Business groups eye Rockville Pike plan -- Gazette.Net



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Work on Rockville’s long-range vision for Rockville Pike will quicken in the fall, and local business groups will be keeping an interested eye on how the plan develops.

The city’s mayor and council on Monday discussed preliminary plans for handling discussion of the plan, which lays out a vision for transforming a 382-acre section of the city along a nearly 2-mile section of Rockville Pike and make it more friendly to a mix of transportation and development styles.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said the city will have at least one public hearing on the plan, with a walking meeting where people will be able to walk the area that the plan will affect.

The area stretches from Richard Montgomery Drive in the north to the city’s municipal boundaries near Bou Avenue in the south, and from the Metrorail right of way on the east to Wootton Parkway, Woodmont Country Club and East Jefferson Street on the west.

Councilman Tom Moore said he would like to have an informal community meeting, too.

The plan could radically alter traffic along Md. 355 and bring changes for businesses along the road that is one of Montgomery County’s main corridors.

While it’s very early in the process, Rockville business groups plan to stay involved as the plan moves forward.

Andrea Jolly, executive director of the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, said she hopes the plan will provide opportunities for small business.

The chamber has supported more development around Metro stations, she said. The new plan discusses integrating the Twinbrook Metro stop into the corridor and a focus on making transit a more attractive option for people coming to the area.

Jolly said she’s happy that the process looks to be very inclusive.

Laurie Boyer, executive director of Rockville Economic Development Inc., said everyone understands the need for an agreed-upon vision that will meet the needs of the current and future residents of the area.

Mixed-use development such as the types included in the plan will contribute to the long-term viability of Rockville Pike, she said.

Boyer said she believes more businesses will begin weighing in on the plan over the next few months, but for now people seem to be waiting for the right time and opportunity to express their views.

Rockville Pike already offers a strong retail corridor and other commercial opportunities, but there’s always a chance to capitalize on the area’s existing strengths, she said.

The mayor and council are expected to receive a briefing on the plan at their Monday meeting.

rmarshall@gazette.net