Humane Society, MedImmune move toward undefined futures -- Gazette.Net


This story was corrected on Aug. 23. An expanation follows the story.

The Humane Society of the United States and biotechnology company MedImmune are moving forward with largely undefined plans for their Gaithersburg locations.

The City Council approved a rezoning plan for MedImmune. The council and planning commission will accept public comments on a sketch plan for the Humane Society.

The Humane Society has not decided whether it will sell its property on Professional Drive or create a new headquarters there.

“We think this is a five-year process, and this is Year One,” said Thomas Waite, the Humane Society’s chief financial officer, at a City Hall meeting Monday evening. “If we don’t develop in Gaithersburg, we will most likely sell [the property] to a commercial developer.”

According to city documents, the first of two development options 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.

Either option will require removing the existing buildings, said Rob Robinson, Gaithersburg long-range planner.

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.

Public comments will be accepted on the Humane Society’s plan until the end of September. The mayor and council will further discuss the plan on Oct. 21.

MedImmune requested changes to the zoning of an 8-acre segment of its campus at Orchard Ridge Drive, now occupied by an office building and parking lots. The former industrial zone will now be allocated for mixed-use development. MedImmune representatives said they are seeking “flexibility” for their Gaithersburg site, though construction is not currently planned.

Gaithersburg’s council and planning department approved an amendment to the square-footage limitations on MedImmune’s site in March, allowing expansion of its office space.

City approves neighborhood investment grants

The city has approved applications from 18 Gaithersburg communities for the Frederick J. Felton Neighborhood Matching Grant Program. Homeowners’ and condominium owners’ associations were encouraged to apply for city funds that would go toward improving the appearance or safety of their neighborhoods.

About $70,000 will be awarded through the program this year. The projects range from community signage to lighting replacements, landscaping and a new dog run. Grant allocations were between $600 and $5,000 per community.

This story’s headline misrepresented MedImmune’s and the Humane Society’s futures as “uncertain.”