Store Size Cap – Rockville, MD

Date: 2 Dec 2008 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In August 2000, the city of Rockville enacted the following ordinance, which bans stores over 65,000 square feet and requires those over 25,000 square feet to comply with design and siting guidelines. The ordinance has a strong list of findings to support the size cap.

Thelaw makes permanent a moratorium on large stores imposed in October 1999 to give the city time to study the issue. In public forums, residents voiced concerns that large-scale retail development would undermine the city’s quality of life by increasing traffic, eroding Rockville’s character, and bringing in businesses that have little commitment to the community.

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Ordinance No. 13-00

ORDINANCE: To grant Text Amendment Application TXT2000-00183, as amended, Mayor and Council of Rockville, Applicant

WHEREAS,the Mayor and Council of Rockville requested that Text Amendment Application TXT2000-00183 be filed to limit the size of retail establishments in the RPC and C2 zones in Rockville and to create design and site development guidelines for stores and shopping centers of a certain size; and

WHEREAS, at its meeting of May 10, 2000, the Planning Commission reviewed the above referenced text amendment and recommended denial of the portion of the text amendment which would limit the size of retail establishments and recommended approval, with modifications, of the portion of the text amendment which would impose design and site development guidelines on certain retail development as set forth in a memorandum dated May 11,2000; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland, the Mayor and Council gave notice that a hearing on said application would be held by the Mayor and Council in the Council Chambers at Rockville City Hall on June 19, 2000, at 7:30 p.m. or as soon thereafter as it may be heard; and

WHEREAS, on June 19, 2000, said application came on for hearing at the time and place provided for in said advertisement; and

WHEREAS, the purpose clause of the RPC zone states, inter alia,

"The purpose of the RPC zone is to provide a wide range of retail uses and services, commercial activities and residential opportunities within the Rockville Pike Corridor Area." and

WHEREAS, the purpose clause of the C-2 zone states:

"The purpose of the C-2 Zone is to provide a wide range of retail uses and services and commercial activities proximate to certain arterial highways providing access to the City and to provide office space for private, quasi-public, and public uses. In order to protect the abutting or surrounding residential zones, the regulations for this zone establish standards retaining such medium intensity of use and concentration of vehicles as is compatible with the function of the zone." and

WHEREAS, the Rockville Pike Corridor Plan states, inter alia,

The objective of this article is to encourage development within the Rockville Pike Corridor Area in accordance with the Plan. The regulations contained herein are intended to:

(1) Protect existing residential areas and adjacent neighborhoods from encroachment of commercial land use, excessive traffic, unlawful noise and pollution.

(2) Foster an adequate supply of convenience retail activities to serve residents of the corridor and local neighborhoods.

(3) Encourage mixed-use development opportunities to promote combined residential, retail, employment and entertainment centers within the area.

(4) Encourage medium to high-density residential development within the area.

(5) Encourage excellence in urban design and improvement in overall City appearance.

(6) Encourage development that produces a desirable relationship between buildings and the pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems and between such development and adjacent land uses.

(7) Promote improved pedestrian and vehicular circulation and to integrate pedestrian and vehicular circulation plans with development.

(8) Implement a streetscape improvement program throughout the area by establishing specific standards for coordination of landscaping and street trees along public rights-of-way, public pedestrian ways and buffers between dissimilar uses.

(9) Promote the use of public and private transit facilities and pedestrian access thereto.

(10) Promote efficient use of land.

(11) Encourage quality of development and enhance the City’s economic base.

(12) Ensure consistency of development throughout the area.

and

WHEREAS, the 1993 Approved and Adopted Master Plan for Rockville has as its goal for Nonresidential Neighborhood Areas:

Maintain a business environment that balances the needs of both the business and residential community.

and one of the policies associated with nonresidential neighborhood areas in the Master Plan is to:

Ensure that new development to accommodate business is compatible with the residential neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council finds:

1. Large retail establishments are regional in nature and attract shoppers from a wide region which is contrary to the goal of providing a supply of convenience retail activities to serve residents of the Rockville Pike Corridor and local neighborhoods.

