Hearing on Potomac Banquet Hall Delayed For Council Vote on Country Inn Bill

Legislation would place restrictions on building facilities in residential areas


Published:

The owners of Old Angler's Inn in Potomac want to build another facility next door.

Via Montgomery County Planning Department

A county hearing on plans to build a country inn in Potomac has been delayed pending a decision on proposed County Council legislation that could doom the project.

The county’s office of zoning and administrative hearings this week postponed discussion on the proposal to build a banquet hall and attached guest house near the historic Old Angler’s Inn. A hearing examiner was scheduled to take up the matter Sept. 25 but decided to put the meeting on hold for a council bill that would restrict the placement of country inns. The council legislation is set for a Sept. 12 public hearing.

Meanwhile, a Planning Board review of the project was also removed from the board's Thursday meeting agenda and pushed to an unspecified date.

The country inn plan has seen significant resistance from community members who say the proposed facility on MacArthur Boulevard would operate as a restaurant and bring traffic and noise to their neighborhoods. Mark and Sara Reges, who run the Old Angler’s Inn as a wedding venue and restaurant, submitted the plans to build the 8,700-square-foot venue with four overnight rooms.

Neighbors have advocated for the council proposal to allow country inns in residential areas only if they are next door to a more rural zone. The Potomac property in question is surrounded by residentially zoned land, and planning staff have said the legislation would block the Reges’ project.

Late last month, the project’s critics filed a motion to delay the hearing examiner’s review of the case. Anticipating the council would vote on the country inn restrictions in October, they argued that holding a hearing prior to a potential legislative change would be “an enormous waste of time, energy and resources,” the hearing examiner’s opinion stated.

The project applicants contend that the hearing should go on as planned, since it could help council members understand the issues at play. However, hearing examiner Lynn Robeson did not find the argument persuasive.

“The Applicant’s primary complaint is that the public hearing is needed to educate the District Council on potential benefits of country inns. The Applicant has many means available to educate the Council on this,” Robeson wrote.

The planning board’s role in the approval process is to make a recommendation to the hearing examiner, who then decides whether the project can move forward.

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