Recent public hearing on the Takoma Junction redevelopment proposals.
GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
It’s getting beyond torches and pitchforks. It’s starting to look like a necktie party.
The Takoma Junction redevelopment process was supposed to be one of presentation, feedback, revision; repeated until everyone was happy.
Instead a sizable group of people is saying “down with the process!”
Does that group represent the public? It’s hard to tell.
Does that group represent the TPSS Co-op? Why, yes it does.
The cause of the fuss is the redevelopment of the city-owned Takoma Junction lot. Currently it is a parking lot and a steep, wooded slope. The city made a public request for proposals and chose four they considered the best. They are in the process of thinning four development groups down to one, using a series of public meetings to develop a dialog between citizens and developers – and see which developer best responds.
The majority turning out for public meetings proclaim themselves Co-op supporters (or employees or board-members). The TPSS Co-op grocery store is the Junctions anchor store, eager to expand. Either the public majority is on the Co-op’s side, or the Co-op is very good at turning out supporters. Let’s just say our Gilbert suspects most residents have no clue there’s a development process in the works.
The next sizable bunch is Sycamore Avenue residents. A block of Sycamore borders one side of the Co-op. They fear negative impacts on nearby homes and traffic if the Takoma Junction development is too big.
The council is listening to these folks, especially the Co-op supporters. So are the developers. They all get it. The Co-op wants space for a loading dock and it wants to keep operating through the construction. The developers are talking to the Co-op. Everybody is on board.
That’s not good enough for some. They want to knock the process off the rails. The process has been criticized and challenged at every public meeting. There’s group meeting this evening with an agenda item expressing concern about the process.
Is the Co-op taking advantage of public meetings and an apathetic citizenry by turning out legions of supporters to overturn the process and make the city start over – with the Co-op’s plan? Are they really just throwing a tantrum?
Your Gilbert couldn’t possibly comment.
The city-owned lot.
We do know those folks are meeting tonight to discuss “an alternative community vision for development of Takoma Junction” according to an email announcement.
It says the city’s request for proposals causes concern. It says the Co-op’s needs are not being met. It says the city isn’t taking development’s effect on traffic into account.
AND it says the city is not following the Takoma Junction Task Force recommendations, a charge made by many at public hearings.
Council screw up?
Did the city council screw up when it failed to follow the Takoma Junction Task Force recommendations? Yes and no.
The report is not the road map some people make it out to be. It offers a range of 6 options, but doesn’t recommend any of them over the others.
The only recommendations are a set of guidelines which apply to all of the options. You can read the report yourself, or you can click below for Your Gilbert’s summary of the recommendations. With comments, of course.
Guide to the Takoma Junction Rambunction
The council was under no obligation to follow the recommendations. They did not vote on any part of the task force report. It was only advice.
As it turned out, the council did follow many of the recommendations. Some they started off with. Others were since prompted by public feedback. It would have saved time if the council had started by following all the recommendations, especially the one that said the city should give instructions and information based on the task force report to any developers.
If they had, they could have avoided some controversy. The original plans wouldn’t have shown three-story buildings (report says not to exceed two) or buildings on the wooded side.
Public feedback pushed the developers into reading the report. References to it can be seen in their revisions and in the answers to questions put to them.
Tonight’s (Nov. 13) citizen meeting is 7:30 PM at Historic Takoma, 7328 Carroll Ave, Takoma Park,
The next public meeting is an Open House on the Takoma Junction Redevelopment Proposals, Tues., Nov 18, 6:30 – 9:30 PM. Takoma Park Community Center, Azalea Room,7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park, MD. Meet the four finalist teams to learn more about their proposals and revisions in response to community feedback.
Bring your own necktie.
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