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Rockville adjusts MPDUs

Seal of Rockville MdIn the hope of making the City’s expensive apartments more affordable to residents, the Rockville mayor and council decided Monday to change the standards for affordable housing units to make them available to more people.

The mayor and council unanimously approved the changes, which expand the regulations to allow people 120 percent below the City’s Area Median Income to be eligible for moderately-priced dwelling units and lower the rents for people renting MPDUs. The changes apply only to new units to be built within the City.


Republicans ready for competitive District 2 race

For 14 years, the County Council has gone without a Republican. Now two men vying in the primary think they can change that if given the chance.

Ed Amatetti, a Brooklyn-born former middle- and high-school science teacher, and Kyle Sefcik, a Gaithersburg-based professional mixed martial arts fighter-turned-small business owner, have both said 2018 is a ripe time for a Republican to replace incumbent Craig Rice in District 2.


Rockville mourns loss of Marcuccio

Phyllis Marcuccio.  COURTESY PHOTOPhyllis Marcuccio. COURTESY PHOTO  

Former Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio was perhaps the rarest thing in politics – a politician that people trusted.

Rockville’s former two-term mayor Marcuccio died last week of natural causes, leaving behind a legacy of maintaining the City’s historic feel while also attempting to make it a hub of science and technology. She served as mayor from 2009 to 2013, and was known for steering the City’s development carefully and being a champion for getting a dedicated building for the Rockville Science Center.

“It was clear to me she was smart. She understood Rockville. She cared deeply about Rockville,” said Ruth Hanessian, a longtime friend and neighbor of Marcuccio.

Marcuccio, 84, was a native of Rockville and graduated from Richard Montgomery High School. The transformation of Rockville from a small rural town into a rapidly-growing suburban community is something that helped prompt Maruccio to become involved in politics.

“Mayor Marcuccio was a deeply devoted public servant throughout her life and career,” said current Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton in a statement. “A longstanding Rockville resident, she prided herself as a grassroots activist and was an outspoken advocate for the city, always keeping the best interests of her community close to her heart.”


Leggett Makes History With Veto

First line-item veto by any county executive in 25 years affects stormwater management

Leggett 20091001 104316County Executive Ike Leggett. FILE PHOTO  Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett broke precedent and issued a line-item veto in the County Capital Improvements Programs budget over a fight with a majority of the members of the County Council over the future of stormwater management.

Leggett’s line-item veto, which is narrowly tailored to specific parts of the $4.5 billion capital budget, is the first in Leggett’s nearly 12-year tenure as County Executive and the first line-item veto by any county executive in 25 years. The veto blocks the current status quo of how the County awards contracts for its stormwater-management programs.

In January, Leggett proposed reforming the way the County Department of Environmental Protection awards stormwater-management contracts. Currently, the County offers separate contracts for different companies to plan, design, and build stormwater-management projects. Leggett proposed putting the entire process – the planning, designing, and building – of a stormwater-management contract into one contract for a company to bid on, saying it would make the process more efficient and save taxpayers money.

“I regret that you and the Council majority have made this veto necessary,” Leggett wrote in a letter to Council President Hans Riemer (D-at large). “Playing politics with a critical environmental issue, doubling down on a costly and inefficient status quo, and kicking the proverbial can down the road will never be confused with efficient governance.” 


G-Burg authorizes Kelley Park negotiation

Gaithersburg Govt logoGAITHERSBURG — The Gaithersburg City Council voted unanimously to grant City Manager Tony Tomasello the authority to negotiate with Montgomery County Public Schools over the proposed construction of a new elementary school on Kelley Park.

On March 22, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the superintendent’s recommendation for the construction of a new elementary school on the grounds of Kelley Park, a city-owned property on the east side of Gaithersburg, which features a playground, walking trails, a tennis court, and baseball fields that are used in the summer by the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. The school is intended to reduce overcrowding in the Gaithersburg cluster, where several of the elementary schools that serve city residents are operating well over capacity.

The vote and the prospect of the new school have been divisive issues in Gaithersburg. Some residents feel that the school would provide much-needed relief to the city’s elementary schools, whereas others have argued that the construction and operation of the school would deprive residents of a valued community gathering and recreational area, negatively impact property values, worsen traffic congestion as a result of parents picking up and dropping students off, and provide negligible relief to the schools.


Metro suspends service along Red Line section for repairs

metro logoWashington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials suspended service between Red Line Metro stations Gallery Place and Farragut North on Thursday morning due to electrical arcing on the support, or insulator, of the power source third rail, a spokesperson said.

“It was an arcing insulator outside Farragut North,” WMATA Spokesperson Sherri Ly wrote. “The defective insulator was removed and service restored."

Metro suspended service along that section of the Red Line for 30 minutes. Employees had to remove the faulty part before trains could resume service between the stations, Ly said.


Gaithersburg residents discuss pros and cons of closing Kelley Park

Gaithersburg logoGAITHERSBURG — On March 22, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the recommendation from the Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith to construct a new elementary school on the grounds of Kelley Park which abuts the Saybrooke neighborhood of Gaithersburg.

As the park is city-owned property, Mayor Jud Ashman and the Gaithersburg City Council will have to give final approval for the school construction.

The proposal has provoked mixed reactions from city residents. While some feel that the school would benefit the city and relieve overcrowding, others fear that it would deprive the surrounding neighborhoods of a valuable community space and negatively impact their quality of life.


Takoma Park mayor stays committed to racial equity

takoma park logoTAKOMA PARK — After residents voiced concerns about the potential impact of a proposed development in Takoma Park on the City’s minority community, Mayor Kate Stewart said she is still committed to racial equity as the City Council weighs the issue.

Introduced in April 2017 and sponsored by Council member Jarrett Smith (Ward 5), the Racial Equity Lens establishes that the Council consider the impact each project or resolution would have on minority groups in the city by including a Racial Equity Impact Statement on all agenda items discussed by the Council.


Rockville hires new police chief

Hagerstown Police Chief Victor BritoVictor Brito COUTESY PHOTO

Former Hagerstown chief is committed to community policing

After about five months, 100 candidates and three binders full of suggestions from residents, the search for Rockville’s new police chief finally came to an end last week after the City announced it has hired Victor Brito to lead the department.

Brito, who currently serves as Police Chief for the Hagerstown Police Department, will begin work in Rockville on June 18. Brito is taking over for Acting Police Chief Bob Rappaport, who served as a temporary replacement for Terry Treschuck. Treschuck had been Rockville’s police chief for 27 years until his retirement in June 2016.


Stormwater runoff causes new council rift

countysealThe final votes to approve the County’s operating and capital budget are usually a formality, with both budgets almost always passing unanimously.

However, last week Council member Nancy Floreen (D-at large), voted against the County’s capital budget, saying she could not support a budget that cut many stormwater management projects. While Floreen was the lone vote against the capital budget, she is not alone in the way some Council members feel about County Executive Ike Leggett's proposed capital budget, particularly about how it affects the County’s stormwater management programs.