Special Projects

OPD is often tasked with handling special projects as they arise, given its multi-disciplinary skill set and nuanced expertise. OPD staff coordinate and interact with a range of land use and real estate professionals such as planners, appraisers, architects, engineers, developers, brokers, and contractors. In addition, OPD staff engage with the public through community events with County residents who would be impacted by proposed development projects.

 

OPD is responsible for handling entitlements, rights of entry and easements that support development projects as well as to assist other departments or agencies with projects. For example, OPD has worked in partnership with the Board of Elections and the Revenue Authority. OPD’s involvement extends to economic development projects such as the Wheaton façade improvement program, Marriott headquarters site selection, and the grape crushing facility at the Poolesville Winery. OPD is also asked to conduct research and complete special studies that are used internally by the Department of General Services and other County departments. The team is often assigned time sensitive, unique projects, such as new signage at the Silver Spring Black Box Theater and the Bigbelly trash compactors in Wheaton.

A selection of OPD’s special projects are highlighted below.


Mandatory Referrals

OPD is responsible for managing the Mandatory Referral process for various projects with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. In addition to the Mandatory Referrals required under State law for both the acquisition and disposition of land, OPD has spearheaded the Mandatory Referral review of several projects by the Montgomery Planning Board including The Oaks Landfill Solar project and the Brookville Maintenance Facility Microgrid project.


Affordable Living Quarters

A major obstacle to ending homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. Many individuals experiencing homelessness have regular income but are unable to find housing that is affordable. OPD, in collaboration with the County’s Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Housing and Community Affairs, has begun researching potential sites/facilities that could be retrofitted to include individual, furnished units with private bathrooms and limited kitchen facilities. The units would be rented at an extremely affordable rate so that individuals would be able to self-resolve and end their experience with homelessness.


Picture of Willow Manor


Willow Manor

OPD led the solicitation and selection process for a developer to build affordable senior apartments on a portion of the East County Regional Services Center site working with the East County Regional Services Center (RSC) Director and the Department of Housing and Community Affairs. OPD assisted the developer team with its entitlement process and then provided overall coordination during construction between the developer team and other County interests at the site including DOT, Recreation, and the RSC.

 


Picture of Silver Spring Library


Silver Spring Library Cultural Programming

The new Silver Spring Library was designed with arts programming in mind and, before its opening, OPD requested proposals to provide cultural and educational opportunities in the basement, ground floor, and second floor of the new building. Two local nonprofits were selected to provide programming: the Gandhi Brigade, a youth media organization, and Levine Music, a community music school.

 


Picture of Norbeck Park


Norbeck Local Park Access Easement

OPD was responsible for negotiation and execution of a deed of easement with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and a temporary construction easement with a housing developer for a paved pedestrian and bicycle trail on County-owned property. The County property sits between Norbeck Local Park and a housing subdivision. The developer was required to construct the path as part of its planning approvals as the trail allows residents safe access to the park.


Picture of Substation


Potomac Edison Cabin Branch Substation


Potomac Edison approached the County to discuss locating an electric substation on County property in Clarksburg to support new development occurring in the area. OPD negotiated the easement agreement with the utility, assisted with the forest conservation plan and provided oversight through construction, which ultimately allowed the substation to be built without creating new impervious area in the environmentally sensitive Ten Mile Creek watershed.


Picture of  Glenmont Shopping Center

Glenmont Shopping Center Redevelopment

The County was approached by several of the Glenmont Shopping Center owners seeking assistance with the possible redevelopment of the site. The site is challenged due to the fragmented ownership (15 different properties with 12 different owners). In 2014, DGS and the former Department of Economic Development partnered with the Urban Land Institute and Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to study potential options for revitalization and mixed-use redevelopment of the site, supporting a major goal of the 2013 Glenmont Sector Plan. A Technical Assistance Panel of land use experts provided a host of recommendations that include short, interim, and long-term strategies.  In 2018, OPD engaged a civil engineering firm to prepare a stormwater management concept study to evaluate stormwater impacts in the event of redevelopment as well as a Natural Resources Inventory and Forest Stand Delineation, which is a required document in the development process. A stormwater management pond that serves the site was built to meet previous regulations and will be removed as part of any redevelopment.  OPD also coordinated with the county’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs on possible façade improvements.

 


Picture of Salt Storage

Salt Storage

OPD was tasked with providing the Montgomery County Department of Transportation a new facility to store additional bulk salt for road treatment. Previously, DOT had stored surplus salt at County-owned property in East County, which was sold to a developer as part of the Viva White Oak project. OPD entitled, designed, and constructed the new facility co-located at the Gaithersburg Depot, near existing salt barns. The structure can store approximately 20,000 tons of salt.


Picture of  Silver Spring Black Box Theatre


Silver Spring Black Box Theatre

OPD assisted the Theatre Consortium of Silver Spring, the County’s tenant of the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, with new exterior signs for the theater. Due to a lack of recognition of the building as the theater, the Consortium sought to install signs large enough to be recognized both from passing cars and pedestrians, requiring a variance. OPD successfully applied for a sign variance with the Department of Permitting Services and the Sign Review Board, and then managed the installation of the signs.