2. Large retail establishments draw traffic from a wide region which imposes an unacceptable burden on the local road network.

3. Large retail establishments are more suitable for sites with immediate access to interstate or regional highways with adequate capacity to absorb large quantities of regional traffic.

4. Large retail establishments are not pedestrian or mass transit oriented.

5. Large retail establishments dominate nearby buildings and create undesirable relationships with adjacent land uses.

6. Large retail establishments are not consistent with the style and scale of development envisioned by the Rockville Pike Corridor Plan and by the RPC and C-2 Zones.

7. Large retail establishments impose certain negative impacts such as noise and traffic on nearby residential uses without the counterbalancing benefits, which are provided by smaller, neighborhood, oriented retail uses.

8. Large retail establishments are architecturally incompatible with residential neighborhoods and alter the character of a neighborhood when located within sight and sound of` residential neighborhoods.

9. Large retail establishments are inconsistent with the goal of providing medium intensity of use and medium intensity of vehicles.

10. New large retail establishments would change the character of the retail neighborhood within the Rockville Pike corridor.

11. Large regional retail establishments are antithetical to the goal of balance in the retail sector because such establishments are primarily designed to serve as attractions for the larger region and do not provide services to more local surrounding areas.

12. Large retail establishments, while offering some limited services, do not provide broad range of services that are necessary parts of the commercial sector of the economy.

13. Large retail establishments draw the majority of their customers from an expanded radius beyond the average retail market draw, thus placing additional trips on already congested streets throughout the community and through "choke points" located at some distance from the establishments. The existing high levels of traffic at these points, especially during weekends, which are peak shopping hours, precludes the addition of the large retail establishments and their traffic within the City limits.

14. Medium and small size retail establishments can provide a wide range of retail uses and services and commercial activities while retaining a medium intensity of use and concentration of vehicles.

15. Large retail establishments are not conducive to pedestrian, bicyclist or transit usage because the products sold at such establishments are primarily those that require a vehicle for transporting the goods from the premises; and

16. Medium and small size retail establishments are more likely to be visited by pedestrians, bicyclists, and mass transit riders than are large retail establishments.

17. Medium size retail establishments which comply with design and site development guidelines are consistent with convenience retail activities and mixed use developments and can result in a desirable relationship between buildings and the pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems and between such establishments and adjacent land uses.

18. For uses in the RPC zone, the Rockville Pike Corridor Plan mandates a fine-grained, highly detailed, pedestrian-scaled, mixed-use land use that supports the urban design goals of the Plan. By limiting individual retail establishments to 65,000 square feet of total floor area, this goal may be achieved.

19. The design and site development guidelines in this ordinance will (a) protect existing residential areas and adjacent neighborhoods from some of the negative impacts of retail development; (b) encourage excellence in urban design and improvement in overall city appearance; (c) encourage development that produces a desirable relationship between buildings and the pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems and between such development and adjacent land uses; (d) promote improved pedestrian and vehicular circulation; (e) provide buffers between dissimilar uses; (f) promote the use of mass transit and improve pedestrian access; and (g) encourage quality of development and ensure consistency of development throughout the Rockville Pike Corridor; and

WHEREAS,adoption of this ordinance will further the goals of the Approved and adopted Master Plan for Rockville, Rockville Pike Corridor Plan and the purposes of the KPC and C-2 zones; and

WHEREAS,adoption of this ordinance will assure the good government of the City; protect and preserve the City’s rights, property and privileges, preserve peace and good order, secure persons and property from danger and destruction, and protect the health, comfort and convenience of the citizens of Rockville;

WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council having considered the text amendment application, and the entire file pertaining thereto, said Mayor and Council having decided that the granting of this application, as amended, in the form set forth below would promote the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the City of Rockville.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE 1T ORDAINED BY THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND, that Text Amendment Application No. TXT2000-00183 be, and the same is hereby, granted, as amended, in the form set forth below:

SECTION1. That a new Section 25-332 entitled "Retail store size limitations and design and site development guidelines for retail stores and shopping centers in the C-2 and RPC zones" be added to read as follows:

Section 25-332. Retail store size limitations and design and site development guidelines for retail stores and shopping centers in the C-2 and RPC zones.

