Showing posts with label Bridget Newton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bridget Newton. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rockville election results 2019

Newton reelected,
Rockville Forward slate
takes voting majority

Unofficial Rockville election results for Mayor and five City Council seats were released by the City of Rockville at 1:29 AM this morning. The numbers currently show incumbent Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton being reelected, and the Rockville Forward slate taking a voting majority on the City Council. Unofficial winners for City Council are Monique Ashton, incumbent Beryl Feinberg, David Myles, and incumbent Mark Pierzchala. 

Ashton and Feinberg ran on the Rockville Forward slate with Newton. With the Mayor having equal voting power to a Councilmember, that would give Rockville Forward a 3-vote majority, and control of the direction of the city for the next four years. Myles and Pierzchala ran on the Team Rockville slate.

This was the first vote-by-mail election in Rockville, and the City announced heavy turnout at the end of the voting day Tuesday, as well as a largely-expected increase in voter participation. 12, 213 ballots were cast by mail or at City Hall. The City cited the increased number of ballots as the reason for the delay in election results Tuesday evening.

The new voter universe appears to have broken the voters' seeming preference for divided government over the last decade. In recent past elections, voters wanted Newton as Mayor, but gave Team Rockville a 3-vote majority. Newton has sought to manage the city's growth, while Team Rockville favored a more-agressive urban density. This year, voters seem to be comfortable with the direction Newton has charted, and have rewarded her with a Council majority.

Having said that, slates don't always work out the way they are expected to. Team Rockville City Councilmember Virginia Onley, who ran for mayor against Newton Tuesday, broke with her slate to side with Newton and Feinberg on some votes. Seeing how each member votes on particular issues in the coming term will be interesting to watch, especially newcomers Ashton and Myles.

The election results will be certified on Tuesday, November 12.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Rockville mayor schedules public meeting on future of Rockville Town Square

Rockville City Hall is in crisis mode after the announcement that Rockville Town Square retail anchor Dawson's Market will close at the end of this month. The bad news followed the exit of another major restaurant tenant, Mellow Mushroom, the previous week. Dawson's failure has given at least the public perception that the property is taking on water in a big way at this point - fair or not. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton has now scheduled a public meeting on the future of the Federal Realty development, which was the keystone of the city's revitalized town center when it opened a decade ago.

In her announcement of the meeting, Newton said Dawson's Market was "an incredible community partner, and I am very sad to see them close. It came as a shock to me as well.” The meeting will be held next Tuesday, October 9, 2018 at 7:00 PM in the Buchanan Room at VisArts at Rockville Town Square.

The city has had many discussions over the years about the high turnover of tenants at the property, and a parking system that has infuriated patrons and tenants alike. With many high profile closures, including original tenant Toy Kingdom last year, action may finally have to be taken to stop the bleeding.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Noise, traffic, dust, lack of community engagement top concerns about proposed East Rockville asphalt crushing plant

About forty Rockville residents, community leaders and City officials attended a public hearing last night, regarding the asphalt crushing plant proposed for 14900 Old Dover Road in East Rockville. Natalia Luis, Chairman and COO of applicant M. Luis Products, Co., and company President David Slaughter said locating the plant in Rockville would eliminate 5000 annual truck trips through the city. Nearby residents expressed concerns about noise, dust, odors, traffic and a lack of notification of the proposed plant.

The crushing plant recycles asphalt, which can be up to 30% of the material mixture M. Luis uses as road surfacing. Luis said the firm limits recycled asphalt to 30% because using much more than that would produce weaker material that would not meet the company's high standards for durability. She said that as a small, family-owned firm, M. Luis has difficulty obtaining a steady, sustainable supply of recycled material, so it is "better to do it ourselves." M. Luis is currently the only women-owned, minority-owned asphalt business in America, and has received recognition from Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump in recent years.

Slaughter told attendees that M. Luis currently has to either crush asphalt in a cramped space at their property on Southlawn Lane, or send it as one of those 5000 truckloads to a crushing plant in Laurel. He said they leased the Old Dover Road site from the current junkyard tenant, and have cleaned it up, getting rid of tractor trailers, cars and auto parts languishing on-site. Slaughter added that M. Luis would like to buy the property in the future, if possible. Luis expressed pride in the appearance of the company's other properties and promised this one would be held to the same standards.

