A very significant item on the agenda of tonight's Rockville Mayor and Council meeting (7:00 PM at City Hall) is the appointment of two citizens to vacant seats on the Rockville Planning Commission. Those who fill the seats could well determine the outcome of the Rockville Pike Plan, and the future of the city's APFO.
Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio, who has been critical of plans to promote urban density in suburban Rockville, has had mixed success with her previous appointments. While Marcuccio has had the opportunity to completely shift what has, in recent decades, been a pro-development body, there is still not a solid majority in opposition to the Pike Plan.
If one were to place bets on the 5 sitting members' potential Pike Plan votes, well, that would be difficult.
Only Jack Leiderman is a likely NO vote. David Hill and John Tyner II are likely YES votes, if the changes they've suggested are approved.
But Dion Trahan and Don Hadley have yet to reveal their hand. Both have been skeptical of the urbanization concept the plan represents.
2 YES, 1 NO, 2 UNKNOWNS.
Enter 2 new members:
Mayor Marcuccio has nominated Charles Littlefield and Anne Goodman. Both are skeptics of the Pike Plan. Littlefield served on the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance committee in 2011, and issued his own Minority Report that dissented against attempts to weaken the ordinance.
In his report, Littlefield made clear that he feels a strong APFO is essential to protect residents from out-of-control growth:
"As a member of this Committee I witnessed an aggressiveness on the part of certain developers, elected officials and public planners to push through large-scale residential development regardless of public opinion. The impression they made on me left me firmly convinced that Rockville's APFO/ APFS should not be weakened. From the perspective of a Rockville resident/ homeowner, the APFO 'evens the playing field' between everyday citizens and organized, connected and financially powerful developers. Without this tool, it would be virtually impossible for citizens to stop an undesirable development project from occurring and negatively impacting our quality of life."
Goodman also expressed concern "about the potential for weakening the APFO to allow more development" in her Pike Plan testimony.
While Marcuccio and Councilmember Bridget Newton owe much of their political support to voters who favor limiting growth and building heights, councilmembers Tom Moore and Mark Pierzchala are running (for council and mayor, respectively) on a more aggressive development platform.
It could be a contentious meeting tonight, as a result.
If approved by the council, could strong arguments by Littlefield and Goodman lead to a 5-2 or 4-3 defeat for the Pike Plan? Can they get majority support tonight, with outgoing councilmember John Hall as the potential deciding vote?
Intrigue! Suspense! Stay tuned!