The Montgomery County Council voted almost unanimously late Tuesday morning to support construction of the county’s first fashion outlet center off Interstate 270 in Clarksburg.
Eight council members supported the vote, which was initiated by council members Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda and Marc Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park. Council President Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown, who represents Clarksburg, abstained.
The Tuesday vote to amend an approved development plan increases retail space from 120,000 square feet to 484,000 square feet, which is 20 percent of the 2.4 million square feet of space allowed on the site.
The retail section of the mixed-use project anchored by a Premium outlet would be built first, possibly opening by late 2015, followed by residential and office space on the site at the southwest corner of I-270 and Md. 121 (Clarksburg Road).
The complex would generate 1,500 full- and part-time jobs, according to developers, but not the high-paying medical and technical jobs originally envisioned by the 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan.
Rice had motioned that the plan be remanded back to the county hearing examiner to review water quality requirements, but the motion was not seconded. He said he abstained because of environmentalists’ concerns that the large-scale project will degrade water runoff draining into Little Seneca Lake reservoir.
The outlet developers said they are ready to move ahead full steam.
“We’re just grateful that the council approved us,” said David Gilmore, senior vice president at New England Development, one of the partners developing the site with land owner Adventist Healthcare.
Adventist had planned to build a hospital on the site but was denied approval for that location by state officials.
“We’ll be doing the site plan in the next couple of months, and we’ll proceed as quickly as we can,” Gilmore said.
He said work has already started to straighten Md. 121 to accommodate residential and retail growth in Cabin Branch, and that plans are in the works for improvements to the Md. 121/I-270 interchange to accommodate regional visitors to the outlet center.
Adventist and the developers won the support of planning staff, the Planning Board and county hearing examiner Lynn Robeson for their plans to build the outlet center in the Cabin Branch area.
Robeson attached a condition that the Adventist-approved development plan be updated by the time of site plan review with a water quality plan that meets state standards.
Members of the Liveable Clarksburg group supported the Premium plan, because residents at the northern end of Clarksburg have been waiting for years for services that were promised to the community.
“It was already approved for mass development,” said Melane Hoffman, who heads Liveable Clarksburg, after the vote.
Opposed was Whit Cobb, owner of a building in the Clarksburg Historic District, whose attorney argued that the plan violated the 1994 Clarksburg Master Plan because it would draw business away from the still-to-be built Clarksburg Town Center retail center next to the Historic District along Md. 255 (Frederick Road) east of I-270.
Cobb declined to comment about the decision and said he would confer with his attorney.
The green light for the Premium outlet replaces planned office space, no longer in demand, with retail space that includes enough room for a neighborhood retail center west of I-270.
The center, however, will not include a large supermarket, because the Adventist developers have promised not to include one that would compete with a supermarket envisioned for the Clarksburg Town Center retail center.
The Peterson Cos. also had proposed building a Tanger outlet center on the 100-acre Miles Coppola site east of I-270, closer to town center.