Property owner, Billy Willard opened the Miller & Smith Willshire presentation to a crowd of approximately 150 people. He said the family was approached a year and a half ago by a town commissioner to develop the property next to Town Hall, stating that Poolesville “needs more people to survive commercially.” Mr. Willard said that his family was initially hesitant, but reconsidered.
The Miller & Smith team opened with a 5-minute promotional video, that was followed by a PowerPoint presentation. The PowerPoint slides are available, in their entirety, on the Miller & Smith webpage: visit www.millerandsmithcompanies.com/land-development/willshire.com and look under ‘Documents’ for the specifics of their presentation (titled “Willshire Information Session”). Once the hour-long formal presentation was complete, Miller & Smith representative Chuck Ellison opened up the floor to questions from the audience.
Audience Questions and Comments:
· One of the first to speak was Richard Klein who introduced himself as the founder of Community & Environmental Defense Services, the non-profit organization hired by Protect our Poolesville. Klein commented broadly on the extreme density and lack of green space to a round of loud applause.
· A person from the audience stated that they were present at a meeting with the Willards (and their lawyer), where the Willards stated that some of the Poolesville Town Commissioners, including Jim Brown, contacted them to discuss the possibility of selling their land to a developer and working to re-zone for this project. It was reported that Jim Brown suggested that as many as 108 residences could be built on the property next to Town Hall.
· Town Commissioner Jerry Klobukowski (one of two commissioners that attended the meeting), offered that he was not present for any planning or subsequent meetings with the Willard family regarding re-zoning or developing the Willard land. Commissioner Klobukowski spoke out in opposition to such high density in Town center.
The overwhelming majority of commenters from the audience were opposed to the planned density of 90 plus homes, and rose to ask questions and make comments about:
· the impact of 200+ cars in the center of town (as well as would-be visitors to Willshire and if they would have anywhere to temporarily park aside from Whalen Commons parking);
· the extreme density of the proposed development and to what degree Miller & Smith is prepared to scale back (for which no answer was provided);
· the extreme density as a threat to water/sewage capacities;
· the complete lack of green space within the development (one person asked about playgrounds for children that would be living in Willshire and was told there were no such plans);
· the micro-bioretention units and rain gardens installed for stormwater management and who would provide for ongoing maintenance;
· aesthetic incompatibility of Willshire with the rest of Town Center (the height of the buildings, the extreme closeness of the buildings, the initial lack of trees, the closeness of the houses to Fisher Ave.)
· Several from the audience plainly stated that they moved to Poolesville to get away from (or avoid) more densely developed communities, like Germantown and Clarksburg. They moved here specifically because of Poolesville’s small town charm.
If you remain concerned about what the proposed Willshire Development and recent zoning changes could mean for Poolesville please come to the
Protect Our Poolesville Community Meeting
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 pm
Learn more from experts Robert Klein of Community & Environmental Defense Services and Caroline Taylor of Montgomery Countryside Alliance.