Showing posts with label Brigitta Mullican. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brigitta Mullican. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2019

Rockville City Council race begins taking shape; Mullican declares

Twinbrook resident and former Rockville planning commissioner Brigitta Mullican announced her entry into the 2019 Rockville City Council race yesterday. She cites her extensive community service resume among her qualifications, including being a founder and past President and Vice-President of the Rockville Sister City Corporation, VP and secretary of the Twinbrook Citizen's Association, and member of the Richard Montgomery High School PTA and Booster Club.

Mullican is a graduate of Richard Montgomery, and an alumnus of Montgomery College and the University of Maryland, from which she earned a management degree. She says she will use her experience of working with government officials at all levels to "improve Rockville’s working relationship with both the county and state governments."

Among the issues Mullican plans to campaign on are school overcrowding, increasing the number of City Council seats to seven, and traffic congestion. She endorses Gov. Larry Hogan's plan for Express Lanes on I-270 and the Beltway. While she pledges to help small businesses in the city, she has misgivings about the appearance that elected officials are offering "selective bailouts" to some struggling businesses like Dawson's Market, but not to others.
Cynthia Cotte Griffiths
Mullican joins two other candidates who have declared for the Council race. Cynthia Cotte Griffiths is the Richard Montgomery High School's Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) President and editor of the former Rockville Central blog and Facebook page. With an extensive professional background in non-profits, she is currently Executive Director of DC-MD Justice For Our Neighbors in Rockville. Her top issues include transit-oriented development, economic development, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and requiring the Mayor and Council to appoint a new member if a vacancy opens.

Cotte Griffiths has been a commissioner on the City of Rockville Traffic and Transportation Commission since 2015, a past commissioner on the City of Rockville Human Service Advisory Commission from 2008-2014, a member of the 2009 City Boards and Commissions Task Force, a member of the City's Sesquicentennial Committee, and won a Good Neighbor Award from the City in 2006 for volunteer efforts in the community and at Ritchie Park Elementary School.
James J. Hedrick
James J. Hedrick is a member of the board of Rockville Housing Enterprises, and a Rockville resident since 2014. He is currently a Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) employee, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Twinbrook Citizens Association. After starting his career at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Hedrick worked as a consultant to local governments for several years. His firm advised towns and cities on budget, staffing, services, and strategic planning. He says he hopes to bring this experience to the Council.

Hedrick's top issues include better mobility connections among the different parts of the city, economic development, more diverse representation on boards and commissions, and environmental sustainability.

Expect the field to grow, and if you enter the race, send your press releases throughout the campaign season to Rockville Nights.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Southlawn business owners remain wary of industrial area study in Rockville

Business owners whose enterprises are located within the Southlawn industrial area, and in other currently-industrial parts of Rockville, are wary of the motives behind the Southlawn Industrial Area Feasibility Study now underway. Those concerns were expressed by some who attended the third public meeting on the study last night, at the Lincoln Park Community Center.

The study, which was supposed to have occurred years ago, was resurrected after a dust-up over a proposed self-storage facility next to Maryvale Elementary School in East Rockville. Residents protested, and the Mayor and Council ultimately voted to ban self-storage facilities within 250' of schools citywide.

That vote was "a very dangerous precedent," Rockville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Michelle Day said at last night's meeting. The ban now has industrial businesses citywide spooked that they will be next, Day said. Along with real estate redevelopment pressures, the sense that industrial is on the way out was palpable among some business owners who attended the meeting.
A business owner (far left) comments on
the Southlawn Industrial Area Study
last night in Rockville
"Where are the industrial businesses going to go, besides Frederick," the owner of an auto repair shop not far from Southlawn asked. Before moving to Rockville, he recalled, "I had an auto repair shop by White Flint. I paid $3000 rent" per month. The repair shop that took it over when he moved is now "paying $6000. Bullying somebody out because, 'I can make more money.' I know, because that's what they have done."

Susan Swift, Planning and Zoning Director for the City of Rockville, said "nothing's being proposed yet. These are facts and findings so we can move forward. There may be that nothing in these plans change; there may be a lot that changes. But we're not trying to pit one use against another. We really are trying to benefit everybody."

