Friday, January 20, 2012

Community Commercial Kitchens: An Update on ZTA 11-08

For those of you who are following the progress of ZTA 11-08, a Montgomery County Zoning Text Amendment proposed by Councilmember George Leventhal, an update:

Takoma Park City Council

The Takoma Park City Council, at its Tuesday evening, January 17 meeting, discussed ZTA 11-08 and a support resolution I drafted. I agreed to bring to the county council two suggested changes to the ZTA, based on city staff examination of the draft, which you can see along with the draft ZTA and support resolution in the staff-prepared city-council backgrounder. Those changes were a staff-proposed tightening of the commercial-kitchen definition to include "shared-use, community" and a floor-space upper-limit of 1,200 sq.ft. The council, by 4-3 vote, chose not to suggest a change to Special Exception (SE) from by-right Permission (P). Video of the council session is online at http://takomapark.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=907.
In my opinion, the most compelling worksession testimony was offered by resident Jill Feasley, a member of the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church's kitchen committee who has run the Takoma Park-Silver Spring Meals on Wheels program for many years. TPSS MOW operates out of a commercial kitchen at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, on New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park's Ward 6. No, that use is not illegal. Zion is located in the Prince George's annexation area and has operated its commercial kitchen, a Prince George's County permitted use, continuously for 40 years. Montgomery County code grandfather's otherwise nonconforming property uses that existed as of the July 1, 1997 annexation of the Prince George's portion of Takoma Park to Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Planning Board

The Montgomery County Planning Board, at a Thursday, January 19 hearing, voted to approve ZTA 11-08, with comments to be transmitted to the county council. Video of the hearing is online at http://mncppc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=810.
Comments relate to 3 points (I hope I got them right): Suggest restricting vehicle trips allowed, restricting hours of use, and disallowing respite care and opportunity housing use of a CK.
I transcribed some material from the video, staff comments (Greg) --
"My gut feel would be that it would minimally impact the surrounding areas... The use would be limited in size. Generally speaking, you wouldn't have a number of vehicles going back and forth from the site."
"I got a call today... You can do this use any time of day or night. That would be a concern of neighbors. My read on that is, you can, or the council can establish some regulations that would... limit the hours of even utilizing a church building to do this... That's probably a good idea. The place in the section of the ordinance that deals with uses in more than one class, that's 59.A.6. I would recommend that we could do that... [Also section of the ordinance on delivery trucks.] The other way to deal with this is to make it a special exception use and deal with it on a case-by-case basis. The more I think about it, that may be overkill for the number of times that [church creation of a CK] would be done... The impact in terms of the number of vehicles going to-and-fro, to this kind of service facilities, you wouldn't be able to see the difference, really..."
"There is precedent for using hours of operation in the 59.A.6 portion of the ordinance..."
"I think they're self-regulated from [a parking] standpoint": by residential parking restrictions.
I noted one Planning Board member comment:
"I agree with you that special exception is a killer. Let's not do more of those at the moment."

Montgomery County Council

The Montgomery County Council hearing on ZTA 11-08 is slated for Tuesday, January 24. It's item #8, the 4th item listed for 1:30 pm, on the council's agenda. ZTA 11-08 is then expected to go to the Planning, Housing & Economic Development (PHED) committee on January 30, 2012. PHED is chaired by Councilmember Nancy Floreen and includes Councilmembers George Leventhal and Marc Elrich.
Council contact information is online at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/csltmpl.asp?url=/content/council/contact.asp

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