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Council president concerned about Montgomery County development lag

Wednesday - 4/17/2013, 7:43am  ET

WASHINGTON - The Silver Spring Transit Center still hasn't opened. A new Costco in Wheaton did, but after months of delays.

Now, there's concern about more lagging redevelopment in Maryland's Montgomery County.

Plans for a Wheaton makeover are in flux, and Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro says that's exactly the problem.

In a memo to County Executive Ike Leggett, Navarro accuses Leggett's administration of establishing a "poor track record" in turning plans into action in Wheaton.

"Your recommendation to solicit private development proposals for development on multiple publicly owned parcels in Wheaton will likely result in delaying the decision of where to locate and when to begin the (Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission) Headquarters," Navarro says in her memo to Leggett.

Last week, The Gazette reported there was "an evolution of thinking" about where to put the new headquarters for the park and planning commission (M-NCPPC).

The Gazette reports David Dise, director of the county's Department of General Services, says the previous plan for the building -- to place it on a site on Parking Lot 13 in downtown Wheaton -- is no longer a possibility.

Instead, Dise says the headquarters now likely will be located on the site of the Mid-County Regional Services Center, according to The Gazette. That would open space up on Lot 13 to private development.

The Gazette quoted two small business owners in the area who said they're especially concerned about future plans for the lot.

They say losing the parking lot will hurt -- and even kill -- their businesses.

According to her memo, Navarro favors locating the headquarters at the services center site and soliciting private development for Lot 13 that could include mixed-use residential and retail.

The lot also would continue to host "a state-of-the-art urban park," she says.

"Under this plan, the County would likely phase the redevelopment of Wheaton by starting on the Regional Services Center site and moving to develop Lot #13 after the solicitation, selection and negotiation processes are complete," Navarro says. "This would provide much-needed certainty to existing small businesses on Triangle Lane, who have been waiting for more than a year for the County to articulate a clear plan for Wheaton."

Click here to read the full memo.

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WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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