Petition Started To Move School Bus Depot

Petition Started To Move School Bus Depot

No solution in site for Derwood property slated for housing

| Published:

MCPS bus depot on Crabbs Branch Way

PHOTO VIA MONTGOMERY COUNTY GOVERNMENT

After more than a decade of discussion, Derwood residents are getting antsy about the county’s lack of progress in moving the school system’s bus depot from Crabbs Branch Way to make room for a transit-oriented community.

An online petition demanding the project move forward surfaced Monday, asserting the depot negatively impacts home values, discourages business investments, increases air pollution and creates unreasonable traffic.

“For too long Derwood has been treated inequitably, shouldering the burden of housing too many of the County’s unfavorable, but nonetheless essential operations,” the petition says.

The petition had 140 signatures by Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, county officials remain unsure about where the depot, home to about 400 buses, should go.

Adopted in 2006, the Shady Grove master plan, which includes the area of the depot, says the depot is to be relocated, along with the Planning Department’s park maintenance facility to “more appropriate sites,” and the school system could consider relocating the buses to multiple sites.

The plan is part of the county’s “smart growth initiative” created under former County Executive Ike Leggett that prioritizes replacing and modernizing public facilities and creating high-density communities near transit centers.

“The foot-dragging needs to stop, and I’m going to be unrelenting about this,” said Jeffrey Reznick, who started the petition. “I love my community, and now the county needs to prove they love it, too.”

Since the beginning, county officials have recognized the relocation would be challenging, according to the master plan, with strong opposition from communities that don’t want to see the associated increased traffic. Criteria set by the County Council says the new location can’t be in immediate proximity to a residential area, putting a serious strain on leaders to find a rural area large enough to house the fleet.

In a recent letter to Reznick, copied to other community members and county officials, County Executive Marc Elrich said he is “committed to exploring every opportunity to relocate the buses from the existing site.”

Elrich said he has contacted school system Superintendent Jack Smith to request his support and has directed the Department of General Services to “reinvigorate” efforts to develop options for relocation.

“Leaving buses where they are is not a good long-term solution and we are seeking a solution that does not simply recreate this problem in another community,” Elrich wrote.

The school system said in a statement it is committed to working with the county government to “find a workable location” for the bus depot.

Approved plans for the property include nearly 700 multi-family units, a 4-acre park and a school site. Development around the bus depot has been evolving for several years, with approval of 1,520 homes on the western section of the property near the Shady Grove Metrorail system.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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