The Newsflash for 10/26/99 (see index) indicated that the Rockville, Maryland City Council had passed a zoning moratorium on the development of big box retail stores. The moratorium was to be in effect from October 11, 1999 through April 10, 2000. As the moratorium draws to an end, the Mayor of Rockville, Rose Krasnow, has made it clear that she and the City Council want to write some limits into the city’s zoning ordinance. The Mayor has asked city staff to write an amendment that would restrict stores over 65,000 s.f. from the crowded Rockville Pike, and would enforce design standards on stores between 25,000 s.f and 65,000 s.f. “I think that the Council was completely united that big box stores on Rockville Pike were not the kind of retail we had envisioned,” the Mayor said. The moratorium was stimulated by a proposal from a developer to build a 135,000 s.f. Costco store. Residents in the Bethany House, located near the proposed Costco, were delighted with the Mayor’s position on megastores. “Everybody in the building is so ecstatic that it (Costco) isn’t going to happen,” one resident said. The Mayor told the Rockville Gazette that the Council’s zoning plans will spell the doom for Costco.
As you review the next several entries in Newsflash, you will read about several towns that are all imposing size restrictions into their zoning bylaws: Boxborough, MA; Stratham NH, Walpole, NH. All these communities are taking their local home rule zoning powers very seriously. They are literally forcing developers to “think outside of the box”. Thanks to Jan Norman for this Rockville update.