What is Reasonable?

You and I know what’s reasonable, just hope that nobody asks us to define it.

The Council gave guidance to NDC, the selected Takoma Junction developer, that reasonable accommodation should be given the Co-op for continuing operations of their business. To the outsider, this may in itself seem strange. Here’s a little history.

When the Co-op moved from Sligo Avenue in 1998 and into its current storefront in Takoma Junction, they had just initiated a lease for a property that did not fully meet their needs. There is a parking lot to the left of the building, however, the community wanted them to make deliveries through the other side of the building. The Co-op Board negotiated an agreement with the City of Takoma Park that allowed deliveries through the public parking lot on the right side of the building.

Now, years later, the Co-op rents space on the city parking lot for Co-op staff parking, location of trash dumpsters, a storage shed and a narrow strip of land along the right side of the Co-op’s building for deliveries. Customers frequently park on the city parking lot, but that is not part of the space the Co-op rents.

As planning for the current development project has progressed, I have always envisioned that it would be reasonable for us to continue to rent the same amount of space to the Co-op on the city property as they have rented from the city in recent years. This would accommodate their staff parking and trash storage needs as well as deliveries. For example, when NDC didn’t plan for the Co-op’s trash needs, I argued that it must be included in the project. I have also worked to ensure that Co-op customer parking is reasonably available as part of the project’s parking lot.

I thought that offering the Co-op the same amount of space after the development as they have been renting was reasonable. Listening to the Co-op Board’s protests, I now realize that the Co-op has been using far more of the parking lot than they have rented. They describe multiple delivery trucks using the lot daily for deliveries and trash removal. This is a major part of the sticking point with the Co-op and led to the much debated lay-by design. NDC contends the lay-by design will reasonably accommodate Co-op deliveries, but the Co-op insists they need far more of the property dedicated to deliveries.

Hopefully, mediation will help both parties agree on what is reasonable, so that you and I don’t have to define it.


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