Rockville City Council Agenda: Fireside Park Vote, Signs, and the Budget

A vote on an incentive package for Choice Hotels is also on deck.


A vote on whether to give the city’s blessing to the purchase of the Fireside Park Apartments by Rockville Housing Enterprises, budget discussions and an incentive package for Choice Hotels International are on the Rockville City Council’s agenda for Monday.

Discussions of the city’s sign ordinance and of priorities for advocacy before the county government are also on deck.

The Council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting will be broadcast live on Rockville 11.

Vote on Fireside Park Apartments sale

The council is scheduled to take two votes on the proposed purchase of the Fireside Park Apartments by Rockville Housing Enterprises.

PrideRock LLC, a Florida-based property management company said in an email Oct. 27 that it is withdrawing its offer to purchase Fireside Park.

The first would allow the RHE, which administers public housing in Rockville, to proceed with the $37.5 million purchase of the 236-unit garden-style Fireside Park complex at 735 Monroe St.

The resolution would allow RHE to borrow money to complete the purchase, including a mortgage on the property. It also would establish a not-for-profit corporation to own the complex.

The second vote will decide whether the city will provide $2 million in aid for the purchase. RHE has said the purchase is contingent on financial support from the city.

City Councilman Mark Pierzchala on Monday circulated a proposal to loan RHE $1.7 million and award RHE a $300,000 grant so that it may purchase the complex.

"I have a plan that I believe protects the City financially and protects the interests of the City's residents, taxpayers, and Fireside Park residents," Pierzchala wrote in an email to the mayor and council that he shared with the media.

Click the PDF above to read the proposal. 

Click here to read more Rockville Patch coverage of the proposed purchase.


The council is scheduled to discuss four options for continued review of the city’s sign regulations. They are:

  1. A comprehensive review of the sign ordinance.
  2. A review and revision of portions of the ordinance as identified by the Rockville Chamber of Commerce and others, including the allowance of:
    • Off-premises signs, potentially including billboards.
    • Rooftop signs.
    • Electronic message boards and illuminated LED signs.
    • Signs that blink, flash, or otherwise depict movement.
  3. A staff review of the chamber’s sign ordinance study, with recommended next steps coming before the council early next year.
  4. No changes to the regulations.

Consent agenda 

The council’s consent agenda includes approval of the following:

  • Agreement on an incentives package for Choice Hotels International’s relocation to the city from Silver Spring. The package includes:
    • An Economic Development Fund Agreement that includes a $156,000 conditional grant to Choice Hotels from the Montgomery County Economic Development Fund. The city will repay the county in six annual installments of $26,000. Each payment would be the subject of an annual appropriation by the Rockville City Council.
    • Up to 275 parking spaces in Rockville Town Square garages at a reduced rate for 10 years.
    • A real and personal property tax credit for up to six years dependent on the total capital investment and the assessment rate.
    • Expedited permits and a waiver of up to $180,000 in city permit fees. If the waived fees total less than $180,00, the difference would be added to the city’s conditional grant.
  • The city’s request to Montgomery County for $211,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the following housing-related programs:
    • Interfaith Works: $26,790 for the rehabilitation of three permanent supportive housing units for formerly homeless families.
    • Rockville Housing Enterprises: $33,210 for the rehabilitation of at least two scattered site public housing units.
    • City of Rockville Single-Family Rehabilitation Program: $151,312 for the rehabilitation of at least six homes for low-income homeowners.
  • Revisions to the process of reviewing site plans that would require site plans related to Rockville Town Center to go before the city’s Planning Commission as well as the City Council. A second revision would require that all Rockville civic and homeowners associations be notified of any site plan or project plan application. 

County advocacy

The council is scheduled to discuss priority issues for advocacy before the Montgomery County government. The city manager’s office is proposing that the City Council adopt the following talking points for advocacy before the County Council and County Executive:

  • Tax duplication.
  • Stormwater management.
  • Montgomery County Public Schools capital projects.
  • Pepco service.

The proposal recommends that city staff monitor and recommend advocacy on:

  • Planning/traffic coordination.
  • Open-air restaurants through open windows and doors.
  • A proposed rapid transit vehicle system.
  • The Corridor Cities Transitway.
  • The county’s noise ordinance.
  • The Rockville Core Implementation Coordinating Committee.

Capital improvements program

The council is scheduled to hold a discussion on the city’s capital improvements program, which includes the city’s construction budget. The discussion is the second of five scheduled work sessions on the city budget for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.

Annual leave buyback discussion

The council is scheduled to discuss whether to offer city staff a second chance during the current fiscal year to buy back up to five days of unused annual leave.

The city’s annual buyback period will be held in December.

Staff is recommending that the city not offer a second buyback option, due to budget constraints. Staff estimates the cost of a second buyback would be $250,000 to $280,000.

The city last offered two buyback opportunities in fiscal 2003.

Retirement plan study discussion

The council is scheduled to discuss whether to fund an analysis of the costs and potential savings of overhauling the city’s employee retirement plan.

Staff is recommending taking up to $32,500 from the city manager contingency account to pay for the study, which is not funded in the fiscal 2013 city budget.

The city’s actuary, the Hay Group, prepared three study options, including:

  • Comparing costs and potential savings of leaving the current plan in place vs. a full freezing of the direct benefit plan for current employees and new hires. Study cost: $17,500.
  • The above comparison, plus a look at the option of keeping the direct benefit plan for incumbents, but closing it to new hires. Cost: $22,500.
  • Both of the comparisons mentioned above, plus a review of the choices available in similarly-situated governmental agencies. Cost: $27,500.

Awards and proclamations

The council also will present a Good Neighbor Award to Bobby Moore, will receive a Bicycle Friendly Community Award from the League of American Bicyclists and will issue proclamations declaring:


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