The Rockville City Council found that a property at 628 Great Falls Road merits historic designation Monday night.
A long-simmering controversy over a single family home, and the possible expansion plans of its owner, Rockville Maryland Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, has generated more historical findings at every turn. The most compelling argument has been the discovery that the property was part of an African-American kinship community located around today's I-270/Falls Road interchange. Among citizen groups backing historic designation were the West End Citizens Association, and the Rose Hills Falls Homeowners Association, led by former mayor Jim Coyle.
Those opposing historic designation said the bar has to be very high to designate a property over the owner's objections. Councilmember Tom Moore said he felt that bar was not met in this case, and quoted his colleagues' past statements expressing unease over such hostile designations.
Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio responded that her vote would be consistent with her strong belief in property rights, saying once those rights are violated, what rights does a person have?
Councilmember Mark Pierzchala made a motion in favor of historic designation, and it was seconded by Councilmember John Hall.
After some discussion, Pierzchala's motion passed, 3-1-1.
Pierzchala, Hall, and Councilmember Bridget Newton voted in favor of the motion. Moore voted against it, and Marcuccio abstained.