Zone change for Gaithersburg parcel could make way for storage facility -- Gazette.Net


Plans for a new self-storage facility in Gaithersburg could solidify if the city rezones land near Quince Orchard Plaza.

Gaithersburg’s City Council and Planning Commission are considering changing the zone classification for 3.13 acres at 14 Firstfield Road, part of a larger 4.6-acre site. A joint public hearing was held Monday evening to discuss the matter.

Currently, the 3.13-acre portion is part of a general commercial zone, while the rest of the property is labeled as an urban employment zone, according to city documents.

Siena Corp. of Columbia, the applicant and contract purchaser of the property, has requested that the city rezone the parcel, making it an urban employment zone instead of general commercial.

Yum Yu Cheng, an attorney with Bethesda-based Linowes and Blocher, who was representing Siena Corp., said the change would permit warehousing use, which is not allowed under commercial zoning.

Warehouse use is in line with the applicant’s interest in placing a self-storage building on the property, she said.

The idea would be to construct a 150,112-square-foot ezStorage facility. It would include 1,100 self-storage units, an office space and a residential unit for the resident manager, according to city documents.

Councilman Mike Sesma questioned if the warehouse use would be compatible with the land use of the surrounding areas.

Cheng cited high demand for warehouse use as the reason it would work well in the area, which is surrounded by a variety of land uses.

“...This is a use that’s in demand and it’s in close proximity to office uses, as well as residential uses,” Cheng said. “In terms of its use, it’s something that’s needed and demanded by the market....”

Gaithersburg resident Richard Arkin was the only community member to comment during the hearing. He also wondered if the proposed zone would be a good fit.

“In my view, recent development and future development that can be anticipated with the construction and operation of the [Corridor Cities Transitway] would be more compatible with the existing zone than the proposed zone,” he said.

The parcel in question was annexed into the city in 1967 with commercial office park zoning. Shortly after, it was rezoned to urban employment. In 1996, the parcel was reclassified as a commercial zone.

A site plan was approved in 2004 for an office/research facility, but the building was never constructed and the land has remained vacant.

If the rezoning is granted, the property will go through the site-plan process, Cheng said.

The mayor and council will accept additional public comments until 5 p.m. on April 17.