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Rockville seniors testify against water and sewer rate increases

  • Published in Local

Seal of Rockville MdROCKVILLE — Rockville residents weighed in on City Manager Robert DiSpirito’s budget proposal at Monday’s Mayor and City Council session, using first of two public hearings before the City Council takes up their own budget to air grievances about suggested increases to the city’s water and sewer rates.

The matter of most concern to those residents who testified was against a proposed 9.7 percent increase to the City’s ready-to-serve charge, a significant increase meant to help funnel revenue back into the Rockville’s sinking sewer fund.

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Rockville budget proposal includes increased wages

  • Published in Local

Seal of Rockville MdOne week after Rockville City Manager Rob DiSpirito presented his Fiscal Year 2019 budget to the Rockville City Council and Mayor Bridget Newton, DiSpirito had the chance to defend his proposal Monday as Newton and members of the council questioned him and discussed the city’s budget needs.

DiSpirito’s $136.2 million budget plan increases proposed expenditures by 4.5 percent over Fiscal Year 2018 but despite the increases, it does not increase property taxes. The increases would allow DiSpirito to add several new positions in the City government, including two additional police officers, one GIS/Asset Management support specialist, one urban forestry maintenance worker and one information systems security engineer.

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Affordable housing plan still on track after fire

  • Published in Local

Seal of Rockville MdROCKVILLE — Rockville’s plans for revamping affordable housing won’t be derailed by the effects of a fire that broke out at the Fireside Park Apartments almost two weeks ago.

The owner of the apartment complex, Rockville Housing Enterprise, planned to ask the city for a grant to update the apartment complex, located at 735 Monroe Street. RHE Executive Director Jessica Anderson said that although it may take a year to fully repair the damage inflicted by the fire, plans for making the needed addition is still on track and awaiting approval by the Mayor and City Council.

“Other than inspiring us to speed up our timeline…no,” Anderson said when asked if the Feb. 2 fire had affected the refinancing process, adding that she expects the repairing of fire damage and the refinancing process to go on at the same time.

“The two processes will work in parallel,” she said.

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Rockville mulls vote-by-mail for 2019 election

  • Published in Local

Seal of Rockville MdROCKVILLE — Rockville residents and area election officials had mostly positive things to say Monday as the Rockville City Council considered a proposal to ameliorate declining voter turnout in city elections by putting an end to in-person voting and implementing a vote-by-mail system for the city’s 2019 election, under which every registered voter in the City of Rockville would receive a ballot in the mail, which voters would return by Election Day. 

“It’s an experience I mourn the loss of, if I go in this direction,” said Rockville resident and former mayoral candidate Drew Powell, who said he favors the change to vote by mail. “It doesn’t mean I’m against the initiative, it’s just something I will miss.” 

The lone voice who spoke in opposition to the proposal was Rockville resident Brigitta Mulligan, who suggested that the proposal be put to a referendum rather than be decided on by the Council.

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Rockville mulls 'vote by mail'

  • Published in Local

The City of Rockville is considering following the examples of Oregon, Washington state, and Colorado by moving to a vote-by-mail system for municipal elections.

“This is a wholesale change for the City,” said Council member Beryl Feinberg of the proposal for a vote-by-mail system, which was presented by Lois Neuman, who chairs the Rockville Board of Election Supervisors. 

If approved by the Mayor and Council, city residents would receive their ballot for the 2019 municipal election by mail, mark their ballot, place it in an envelope, sign an affidavit and mail their ballot in order to cast their vote.

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Rockville bans polystyrene

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE — The Rockville Mayor and City Council on Monday unanimously approved a bill banning the use of polystyrene carry-out food containers that restaurants often use for take-out and delivery

The bill’s passage means Rockville joins the rest of Montgomery County in banning polystyrene, more commonly known by the trademarked name Styrofoam. Polystyrene is a petroleum-based thermoplastic material that is often used to make temporary containers for food or packaging peanuts, for which it is well-suited because of its strength and light weight. However, polystyrene is not biodegradable and often finds its ways into streams and rivers as it one of the main sources of litter in the County. 

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Rockville undecided on new Pike plan

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – The Rockville City Council continued its discussion on a zoning text amendment that would alter the City’s Rockville Pike Neighborhood Plan to increase maximum heights along Rockville Pike.

In 2016, the Mayor and Council passed the Rockville Pike Neighborhood plan that allowed for increased development and density along Rockville Pike. The plan is part of a region-wide effort to center increased development near mass transit such as Metro.

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City makes changes to Chestnut Lodge zoning tract

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – The City Council Monday night decided to facilitate City plans to develop the historic Chestnut Lodge property into a public park.

The Rockville City Council voted 4-0-1, with Mayor Bridgett Donnell Newton voting to abstain, to file a local map amendment to rezone the area around Chestnut Lodge. In July, City officials acquired the three parcels of land on West Montgomery Avenue that make up the Chestnut Lodge property, with the intention of turning the site of the former 19th century psychiatric institution Chestnut Lodge into a public park.

Council member Mark Pierzchala said he specifically wanted to amend the City’s Planned Residential Unit (PRU), or zoning.

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Rockville City planners looking to future of development

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Large corporate campuses and office parks are a thing of the past according to Rockville City planners.

But as of today, the City is full of large office buildings and parks, mainly along the Interstate-270 corridor, something City planners from generations ago envisioned would be a hub Rockville’s business. On Monday night, the City Council held a work session to discuss mixed-use zoning along Rockville’s portion of the Interstate Highway 270 corridor along Research Boulevard, Piccard Drive and Shady Grove Road.

“As office buildings age in these suburban areas, the market is not producing replacement or many times even rehabbed offices as they get beyond the point of where cost effective rehab makes sense they come down,” said David Levy, chief of Long Range Planning and Development at the City of Rockville.

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Palakovich Carr announces bid for House of Delegates

  • Published in State

Rockville City Council member Julie Palakovich Carr filed her paperwork this week to run for District-17 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Palakovich Carr, a two-term member on the Rockville City Council, said she wanted to run for state government because she believes she can have a greater impact on education, transportation and economic issues at the state level.

“I decided to run because I think it's important to be pushing progressive reforms in Annapolis,” Palakovich Carr said.

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