Residents said they didn't want the businesses to leave, either. One who was instrumental in getting the study revived said "I'm totally fine with [industrial businesses] existing. It's part of my community. I get my car repaired there."

Another resident noted that the residential neighborhoods in Lincoln Park and East Rockville were actually there before the Southlawn industrial area. But, she added, "I don't think the purpose of this is making change. It's so we can co-exist."

Brigitta Mullican, a candidate for Rockville City Council, said "it's important to indicate to business owners that this plan is not about pushing them out."

A landowner in Southlawn said there is far more demand for the warehouse space he currently offers to his tenants than for office space.

The fate of the industrial area will indeed partly be determined by the real estate market, which was a major focus of last night's study update.

Consulting firm VHB did a more detailed study of the market since the last meeting in June. VHB's Nancy Fox noted that the vacancy rate in the Southlawn industrial area had actually increased to 16% in the second quarter this year. Southlawn industrial rents are higher than those in industrial sites in the northern part of the county and beyond. But they are lower than those in the two industrial submarkets it straddles in Rockville.

Considering what other land uses might work in Southlawn did not turn up many promising alternatives. There is already too much vacant suburban office space for this to be an appealing location to build any more, Fox said. Retail is performing better around Southlawn, however, she said. The retail vacancy rate is 5.4% within a 3 mile radius of the study area, and 6.6% along the Gude Drive corridor. By comparison, the County's moribund office market has a 15% vacancy rate.

What kind of tenants might want to redevelop or repurpose industrial sites in Southlawn? Fox said gyms, recreational space, showrooms, retail warehouse outlet stores, biotech companies and business incubators all currently find such sites appealing. Not only do they need features such as high ceilings, space, and loading facilities, but the rents are far lower than in traditional commercial space.

VHB's Paul Mayer said the team has reached a few preliminary conclusions at this point, while stressing they won't make final conclusions and proposals before running them by the public for feedback:

  • Expanding land-use types is worthy of study, but not very optimistic
  • The current industrial uses have value both for residents, and the region as a whole
  • Better dialogue is needed between industrial businesses and nearby civic associations
  • Traffic calming measures are needed
  • But there is "limited ability to change traffic patterns" on public streets
Mayer said the next meeting will be in mid-to-late October, and that VHB will have completed a traffic study by then. It couldn't be done earlier, he explained, because school was not in session and that would have generated inaccurate traffic volumes.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Osdoby rumored to enter Rockville mayoral contest; new Team Rockville expected to announce tonight

Rumors have been flying since late last week that a new "Team Rockville" slate is being formed for the Mayor and Council elections November 3. Sima Osdoby has been said by several sources to be the new slate's mayoral candidate. There is no public confirmation of this yet, but The Seventh State  reported Saturday that she will indeed challenge incumbent Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton.

Speculation of a new slate picked up steam when incumbent Councilmember Virginia Onley announced that she would be making an appearance at the council campaign kickoff of former Rockville City Councilman Mark Pierzchala tonight.

Who else is rumored to be on the as-yet-unnamed slate with Osdoby, Onley and Pierzchala? Sources suggest they will be incumbent Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr, and Rockville Environment Commission Chair Clark Reed.

Any potential slate would square off against council challengers Brigitta Mullican, Richard Gottfried, and incumbent Councilmember Beryl Feinberg.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Backyard chickens to be legal in Rockville July 1

Which comes first, the backyard chickens or the election? It turns out, the backyard chickens, after the Rockville City Council passed an animal ordinance last night that would permit up to 5 hens in a backyard with several restrictions.

The update of the animal ordinance, which was spearheaded by Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr, had a number of elements that the Mayor and Council could agree upon. Those included registration of cats, and trap-neuter-release guidelines for feral cats. Councilman Tom Moore said he was "deeply impressed" by Palakovich Carr's work on the legislation.

But only one of their colleagues, Councilmember Virginia Onley, joined them to approve the new ordinance in a 3-2 vote that surprised few by the end of the discussion. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Councilmember Beryl Feinberg both voted against the measure.

