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APPROVED: Meeting No. 15-97
MAYOR AND COUNCIL
Meeting No. 10-98
March 9, 1998
The Mayor and Council of Rockville, Maryland, convened in General Session in the Council Chamber, Rockville City Hall, 111 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland on March 9, 1998, at 7:31 p.m.
Mayor Rose G. Krasnow
Councilmember Robert E. Dorsey
Councilmember James T. Marrinan
Councilmember Glennon J. Harrison
Councilmember Robert J. Wright
In attendance: Acting City Manager Julia Novak, City Clerk Paula Jewell and City Attorney Paul Glasgow.
Re: Welcome to Lara VandeWalle
Mayor Krasnow remarked that a reception was just held in the lobby to welcome Lara VandeWalle, the new Executive Director of the Greater Rockville, Inc. Partnership.
Re: Acting City Manager’s Report
1. Last week, 3,200 homes in the Twinbrook community were sent a direct mailing with an update on the Street Tree Master Plan and information about the need to remove a significant number of trees that are in hazardous condition.
Also included in the mailing was information on the Twinbrook Recreation Center project. Groundbreaking on the Twinbrook Recreation Center is anticipated in August of this year, with a grand opening to follow approximately one year later.
2. Residents of Aintree Court turned out to select a landscaping scheme for the Storm Water Management retrofit project. Landscaping options were selected by residents, and this project is a good example of how the City is working hard to foster public participation. After three public meetings that explained the project's environmental goals and allowed for discussion of engineering and landscaping details, it appears that we have public consent to proceed with construction of the met marsh. A general mailing will be sent to residents and interested citizens that will include the project schedule and contact numbers at City Hall.
3. The Mass Transit Administration submitted 85 percent of their plans for improvements to the Rockville Train Station, which will include an elevator and other measures to improve disability access at the station.
4. On March 25, the Human Rights Commission will hold its meeting in Room 223 of the Gudelsky Building at Montgomery College. Interested residents are invited to attend the meeting to discuss any human relations concerns they see in the City.
5. The spring leaf collection will start on March 30 and conclude April 10. Residents should consult the Refuse Guide for the schedule in their area
Upon motion by Councilmember Marrinan, duly seconded by Councilmember Wright and unanimously passed, Bruce Noble, Jr. was appointed to the Historic District Commission.
Re: Presentation by Girl Scout Service Unit #2 in Rockville.
Marcia Myers (Daisy Troop #3368), Jessica Harting (Brownie Troop #2548), Catherine Yedinak (Cadette Troop #2420) and Chole Shannon (Junior Troop #97) passed out cookies to the Mayor and Council and audience. The Scouts were accompanied by Jim Bates and Debbie Brimmer, Service Unit Manager of the 22 Girl Scouts troops currently registered in the City of Rockville. Ms. Brimmer reported on recent Scout activities and she thanked the Mayor and Council for their help in accomplishing the Scout’s goals. Miss Yedinak then administered the Girl Scout Promise to Mayor Krasnow.
Re: Citizens Forum - This time is set aside to hear from any citizen who wishes to address the Mayor and Council. Each speaker will be limited to 3 minutes for items not on the agenda.
1. Terry Baker, 30 Orchard Way, speaking as a member of the Recreation and Park Advisory Committee and Swim Center Advisory Subcommittee, expressed the Board and Subcommittee’s support for the 1998-99 Fee Authorization schedule for the Rockville Municipal Swim Center.
2. Stan Klein, 7 Lorre Court read a letter that he sent to Editors of a number of local periodicals, expressing concern about the Montgomery County Senate Delegation’s approval of the Heller Bill (MC 807-98). The Bill would prevent the use of a State right-of-way to relieve traffic on Montrose Road. Mr. Klein also shared some excerpts from an e-mail exchange he had with a Takoma Park resident leading a group that was in support of the Heller Bill.
3. Sima Osdoby, Resident New Mark Commons displayed a copy of the March issue of Washingtonian Magazine which featured the City of Rockville in a "Best Places To Live" article. Peerless Rockville’s Executive Director, Eileen McGuckian was interviewed for the article.
4. Gail Wisen Muren, 3 Gerard Court speaking as President of the West Rockville Citizens Association, submitted petitions from the Association’s residents asking that the Mayor and Council review the process in which speed humps are installed and consider a different alternative to the problem of speeding.