The plant would have two full-time employees, and crush about 60,000-70,000 tons of recycled material annually, Slaughter estimated. A new crushing machine has been purchased by the company. He and Luis said they will make every effort to require trucks coming and going to use Gude Drive instead of N. Horners Lane through the adjacent residential neighborhood.

Residents were most concerned that they, and their civic associations, had not been alerted by the company about the proposed plant. Alexandra Dace Denito, VP of the Lincoln Park Civic Association, said she and the association received no notice of last night's hearing, nor of a previous meeting in March. "I find it disturbing there has been no outreach to the community," resident Susan Clemons said.

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton suggested to the Maryland officials presiding over the hearing that the state add a new requirement that future industrial applicants contact City officials including the City Manager, appropriate department heads, and all residents within a 2-mile radius of a proposed site. She noted that over the decades, the City has "not done a good job protecting this neighborhood. There's more we can do."

One Lincoln Park resident criticized the company for not considering what else is around a site they plan to operate on. She discounted the promised reduction in truck traffic, saying they would still have to contend with trucks cutting through the residential neighborhood to reach the site. Slaughter and Luis both promised to do everything they could to enforce the Gude-only access policy. Newton urged them to not only forbid trucks to use N. Horners, but to stipulate that in their subcontracting contracts, which would help the City enforce the ban.

Another resident said her main concern was seeing or hearing the plant. Slaughter said there is no odor from a crushing plant, only from an asphalt manufacturing plant. Luis explained there is no dust issue, because the liquid asphalt has already bound and encased the solid material in the mixture. She said dust complaints at the company's former Baltimore site were actually caused by an adjacent concrete plant, which a City Councilman mistakenly blamed on them.

Dace Denito said she lives just slightly over 1000' from the proposed plant site, and already suffers from the daily impacts of other industrial businesses nearby. She asked the company to consider that there is an elementary school nearby, as well as a heavily-used community center.

"What is the worst case scenario?" asked Suzan Pitman, President of the East Rockville Civic Association, regarding potential air pollution disasters at the future plant. She gave a fire as an example. Many scientists live in the neighborhood, Pitman said, and they have been warning of potential air pollutants in such a scenario. 

An air quality specialist with M. Luis said that while vapor can be emitted from burning asphalt, scientists currently do not consider such emissions as a cancer-causing agent. She added that the EPA recently delisted asphalt plants from the federal "major sources of air toxins" list.

Since some objections and concerns were raised during the hearing, the state will now review those comments and produce a report responding to them. Parties of record will be notified of the report, and it will also be announced in a local newspaper. If the resident concerns are found to be legitimate in the state's view, the permit will not be issued. If the state finds the concerns without merit, they will issue the permit for the plant, and residents can file a legal challenge to the permit in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Rockville mayor to lead Maryland Municipal League next year

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton has been elected the next president of the Maryland Municipal League, and will serve as president-elect until her term of office begins in June 2018. Newton has served on the organization's Board of Directors since 2012, and was previously the president of MML's Montgomery County chapter from 2012 to 2015.

The league represents Maryland’s 157 towns and cities at the state government level. "I’m humbled to represent municipalities across our great state,” Newton said in a statement. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the City of Rockville to champion local government in Maryland.”

Newton also serves in leadership roles at the regional level, on the Board of Directors at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and as the current elected chair of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board.

Friday, May 12, 2017

New development aims to "fill the gap" between Metro and Rockville Town Square

Developer Foulger-Pratt unveiled its plans for a mixed-use development at 220 E. Middle Lane at a public meeting last night at Rockville Town Square. An 85', 230000 SF mixed-use building will include 240 rental apartments, and about 8000 SF of ground floor retail. BKV Group is the architectural design firm for the project, which will sit between Federal Realty's Rockville Town Square and Foulger-Pratt's two Class-A office buildings, Rockville Metro Plaza and Rockville Metro II, on what is currently a surface parking lot.
Foulger-Pratt SVP Dick Knapp
introduces the project team
at VisArts last night
Foulger-Pratt Senior Vice-President Dick Knapp said the project is designed to "fill the gap" between the Rockville Metro station and Rockville Town Square. Ground-level retail, landscaping and amenities will be utilized to activate what is currently a dead stretch of E. Middle Lane. "To the extent E. Middle Lane is activated," Knapp argued, "it's going to make that connection between the Metro and Town Center that much better." 
The existing site of the
future apartment building,
looking northwest from
E. Middle Lane
Knapp said the theme of filling the gap expanded, after the company met with Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, and City Councilmembers Julie Palakovich Carr and Mark Pierzchala.

