres, 25.2% of existing lot area) to public use. Said dedication reduces the size of the site from 25,862 (0.59) acre to 19, 339 square feet (0.44 acre).” (257)
More details in the 329-page agenda packet are available at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_05082023-6899.