Council Agenda: Shady Grove Annexation, VisArts Projects and Town Center
Housing issues, including Fireside Park Apartments and federal aid, also on the schedule.
A draft plan for annexing part of Shady Grove Road, funding for VisArts, a discussion of the future of Town Center and a contract for legal services are on the Rockville City Council’s agenda for Monday.
Shady Grove Road annexation
The council is scheduled to vote on a draft plan to annex part of Shady Grove Road into the city.
The vote is the next step on the way to a Sept. 10 public hearing on the proposal. A final vote would follow, with the annexation going into affect 45 days after approval by the council.
The proposed annexation is in response to Gaithersburg’s effort to annex the former Great Indoors site, which sits on the southern side of Shady Grove Road closest to Rockville.
The Gaithersburg City Council is scheduled to hold a final vote on the Great Indoors annexation tonight.
In a blog post on Patch on Monday, Rockville City Councilman Tom Moore called for Gaithersburg to reconsider the annexation saying it could “wreak serious, unnecessary, and perhaps permanent damage upon the relationship between their city and the City of Rockville.”
Rockville officials have said annexing the roadway into Rockville would establish a boundary between the cities.
The council is scheduled to vote on whether to allow VisArts to change the way it spends a grant from the city.
The city set aside $30,000 in the fiscal 2013 budget so that the arts center could construct a bathroom in its ground-floor gallery. VisArts has since decided against constructing the bathroom, its executive director wrote in a July 23 letter to the council. Instead, VisArts is requesting the ability to use $23,923 in city aid for three projects:
- Push button door openers to improve accessibility to four existing public bathrooms.
- Window shades on the second floor.
- New flooring in the main event room.
The change, which is being recommended by city staff, would save the city about $6,000. VisArts received $25,000 in a state bond bill for the $47,847 cost of the projects. In order to be spent, the funds must be matched.
Fireside Park Apartments
RHE, which administers public housing in the city, has been meeting with the county to assess the feasibility of purchasing the apartment complex at 735 Monroe Street, according to a report by city staff. The 236-unit garden-style complex went on the market in April. The county notified the city July 6 that an offer for the property had been received.
Community Development Block Grants
The council is scheduled to discuss the allocation of federal Community Development Block Grants that would become available in fall 2013.
The city received a total of $211,312 in the current funding round. But the program has been cut considerably in recent years and “additional reductions are possible,” city staff wrote.
Staff is recommending that the city allocate 100 percent of the expected grant dollars to Rockville Housing Enterprises for public housing renovations and to the city’s program for providing aid to low- and moderate-income households to rehabilitate single-family homes. Staff is also calling for the city to pay for a part-time position for a housing specialist through the general fund instead of through the federal aid program.
Town Center Phase 2
Chevy Chase-based developer JBG has filed a pre-application to build a 24,000-square-foot, two-story, mixed-use building on the site of the former Giant Food store at 275 North Washington St., city staff wrote in a report to the council. The building would include retail or restaurant space, and a bank on the first floor and office space on the second floor, with an underground parking garage.
“The Town Center Master Plan envisions the extension of Maryland Avenue north of Beall Avenue as the continuation of the pedestrian oriented spine that is the primary organizing element of the Town Center,” the report said.
City staff is recommending that the city strategize on how to move forward on redeveloping the area, including a meeting between Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and JBG representatives.
The consent agenda includes votes on:
- A rights-of-way use agreement between the council and TW Telecom of Maryland LLC.
- City participation in a class action lawsuit settlement against the maker of atrazine, an herbicide sprayed on cornfields and other crops. If approved, the city would join more than 1,800 water providers in a proposed $105 million settlement to cover the cost of removing the weed killer from water supplies, the Madison (IL) Record reported. The city found evidence of atrazine in two of 14 samples taken biannually since the start of 2006, city staff reported.
- An amendment to add $100,000 to a legal services contract with Saul Ewing LLP. The city signed a contract with Saul Ewing in May to pay up to $90,000 to investigate former city employees’ claims of harassment and discrimination by supervisor. The original contract expires Aug. 15. The amended contract would run through Oct. 31. “Due to the amount of time necessary to conduct a thorough investigation and to update the City's policies and procedures, the cost and expected duration of the investigation has increased,” city staff wrote in a report to the council recommending the amendment.