"We got a lot of excellent feedback from those three," Knapp said of those elected officials. In direct response to their input, he said, new elements were added to the project that fill needs for the city. Knapp said that Foulger-Pratt has agreed to Newton's request for family-size, 3-bedroom units. As a result, 11% of the MPDUs in the building will be 3-bedroom units, a longtime housing priority for the mayor.

Those 3-bedroom MPDUs will rent for only $1400-a-month, Knapp said. 1-bedroom MPDUs will run as low as $1000, and 2-bedrooms for $1335-a-month. He predicted market-rate units in the building would be similar to The Upton across the street. Studios would likely start at $1500-a-month, 2-bedrooms at $2300, and 2-bedrooms with dens at $2500.
This existing vehicle
access to nearby buildings
will be preserved under the
future building
The building construction will be wood-frame atop a concrete base, with 6 levels of residential over parking and retail. In order to preserve access to the existing parking for both The Palladian and the Foulger-Pratt office buildings, as well as to the existing loading docks, a sizable garage entrance will be located on E. Middle Lane. On the right side of the building, an "urban grotto" will provide pedestrian access to the office buildings and parking.

Aerial view of the site,
with future building at
center in white
In the garage entrance on the left side near HSBC Bank, there will be a Capital Bikeshare station, a map of parks and trails in the city, and a bike repair station with tools and an air pump. Knapp credited Palakovich Carr and Pierzchala, both cycling advocates, for suggesting those amenities. Out front, there will be cafe seating potential, if a restaurant tenant ends up leasing space there. The building will wrap around a central courtyard, which will feature a pool. Environmental features will include a green roof, a green panel along the building's frontage, and a bio-retention facility.

Closer view
(click to enlarge)
As Phase 3 of Foulger-Pratt's development of this site, the project has existing approvals from the City of Rockville. But that approval was for a 100' office building, not residential. The applicant will have to file, and get approval for, a project plan amendment to make the change. Barbara Sears, the applicant's attorney, said the project already complies with the city's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. Bill Robinson, a civil engineer with VIKA working on the project, said the team believes the existing water main at E. Middle Lane and Monroe Street - which flows south toward City and Montgomery County government buildings - is adequate for the new sewer demands this project will represent. If during the process they find otherwise, they will be prepared to address that, he said.

Sears said school capacity is "adequate under the test" now applied under the city's updated APFS. Students living in the new building would attend Beall Elementary, Julius West Middle School and Richard Montgomery High School.  The target demographic for the project includes "singles and couples in the technology field," and empty nesters, Knapp said. Foulger-Pratt anticipates both groups will find the "lock-and-leave" services the company will provide as the property manager appealing. He said the company plans to hold on to the property for the long-term.

Tree-lined path pointing
NW at right is the
"urban grotto"
Both Sears and Knapp suggested traffic would be lighter under the residential use than the original office proposal. There will be 1.2 parking spaces per unit, Knapp said, as well as capacity in nearby garages. He noted that hundreds of spaces were available in the adjacent Maryland Avenue garage at Rockville Town Square, when he pulled in last night. "We're going to provide plenty of parking, I assure you."

The interior bike station
accessible from E. Middle Lane
Montgomery County's moribund private sector economy continues to drag down demand for office space. No major corporation has relocated to the County in two decades. Foulger-Pratt's Phase 3 office project seems to be the latest victim. County officials eager to get rid of office parks favored by biotech and defense firms have tried to spin the office vacancy crisis, arguing that only office space near Metro is viable.

Vehicle and bicycle access
from E. Middle Lane
Foulger-Pratt's real-life experience suggests otherwise. The company tried to attract an anchor tenant for the third office building, steps away from Metro, Knapp recounted, but there were no takers. He said demand is hurt further by the large number of vacancies south of Rockville, in places like White Flint and downtown Bethesda. "Bethesda has a lot of vacancies," Knapp said. Rather than continue to sit on the property, he said, the company decided to switch gears and develop as residential. Duball, LLC has its own residential project that will be directly across the street. Knapp announced that construction on that project should begin next summer.

