Tuesday, February 3, 2015



Rockville's Mayor and Council voted 3-2 to ban self storage facilities located within 250' of schools last night, an action that will stop Siena Corporation's already-approved facility at First and Taft Streets in East Rockville. 

Nearby residents, and parents of children at the adjacent Maryvale Elementary School, have expressed concerns about pedestrian safety, crime, fires and even homeland security concerns, as cited by federal officials. Materials used in the 1993 World Trade Center and 1995 Oklahoma City bombings were kept in self storage units prior to those attacks.

Councilmember Tom Moore and Siena attorney Bob Dalrymple were having none of it. Moore has repeatedly asked Council colleagues to specify the perceived dangers, relative to other potential uses of the industrial site. He sought to delay the vote 30-60 days, to allow Siena to enter negotiations with residents to attempt a compromise.

Dalrymple was eager to do so. He implored the Mayor and Council to bring the citizens to the negotiating table, tell them to act like adults, and "work this damn thing out."

Suddenly, all of the previous public testimony and petition signatures were seemingly
back on the table again.

But only Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr was willing to support Moore's work group proposal. The substitute motion failed 3-2. "This is where you lose me," Councilmember Virginia Onley said to Moore. She said the city is always free to participate in negotiations between an applicant and residents, but that it is not the city's place to create the group, or force residents to negotiate. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said, "it is not up to the city" to compel residents to enter negotiations. 

Dalrymple's performance proved ineffective. He reversed himself while pleading his case, initially asserting that Siena had never threatened to sue the city if it passed the ban. "It wasn't just you," Newton countered, but a second Siena attorney, as well. Siena's threats were reported by several media outlets, including the Gazette:

Asked after the discussion if Siena will pursue legal action if the measure is approved, Robert Dalrymple, an attorney representing the company, answered in one word: “Absolutely.”

"We're not going to roll over," Dalrymple answered, reversing his earlier claim.

At times, the vote took on the trappings of a public hearing. Residents testified that Siena has been "kicked out" of at least two communities where they had sought to build facilities, and that they had not been forthcoming about fire and crime incidents at their properties. "If you had done your homework, you would know this as well," one said to Moore. East Rockville resident Kashi Way said Dalrymple's sudden interest in negotiations was "a stalling tactic," noting that Siena could have arranged such negotiations weeks or months ago. "They had our addresses, they know where we live," Way said.

Dalrymple argued that there were really only 3 residents opposing the facility. "It's not just 3 people," Newton countered, noting the large number of petition signatures gathered, and turnout at public hearings in opposition to the proposal.

The ZTA passed 3-2, with Newton, Onley and Councilmember Beryl Feinberg voting for, and Moore and Palakovich Carr opposed.


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  2. I think that is actually a pretty good idea. There have been a lot of problems in our country recently, and it's best to take all of these safety precautions. I wonder if there are already any storage units that they're going to have to tear down and move. I'm sure that the city would compensate them for that. http://www.cliveministorage.com

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