Re: Response to Citizens Forum
(a) Speed Humps - Councilmember Marrinan remarked that speed humps were taking on an increased controversy between those persons in favor of them and those opposed to them. He said that efforts were being made to look at alternatives, but sometimes the alternatives did not work on many of the streets. He said that speed humps were viable alternatives that needed to be considered in an array of alternatives, and he agreed that a review was needed of the impact on speed hump streets and on neighboring streets. He also suggested looking at the criteria used for deciding how speed humps are installed.
Councilmember Wright said that a complete study was needed on whether there was some advantage to using stop signs as an initial effort to control speed, compared to installing a speed hump.
(b) Montrose Parkway Issues - Mayor Krasnow said that the points raised by Mr. Klein were very real. The City’s process was just getting underway with a consultant study on the issue. She also said that the Heller Bill had a good chance of passing and if it did, Rockville’s efforts might be too late.
Re: Presentation by John Moser on the first half of the Legislative Session in Annapolis.
Mr. Moser reported that there were 35 days left in the Legislative Session. To date, a total of 1395 House Bills and 778 Senate Bills have been introduced. He then updated the Mayor and Council on his activities in Annapolis and said that he was tracking approximately 56 bills for the City of Rockville. He noted the following specific pieces of legislation:
(a) Heller Bill - He discussed his efforts on behalf of the City to defeat this Bill and he urged the Mayor and Council and residents to contact their legislators to urge the defeat of the legislation before it comes before the Montgomery County House Delegation for a vote on March 13. Staff was asked to put together a quick strategy for instructing Mr. Moser on how to proceed.
(b) Rockville’s Bond Bill - This Bill was introduced last year. Although the hearing was held, it has yet to be scheduled for a discussion or a House Delegation vote. It comes before the Budget and Taxation Committee on March 19.
(c) Priority Liens Bills (for condominiums and homeowner associations) - Intensive lobbying is needed. The Chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee and the Banking Industry are very opposed to the Bill.
(d) Group Homes Bill - This is being amended, and the Chairman of the House and Environmental Matters Committee is asking for support from the appropriate departments on getting this passed.
Mr. Moser said that legislation introduced by the Maryland Municipal League included: the incorporation of municipalities process; improperly registered motor vehicles; architect signatures and seals; and property tax settlements in municipal incorporations.
Councilmember Harrison raised the issue of a bill which he said was supported by some members of the District 17 Delegation. The "Religious Freedom Act," is an attempt to exempt religious institutions from local zoning authority requirements. The Mayor and Council agreed that such a bill would have an impact on neighborhoods. Upon motion by Councilmember Marrinan, duly seconded by Councilmember Harrison, and unanimously passed, the Mayor and Council went on record in opposition to all bills that would exempt religious institutions from zoning and land use controls. Staff was directed to draft a letter to the appropriate legislators expressing the Mayor and Council’s opposition to the pre-emption. Mr. Moser was asked to express the Mayor and Council’s concern about the bill to the District 17 Delegation.
Re: Consent Agenda
Councilmember Marrinan requested removal of Consent Agenda Item A. Upon motion by Councilmember Wright, duly seconded by Councilmember Harrison, the following Consent Agenda items were approved:
(B) Award of RFP #45-98
To: Rhodeside & Harwell, Inc.
Of: Alexandria, VA
In the amount of: $59,947.70
For: King Farm Parks Master Plan
(C) Award of Bid #49-98
To: Paul J. Vignola Electric Co., Inc.
Of: Upper Marlboro, MD
In the amount of: $29,000.00
For: Senior Center Lighting Replacement.
(D) Award of Bid #53-98
To: C&C Farms Inc.
Of: Damascus, MD
In the amount of: $70,000.00
For: To install high quality trees and s shrubs in parks and on municipal rights of way within the City limits as required.
(E) Award of Bid #850700092
To: Petroleum Traders Corporation
Of: Fort Wayne, IN
In the amount of: $46,384
For: Provision and delivery of unleaded gasoline.
Re: Consent Item (A)
Adoption of Minutes
Meeting No. 05-98 (February 2, 1998)
Meeting No. 06-98 (February 9, 1998)
Meeting No. 07-98 (February 17, 1998)
Meeting No. 08-98 (February 23, 1998)
Councilmember Marrinan requested removal of Consent Agenda Item A in order to abstain from voting on the adoption of the Minutes from February 2, 1998, since he was absent from that meeting. Upon motion of Councilmember Harrison, duly seconded by Councilmember Wright and passed by a 4 to 0 vote (Councilmember Marrinan abstained), the Minutes were approved.
