Humane Society considers expansion in Montgomery County -- Gazette.Net


The Humane Society of the United States is considering building a new headquarters in Gaithersburg.

Representatives from the animal protection organization will meet with Gaithersburg’s planning staff for a public hearing Aug. 19 to discuss two possible options for their current site near Watkins Mill Road.

According to city documents, the first development option would allow the organization to build up to 342,000 square feet of commercial space for a corporate campus. The second option would allow 300,000 square feet of commercial use and up to 300 residential units.

Development would only begin after construction has started on the Watkins Mill Interchange, according to city documents. The new interchange will link two unfinished portions of Watkins Mill Road over Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg, less than a mile northwest of the Md. 355-Montgomery Village Avenue intersection. At the new interchange, drivers would be able to enter and exit I-270 from Watkins Mill Road.

State Highway Administration spokesman Charlie Gischlar said construction on the interchange is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016.

The development plan is in a “very preliminary phase,” said Humane Society Chief Financial Officer Thomas Waite. The organization is considering moving an undertermined number of employees into Gaithersburg to create its Washington, D.C.-area headquarters, or choosing an entirely separate, undetermined location.

The majority of the Humane Society of the United States’ employees already work in Gaithersburg, Waite said. The current site near Watkins Mill Road serves as their operations center, but a Washington, D.C., office is maintained to foster connections on Capitol Hill and with other D.C.-based organizations.

According to city documents, about 360 employees work in the Humane Society’s Washington and Gaithersburg locations.

The State Highway Administration requires the Humane Society to dedicate a portion of their land to the construction of the Watkins Mill Interchange. The amount of land the interchange will require has not been finalized, but the road will pass through the southern corner of the property, next to I-270. The Humane Society must offer the land for free or risk having their sketch plan rejected, according to city documents.

The Humane Society is seeking approval from the city on a sketch plan, a preliminary outline of the two options, on the mixed-use zoned land. The public hearing is scheduled to be held 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at Gaithersburg’s city hall.

The Humane Society will present a wildlife management plan and a forest conservation plan after the sketch is approved.