County Planning Board Withholds Support For Proposal to Build New Inn Next to Old Angler’s Inn
Potomac restaurant operator wants to construct four-bedroom inn with banquet space
Via Old Angler's Inn
The owner of the historic Old Angler’s Inn in Potomac has hit another setback in his quest to construct a companion building with a banquet hall and four overnight guest rooms.
On Thursday, the Montgomery County Planning Board decided not to support Mark Reges’ request to open a 9,000-square-foot country inn after members found they lacked enough information to give his proposal a full evaluation.
The proposed development project on roughly 7 acres along MacArthur Boulevard in Potomac has generated significant community pushback, planning staff reported. Though Reges has downsized and tweaked his plan several times, surrounding neighbors, cyclists and others are still worried the proposed building would bring traffic and noisy celebrants to the sensitive area, just outside the C&O Canal National Historical Park.
“This is not a quaint, rustic auberge nestled in the woods implied when you hear the phrase ‘country inn.’ It is, rather, a banquet facility for weddings, bar mitzvahs and anniversary parties,” Rod Mackler, first vice president of the C&O Canal Association, told the board.
Reges and his wife, Sara, contend their country inn would sit three football fields away from the nearest homes and would be constructed to muffle noise. Compared to other options for development, building an inn would allow them to conserve the bulk of the wooded property and minimize the area’s disruption, they assert.
The new building would be similar in design to Old Angler’s Inn, the restaurant Reges’ family has managed for six decades. The historic inn originally opened in 1860 and offered lodging to travelers heading to Washington, D.C. In more recent years, the inn has functioned as an eatery, beer garden and wedding venue.
When Reges initially submitted his development plan in 2015, he wanted to build an eight-room inn featuring a ballroom. He later scaled that back to four bedrooms and lowered the banquet hall’s maximum capacity from 240 to 160 guests.
During the meeting, county planners said Reges’ development request has merit, but they must subject it to a heightened level of scrutiny because his property borders the national park. They said they weren’t able to complete their analysis because several pieces of information—such as an acoustic report, forest conservation plan and sight distance evaluation— arrived too close to the hearing date, giving them little time to review the materials.
Reges’ attorney, Jody Kline, argued the board now has all the information needed to back his client’s plan. However, he asked the board at least to recommend a deferral on a decision rather than an outright denial.
The board’s recommendation will now go to the county’s office of zoning and administrative hearings. A hearing examiner is set to review Reges’ proposal Feb. 24.
Board Chairman Casey Anderson said the board’s letter to the examiner would explain that the denial recommendation was based on information gaps and doesn’t necessarily reflect members’ appraisal of the project.