Montgomery residents worried about proposed zoning changes in older neighborhoods

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Photo - Homes in Rockville (Examiner file photo)
Homes in Rockville (Examiner file photo)
Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Montgomery County residents in older neighborhoods are concerned about a County Council effort to ease building restrictions for homes built before 1928.

After a resident had trouble rebuilding a home after a fire because the old house was built on a lot smaller than what is currently allowed, County Councilwoman Nancy Floreen, D-at large, introduced legislation to make it easier to rebuild on those lots.

But residents are concerned that houses might be torn down or vacant lots used for new developments under the legislation, which would allow rebuilding on pre-1928 lots smaller than the currently required 5,000 square feet.

Glen Echo Mayor Debbie Beers said she is against the proposal, as developers might buy a single house on two or three lots, tear it down and build two or three individual homes.

"This will result in homes being shoehorned in between existing homes," she said. "The town has no objection to replacing a house [destroyed by fire]. The zoning text amendment should be revised to permit the construction of a home destroyed by fire."

Others said they would like the bill changed to protect neighborhoods from massive amounts of development.

Burton Gray, a member of the Cabin John Citizens Association, said he wanted the bill to better define what was allowed to be built on the small lots.

"There needs to be a definition of the terms 'replacement house' in this legislation," he said.

Floreen agreed her legislation could lead to problems -- builders might see the small lots as potential areas for development. She said the challenge is determining how to protect homeowners who live on the lots.

"I'm not trying to make it easier for people to build on small lots in general," Floreen said. "It's protecting the rights of people who are already there."

Legislative Attorney Jeff Zyontz said there are about 1,000 single-family houses that would be affected by Floreen's proposed zoning requirements and about 300-400 vacant parcels.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kate Jacobson

Montgomery County reporter
The Washington Examiner