Courtyard with pool
Construction was on the minds of nearby residents who attended the meeting. Noise and dust were immediate concerns for residents of The Palladian at Rockville Town Square, which is directly adjacent to the Foulger-Pratt site. One resident of that building was concerned that the E. Middle Lane access for Palladian residents to Garage B would be cut off when Maryland Avenue closes for events. A representative of the architecture firm said the design will maintain that vehicle access. He said they are working closely with Federal Realty on that issue, as well as on making the side of the building that will be seen by Town Square patrons walking between the development and the garages, appealing. Residents of the new building will have elevator access from that side. "We are looking closely at that design. It's a challenge."
Town center residents also expressed strong opinions on current retail, and potential tenants for the new building. Knapp said project planners were making locally-owned retail and restaurant tenants a priority, but some residents dissatisfied with limited options said they would welcome a chain grocery store or market. "This place is so dead," said a resident of the town center. Dawson's Market is too small and specialized, she said, and the closest full-size grocery store is "the most pathetic Giant I've ever been to." The resident said she had moved north from White Flint, and noticed the difference in retail options. "I miss Harris Teeter," she said.
View from E. Middle Lane
The resident suggested a more mainstream grocery market as the tenant for the 8000 SF of retail space in the new building, far less than typical grocery stores require. "It's one thing to make money," she said. "It's another thing to say, 'Here's some trees, here's a place to sit, and here's a market.'"  Knapp said the technical term for what she wanted was "small format grocer." He assured the woman her market suggestion "will be in the minutes" of the meeting. Another resident disagreed with having a chain, saying he preferred Foulger-Pratt's original concept of attracting local tenants.
A resident who lives across E. Middle Lane from Rockville Town Square lamented the vacancies in that development. He suggested that adding residents from the new building to the area would help. "We need more residents here...who can shop here," he said. Knapp agreed. "Town Center needs support."

That support is still nearly five years away, however. "It's going to take awhile," Knapp acknowledged of the timetable. He said groundbreaking is two years away, and that it will take about two years to construct the building. Sears predicted the project's Pre-Application Submittal would likely be filed "toward the end of the month." Next up, will be informal presentations to the Planning Commission and Mayor and Council, followed by the formal approval process and public hearings before both bodies.

With the announcement of a Japanese steakhouse as the future ground-floor tenant at Rockville Metro II next door, the entire block between MD 355 and Maryland Avenue could be fully-activated at street level by 2021 or 2022.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Rockville Mayor elected chair of National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton was unanimously elected Chairman of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board for 2017 on Wednesday.  The TPB includes representatives of local governments, state transportation agencies, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and members of the Maryland and Virginia legislatures, and prepares regional plans and programs for approval by the federal government. Without those plans and approvals, the region cannot receive federal funds for important projects and programs.

Newton is completing her fourth term on the TPB, and served as its vice-chair this past year. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, a member at large of the Maryland Municipal League (MML) Board of Directors and served as president of MML's Montgomery County chapter from November 2012 through May 2015. She is in her sixth term on the MML Legislative Committee, of which she was appointed committee chairman in June 2015.

"I am honored and humbled to serve as chairman of the TPB in 2017," Newton said in a statement yesterday. "As a regional, long-range planning board, the TPB has a unique responsibility for thinking across jurisdictional boundaries and decades into the future. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues from across the metro area to address our region's long-term transportation needs."

Newton's election to this key leadership position gives Rockville and Montgomery County an important seat at the table, as critical transportation policy decisions are made for the D.C. region.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cost, impact on residents top concerns on Veirs Mill BRT options

Rockville's Mayor and Council were briefed on the options for bus rapid transit service on Veirs Mill Road between Rockville and Wheaton at their meeting last night. The project options range from doing nothing, to a "Cadillac" option (Alternative 5B) that would give BRT dedicated lanes in the center of the state highway - but carry a price tag of $289.4 million.

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala, a BRT supporter, was not convinced that option would be worth the money for the modest transit ridership boost the Maryland Department of Transportation claims the line will produce.

The loss of left-turns at many intersections was another concern for Pierzchala, as that would impact residents trying to get around their own neighborhood. Given the cost and disruption of the Cadillac option, Pierzchala said he is more comfortable supporting Alternative 3, which would provide dedicated curb lanes for BRT "where feasible."

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton suggested that cutting corners with BRT would fail to produce world-class results for passengers, and for economic development. She warned against trying to "nickel and dime around the edges" of a major project. At the same time, Newton said she was very concerned about the impact on residents and homes along the route. Houses and businesses along Veirs Mill are threatened with demolition to various extents, depending upon which alternative is chosen.

