Mayor and Council to Choose New City Logo and Change Election Campaigning
At its Monday, June 11, 2023 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss election campaign materials, referendums on voting eligibility, and repealing Covid vaccination requirements. On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are construction contracts, grant authorizations, a zoning ordinance rewrite ($294,530), and planting trees and shrubs ($393,570), among others. The Mayor and Council will also receive reports on the state legislation session wrap-up for District 17 and the City’s Branding Initiative.
Fourteen nonprofit organizations will be receiving grants to support programs and services that enhance the quality of life for Rockville residents, including:
- Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation, $120,000
- Rockville Science Center, $60,000
- Rockville Housing Enterprises, $52,820
- Metropolitan Center for the Visual Arts, $48,830
- Rockville Little Theatre, $18,000
- Rockville Musical Theatre, $18,000
- Victorian Lyric Opera Company, $17,200
- Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, $10,000
- F. Scott Fitzgerald LIterary Conference, $6,700
- Main Street Connect, $6,000
- Bender JCC of Greater Washington, $6,000
- Women Who Care Ministries, $5,000
The City Council is considering an Eleventh Amendment to the Interim Management Agreement for Rockville Town Square, the a 12.5-acre mixed-use development located in the heart of Rockville City Center, and is encompassed within the area bounded by Beall Avenue, Hungerford Drive, Middle Lane , and North Washington Street. On September 26, 2022, Morguard acquired from Street Retail, the fee simple interest in all of the commercial retail properties in the Rockville Townsquare (RTS) Mixed-Use Development. Although a long-term Management Agreement is desired by both the City and Morguard, both parties need additional time to engage further. As such, staff recommends that the Mayor and Council authorize and direct the City Manager to execute the Eleventh Amendment to the Interim Management Agreement, thus extending the term of the Interim Management Agreement to June 30, 2024. This would continue the agreement that the City will not assess a property tax in exchange for management and maintenance of the Plaza and sidewalks by Morguard. More details starting on page 636.
The City Council is considering a long list of changes to city elections, including:
- Amending definition of campaign materials to include campaign websites, emails, text messages, and other electronic communications.
- Establishing a second vote center at Thomas Farm Community Center and ballot drop boxes at City Hall, Montrose Community Center, Rockville Senior Center, and Twinbrook Community Center.
- Prohibiting electioneering within 50 feet of an outdoor ballot drop box.
- Independent communications and advertisements must include a notice stating that they have not been authorized by a candidate or candidate’s committee.
- Aggregate campaign contributions are no longer limited to $2,000.
- Requiring electronic filing of all Campaign Finance Reports, but permitting the Board of Supervisors of Elections to waive that requirement, on request, for good cause.
- Requiring clear and conspicuous disclaimers on campaign materials stating whether the material has been paid for or authorized by a candidate or political committee, and if not, identifying the person who did pay for the campaign materials, but also including an exception for materials on which disclaimers cannot be conveniently displayed.
- Requiring all campaign materials to state that they are paid political advertisements and to identify the person who paid for the advertisement.
The Council is also considering a series of advisory questions to submit to voters in November about lowering the voting age to 16 years, allowing residents who are not U.S. citizens to vote, introducing a limit of three consecutive terms (12 years) for Mayor and Councilmembers, ranked choice voting, and establishing council districts.
The Mayor and Council are conducting hybrid meetings. If you wish to submit comments in writing for Community Forum or Public Hearings, please email the comments to MayorAndCouncil@RockvilleMD.gov by no later than 10:00 a.m. on the date of the meeting.
More details in the 704-page/127 Mb agenda packet are available at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06122023-6935.
Mayor and Council to Review Latest Concepts for Rockville Metro Station
At its Monday, December 5, 2022 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss the latest concepts for redesigning the Rockville Metro Station and allowing self-storage warehouses in an MXE zone. On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are a CDBG grant application and agreements with local performing arts organizations, among others. The Mayor and Council will also receive reports on procurements for FY 2022 and an outreach program for minority, female, disabled, or veteran-owned businesses.
The Rockville Metro Station serves WMATA, MARC, and Amtrak, as well as Metrobus, making it a major transportation hub for the state—although it’s incredibly understated. A year ago, the City Council reviewed five preliminary concepts and wanted to explore four further (seems they had a hard time prioritizing). At this meeting, the consultant team is returning with their findings and recommendations on these four concepts:
- Concept 1: Iconic Train Hall with High Rise
- Concept 2: Town Center Station with High Rise
- Concept 3a: MD 355 Tunnel with Local Surface Lanes
- Concept 3b: MD 355 Tunnel with Surface-Level Open Space
The consultant team evaluated each of these concepts according to their ability to provide convenient connections to transit and safe access for pedestrian and bicycle users; create an attractive station environment that encourages ridership; improve wayfinding and integration of the site with surrounding areas; accommodate a mix of uses and amenities; and support economic development. Concept 1 scored the highest due to attractiveness, site integration, and economic development and might be similar to The Avenue in Baltimore or the planned station in New Carrollton. Concepts 3a and 3b scored the lowest due to the very high project cost (did the City Council actually think that placing one mile of a six-lane highway underground through downtown Rockville was going to be remotely feasible? What a waste of consultant fees!). After this meeting, the consultant team will hold two workshops with the community to review the concepts and the final report is expected in spring 2023.
U-Haul‘s request to convert an office building into a self-storage warehouse at 1355 Piccard Drive has become a dumpster fire and consumed more than 400 pages of the agenda packet. Seems they failed to obtain building and occupancy permits for their existing use, and have been parking trucks and equipment outside of a designated location. Recent complaints are supported by LOTS of photos documenting violations and noted that maintenance of the building has deteriorated so badly that tenants have left. Looks like U-Haul is a bad business and yet wants a special favor from the City. A surprising twist: the building is owned by the Montgomery County Board of Realtors (you’d assume they’d know how to manage a multi-million-dollar property). How did it get this bad? The Council’s efforts to reduce expenses in 2016-2018 left the City with only one Senior Zoning Inspector, which prevented pro-active zoning enforcement. Another example of “penny wise, pound foolish.”
Did you know that the Rockville Little Theatre, Rockville Musical Theatre, and Victorian Lyric Opera Company are considered RESCOs (resident community performing arts organizations). They receive reduced rental rates at the Fitzgerald Theatre in exchange for mounting a minimum number of productions annually and paying the City $1.50-$3.00 per ticket sold.
More details in the 743-page agenda packet are available at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12052022-6758.