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Council Agenda: Signs, Fireside Park Apartments and a Budget Schedule

A vote on changes to the city’s fire safety code is also on deck for Monday.

 

Changes to the city’s sign ordinance, the sale of Fireside Park Apartments and a calendar for work on the city budget are on the agenda as the Rockville City Council returns from its summer recess on Monday. 

The Council at . The meeting will be broadcast live on Rockville 11.

Sign ordinance

The Council is scheduled to vote on a series of changes to the city’s sign ordinance that would allow rooftop and off-premise signs.

City staff is recommending against the changes, which were requested by .

The revisions to the ordinance would allow illuminated signs above rooftops and would set quantity and size limits for off-premises signs.

The changes would be limited to , which Federal Realty owns and operates, “but approval of these changes could set a precedent for similar requests in other areas of the city,” city staff said in a report.

The city’s Planning Commission discussed the changes on May 9. Commissioners said the proposal “highlights the need for a full review and revision of the sign code,” according to the report by city staff.

In recommending against the proposed changes, city staff agreed that a comprehensive review of the ordinance is needed.

The Council held a public hearing on the proposed changes on July 23. Click here to view video of that meeting. A summary of the hearing also can be found by clicking here.

The city continues to consider .

Fireside Park Apartments

The Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution to allow Rockville Housing Enterprises to exercise its right of first refusal and pursue the purchase the 

RHE, which administers public housing in the city, is seeking the Council’s approval and $2 million in city aid to complete the $36 million purchase of the apartment complex at 735 Monroe Street, according to a report by city staff.

The $2 million could come from a $1.5 million loan from the city. The loan would require an amendment to the city’s fiscal 2013 budget, according to the staff report. The remaining $500,000 could be funded through the city’s Housing Opportunities Fund, staff wrote. Montgomery County has agreed to match up to $2.5 million.

The combined $5 million in city and county aid would be added to a mortgage secured by RHE for 90 percent of the purchase price. RHE has asked that the city serve as the guarantor for the mortgage.

“This is not the same as the City guaranteeing the loan, but rather the lender will require oversight of RHE to ensure that in the event of fraud or misrepresentation by RHE, the lender can look to the guarantor to resolve any issues,” city staff wrote.

The 236-unit garden-style complex, which city staff said could help meet the need for affordable housing in Rockville, went on the market in April. The county notified the city July 6 that an offer for the property had been received.

City staff is recommending that the city work with RHE to answer questions about the purchase. Staff also is recommending that the Council seek input from the community through neighborhood groups, written testimony and during the Citizens Forum portion of the Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 Council meetings.

Budget work sessions

The Council will consider a schedule for discussions on the city budget for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.

City staff is recommending the following work sessions:

  • Oct. 8: State of the fiscal 2014 general fund.
  • Oct. 15: Employee compensation and benefits.
  • Oct. 22: Capital Improvements Program and city contracting.
  • Nov. 5: Reducing the city budget and what it means to cut costs.
  • Dec. 3: Costs and revenues associated with new development and an overview of biennial budgeting.

Fire safety code

The Council is scheduled to introduce an ordinance that would bring the city’s fire safety code in line with state code while adding certain local amendments. The ordinance represents a wholesale change to the city code, which follows the state code, according to a city staff report. Beginning Jan. 1, Maryland is bringing its code in line with the National Fire Protection Association’s codes and standards, the report said.

Consent agenda

The consent agenda includes approval of:

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