Newton also urged that any extension to Montgomery College of the service reflect the actual hours classes are held on the Rockville campus.

MDOT is scheduled to make its final BRT recommendation by the end of this year.

Photos via MDOT

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Rockville mayor elected to Maryland Municipal League board

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton has once again been elected to the board of directors of the Maryland Municipal League, a non-profit association that represents 157 municipalities and 2 taxing districts across the state. Newton was also again named chair of the association's legislative committee. She will serve as a member at-large on the board.

Newton is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and is currently serving as First Vice Chair of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Burden of Rockville water and sewer fees debated by Mayor & Council

A property owner facing $7000 in water and sewer fees from the City of Rockville even after rebates testified before the Mayor and Council during last night's Community Forum. During an FY-2017 capital budget worksession later in the meeting, Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said the city's increases in such fees are "unsustainable." Particularly hard-hit, Newton said, are those residents on fixed incomes such as seniors.

Newton has asked City staff to consider the possibility of transferring revenue from a cell tower atop a City water tank to the sewer fund, rather than its current flow into the General Fund. Councilmember Mark Pierzchala said that would not provide sufficient revenue to allow a reduction in fees. Newton said that $50,000 annually adds up to a significant amount over time.

Like the WSSC, Pierzchala said, Rockville is being forced to spend large amounts to update aging water and sewer infrastructure. "It's what we have to pay to have clean, safe water," he said.

A ring that is planned for installation atop the tank will allow for more cell towers to be installed. Acting City Manager Craig Simoneau said that would provide opportunities for additional revenue.

Pierzchala warned that moving the cell tower revenue out of the General Fund would mean taking money from something else in the budget. Newton replied that the difference is there are more sources of revenue for the general fund, while water fees only draw money from ratepayers.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rockville Mayor and Council discuss FY-17 budget priorities

Rockville's budget season is officially underway, and a preview of the FY-2017 budget was presented to the Mayor and Council at last night's regular meeting by Deputy Director of Finance Stacey Webster. Some information will not be available until the February 8 meeting, including whether or not tax increases - such as the property tax - will be necessary.

But if the Mayor and Council accept the general outline presented by staff last night, there would be a 5-6% increase in trash fees, and a two-cent hike in what commercial property owners at Rockville Town Square pay toward the parking fund annually. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton asked what that spike in trash fees would cost the average Rockville resident. Webster said it would be about $20 to $25 out of residents' pockets in FY-17. She said a number of factors led to the suggested increase, including a renegotiated city refuse agreement, new vehicle purchases, and labor costs.

Finance Director Gavin Cohen said the Rockville Town Square parking tax hike would cost property owners there about $12,000. He added that the new revenue would help cover the installation and adoption of "smart" parking meters.

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala, known for being well-prepared for meetings, identified a discrepancy in the newest unassigned reserves figure for FY-17. He noted it was now below the target established in the FY-16 budget. Webster explained that the number had to be revised due to new concerns about revenue, particularly in light of the Wynne decision and the recent mistake by the Maryland Comptroller's office in allocation of revenues to municipalities such as Rockville. The latter gaffe means the City will likely have to return an unknown amount of funds it mistakenly received from Annapolis.

In the context of those concerns, Webster said, she did not recommend the City reduce the property tax at this time. Councilmember Beryl Feinberg asked her colleagues if there was any inclination among the body to pursue a property tax reduction or credit for FY-17. There appeared to be no takers. Pierzchala said he was not only concerned about the factors Webster mentioned, but about the increasing forecasts of another national recession.

Webster said that Rockville is in a position to keep water and sewer fees flat this year, but cautioned against reducing the amount of unassigned reserves. She said the money that would free up would likely be outweighed by the negative message such a move would send to bond rating agencies, upon whom staff had impressed last year's increased commitment to reserve funding. Webster said those agencies expect the City to continue on that course to retain its prized Aaa bond rating.

With the recent election having just passed, the Mayor and Council also sought to deliver on promises made during the 2015 campaign. Newton noted that the Rockville Senior Center is in urgent need of both a full-time social worker, and a dedicated staff member who can help manage the aging-in-place Village programs being established across the city. She also pressed for one of her top priorities, increasing the number of police officers in the city. Newton said Rockviille's population, demographics and law enforcement challenges are not what they were 30 years ago. Rockville Police Chief Terry Treschuk concurred with the Mayor's comments. "It's time we had a frank discussion about the Police Department in this city," Treschuk said, "and lay it all on the table."