(a) Limitation on size of Retail Stores in C-2 and RPC Zones.

(1) In the RPC and C-2 zones, no retail establishment shall exceed 65,000 square feet of total gross floor area.

(2) Notwithstanding the foregoing, when an otherwise lawful retail establishment exists in the RPC Zone as of August 1, 2000, such structure shall be considered a development nonconformity but may be continued, structurally altered, repaired, or reconstructed so long as it is not increased, extended or enlarged beyond the across floor area of the building that existed on August 1, 2000. To the extent practicable, the Design and Site Development Guidelines of this section shall be applied to any alteration, reconstruction or repair that takes place after August 1, 2000.

 

(b) Design and site development guidelines for certain developments in the RPC and C-2 zones.

Retail establishments containing greater than 25,000 square feet of gross floor area and shopping centers of any size, shall be subject to the design and site development guidelines contained in Sections (1) and(2) below. These guidelines shall be applied as part of the review and approval process for use permits and detailed applications. For developments in the RPC Zone, which are also subject to the design guidelines in the Rockville Pike Corridor Master Plan, if there is any conflict between the guidelines, the more restrictive guideline shall apply. The guidelines in this section shall not be applied to any development or portion of a development that is covered by an approved Use Permit or approved Detailed Application as of August 1, 2000, unless modifications to the Use Permit or Detailed Application are proposed by the applicant.

(1) Aesthetic and Visual Characteristics

a. Facades and Exterior Walls including Sides and Backs. The building shall be designed in a way that will reduce the massive scale and uniform and impersonal appearance and will provide visual interest consistent with the community’s identity, character, and scale Long building walls of at least 100 feet shall be broken up with projections or recessions of sufficient depth alone all sides, and in sufficient number, to reduce the unbroken massing into lengths of approximately 50 feet or less along all sides of the building. Projections from the facade can be used as an alternate approach.

Along any public street frontage the building design should include windows, arcades, awnings or other acceptable features along at least 60 percent of the building length. Arcades and other weather protection features shall be of sufficient depth and height to provide a light-filled and open space along the building frontage. Architectural treatment, similar to that provided to the front facade shall be provided to the sides and rear of the building to mitigate any negative view from any location off-site and any public area (e.g. parking lots, walkways, etc.) on site.

b. Detail Features . The building shall include architectural features that contribute to visual interest at the pedestrian scale and reduce the massive aesthetic effect by breaking up the building wall, front, side, or rear, with color, texture changes, wall offsets, reveals, or projecting ribs. Examples of such features are included in the City of Rockville’s Guidebook to Design Guidelines for Retail Establishments and Shopping Centers.

c. Roofs. The roof design shall provide variations in rooflines and add interest to, and reduce the massive scale of, large buildings. Roof features shall complement the architectural and visual character of adjoining neighborhoods. Roofs shall include two or more roof planes. Parapet walls shall be architecturally treated to avoid a plain, monotonous look.

d. MateriaIs and Color. The buildings shall have exterior building materials and colors that are aesthetically pleasing and compatible with materials and colors that are used in adjoining neighborhoods. This includes the use of high-quality materials and colors that are low reflective, subtle, neutral, or earth tone. Certain types of colors shall be avoided such as fluorescent or metallic although brighter colors in limited quantities as building trims and as accents may be considered at the discretion of the Planning Commission.
Construction materials such as tilt-up concrete, smooth-faced concrete block, prefabricated steel panels, and other similar materials shall be avoided unless the exterior surface is covered with an acceptable architectural treatment.

e. Entryways. The building design shall provide design elements which clearly indicate to customers where the entrances are located and which add aesthetically pleasing character to buildings by providing highly-visible customer entrances.

f. Screening of Mechanical Equipment. Mechanical equipment shall be screened to mitigate noise and views in all directions. If roof-mounted, the screen shall be designed to conform architecturally to the design of the building either with varying roof planes or with parapet walls. A wood fence or similar treatment is not acceptable.

