Showing posts with label meeting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meeting. Show all posts

Friday, January 10, 2014


The Rockville Historic District Commission meeting that had been scheduled for Thursday, January 16, at 7:30 PM at City Hall, has been canceled. No reason was given.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Changes to the Citizens Forum at Rockville Mayor & Council meetings are on the agenda at tonight's Mayor & Council meeting at City Hall.

Possible changes include the ability of citizens to utilize a new document camera, to enhance their presentation.

They also could include a step towards restoration of dialogue during Citizens Forum, setting time limits on council questions and citizen answers. This would replace the recent policy of the council not engaging the speaker directly, but commenting during a formal response time when all citizens have completed their testimony.

This would be an improvement, as the current format allows councilmembers to slam a citizen after his or her remarks, but does not provide that citizen the opportunity to rebut the accuracy of the official's statements.

Other changes include putting the 3-minute time limit in the policy, allowing the mayor to remove disruptive citizens and encouraging citizens to submit written testimony.

Of course, written testimony is always preferred by politicians, as the live, public setting of Citizens Forum draws more attention, and can bring out other citizens who would otherwise be unaware of an issue. Best to keep such controversies "off-line."

But that defeats the whole purpose of Citizens Forum. Just as the current ban on back-and-forth dialogue reduces accountability, and puts the citizen at a disadvantage, with elected officials guaranteed to get the last word.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


The Rockville Mayor and Council initiated what could be a long and contentious discussion on what revisions - if any - should be made to the city's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) last night.

So far, the legislators were diplomatic in tone, despite taking opposing positions. For engaged citizens, the most intriguing councilmember to watch in this controversy will be John Hall. Given that Hall owes much of his electoral success to his work on the APFO and citizens who support it, most assumed he would be part of a 3-vote bloc (along with Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and Councilmember Bridget Newton) to rebuff any watering down of the regulations.

But some votes Hall has cast on housing and development during his latest term have puzzled his supporters. One resident who supports the APFO expressed concerns that Hall has gone "wobbly" on the responsible-development approach that won him the seat.  And some suspect Hall may attempt a Grand Compromise on the APFO before the summer is over.

If that is Hall's intention, he was not laying his cards on the table Monday evening.

Hall's primary concession, as councilmembers laid out their individual priorities on the APFO, was to allow that the city probably cannot control its destiny regarding school overcrowding. He suggested the council "move beyond that particular revision." Hall argued that the revisions should "ensure the APFS is entirely consistent with the APFO" to avoid legal action against the city.

He also suggested that "annexation development is no different from other development in the context of the APFO."  If Hall has any compromises in store, he was playing them close to the vest last night.

Mayoral candidate and councilmember Mark Pierzchala took a different tack. "I would just dump the APFO," he began frankly.

Favoring a more muscular approach to development, Pierzchala called the regulations "problematic," citing the recent
"traumatic experience" of the state attempting to reduce the city's role in planning decisions.

The city should at least make its APFO in line with the county's, Pierzchala argued. Supporters of the APFO have said they feel the city's APFO offers greater protection to residents than the county's.

But in Pierzchala's view, the ultimate problem with the APFO is that "we're trying to solve a political problem with a policy solution."

Current Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio cited the high stakes and substantial work ahead on an issue that will shape the city no matter which side prevails. "We have a big, big meal to feast on here tonight, she said.  Rockville is buffeted by "incredible pressure [for] development and redevelopment," and declared there "has to be some plan of action."

If Rockville doesn't "ensure the infrastructure can support" future growth, the "survival of the city as a good place to live" will be in question, she argued.

Marcuccio warned that, without an adequate APFO, property owners will "build it to the max. That changes the quality of the city." The city cannot "let them do whatever they please" and remain the attractive community with superior amenities it is today.

"If the goal is only to allow for more development, then we have lost our way...driven by dollars," the Mayor said.

She later added that traffic and transportation are the "dominating" issues facing Rockville, particularly with the growth in Science City.

Councilmember Newton concurred with Marcuccio's sentiments. While the city must take the county's positions into account, "good for us is not always good for the county," Newton said.

Citing calls for more bars and liquor at the county level, Newton argued "we have nightlife" already in Rockville.

Newton listed her goals as adding "additional tools" to facilitate  "development we want to see,"
establishment of a "Village Green" similar to Gaithersburg, "get a better handle" on Montgomery County Public Schools' notoriously off-target enrollment projection methods, and, above all, to
"leave Rockville better than when we started."

Newton and Marcuccio strongly disputed claims that children won't live in the many apartment buildings projected to be built in the city over the next decade.

Councilmember Tom Moore expressed concern that, under the current APFO, "we do not have the power to do a waiver" for school requirements even if the city feels it is an exceptionally good project.

Rather than focus on goals for the APFO, Moore suggested the council ask itself, "What goals do we have for the city?"

The council will likely take up the matter in greater depth at its July 1 meeting. A public hearing would follow. However, any APFO changes must go to the city's planning commission first.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


The Rockville Planning Commission meets tonight at 7:00 PM at City Hall. Second on the agenda is a public hearing on the revised draft of the Rockville Pike Plan.

