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County Council Backs Annexation of Reed Brothers Property and Changes to Police Bargaining

Annexation opponents said the property is not suitable for a proposed housing development.

Legislation that strips a bargaining tool from the county’s police union, and proposals by the City of Rockville to annex two properties won approval from the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday.

The council voted unanimously to do away with “effects bargaining” for county police officers.

The legislation eliminates the collective bargaining process between the county and the Fraternal Order of Police on management decisions such as how officers are given new assignments and how a new computer system used by employees is implemented.

Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring introduced the bill on the recommendation of the county’s Organizational Reform Commission and at the urging of County Executive Isiah Leggett (D).

FOP Lodge 35, which represents county officers in the bargaining process, opposed the change. In a message on its website, the union said that the change would “disrupt services in the police department.”

“When we follow a process we don’t have these problems,” the message said. “Despite what you have been told in the media, this dispute is not about money. It is about process. The FOP was willing to give up $2.4 million in benefits cost for the County. The County Council rejected that and did what they wanted to do.”

County police Chief J. Thomas Manger released a statement in support of the council's passage of the bill.

“This change increases the ability for the public to hold me and future Montgomery County Police Chiefs accountable for running the Police Department in an effective and efficient manner; while protecting the rights of Police Officers to bargain their salary, pension, benefits, working conditions, and issues related to their health and safety,” Manger said in the statement. “This change provides for the balance between labor and management as required by law.”

The council also approved requests by the City of Rockville to annex a portion of a lot at East Gude Drive and Southlawn Lane known as the Burgundy Park Center and to annex the former Reed Brothers Dodge site on at 15955 Frederick Road.

Silverwood/Shady Grove LLC is seeking to redevelop the Reed Brothers property, which is in the Gaithersburg High School cluster and is close to the Shady Grove Metro station, with 417 multifamily units and ground floor retail.

The County Council debated whether the location, adjacent the county’s Shady Grove Solid Waste Transfer Station, is suitable for housing.

Leggett and the county Planning Board opposed annexing the property, which the county’s Shady Grove Sector Plan says should not be used for housing.

Council members in favor of the annexation argued that the King Farm community is located across North Frederick Road from the property and that the proximity to Metro made it attractive for transit-oriented development.

Silverwood/Shady Grove LLC has pledged that 20 percent of the housing units would be offered at market rates lower than those of other residences near the Metro station.

The council approved the annexation on a 6-3 vote, with council members Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Potomac, Nancy M. Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park and George L. Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park opposed.

The Burgundy Park Center annexation passed unanimously.

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