 

(2) Site Design and Relationship to Surrounding Community.

a. Vehicular Access. The use shall provide safety and protection to adjacent residential uses by having motor vehicles access only from an arterial, major or business district road as designated in the Master Plan

b. Buffers. The use shall provide visual and noise buffers to nearby residential uses. This can be accomplished by providing a substantial building setback from a residential use or residentially zoned property that is adjacent to the site. A landscape buffer of substantial width should be provided adjacent to the site property line where it adjoins residential uses or zones. The landscape buffer should include canopy trees at regular intervals to provide noise, light, and visual screening. No other uses, such as, but not limited to, parking or storage, are permitted within the landscape buffer area.

c. Outdoor Sales and Storage. Areas for outdoor sales of products may be permitted if they are extensions of the sales floor into which patrons are allowed free access. Such areas shall be incorporated into the overall design of the building and the landscaping and shall be permanently defined and screened with wails and/or fences. Materials, colors and design of screening walls and/or fences shall conform to those used as predominant materials and colors on the building. If such areas are to be covered, then the covering shall be similar in materials and colors to those that are predominantly used on the building facade. Outdoor sales areas shall be considered as part of the gross floor area of the retail establishment. Outdoor storage of products in an area where customers are not permitted is prohibited. This prohibition includes outdoor storage sheds and containers.

d. Trash Collection Area and Time Limitations. The project shall mitigate noise and visual impacts on adjoining residential neighborhoods and streets from trash collection areas by location, these areas on-site and at least 50 feet from any residential use, residentially zoned property, or street that is adjacent to the site, unless such operations are located entirely within an enclosed building or underground.

All trash collection areas that are not within an enclosed building or underground must be screened or recessed so that they are not visible from public streets, public sidewalks, internal pedestrian walkways, or adjacent residential properties. Screening and landscaping of these areas shall conform to the predominant materials used on the site.

e. Parking Lots and Structures. Parking areas must provide safe, convenient and efficient access. They must be distributed around large buildings in order to shorten the distance to other buildings and public sidewalks, and to reduce the overall scale of the paved surface. Landscaping shall be used to define parking areas, primary vehicular drives and pedestrian areas in an aesthetically and environmentally pleasing manner. Parking structure facades should achieve the same high quality design and appearance as the buildings they serve. The parking structure’s utilitarian appearance should be minimized by utilizing effective design treatments such as colonnades, arcades, awnings, street furniture and other public amenities. Compatible materials, coordinated landscaping and screening, appropriate building color, sensitive lighting and signage should all be considered for garage facades.

f. Pedestrian Flows. The project shall provide pedestrian accessibility, safety, and convenience to reduce traffic impacts and enable the development to project a friendly inviting image. Continuous internal pedestrian walkways, no less than eight feet in width shall be provided from the public sidewalk or right-of-way to the principal customer entrance of all principal buildings on the site. Sidewalks shall also connect the store to transit stops on or off-site and to nearby residential neighborhoods. Sidewalks shall be provided alone the full length of any building where it adjoins a parking lot.

g. Central Features and Community Spaces. The project is to provide attractive and inviting pedestrian scale features, spaces, and amenities. Entrances and parking lot locations shall be functional and inviting with walkways conveniently tied to logical destinations. Bus stops should be considered internal parts of the configuration whether they are located on-site or along the street. Customer drop-off/pick-up points that may be provided should also be integrated into the design and should not conflict with traffic lanes or pedestrian paths. Special design features such as towers, arcades, porticos, light fixtures, planter walls, seating areas, and other architectural features that define circulation paths and outdoor spaces shall anchor pedestrian ways. Examples are outdoor plazas, patios, courtyards, and window shopping areas. Each development should have at least two of these areas.