Pierzchala said he was hesitant to add signifcant numbers of new officers without first examining how current personnel are deployed and other efficiency options. Newton and Treschuk's remarks suggested that such analysis would be part of the overall discussion. But Newton argued that additions to the force are clearly warranted, with Rockville officers answering over 70% of calls within the city last year. She said Montgomery County officials have told her the efforts of the Rockville Police have allowed County Police assets to be redeployed to other priorities.

Feinberg brought up another proposal supported by several candidates last fall, the construction of additional recreation centers around the city. She suggested Potomac Woods Park as a prime location, because it already has utility lines running out to it, and existing recreational facilities in place.

Newton encouraged residents and staff to come forward with needs that could be addressed in this budget, saying it is important that the document reflect their priorities while maintaining the City's sound financial management.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rockville Mayor elected first vice chair of regional transportation board

Rockville may have more input on regional transportation decisions, as Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton has now been elected first vice chair of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB). This will be Newton's fourth term on the body when she assumes the FVC role in January. The board makes planning and project decisions that determine federal financial support for local transportation priorities.

Newton is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and a member at large of the Maryland Municipal League (MML) Board of Directors. She served as president of MML’s Montgomery County chapter from November 2012 through May 2015. Newton also serves as the chair of the MML Legislative Committee.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Former Rockville councilman decries "awful" campaign tactics

Former Rockville City Councilman Jim Marrinan, who served on the Council from 1991-1999, condemned a last-minute attack mailing that contained false accusations against Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton during Community Forum at last night's Mayor and Council meeting. Saying it was the worst political behavior he had witnessed in 40 years in the City, Marrinan suggested the tactic backfired, as evidenced by Newton's overwhelming victory on Election Day.

Marrinan termed the mailer, sent out by the mayoral campaign of Sima Osdoby and emblazoned with logos of the Team Rockville slate, "awful."

Later at the meeting, the newly-sworn-in Mayor and Council held a public hearing to start the process of annexing the former CarMax property near the Shady Grove Metro station into the City. The site is at 15931 Frederick Road (MD 355).

Councilmember Mark Pierzchala questioned why the street between the CarMax site and the new Bainbridge Shady Grove apartments wasn't being included in the annexation. The street is currently owned by WMATA.

Planning commissioners had criticized the planned apartment building at the site for including no retail to activate the streetscape around it, or reduce driving by residents. They did ultimately recommend the proposed annexation plan.

Attorney Pat Harris, representing the developers 355 Partners, LLC and Frederick Road, LLC on the project at 15931 Frederick Road, said that the high ceilings and windows of the building's ground floor will allow future retail build-out if the retail market improves.

The Mayor and Council also discussed legislative priorities for the upcoming 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly, such as school construction funding, and scheduling meetings on the topic of parking at Rockville Town Square. Parking problems have been blamed for recent business closures there.

Newton said she would like to include landowner Federal Realty in an upcoming worksession, and take action on the matter before the holiday shopping season gets fully underway. However, last night's scheduling discussion made it unclear that such timely action on the issue would be possible.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Newton reelected Mayor of Rockville; Team Rockville takes 3 of 4 Council seats - 2015 election results (Photos)

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton
addresses supporters after
winning reelection last night
Incumbent Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton crushed challenger Sima Osdoby Tuesday night, easily winning reelection with 64.85% of the vote. Osdoby's Team Rockville slate colleagues fared far better in their City Council races. Incumbents Julie Palakovich Carr (12.50%) and Virginia Onley (11.44%) won, as did challenger and former councilmember Mark Pierzchala (11.68%).
A jubilant Newton supporter
celebrates as the Mayor's
big win is announced
Councilmember Beryl Feinberg bested all of the Team Rockville winners with 14.36% of the vote, and was the only independent Council candidate to win last night. The independent candidates were within winning distance though, with Richard Gottfried the top vote-getter among them at 10.25%. These election results are being termed "preliminary results" by the City.
Newton's campaign manager
and husband, Fred Newton,
welcomes the crowd
Council candidate Patrick Schoof (10.07%) managed to finish just behind Gottfried, despite being relegated to "Page 2" on the Early Voting machine ballot; how much his and Council candidate Clark Reed's (9.51%) vote totals were affected by that unfair circumstance remains to be determined.

