Updated – 11:35 p.m. – The post was updated to include comments from Ourisman’s land-use attorney Robert Brewer.
The Montgomery County Council will review a proposed deal between the county and Ourisman Honda next year after pushing it off the council’s calendar last week.
The county and the car dealership have been hashing out an agreement over the past year after the county determined that a portion of a new garage expansion encroached on a shared easement along the Capital Crescent Trail near Bethesda Row.
The county has offered to let Ourisman keep the three-story garage, much of which is already constructed. The dealership has to agree to make improvements in the surrounding area to compensate the county for its portion of the easement.
The council was scheduled to introduce a franchise agreement with the Bethesda car dealership on Dec. 12 to begin the review process, but it was taken off the council’s schedule.
County Council President Hans Riemer said Friday the item was removed because Ourisman had not agreed to the final version of the deal. He said the county’s executive branch agreed to it.
Riemer said the council would introduce the agreement for the council review once both sides agree to it.
Robert Brewer, a land-use attorney representing Ourisman, said Tuesday the dealership is continuing to negotiate with the county over the term of the agreement, which includes a new plaza, trail improvements and landscaping. He said the county has proposed a base term of 70 years, but the dealership wants a term of 100 years to prevent the issue from cropping up again for a significant period. He said the two sides are 99.7 percent in agreement.
“We think we’ve identified a solution that bridges the gap,” Brewer said. “We’re confident we can get it resolved in the next week or two.”
Brewer said after that portion is hashed out, he believes the council could take up the agreement in January and possibly approve it in February.
The agreement currently includes an estimated $1.4 million in improvements being offered by Ourisman, according to council agenda documents. Those include a 1,300-square-foot public plaza to be constructed near the intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues, new shoulders along the trail next to the dealership, new signage, additional landscaping and a screen on the garage structure to make it more visually appealing.
Ourisman also would agree to maintain the plaza and relinquish any claims it might have had to the shared easement, according to the agreement.
The council staff report included detailed images of the improvements:
One of three screening options for the garage.
The county’s director of permitting services, Diane Schwartz Jones, has said she believes the county will benefit more from accepting the improvements than trying to litigate the easement dispute in court.
During public meetings about the proposal, some residents have expressed their frustration that the county isn’t asking for more improvements or forcing Ourisman to tear down the garage next to the popular trail.
Site plan overview.
Another option for the garage screening.