h. Delivery and Loading Spaces. Delivery and loading operations shall be designed and located to mitigate visual and noise impacts to adjoining residential neighborhoods. If there is a residential use or residentially zoned adjacent to the site, such operations shall not be permitted between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. For good cause shown, the Planning Commission may permit deliveries at additional times provided the applicant submits evidence that sound barriers between all areas for such operations effectively reduce emissions to a level of 55 dB or less as measured at the lot line of any adjoining property. Delivery and loading areas shall be substantially set back from a residential use or residentially zoned property that is adjacent to that site. A landscape buffer of substantial width should be provided adjacent to the delivery and loading area where it adjoins residential uses or zones. The landscape buffer should include evergreen shrubs and/or trees plus deciduous canopy trees at regular intervals to provide noise, light, and visual screening. If the delivery and loading spaces are located within an enclosed building or underground, no such set back and buffer area shall be required.

Delivery trucks shall not be parked in close proximity to or within a designated delivery or loading area during non-delivery hours with motor and/or refrigerators/generators running, unless the area where the trucks are parked is set back at least 50 feet from residential property to mitigate the truck noise.

The delivery and loading areas shall be screened or enclosed so that they are not visible from public streets, public sidewalks, internal pedestrian walkways or adjacent properties. The screen shall be of masonry construction and at least 10 feet high, measured from the loading dock floor elevation, to screen the noise and activity at the loading dock.

i. Traffic impacts. The applicant shall have a traffic impact study prepared according to the Standard Traffic Methodology. In addition to the general standards of the methodology, the traffic impact study shall include weekend traffic generation and impact analysis. The traffic impact study shall also study intersections within [[a designated area]] an area designated by the Chief Transportation Engineer to take into account the regional traffic draw of a large-scale retail establishment.

j. Outdoor Lighting. The applicant must provide an outdoor lighting report which provides information on how outdoor lighting will be accomplished to minimize impacts on adjacent properties or roadways. Outdoor lighting should provide clear visibility and a feeling, of security. This can be accomplished by aiming the lights down and placing hoods on them. The light element should not protrude below the lower edge of the hood. To minimize any indirect overflow of light on adjacent residential properties, the height of any proposed parking jot light standard should be as short as possible and should stair step down to a lower height when close to residential uses or residentially used properties.

k. Ancillary Uses. The applicant must demonstrate that any ancillary uses such as tire shops or snack bars will not have negative impacts on adjacent residential uses, residentially zoned properties, or adjacent properties. Any ancillary use must be oriented to face away from any residential use or residentially zoned property that is adjacent to the site.

l. Noise Abatement. A noise mitigation plan must be provided that indicates how the noise initiated by the land use will be mitigated to comply with noise regulations applicable in the City of Rockville. The is noise regulation will include mitigation so that any noise on the property or in the building will not be heard beyond the property line of the development.

m. Landscaping. Each parking area shall be surrounded by a 10 foot wide landscaped area around its edge. Shade and ornamental trees are also required in the parking areas, with the amount and placement to be determined through consultation with the City Forester at the time of use permit review. In addition, if a lot contains over 100 parking spaces, an area of not less than 20 feet in the front of the site must be landscaped with berms, hedges, and/or walls to screen parking lots from the street.

 

SECTION2. Amend Article XIV, "Rockville Pike Corridor Area," Division 2. Special Requirements Relating to Use and Development, Section 25-710.22, "Development Standards" to read as follows:

Section 25-710.22. Development Standards

Development standards within the Rockville Pike Corridor shall be as set forth in the various zones in sections 25-311 and 25-332 of this chapter except that the following additional development standards shall apply:

(1)***

(2)***

Note :
Underlining
indicates material added.
Asterisks *** indicate material unchanged by this ordinance
Double underlining, indicates material added after introduction
[[Double brackets]] indicate material deleted after introduction

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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which partners with a wide range of allies to implement policies that counter concentrated power and strengthen local economies.