Kevin Karton Maryland 0

No 100+ School Bus Depot In Our Neighborhood

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PETITION: We, the undersigned citizens of Montgomery County, MD, hereby petition the Montgomery County (MC) Council (the Council) and the MC Board of Education (the Board) to stop the currently proposed plan to relocate approximately 100 school buses to the Carver Educational Services Center Parking lot (Carver) at 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, MD and to seek an alternative interim location for these buses as part of its solution to the impending relocation of the Crabbs Branch Way (aka Jeremiah Park) School Bus Depot.

DEMAND FOR ACTION: For the reasons cited below, we oppose the actions of the Council and the Board to relocate these buses to Carver. We demand that the Council and/or the Board authorize full and adequate studies to be performed by qualified outside individuals on the impacts to the community as was proposed in the memo to the Council by its own Council staff on February 6, 2015. Such studies should be made available to the public and be funded from the already approved $1.725M in funds from the “Fiscal Year 2016 Supplemental Appropriation (for Interim Solution— Shady Grove Transportation Depot Replacement at Carver Educational Services Center).”

We further demand that the Council and Board find an alternative solution and location that excludes the use of Carver and that the Council delay the Declaration of No Further Need (DNFN) that closes the existing Crabbs Branch depot until such time that an alternative location to Carver is found.

CAUSE AND CONCERN: The relocation of 100 buses to Carver will have a material adverse effect on the quality of life and property values for all of us who live within the surrounding neighborhoods and the city of Rockville. Specifically:

  • An increase of over four hundred (400) school bus trips (plus several hundred personal trips by bus drivers and employees) per day in an already heavily congested area. State Road 355 and the intersection of Mannakee St. are already at or above capacity. (Source: A. Morton Thomas and Associates: traffic study commissioned by/for Montgomery College and submitted to the City of Rockville on March 16, 2015). Nelson and Mannakee Streets are one-lane roads, lined by residences and cars and a bike lane and are not designed for substantial bus traffic.
  • A significant increase in noise levels that the County estimates will begin as early as 4:30 a.m. and will exceed existing County noise ordinances. Many residences share a common property line border with the proposed bus lot, some within 50-100 feet of the Carver Lot and several others within 150 feet. The disabled live-in residents and their caregivers at the Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children (CSAAC) reside within 50 feet of the curb of the Carver lot and will be exposed to noise and bus fumes above acceptable levels as will others in the neighborhood.
  • A significant increase in the emission of diesel fumes as buses idle and prepare to exit Carver within close proximity to residences and Montgomery College. The County has noted the impact of fumes and bus lights on surrounding residents when considering environmental impacts of buses at high schools (Source: memo dated February 7, 2013 to the Education Committee of the Council). No such studies for Carver and the impact of 10x as many buses have been done.
  • The creation of a bus compound at the entrance to our neighborhood surrounded by the necessary high security fencing that will create a blot on our neighborhood’s landscape. This is one of the very reasons that bus depots are generally located away from residential areas. It will decrease demand for housing in our neighborhood and reduce residential home values.
  • No attempt to model or otherwise assess these impacts has been done by the Council or the Board. A memo to the Council by its staff (dated February 6, 2015) outlining partial relocation solutions including the Carver Lot option stated [highlight and italics added] that “none [of the relocation options] has been fully studied and all have significant unknown factors and possible concerns that would need further analysis and review.” No such analysis and review have taken place. We find no evidence that the Council and Board have sought to model the traffic impacts, noise impacts, environmental concerns, aesthetics and effects on historic district zoning.
  • Appearing before the Board on December 8, 2015, Mr. James Song, Director of Facilities Management (for the Board), stated in response to questioning that “many studies” on the feasibility of using the Carver lot had been performed. We find these statements to be seriously misleading to the Board and the community. We find no evidence of any such studies.
  • Other alternative sites have not been fully explored. In their haste to develop the Shady Grove corridor, the County and School Board have failed to consider the many detrimental effects of their decision to relocate 100 buses to Carver on the citizens who live within the neighborhoods adjacent to and surrounding Carver.
  • Commercial land developers were tasked with submitting acceptable bus depot relocation solutions in their proposals as part of the County’s Request For Development Proposal (RFDP) (Source: JLL RFDP: pages 5 & 6) and failed to do so. The needs, wants and shortcomings of private developers at Shady Grove have been placed ahead of the well-being of the citizens in our neighborhoods.
  • The decision to relocate these 100 buses to Carver has been misleadingly advertised as an interim solution in a deliberate attempt to make the plan more palatable to the community. However, the statements of Mr. Song on December 8, 2015 to the Board and the actions of the Board and Council indicate that this solution is of an undefined term that may exceed ten years, may be part of a permanent solution and may also be the first step to the construction of a multi-level bus and car garage at Carver.

SUMMARY: For petition to the Council and Board and in demand for the actions requested and for the reasons cited, we, the undersigned as residents and eligible voters in Montgomery County, MD, respectfully submit this document.

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