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Jehovah’s Witnesses fighting to expand facilities in Rockville Posted By Editor On October 9, 2013 @ 10:58 am In News

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[1]Congregation worried that historic designation could block building plans

Members of a Rockville Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses are asking the mayor and council not to zone their property as historic, because it could prevent them from expanding their worship space.

The mayor and council held a public hearing Monday on whether to designate 628 Great Falls Road as historic.

The Rockville, Maryland, Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses owns that property and two adjoining addresses. It has proposed building an assembly space onto the back of the property while maintaining the house.

The West End Citizens Association and the Rose Hill Falls Homeowners Association have been trying to block any expansion on the property over concern that too many institutions are moving into the neighborhood or expanding facilities.

A neighbor nominated the property for historic designation, but the congregation opposes the designation because it might prevent the expansion.

Historic designation would mean that the Historic District Commission would have to review any building plans for the property.

The commission cannot rule officially on whether the new building would be allowed unless the property is actually designated as historic.

Congregation members said Monday that the commission did a courtesy review of the plans, and they were under the impression that the building would not be allowed to proceed as currently proposed if the property receives historic designation.

The commission has said the house is a good example of the types of homes built in Rockville during that time period.

The house on the property was built in 1925, according to mayor and council documents. Recently, many of the people pushing for historic designation have focused on a community of free African Americans who owned the property and some of the surrounding properties in the 1800s.

The Bessie Hill House at 602 Great Falls Road also is associated with the black kinship community, as it is commonly called, and already has received historic designation.

The house at 628 Great Falls Road was built after the black kinship community sold the property to someone else. Proponents of the historic designation have argued that it should be protected in part because having a residence on the property carries on the tradition of residences that were actually part of the kinship community.

At the hearing, Tim Ramsburg said the house was abandoned before the congregation purchased it in 2008 to expand in the future. In the meantime, the congregation has made repairs and maintained the house. A missionary currently lives in the home.

Ramsburg has attended services with the congregation for 40 years.

He said the new structure is planned to be about 3,700 square feet with a seating capacity of 135.

Ramsburg said plans have been redesigned several times to allay the concerns of homeowners in the area. One revision kept the house intact.

“Each time an objection was raised, we tried to work with that objection,” he said. “…We’ve tried to have good will. We’ve tried to work with the community. But at this point, we’ve done everything that we know … to do.”

Ramsburg said the congregation is not sure it could build a new facility if the property is zoned as historic. Another member of the congregation said they could have to revise their plans to build a smaller facility or to reduce parking, which would create more traffic problems for the neighborhood.

The Historic District Commission and the Planning Commission have recommended designating the property as historic. The public record for comments on historic designation will remain open until Monday.

Article written by Elizabeth Waibel on Gazette.net


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Interesting article Missy.,.my husband and I used to be in Rockville when we originally remodled

a house on the property...there was always opposition to Witnesses in that area..if it is Jehovah's will

their project will move forward ~ Tim was a young boy..sure takes me back in time! I grew up in Bethesda, Md.

Jehovah is "walking upon the wings of the wind" PS. 104:3b


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We will have to wait and see how this all comes out.


It did remind me of something that happened near me some time back. The County Hospital had been there for many, many years. They would buy up nearby property when it became available to expand - it was an ongoing situation.


They had bought the property where an old high school had been and tore everything down and built a multi-story doctor office building.


The county sold the hospital. The new company continued the expansion. There were also two other hospitals in the town plus a VA hospital. One of the other two hospitals were the ones who bought the old county one.


There were several old houses on the rest of the block where the doctor office building is. By this time there started to be a move toward "Historic Buildings" in the city .... so, the hospital managed to buy all the old houses on the block so they could expand the doctor offices in the future. However, since the houses were from the turn of the century, they tore them down as fast as they could before anyone could try and declare them historic.


Funny thing is, the new company that bought the hospital decided it was no longer needed and closed it. The old hospital has now been demolished, and no other doctor offices were ever built on the property.

"Let all things take place decently and by arrangement."
~ 1 Corinthians 14:40 ~

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