Re: Redgate Golf Course 1998-99 Fee Authorization
Recreation and Parks Director Burt Hall outlined the proposed fee schedule for the 1998-99 year at Redgate Golf Course and gave a synopsis of the key elements. He pointed out that the fee proposals were reviewed and endorsed by the Redgate Advisory Subcommittee and the Recreation and park Advisory Board:
Proposed Fee Adjustments:
*Daily Greens Fees -
Raise Non-resident fees by $1.00 per nine holes
Raise City resident fees by 50 cents per nine holes
Raise Non-resident prices by 8%
Raise City resident prices by 5%
Upon motion by Councilmember Wright, duly seconded by Councilmember Marrinan, and unanimously passed, the 1998-99 Fee Authorization was approved.
Re: Rockville Municipal Swim Center 1998-99 Fee Authorization
Mr. Hall gave a presentation on the proposed fee adjustments for the Rockville Municipal Swim Center (RMSC). He pointed out that when the fees were raised in 1997, it was the first time they had been increased in four years. The proposed fees for 1998-99 were reviewed and endorsed by the Swim Center Advisory Committee and the Recreation and Park Advisory Board:
Proposed Fee Adjustments:
* Membership Fees - no increase
* Admission Fees - no increase
* Class/Program Fees - no increase
* Pool Rentals - no increase
Councilmember Harrison commented on the 25-admission pass rate. He said that it was less expensive for a family to pay the daily cash fee for a child’s admission to the pool because the cost of a 25-admission pass was more expensive. As an example, he said that with a family of four, four passes were used and the family spent two dollars more than they might have spent. Councilmember Harrison also commented on staff’s future plans to use computers and pool user’s driver licenses in order to track pool usage data and customer demand for pool time. Mr. Harrison expressed a concern about the privacy rights of individuals who might object to a policy where a government entity could access the personal information encoded on their driver’s license. He suggested that staff look for other solutions; for example, creating a reasonably inexpensive bar code identification card. Mayor Krasnow suggested that this was something that could be explored with the Recreation and Park Advisory Board and the Science, Technology and Environment Commission. Upon motion of Councilmember Marrinan, duly seconded by Councilmember Wright and unanimously passed, the 1998-99 Fee Authorization for the Rockville Municipal Swim Center was approved.
Re: Discussion and Instructions to Staff - Annexation Petition ANX97-0124, Louis H. Fanaroff, Petitioner.
Annexation of approximately 0.98 acres of land on the northwest corner of East Gude Drive and Southlawn Lane plus a portion of right-of-way of Southlawn Lane for a total area of 1.398 acres.
Kathy Mitchell, Director of Community Planning and Development Services said that on February 9, the Montgomery County Planning Board and an adjoining property owner raised the issue that the I-2 Zone in the County was a heavier industrial Zone than the City’s I-1 Zone and that retail was not permitted in their Zone. The County was concerned about the depleting amount of I-2 Zone land available in the County and in the area of the annexation. Ms. Mitchell said that staff discussed the issues with the Mayor and Council, County staff, and County Councilmembers. She noted that since there were significant differences in the uses, staff should be directed to work with the applicant to obtain the County Council’s consent to place the property in the City’s I-1 Zone, or to perhaps develop an agreement for certain permitted uses to be allowed as part of an annexation agreement. The Mayor and Council agreed with the recommendation that staff work with the applicant to obtain the County’s consent to place the property in the City’s I-1 Zone. The Mayor and Council also made the following points.
(a) Size of the parcel - Its hard to imagine an I-2 Zone type of use located on .988 acres of land. This should be considered by the County Council when they make their decision.
(b) Appearance of the site - In consideration of the fact that the area has other light uses on I-2 land in the County’s part of the property, the existing corner where the annexation is proposed is an eyesore. The City should stress that any activity on the corner would greatly improve the appearance for the County and the City.
(c) Relationship issues - In the past, the City has cooperated very closely with the County on annexations. The County remains an integral part of post-annexation roadway systems. The Mayor and Council expressed some concern that there was a growing sentiment on the County’s part that they do not want to give up some of their land through annexations. The Mayor and Council are willing to discuss with the County, the issue of the City’s defined Urban Growth Limits. The Mayor and Council feel that it is worthwhile to alert the County to the City’s concerns about annexations, since they are looking for the City’s active participation in the Transportation Management Demand Program for the Shady Grove sector.