Newton said the backyard chicken provision in the ordinance "pits neighbor against neighbor," and ignores the evolution of once-rural Rockville into a denser, suburban residential area. She argued there must have been good reason for a previous Mayor and Council to ban backyard chickens in 2006. "What kind of city do we want to be," Newton asked, but said that given the positives of the resolution she was "disappointed to vote against this."

Feinberg was the most vocally-opposed to the chicken provision, citing a long list of unanswered questions, health and safety risks, loopholes in the proposal, and not least, resident opposition.

She argued that the costs alone were troubling, saying she was skeptical that a $25 fee could cover all of the costs to the city. "I don't think we can make any assumptions" of how many residents would seek to raise chickens, she said. Feinberg said there were many potential loopholes and problems in the resolution, which she said would be compounded by the fact that the city does not have a regulatory body to shape regulations to implement legislation.

"Votes should not be cast...without some notion on how they will be implemented, Feinberg said.

Among unanswered questions for Feinberg were:

  • a lack of guidance on maximum coop sizes, potentially leading to "Taj Mahal coops" popping up in Rockville backyards

  • the potential for a resident opposed to chickens being surrounded by 15-20 of them on adjacent home lots

  • noise - Feinberg said comparisons of chicken noises to dog barks were "disingenuous"

  • not enough documentation provided to the Mayor and Council on complaints filed about chickens in other jurisdictions that allow them

  • feather pecking and cannibalism

  • avian flu virus

  • chicken waste contaminating ground water

  • salmonella risk to humans

  • frostbite and coop fires from non-compliant heating rigs for coops in winter

  • no specificity on breeds

Overall, Feinberg deemed the resolution a "far-reaching change" with lacking controls for implementation. She also said many residents were vehemently opposed to the chicken measure.

Palakovich Carr said emails to the city on the chicken issue were running 87 in favor and 88 opposed. How many of those writing were actually citizens of Rockville, Feinberg countered. Palakovich Carr said they all were residents.

"It's about the liberty of our citizens," Moore said. All of the surrounding jurisdictions allow chickens, he noted. To Feinberg's request for more data, Moore said, "We're never going to have a all the information we could possibly have." He noted the restrictions included in the ordinance would likely disqualify a majority of backyards in the city from having chickens anyway.

"We're not turning Rockville into farmland," Onley said.

Feinberg made a last ditch effort to delay implementation of the chicken provision until January 1, 2016. That would allow time for community outreach and education about how to raise chickens safely, and smooth the transition, she argued. "If you want this, let's do it right," she concluded.

Palakovich Carr suspected the amendment was simply a stalling tactic, to allow the next Mayor and Council to undo the ordinance before it could take effect. She asked Rockville Police Chief Terry Treschuk if the city would be ready to enforce the new ordinance on July 1. Treschuk noted that all such major changes require a grace period, and a "velvet glove on an iron fist." But he expressed confidence that the city would be ready. "We're ready when you are," Treschuk told Palakovich Carr.

Feinberg's amendment failed on a 2-3 vote. Newton cast the other vote in favor of the delay.

Along with the Council's recent loosening of the city's school capacity standards, the chicken issue drew strong responses from residents on both sides. Both votes will likely resonate in the city elections this November.

One of the few declared 2015 council candidates, Brigitta Mullican, attended the meeting and spoke in opposition to the backyard chicken measure.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Friday, February 20, 2015


Sign outside Mayor and Council debate
in October 2013
The 2015 election is underway in Rockville, as Brigitta Mullican has announced she is running for a City Council seat. Mullican, a retired budget analyst with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has run for the council and for the office of Mayor in the past. 

The Twinbrook resident has been very active in the city, serving as a Planning Commissioner, past president of the Twinbrook Civic Association, and most recently, as President of the Rockville Sister City Corporation.

Mullican's campaign has a Facebook page.

Winners of this year's election will be the first in Rockville history to serve 4-year terms, following a a charter amendment by the current Mayor and Council last July.

If you are interested in running for Mayor or a Council seat, a Candidate Information Packet is available now on the city's website. 

Candidates running who have press releases can send them throughout the campaign to Rockville Nights by email to robert1999 [at] hotmail [dot] com.

The filing deadline to run is Friday, September 4, 2015.