Next Steps for the Takoma Junction Process
From Mayor Kate Stewart
I am writing on behalf of the City Council to inform the community about where things stand and next steps regarding the Takoma Junction redevelopment project.
First, I want to make sure that everyone is aware that the final traffic studies – by both A. Thomas Morton and The Traffic Group – have been posted to the project page and will be presented by the consultants at tonight’s (June 20) Council meeting. I encourage residents to review the material and attend the meeting (or watch the recording) to learn more about the findings of the studies. The Council will be discussing the studies that evening and will continue the discussion about the draft site plan and adjustments made based on Council feedback during the June 27 meeting.
We all appreciate the time and energy that has gone into coming to meetings, expressing concerns, and asking questions. As I have said in the past, our formal meeting setup is not conducive to real dialogue and back-and-forth conversations with residents. Knowing that, over the last couple of months, we added the open house and the pop-up event as part of our process and have had similar types of meetings over the past four years. In addition, most of us on the council have been holding many one on one or small group meetings with residents.
After much thinking about how best to offer additional opportunities for residents to provide feedback, we are adding a special meeting on July 9 to provide an opportunity for residents to engage with individual Councilmembers. We are still discussing how this will work logistically and will share information as soon as it is available. In addition, we continue to be available to meet one-on-one and in small groups with residents.
Regarding the draft resolution and timing for a vote, we expect that a draft resolution regarding the draft site plan will be posted the week of July 2, in advance of the first Council Work Session focused on the draft resolution, which we have scheduled for July 11. The Development Agreement requires that the Council vote on a resolution that would allow a draft site plan to proceed to the County’s formal development review process or, if the draft site plan does not meet Council’s approval, enter mediation with NDC. The Voting Session is scheduled for July 25.
We have also been in process of reviewing our racial equity work overall, and specifically as it relates to the Takoma Junction project, and will share our thoughts on this within the week. This is an important part of our process and will continue to be so in the future.
Finally, I want to acknowledge that we were very pleased to learn that both Neighborhood Development Company and the Co-op have agreed to enter into mediation, which the City offered to sponsor in a letter to both parties dated May 24. We understand that NDC has requested that the Co-op select a mediator, at which point we hope the process can begin. The City Council continues to be committed – as it has for many years – to ensuring that reasonable accommodations for the Co-op are made as outlined in the Development Agreement. The process is such that if the proposed site plan proceeds through the formal development review process at the County level, we will have more detailed information to help us ensure that reasonable accommodations are made. As the process proceeds, there will likely need to be adjustments made to the site plan to address feedback from the Planning Board, Historic Preservation and State Highway once each of these agencies review the proposed plan. As such, if the process moves forward, we anticipate having to give ongoing attention to these needs throughout the development review process.
I have expressed these sentiments in a letter to the Co-op Board President, Rachel Hardwick, in response to her request at a recent Council meeting. In that letter, I assured Ms. Hardwick that the Council will hold a Work Session when mediation concludes so that Council can determine whether it believes that the accommodations made are reasonable. If the Council does not believe the proposed accommodations are reasonable, it can decide to request changes and pursue mediation between the City and NDC to address these issues, as outlined in the Development Agreement. If discussions between the City and NDC are unsuccessful, the project can be terminated. As we have been over the last four years, we are committed to a transparent process.
With all this in mind, here is a summary of next steps regarding the Council’s consideration of the project:
- June 20 – presentation of final traffic analysis by both traffic engineering consultants
- June 27 – continued discussion about site plan and adjustments made based on Council feedback and clarification on future steps
- Week of July 2 – draft Resolution made public in advance of July 11 Work Session on Resolution (as promised, we will solicit feedback from the Co-op on Whereas clause(s) pertaining to the Co-op)
- July 9 – One-on-one discussions with Councilmembers
- July 11 – Work Session on Resolution
- July 25 – Voting Session on Resolution
As we have stated, our vision for Takoma Junction is to create a well-functioning area overall. A thriving, beautiful, functional and funky Takoma Junction. Essential to this project succeeding is the continued success and involvement of the TPSS Co-op. We look forward to working with the community, with NDC, and with the Co-op to make this happen.