Re: Review of Montgomery County Capital Improvements Program (CIP)
For preparation of comments to transmit to County Council about County CIP projects which impact Rockville.
Ms. Mitchell presented a summary of the projects that were compiled by staff and the Planning Commission as being of special interest or having an impact for the City of Rockville. The Mayor and Council reviewed and commented on the projects identified in the Planning Commission’s memo dated March 5, 1998. Staff was asked to incorporate the following additional comments in the letter to be sent to the county Council:
(a) Montgomery County Conference Center Facility - The Mayor and Council generally support a conference center. However, given anticipated impact on traffic in the southern part of Rockville, they could not support such a center at the current location.
(b) Facility Planning: Transportation - The Mayor and Council urged that the transportation study take place soon in order to provide services at the earliest time and to encourage the use of public transportation when residents begin to move into King Farm properties. Staff should include the traffic statistics quoted by Stan Klein who referenced the Council of Government’s estimates. Language should also be included regarding the exacerbation of existing problems.
(c) Rockville Regional Library - In the recommendation to the County, the Mayor and Council’s strong support needs to be emphasized, as well as that of the Town Center Action Team and the citizens. Also make a stronger case for locating a new library on Middle Lane.
(d) Rehabilitation/Renovation of Closed Schools - The Mayor and Council have no opposition to a renovated or a new Richard Montgomery High School, but they do not support the designation of a holding school in downtown Rockville or in the communities immediately surrounding it.
(e) Veirs Mill/Aspen Hill Road Intersection Improvements - This was dropped off the County’s CIP; however the Mayor and Council consider this improvement essential and would like the County to consider putting it back in.
(f) Detention Center Reuse - No expenditures associated with facility planning reuse were included in the FY99-004 CIP. The Mayor and Council must continue to be involved in the reuse consideration process. The Mayor and Council feel that the recommendation should incorporate the points made in staff’s recommendation on the project involving the Seneca Correctional Facility.
(g) Twinbrook Library Renovation - Include stronger language about the community that this library serves and the important role that it serves in the Twinbrook community.
(h) Other Issues Not Included in the County CIP - The Mayor and Council directed staff to also include the following comments in the transmittal letter to the County:
(1) Downtown parking problems - The County has far exceeded the parking they provided for their own use. Stress the need for a parking garage.
(2) East-West Roads - If the Inter County Connector does not get built, this will have a significant impact on local streets. The City wants to be involved in any options that are presented. This is also another call for the need for enhanced transit use--because roads can not continually be expanded to accommodate passenger traffic from all over.
(3) Lone Oak School - This County-owned property is located in the City of Rockville and it is still in transition since as the Boys and Girls Club will not continue in their role as landlord. The Mayor and Council want to go on record that they are concerned about the maintenance and the disposition of the property.
(a) Councilmember Marrinan spoke about one of the main agenda items before the National League of Cities Annual Congressional Session taking place in Washington, D.C. The issue was the pre-emption of local laws by the Federal and State governments and it dealt with a range of issues in the areas of telecommunications, group homes, electric utility deregulation, internet taxation, and tobacco liability. Mr. Marrinan said that the Federal government was considering a pre-emption of municipal zoning laws in all of the issues and he suggested that the Mayor and Council go on record to express their concern about the Federal government’s direction.
Councilmember Harrison said that he disagreed with the National League of Cities’ position on internet taxation. He disagreed with the League’s position that the internet is an area that was fair game for any jurisdiction to impose taxes on and he said that this raised significant issues for the growth of more advanced telecommunications and individual’s general access to telecommunications. Mr. Harrison said that municipalities should think carefully about the impact of the internet on their jurisdictions and they should encourage greater use of it. Councilmember Marrinan said that he agreed with Mr. Harrison’s point about not taxing the internet; however, he said that to have the Federal government mandate that cities can’t impose such a tax is the issue. He opposed the idea of the Federal government telling cities that they could not pass such a tax. Mayor Krasnow said that she would like to see additional information on the issue, because she had no problem in general with supporting the idea of maintaining home rule. However, she said that Mr. Harrison raised an interesting issue and she asked that Councilmember Marrinan work with the Acting City Manager and develop additional information on the issue.