The other two Council candidates, Brigitta Mullican (10.04%) and David Hill (9.83%) were not out of the running by any means. This was a fairly close election in the Council races.
Newton arrives at her
post-election party at
American Tap Room in
Rockville Town Square
But voters still chose a divided government, and Newton and Feinberg acknowledged in their victory speeches that all of the winners will have to work together to be successful.
Beryl Feinberg accepts
the microphone from Newton
after winning reelection
to her Council seat
"Two years ago, Beryl and I found out we were sisters," Newton told supporters at a post-election gathering at American Tap Room in Rockville Town Square. "We have found a way over the past two years to come together, to work together."
Former Mayor Jim Coyle
arrives at the party
In thanking her husband and campaign manager, Fred Newton, Bridget Newton promised this would be her last election in Rockville. Fred Newton found himself under attack from the Team Rockville slate in the final week of the campaign, an attack that culminated in an election-eve hit piece mailing that included false accusations against him, Bridget Newton, and Rockville Planning Commission chair Don Hadley.
Fred Newton hands the
microphone to Bridget Newton
after announcing the
election results to the crowd
Bridget Newton grew emotional as she described her husband's efforts as campaign manager while juggling an out-of-town work commitment, and the false charges lobbed by opponents. "He's been working his tail off," she said, "and probably of anybody, he's taken it the hardest. He's got my back."

Of the last-minute smear campaign, centered around a now-infamous mailing that carried an Osdoby authority line but also Team Rockville logos, Newton said, "The last 24 hours have been a low point, probably, in Rockville politics. I have never seen anything like what hit your and my mailboxes yesterday."

Pledging the controversy over that mailing is "not over," Newton said, "You cannot say those kind of things and not have anything happen." Hadley has already warned Osdoby and Seventh State blogger David Lublin that they may be responsible for damage to his professional name and reputation as an attorney.

"Don Hadley was maligned yesterday," Newton added. "I hope people realize that you cannot do that type of thing and just walk away."

Who all the players behind the mailing were is not yet clear, but Newton's supporters were anxious to find out. The hit mailing that arrived in voters' mailboxes Monday may also have impacted the results. Not only was Newton's win resounding, but the nasty mailing may have turned off some voters from voting at all.
Feinberg was the top
vote-getter on the Council
Of the 40,749 registered voters in Rockville, only 6,343 (15.57%) voted last night and during the Early Voting, or by absentee ballot. Turnout was actually higher in 2013 at 16.62%, and there was much hand-wringing after the election about that low number. Whatever efforts were made to address that have clearly failed.
Newton and former
Mayor Larry Giammo
Despite the negative political atmosphere, Newton pledged that "we are moving forward with the leadership of this city. We are going to move this city forward in a very positive way." In addition to thanking her staff and supporters, Newton also thanked the independent Council candidates.
Coyle and fellow past
Mayor Steven Van Grack
confer as they await
election results
She also congratulated the winning Team Rockville candidates. "Together we can do this. We can make this a great, great leadership team," she vowed.

Feinberg agreed, telling Newton, "You and I found a fantastic way to work together." Referring to her legislative priorities, Feinberg said, "I have a laundry list at home, so I have to call Bridget probably tomorrow to talk about what I want to work on." Budget and purchasing issues would be at the top of that list, she predicted.
County Councilmember Sid Katz
Both Newton and Feinberg expressed interest in holding a Mayor and Council retreat as soon as possible, to foster a better working relationship among the incoming body, and set "rules of the road."
Council candidate Patrick Schoof
and former
Councilmember Anne Robbins
Among a long list of independent candidates and VIPs at Newton's event were former Rockville mayors Jim Coyle, Steven Van Grack and Larry Giammo; former Gaithersburg Mayor (and current District 3 County Councilmember) Sid Katz; state delegate and 8th District Congressional candidate Kumar Barve; former City Councilmember Anne Robbins; City Council candidates Hill, Schoof, Gottfried, and Mullican; Hadley and Planning Commissioners Jack Leiderman, Charles Littlefield and Gail Sherman; former planning commissioner Dion Trahan; and former Montgomery County Public Schools administrator and County Council candidate Fred Evans.
Council candidate Brigitta Mullican
Rockville Planning Commissioner
and Council candidate David Hill
All of last night's winners made history, as they will be the first Mayor and Council to serve a four-year term.  The new Mayor and Council will be sworn in during an inauguration ceremony at 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 15 at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, at 603 Edmonston Drive. Their first meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 16.