1. Why did the golf course close?
In simplest terms, it is a failed business. Over the last number of years, the golf course industry has fallen on hard times and Montgomery Village Golf Club (MVGC) in particular has seen a significant decline in memberships – from a peak of over 350 in the 1990s to 150 members for the 2013 season and just 113 today. Of the 40,000 people that live in Montgomery Village, only 19 are members. Nationally, the number of rounds played annually has been steadily declining since 2001 and the National Golf Foundation (NGF) reports that golf courses are continuing to close at record rates. Between 2006 and 2011, more than 358 courses closed and the NGF predicts that an additional 500 to 1,000 public golf courses nationwide will close within the next five years (through 2017).
In response to comments and questions posed by community residents at our first community meeting on May 30, 2013, Monument Realty prepared an analysis to explain why some public golf courses (like the Falls Road Golf Course) may be successful in contrast to MVGC and other Montgomery County operated courses. That report, which was presented at the July 11, 2013 meeting of the Joint Property Committee, can be viewed by clicking here.
The following letter, which appeared in the May 23, 2014 edition of the Montgomery Village News, outlines Monument Realty’s rationale for closing the golf course at this time. View the letter here.
2. How many residential units will there be?
The Site Plan approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board provides 494 homes, including single family homes, townhomes and duplexes. Additionally, the plan reflects a new 49-acre stream valley park and walking trails, as well as an additional 3-acre park for the Montgomery Village Foundation.
3. Will the new units be low-income housing or other Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) housing?
The proposed housing will be market rate, subject to any affordable housing requirements mandated by Montgomery County. Currently, the County requires that any new housing project in the County designate 12.5% of the total approved units as Moderately-Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs), meaning affordable for families earning no more than 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) (for 2015, 80% of AMI equates to $85,600 for a family of four). These units would be interspersed throughout the site. By statute, the County, through the HOC, does have the right to purchase those units.
4. Will the new homes be part of the Montgomery Village Foundation?
Monument Realty’s goal is to integrate the proposed housing into the existing community, including the Montgomery Village Foundation. The original developer, Kettler Brothers, reserved the right to add property to the Montgomery Village Foundation; however, there is no mechanism for any other 3rd-party, such as Monument Realty, to do so. The only way that could be accomplished would be to amend the 1967 declaration, which would require a two-thirds vote of all the homes in Montgomery Village, a logistically challenging proposition. However, a new set of easements and covenants could be created that essentially mirrors the rights and obligations set forth in the Montgomery Village Foundation’s governing documents. For example, the proposed new homes would be still pay the same dues and be subject to the architectural review board, and have the right to access community amenities and properties.
5. What will happen to the trees and open space that is there now?
Monument Realty will preserve a large number of the existing trees and much of the open space that currently dominates the landscape of the golf course, and in many areas the natural beauty of the property will be enhanced. Monument Realty believes that one of the characteristics of the property that makes it uniquely attractive is the abundance of mature trees and vegetation. The Concept Plan largely maintains this character by siting homes in a manner that preserves as many trees as possible and creates a visual buffer between new and existing homes.
6. What are the timeline and process for approving any development plans?
Now that the property has been rezoned through the Council’s approval of the Montgomery Village Master Plan, a Preliminary Plan will be submitted for Montgomery County Planning Board approval. The Preliminary Plan evaluates (a) the proposed density, as recommended by the Master Plan, relative to the available public facilities, including transportation and school capacity in the area; (b) conformance with the master plan; and (c) the compatibility of the development with the surrounding community. A Site Plan is submitted for Planning Board approval concurrent with, or after approval of, the Preliminary Plan. The Site Plan reviews the specific elements of the development, such as landscaping, sight lines and design standards. Once the Site Plan is approved, a “Final Plat” is processed, approved and recorded. The Final Plat establishes the legal lot upon which a home may be built. Once a Final Plat is recorded, a Building Permit may be issued to allow construction to proceed. The anticipated timeframe for these steps, from Preliminary Plan submission to Building Permit issuance is likely two years (i.e. early 2019).
7. How will local schools be affected?
During the review of the Preliminary Plan of Subdivision – see #8 above – Montgomery County officials evaluate the impact of any proposed development on the public infrastructure, including the school system. In all parts of the County, irrespective of the local school capacity, land developers or home builders are required to pay significant impact fees, which are used to support future improvements to schools. School impact taxes for the proposed project would total approximately $9,729,000 or $54,765 per student based on 2013 Montgomery County student generation rates. The new homes proposed by Monument Realty will be accretive to the pool of funds that will be available for local schools because the proposed new homes will be assessed at a higher value than the average home in Montgomery Village. To put this in perspective, the proposed project represents an investment in the community that will increase real estate tax assessments by approximately $225,000,000, which translates to almost $2,700,000 million per year in additional tax revenue.
With regard to the local schools – that is, the Watkins Mill Cluster – the Foundation has investigated the current and future school utilization and reported those findings to the Joint Property Committee on November 14, 2013. While school capacity is an issue that needs to be monitored on an ongoing basis, they concluded that there is capacity, especially at the middle and high school levels. For additional information on the Montgomery County Schools Capital Improvement Master Plan, click here. Note that if the project were to include a Class A apartment project, which has a very low student generation rate, the entire project would generate only 178 additional students at the elementary, middle and high schools combined.