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Gburg’s Spiegel calls for highway funds restoration

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gaithersburg buildingGAITHERSBURG — At Monday night’s meeting of Gaithersburg’s Mayor and City Council, Council Vice President Ryan Spiegel identified what he called the top priority for Gaithersburg and all other Maryland municipalities in the current legislative session. Spiegel, who also serves as statewide chair of the legislative committee of the Maryland Municipal League, noted that under a formula set by state law, cities and towns throughout Maryland are entitled to receive funding for roadway restoration and maintenance,

“Unfortunately, that formula was eviscerated by the State of Maryland back in 2009 during the Great Recession,” Spiegel said. “Ever since them, cities and towns have been working to get the state to restore that formula to its rightful equation, because without it, cities and towns are being deprived of the money they need to maintain our roads and other transportation infrastructure.”

Spiegel said that the MML sought public involvement in helping to convince state legislators to restore this funding, known as highway user revenues, or HURs, which is largely funded by state gasoline taxes.

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Gaithersburg approves Johnson property plans

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GAITHERSBURG — Nearly 13 months after voting to annex the Johnson Property – an area near the intersection of Darnestown Road and Quince Orchard Boulevard – into the city, the Gaithersburg City Council on Tuesday voted to approve a development plan for it after a year of litigation surrounding the circumstances of the annexation vote.

On Dec. 19, 2016, the Council passed resolutions to annex the Johnson Property, an area near the intersection of Darnestown Road and Quince Orchard Boulevard and authorizing City Manager Tony Tomasello to execute an agreement to develop the property for mixed zone commercial and residential use. 

At the time the Council debated the annexation resolutions, it was operating at reduced capacity following the death of Council member Henry F. Marraffa. Council member Ryan Spiegel was also absent due to an illness, and had indicated that he would recuse himself after learning that his employer, the Bethesda-based law firm Paley Rothman, had a business relationship with one of the developers.

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G’burg council member asks for briefing on MCPS’ Holocaust curriculum

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Ryan Spiegel, Gaithersburg City Council member and president of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League, has requested “a detailed briefing” of the Montgomery County Public Schools’ Holocaust curriculum from school officials.

In light of recent anti-Semitic vandalism and other incidents at County schools and synagogues, Spiegel said he wants to review the curriculum to make sure all students understand what can happen when hate takes over.

“The real straw that broke the camel’s back was Sean Spicer’s comments,” Spiegel said, referring to the White House press secretary who recently incorrectly stated that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” and gas his own people.

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Gaithersburg moves to dismiss lawsuit

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GAITHERSBURG – The City of Gaithersburg has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a resident who believes a vote to annex land into the city was carried out illegally.

On Dec. 19 of last year, Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council took up resolutions approving the annexation of the Johnson Property, an area of land near the intersection of Darnestown Road and Quince Orchard Boulevard, authorizing City Manager Tony Tomasello to execute an agreement to develop the area, which has been slated for mixed-zone commercial and residential use.

The council at the time was operating at reduced capacity following the death of longtime Council member Henry F. Marraffa two months prior. The Council appointed Yvette D. Monroe to serve the balance of Marraffa’s term earlier this year. Council member Ryan Spiegel, who was suffering from strep throat, was also absent from the meeting. Moreover, Spiegel had indicated that he would recuse himself from the vote after learning that his employer, the Bethesda law firm Paley Rothman, had a business relationship with one of the prospective property developers.

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Gaithersburg sides with county on immigrants

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GAITHERSBURG – City council member Ryan Spiegel wanted to make one thing clear Tuesday night –the city does not participate in enforcing immigration law.

After a surge in deportations by federal immigration officials across the country, Spiegel along with other members of the Gaithersburg City Council said at Tuesday night’s Council meeting that the city does not assist federal immigration officials in deportations.

“Our city police officers do not make inquires relative to immigration status during routine actions,” Spiegel said.

Spiegel responded to comments made by Gaithersburg resident Doug Hill, who urged the city to declare itself a sanctuary city, a general term for jurisdictions where local officials do not assist in enforcement of immigration law. Spiegel said he does not think it is a good idea for the city to call itself a sanctuary city given there is no universal definition for the term.

“The phrase sanctuary city is a politically-loaded phrase as we all know,” Spiegel said. ”I think that regardless of whether or not that label is applied to a particular municipal or county or state entity, the more important question is what is the culture?”

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Gaithersburg resident files annexation suit

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GAITHERSBURG – A controversial vote to annex property in the city is now a case before the county courts.

Aaron Rosenzweig, a Gaithersburg resident who has testified about various issues many times before Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council and founded the website teamgaithersburg.org, filed a complaint in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Feb. 1 alleging that a vote to annex new property into the city was carried out illegally and asking that the vote be rescinded.

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Ethics questions linger in Gaithersburg

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GAITHERSBURG – Residents are questioning the legality of a vote to annex the Johnson property after a weak majority approved it last month following the departure of an angered council member who wanted a full council to decide the matter.

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Gaithersburg again sustainable energy city

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GAITHERSBURG – The city with the tree in its logo can claim an environmental milestone.

The University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center honored Gaithersburg as one of 14 Maryland municipalities to receive “Sustainable Maryland” certification, marking the second time the city’s received the award.

City officials received the re-certification, which is awarded to cities and towns based on their environmental sustainability initiatives, Friday at the Maryland Municipal League’s fall conference in Solomons.

Gaithersburg was one of the original eight awardees in 2013, and with its re-certification this year, it is the only Montgomery County municipality to receive the award.

“Receiving our second certification with Sustainable Maryland Certified reinforces the commitment that the City of Gaithersburg has made to sustainable practices in our community,” said Mayor Jud Ashman.

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Gaithersburg studies Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance

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gaithersburg buildingGAITHERSBURG – Mayor Jud Ashman and members of the City Council and Planning Commission held a public work session at City Hall Monday night to consider proposed changes to the city’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, a regulation which restricts commercial and residential development based on school capacity.

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