Testimony re: transit-oriented Olde Towne Gaithersburg project

May 3, 2023

Planning Commission, City of Gaithersburg
31 South Summit Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

Via email:  planning@gaithersburgmd.gov

RE: Support for SP-9149-2021: Construction of two (2) multifamily buildings at 9, 11, 13, and 15 Park Avenue and 201 Brookes Avenue in the CBD (Central Business District) Zone, Concept Site Plan

Dear Chair Bauer and Members of the Planning Commission:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the leading non-profit organization in the D.C. region advocating for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for our region to grow and provide opportunities for all. We count 11,000 supporters in Montgomery County and its cities, including over 800 in Gaithersburg. Addressing our housing shortage and promoting compact, walkable, transit-oriented communities has been a key part of CSG’s mission throughout our 26-year history.

We wish to express our support for the Concept Site Plan for construction of two multifamily buildings at 9, 11, 13, and 15 Park Avenue and 201 Brookes Avenue.

The two proposed multifamily buildings align with the priorities set forth in Gaithersburg’s Olde Towne District Master Plan. Adopted in 2005, the Master Plan envisions increasing multi-family housing in the plan area to provide a wider variety of housing options and support a vibrant, walkable downtown with thriving retail. 

We have reviewed and understand the concerns that have been put forward by neighbors who want to ensure that this development contributes positively to the aesthetics and quality of life of the Olde Towne District. This feedback is an important part of the development process. We believe that city staff and the development team have been attentive in responding to these concerns, and that the current proposal addresses these concerns and provides clear and numerous economic, environmental, and equity benefits for the Olde Towne District.

This development will support economic competitiveness and prosperity locally and in Montgomery County. Increasing the mix of housing options available will make downtown Gaithersburg desirable and accessible to a wider range of incomes, household sizes, and housing preferences.

The proposed units will also support the many local businesses located in downtown Gaithersburg through pedestrian safety improvements and compact residential growth. New sidewalks on Park Avenue and consolidation of five existing driveways to a single common access point will improve comfort and safety for all pedestrians accessing downtown Gaithersburg. Additionally, residents of the planned 151 units will live within walking distance of downtown businesses, growing the potential customer base.

Further, the development fulfills the goal of the Central Business District to promote the effective use of transit facilities, as the buildings are located within a convenient and short walking distance of the Gaithersburg MARC station. This is an excellent opportunity to build transit-oriented housing units that can help households reduce combined housing and transportation costs. The combination of walk, bike, and transit trips in this location compares favorably to the higher number of car trips that would be generated if this housing were built in surrounding more suburban areas – with many of those vehicles cutting through Olde Towne.

The development will support long-term environmental stewardship by introducing stormwater management best practices on a site that currently has none; locating new housing in a compact downtown area rather than furthering sprawl; and allowing households to reduce emissions-generating auto travel in favor of pedestrian and transit trips.

For the reasons listed above, the Coalition for Smarter Growth respectfully encourages the Planning Commission to approve the Concept Site Plan application for construction of two multifamily buildings at 9, 11, 13, and 15 Park Avenue and 201 Brookes Avenue


Carrie Kisicki

Montgomery Advocacy Manager