Plans for Ashton intersection heading to Planning Board for review together
Developer Fred Nichols has proposals for northeast and southeast corners

by Contessa Crisostomo | Staff Writer

Two plans for the development of the intersection of routes 108 and 650 in Ashton will move forward to the Planning Board together, planning staff says.


While the mixed-use Ashton Meeting Place plan on the southeast quadrant is still awaiting review by county Park and Planning’s Development Review Committee, planners are also reviewing proposals for the northeast corner of that intersection, also known as Derrick’s Corner.

The Derrick family, whose members have been longtime residents of Ashton, has owned the property since 1928.

The plan for the northeast corner was submitted to planning officials in February, but staff held onto it so they could review both plans together, according to Joshua Sloan, planner coordinator with the county’s Development Review Division.

‘‘We’re looking at all corners, all of Ashton and Sandy Spring as a whole piece,” Sloan said. ‘‘The master plan talks about a village center and we have to see how everything’s going to work together.”

The more than 67,000-square-foot project for the northeast corner, which is across Route 108 from the Ashton Meeting Place site, calls for a gas station, car wash, 1,800-square-foot convenience store and 8,000-square-foot commercial office building.

Sloan said the biggest concern planning staff has is the car wash.

‘‘Neither the Development Review Division or Community Based Planning think it’s appropriate or allowed by the ordinance,” Sloan said.

According to the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance, gas stations and car washes are not allowed on the site unless one was there previously, Sloan said.

While Sloan agreed that the property contained a gas station —- a Freestate station — and the station offered car washes, there was not a building dedicated to a car wash and is therefore not allowed now.

Fred Nichols, who is developing the property, as well as the Ashton Meeting Place site, said he was advised by his legal counsel that the car wash is permitted for the site, but he is still awaiting comments from planning staff so he can make a decision.

Members of the community group Sandy Spring Ashton Rural Preservation Consortium (SSARPC) said they have concerns with the size of the project and whether it complies with the Sandy Spring⁄Ashton Master Plan, which calls for a rural village character.

‘‘We would hope that the developer would utilize the expertise of the SSARPC in the same way that he did with the Ashton Meeting Place,” Michelle Layton, consortium co-chair, said.

Sloan said planning staff has no problems with the size of the project, but that there may be some design details that need to be addressed.

The road improvements at the intersection are dependent on those corners being developed, Nichols added.

About 16,000 square feet of the property will be dedicated to the state for the road improvements at the intersection, which includes the addition of right-turn lanes.

Ashton Meeting Place will be reviewed by the Development Review Committee on Oct. 22 and planning staff hoped to have both plans before the Planning Board in December.


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