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Despite Concerns, Montgomery County OKs Retirement Community In Germantown

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Single-family homes were initially planned for this plot of land along Ridge Road, but now the developer wants to build a housing community for residents over the age of 50.
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Single-family homes were initially planned for this plot of land along Ridge Road, but now the developer wants to build a housing community for residents over the age of 50.

In Maryland, the Montgomery County council has approved zoning changes for a retirement housing community to be built just east of Interstate 270 in the Germantown area.

Initially, a developer wanted to turn the land just north of the Milestone shopping center into a plot of single-family homes. The required zoning moves were okayed, but then the developer changed his mind, and instead decided to build a housing community strictly for those over the age of 50.

Council vice president Craig Rice, who represents that area, says there's a good reason for the switch. "There is no true senior housing available in Clarksburg. And that is something we certainly want to try to fix."

Numerous neighborhood and civic associations opposed the move, citing a variety of concerns, with heavier traffic and ensuing higher pollution at the top of the list.

Staff at the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission agreed with opponents, but the county's own planners and its hearing examiner both approved the switch. And the county council agreed with them by an 8-0 vote, even though Councilman Marc Elrich is still worried by potential traffic problems.

"I frankly don't know many people who are retiring at 50. And the assumption of retirement communities at 50 is that you don't go anywhere, you don't do anything and you generate very low traffic volumes. But most 50-year-olds I know are going to work everyday," he says.

Supporters argue the planned Corridor Cities Transitway will one day provide mass transit in that area to alleviate congestion. But the CCT is one of three mass transit projects the state of Maryland is seeking federal funding for, and it's been far less publicized than that of the Purple Line in the D.C. suburbs and the Red Line in Baltimore.


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