The Rockville City Council member who had been met with a fierce backlash for a proposal to raise school capacity at Richard Montgomery High School said he’s willing to pursue a different option to avoid a freeze on residential building.

The council voted 3-1 Monday night to delay a decision about a proposal to increase the number of students allowed at the school before a moratorium is triggered. Monday’s delay comes after an advisory group was unable to agree on recommendation for ways to address school capacity and development options.

For weeks, the council has been considering boosting the enrollment cap from 120 percent to 150 percent of the school’s capacity, a shift that some parents say would bring unacceptable crowding.

Councilman Mark Pierzchala, the council member who proposed the capacity increase, said he will vote next week for an exemption in a school-capacity rules test in order to avoid a construction moratorium.

The test calculates the number of students generated by a proposed development, students generated by projects already approved and expected enrollment five years in the future. If the total is more than 120 percent of a school’s capacity, a development application is denied.

The exemption would be limited to developments in the Rockville Town Center and South Pike district.


“For those of you who think it will hurt students, it won’t,” Pierzchala said.

Pierzchala originally proposed the higher capacity last year and was met with concerns from community members who say the proposal would have a negative impact on students’ education and mental health.

On Tuesday, Pierzchala stepped away from the idea of increasing the high school’s capacity to the exemption option, based on feedback from several community groups. If Richard Montgomery’s service area goes into moratorium, a proposed development at Rockville Pike and Halpine Road that would bring 11 buildings housing residences, offices and shops wouldn’t be allowed to proceed.


Stalling development in the city would be lethal to the economy, Pierzchala said.

Council member Beryl Feinberg proposed tabling the decision because the council received meeting information — totaling more than 1,000 pages –early Saturday morning and didn’t have adequate time to review.

The council will continue discussions with possible action at its Feb. 4 meeting.


Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at