This is your chance to speak out. Do you like Rockville Pike the way it is, as a successful suburban commercial area? Or do you support the Plan's idea to urbanize the Pike with dense, mixed-use development?

Make your opinions known tonight.

First on the agenda, is a request from First Baptist Church at 55 Adclare Road. They are asking for a one-year extension for their church addition.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Expect a barrage of numbers at tonight's Mayor and Council meeting at 7:00 PM at City Hall.

It's budget time again.

Aside from a presentation of the budget for the next fiscal year, the meeting agenda includes a six-figure bid on police cruisers, an election law change to allow candidates to withdraw their candidacy, and a proclamation of "Earth Hour."

You can watch the meeting on Channel 11, or online.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Yes, an infamous Star Trek villain was invoked, and a citizen created some very minor drama, at last night's meeting of the Rockville Planning Commission at City Hall.

The final bell is tolling for the venerable retail center at 1592 Rockville Pike, home to Radio Shack, Fuddrucker's and Pier One. I'll be sorry to see it go.

In the near future, the property will most likely be known as Twinbrook Metro Place, and will rise over its namesake community at around 150 feet.

Last night, the applicant, Twinbrook Partners, LLC, presented its site plan to the Rockville Planning Commission.

One initial complaint by a speaker was that notification procedures had not been followed.  Unable to get the answer he wanted from city staff, he turned to the applicant's attorney, Heather Dlhopolsky, reminding her, "You're under oath!"

Planning commissioners corrected him, clarifying Dlhopolsky was not under oath.

Later, the same man rushed to the podium and interrupted commission deliberations on the project, prompting Chairman Jerry Callistein to respond, "You're out of order."

The building that will front to the Pike has a glass facade, which raised concerns about glare among some commissioners.

Beyond that, there was a question as to how well this fits in with 1-2 story structures nearby.

Commissioner Jack Leiderman found the proposed design "very different in architectural character" from its surroundings.  Leiderman pressed for design changes throughout the meeting, saying the city would not want to end up with a "Borg cube" in the middle of Rockville Pike.  He also questioned how the contrast in aesthetics would create a "sense of place."

Commissioner Dion Trahan asked planning staff if the site would be part of the region's growing bikesharing network.

City Transportation Planner Rebecca Torma said there are no plans for a Twinbrook bike sharing station. However, the project does have around 200 bicycle parking spaces.

Commissioner David Hill wanted to know if it was feasible to retain street trees along the Pike.

Assistant City Forester Elise Carey noted sidewalk expansion there will require removal of street trees.

Commissioner Don Hadley inquired as to how many street trees would be subject to removal.

"5," responded Carey.

Twinbrook Civic Association President Christina Ginsberg pointed out that Tilden and Farmland public school parents should be notified of development along this stretch of the Pike, as they are two schools that will have to accomodate children who live in these buildings.

A majority of the commission concluded that the site plan was worthy of approval, but requested two conditions: that the building  facade facing the Pike be altered to fit less-imposing city design requirements, and that any compartmentalizing of on-site parking facilities be approved by city staff.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The Rockville Planning Commission meets tonight at 7:00 PM, in the Mayor and Council chambers at City Hall.

Before the public meeting, commissioners will meet in a closed, executive session to discuss Rules of Procedure.

On the agenda tonight, is a site plan application from PEPCO,  for several "green" structures.

There will also be a discussion of the Municipal Growth element of the city's Master Plan.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


The Rockville City Council had issues with two vacancy appointment decisions proposed by Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio at last night's Mayor and Council meeting.

Three councilmembers, John Hall, Tom Moore and Mark Pierzchala, declined to support one of Marcuccio's nominations for the city Board of Supervisors of Elections, activist Drew Powell.

Powell has been a longtime opponent of developer influence in city and county elections, and was an outspoken critic of individual candidates' campaign finance activities in the 2011 city election.

Was this political payback, or simply a desire to explore other candidates, as some councilmembers suggested?

It has been established practice for mayoral nominations for appointments to be honored.  The fact that Marcuccio raised objection to that protocol as a councilmember in previous years was raised.  Marcuccio did so, but then-Mayor Susan Hoffman still prevailed in having sole power of nomination.

Thus the rejection of Powell was unusual.

Councilmember Bridget Donnell Newton joined Hall, Moore and Pierzchala later in the meeting in endorsing the reappointment of Kate Ostell to the city Planning Commission. Ostell is a longtime commissioner whose term actually expired last summer.

Marcuccio suggested it was time to add fresh blood to the commission. The four councilmembers disagreed.

This appointment is highly significant, as whoever is appointed will cast a powerful vote on the Rockville Pike Plan, on which billions of dollars in developer profits hinge.  Marcuccio has been critical of the plan, and her appointment could complicate approval of what appears to remain a developer-friendly document. Others feel Ostell's experience and involvement in the lengthy Pike Plan process add value to the commission's final deliberations, which will follow a public hearing on it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


A public meeting regarding the redevelopment of 702 Rockville Pike will be held on Tuesday, March 5, at 6:30 PM in the Mayor & Council chambers at Rockville City Hall.

The redevelopment concept will be detailed, and questions will be fielded from the public.

This project dates back for many years, as I recall.