SILVER SPRING, MD – Top leaders at the Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning today ordered a comprehensive step-by-step review and audit of the agency’s development approval process. All county agencies involved in the development and building process will be asked to participate and fully cooperate with the review.
The department will hire an outside, independent firm to conduct the review.
The order, jointly issued by Charles Loehr, director of Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning and Rose Krasnow, chief of development review, has resulted from concerns related to building height and setbacks in Clarksburg’s town center, currently under construction.
Numerous townhouses, two-over-two’s and a condominium appear to exceed height standards. Some may have been erected too close to neighborhood streets.
“There’s no doubt that we must take a hard look at our processes – both internally and externally,” said Loehr. “Our residents deserve to have these problems identified and remedied as quickly as possible.”
“As it stands, there are problems in our procedures,” said Krasnow, who joined the department seven months ago. “While we handle a tremendous number of development applications, we have a very limited enforcement staff. I welcome this review so we can make needed improvements to our process.”
“I am very concerned about the allegations and believe it is critical to have an independent top to bottom review of the development approval process which should include the enforcement process,” said Montgomery County Council President Tom Perez.
A chronology of events regarding the Clarksburg Town Center is detailed in a department staff report that can be read by visiting the Clarksburg Town Center page. An unincorporated community group in Clarksburg conducted extensive research on the height matter and brought its findings to Loehr’s attention. Numerous departmental staff members have worked closely with the community group to seek a workable remedy.
Loehr, Krasnow and other department leaders will collaborate with county government officials in the executive branch to select an independent audit company to conduct the review. They anticipate the review will begin in mid-August. Results of the review will be made public.
The Montgomery County Planning Board will hold a public meeting on possible height and setback violations in Clarksburg Town Center on Thursday, July 7 beginning at 9:30 a.m. The board has blocked off nearly five hours for the hearing. Residents interested in testifying should call 301/495-4600.
Due to the nature of their regulatory role, Montgomery County Planning Board members – including Chairman Derick Berlage – are not legally permitted to discuss the matter until after the public hearing.