(b) Mayor Krasnow noted the letter received from Walter Bucher, the architect who designed the Rockville Commons apartments (formerly the Blandford Apartments). Mr. Butcher expressed his appreciation to staff for assisting Kettler Scott, Inc. in completing the difficult rehabilitation of the Blandford Apartments. Mayor Krasnow said that she was pleased to see the renovations progressing.
(c) Councilmember Dorsey noted FYI Item #6; the ongoing drainage study in Lincoln Park. He commented that the description of the cause of the problem appeared very technical and said that he hoped that the explanation could be clarified for those residents who were affected by the problem. Ms. Novak confirmed that the City’s Engineers and the Neighborhood Resource Coordinators were working closely with the community.
Re: New Business
(1) Habitat For Humanity Proposal - Habitat for Humanity is interested in building a home on Johnson Drive on some land owned by Habitat. However, the proposal involves issues related to zoning, utilities, drainage, and access. The City’s water and sewer is not up to City standards--three homes are currently being serviced by a one inch water and a two inch sewer pipe. In addition, upgrades to Johnson Drive are needed. Estimated costs to overcome the issues are over $100,000. The Mayor and Council agreed that $100,000 is a large sum of money, making it an expensive project for the construction of one affordable house. The Mayor and Council agreed that there were some policy implications associated with the upgrades. They agreed that bringing the water and sewer facilities up to standards for the three existing homes was the right thing to do regardless of a decision on the Habitat House. They expressed concern about allowing Habitat to develop property without bringing it up to City Code, and they said that this raised an equity issue. Staff was asked to determine what the marginal costs were for upgrading water and sewer facilities at each of the three existing homes. Mayor Krasnow expressed a desire to have the matter scheduled on the Mayor and Council’s agenda March 23 agenda.
(2) The Musical Theater Center (TMTC) - TMTC requested a one-time grant from the City in the amount of a $25,000 contribution toward construction of their new facility located in Wintergreen Plaza. TMTC also requested that the County contribute $75,000 and were also raising a great deal of the funding themselves. TMTC proposes to serve Rockville youth in high quality artistic and fitness activities, and they also asked for consideration of "Resident Status" at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre.
The Mayor and Council generally agreed that the proposal was in line with their Youth Initiative; however concern was expressed about the City having to provide operational support to groups that receive CIP grants. Mayor Krasnow proposed that the City spend $25,000 of the $86,000 that was not designated for any project. She reminded the Council that $20,000 of that money was recently designated to hire a consultant to study the Montrose Parkway issue; however, there was a remaining balance of $66,000. TMTC is willing to offer and provide as part of their fee structure, scholarships for low income Rockville youth. The Mayor and Council directed staff to negotiate an in-kind package of services that would essentially reimburse the City for the $25,000 grant. The package should include, but not be limited to, lower fees and registration preferences for City residents and time slots for the City to offer similar programming for the general population. Councilmember Dorsey suggested that TMTC be encouraged to aggressively target certain interest groups, for example low income youths, and invite them to apply for the scholarships. Staff should emphasize that this is a one-time only CIP grant, however, any agreement should contain careful wording about the terms of a conditional grant, in case the organization became one of the City’s resident theater groups in the future. Upon motion by Councilmember Dorsey, duly seconded by Councilmember Marrinan and unanimously passed, the $25,000 one-time CIP grant was approved.
(3) Celebration of the Millennium - Mayor Krasnow said that there were numerous efforts by the State and County to plan events for the end of the Century and the Millennium. She said that it made sense to establish a citizens committee that would suggest ideas for celebrating the Millennium. Councilmember Wright said he hoped that there would be some coordination of events between the State, County and the City. Councilmember Dorsey said that every one had some type of Millennium project planned, and he suggested that the City distinguish itself as going one step further and plan a big event for the Year 2001--the real beginning of the next Century. City Clerk Paula Jewell pointed out that the Year 2001 marked the 200th Anniversary of the City of Rockville’s Charter. She suggested that the Mayor and Council could mark a Year 2001 celebration with that special anniversary. Councilmember Marrinan suggested that the idea would be a natural addition to a Millennium celebration and would give it a unique character. Without objection, the Mayor and Council agreed that staff should follow up with the idea of establishing a citizens committee.
There being no further business to come before the Mayor and Council, the meeting adjourned at 10:16 p.m. to reconvene at 7:30 p.m. in Worksession on March 16, 1997, or at the call of the Mayor.