Christian Noguera, a gastroenterologist, grew up playing with his neighborhood soccer club in Cordoba, Argentina. He created the Toca Juniors Football Club in Potomac for his son 16 years ago. The family-oriented, volunteer-run club that plays at local parks has thrived in Potomac, now offering some 20 teams for all ages (including teams for moms and dads) and clinics for little ones. “This is not a business,” Noguera said. “It’s to keep the community together.”
On Dec. 12, he hopes to get site plan approval for the creation of another soccer club at 3348 Big Woods Road. “I love the location of Big Woods,” he said, noting the property’s proximity to Urbana High and Urbana Middle School. Eventually he hopes that kids might walk or bike there, as the property adjoins the school property in the back—or, parents won’t have to drive very far.
This club, he said, will be for the Urbana neighborhood. Potomac is too far away for that group to use it, and “it’s impossible to build a community with people commuting.” The club teams, he said, while competitive do not require tryouts, and the focus is on development and building long-term relationships. The Potomac-based club has a 95 percent return each year. “It’s good for kids to have an identity to the club,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of friendships develop.” The club tells its players that their first priority is family, then study and then soccer. “Soccer is the fun,” Noguera said.
Noguera chose the Urbana location because “Urbana is a very strong community and thriving.” It also has a great sports program, he added. The proposed outdoor sports facility will feature four fields, four open-air pavilions, four parking lots, restrooms and storage—with a clubhouse added at a later date, according to Tim Goodfellow, Frederick County principal planner. Fields will be different sizes, Goodfellow said, with one illuminated for night use. They will be a combination of natural grass and artificial turf. Each field will have its own 50-space parking lot.
Noguera said he envisions a small club that gauges its growth to the Urbana community’s needs. “This is not a big project,” he said, “and we will build as the community gets involved.”
The property zoning is agricultural, and an outdoor sports facility is an allowed use in the Ag zone with site plan approval, Goodfellow said. Of the total 50 acres, .8 acres will be cleared with 1.6 acres of new forest planted. Per the Forest Conservation ordinance, 15 acres of forest will be put into permanent protected easement, he added.
Noguera said that the property is beautiful, and he would like to add other family-oriented features like a zip line so that siblings of players can go there and have fun in a safe environment.
A traffic impact study has been completed, and this anticipates 71 p.m. weekday peak-hour trips, Goodfellow said, based on full buildout. Toca Juniors will pay into an escrow account for intersection improvement. Part of this Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) mitigation is to contribute funds for signalization of the MD 355/Big Woods Road intersection.
“This club is for the Urbana kids and families,” Noguera said. “I want to build this club with the idea of my neighborhood club in Argentina.”
A staff report will be available on the Planning Commission website on Dec. 4. The project will be the subject of a public hearing on Weds., Dec. 12, 9:30 a.m. at Winchester Hall, 12 E. Church St. See the plan at www.frederickcountymd.gov/2023/Planning-Commission-AgendasStaff-Reports.