In a move that surprised the developers and residents at the meeting, the Sandy Spring Planning Commission removed a proposal to build a hotel and office development on Barfield Road at Mount Vernon Highway from the Dec. 19 agenda, ending the meeting. The developers had submitted a change too late, the commission chair said.
Developers with MidCity Real Estate Partners were planning to present a request to amend a 14-year-old plan to bring two new buildings to Barfield Road at Mount Vernon Highway. The change seeks to get a rezoning to allow a hotel in one of the buildings. City planning staff had recommended the commission approve the request with conditions.
A hotel is allowed under the city’s new zoning rules, but the developer wants to keep the original approval under the old zoning.
The original plan, under the name NorthPlace, was for two multistory buildings that have office space and retail on the bottom floor. Under the new proposal, one of those buildings would become a 7-story Aloft hotel, a brand owned by hotel chain Marriott.
The 3.7-acre lot sits west of Ga. 400 and is adjacent to the Promenade at Northplace condo development. It is located at 6403 Barfield Road.
But before any part of the proposal could be heard, the commission voted to remove the item, its only case for the night, from the agenda.
Chair Lane Frostbaum said, in his opinion, this was due to requirements under the city’s development code. The developers submitted an amendment on Dec. 7, less than 30 days before the hearing, which requires it to be heard at the next meeting, Frostbaum said.
“We are only doing what is required of us,” he said. “The community deserves to have more time to review the changes.”
Andrea Settles, Elizabeth Kelly and Reed Haggard voted the remove the item. Craig Johns voted against removing it. Andy Porter and Dave Nickles were absent.
The move surprised the developers and residents attending the meeting, who sat in silence for several moments after the vote and meeting adjournment.
William Galloway, a lawyer representing the developers, said they were not aware the Planning Commission would delay their presentation. He said the change was a “minor” amendment that was asked for by city planning staff and says the new proposal would not change the original approved building height.
The Autumn Chace townhome community came out to the meeting in force to oppose the proposal due to fear the hotel would bring all-hours activity near their residences. The homeowners association has also hired a lawyer to protest the development.
Rob Stein, the lawyer, said they were not aware the proposal would be delayed, but said he thought it was a good move that would give more time for the city and community to review the plan.
The proposal is now expected to be heard at the Planning Commission’s January 2019 meeting.