Mayor and Council Meeting, 5/3/2010
CITY OF GAITHERSBURG
MINUTES OF A REGULAR CITY COUNCIL MEETING
MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010
A meeting of the Mayor and City Council was called to order at 7:30 p.m., Mayor Katz presiding. Council Members present: Ashman, Drzyzgula, Marraffa, Sesma and Spiegel. Staff present: City Manager Jones, Assistant City Manager Tomasello, Finance and Administration Director Belton, Planning and Code Administration Director Ossont, Public Works Director Arnoult, Parks, Recreation and Culture Director Potter, Special Events Director Limmer, Community Services Program Manager Herndon, Director of Community & Public Relation Director Monaco, Information Technology Director Cottrell, Comptroller Smith, City Attorney Board and Municipal Clerk Stokes.
I. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The Pledge was led by Jim Arnoult, Director of Public Works & Engineer.
In lieu of an invocation, Mayor Katz called for a moment of silence.
III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion was made by Council Member Ashman, seconded by, Council Member Drzyzgula, that the minutes of the Mayor and Council regular meeting held April 5, 2010, be approved.
IV. CONSENT ITEM
Resolution of the Mayor and City Council Authorizing the City Manager to Enter into a Contract to Purchase Seven (7) 2010 Dodge Charger Police Vehicles
Drzyzgula questioned the contract with an outside dealer and not a local dealer. Director of Public Works Arnoult stated City police vehicles are typically purchased through the State of Maryland Statewide Contracts.
This resolution authorized the City Manager to enter into a contract for the above purchases from Hertrich Fleet Services, 1123 Industrial Parkway, Denton, Maryland 21629, in the amount of One Hundred Thirty-Eight Thousand Eighty-Seven Dollars ($138,087); said funds to be expended from the Vehicle Replacement Fund.
Motion was made by Council Member Marraffa, seconded by, Council Member Spiegel, that the Consent Agenda (Resolution No. R-30-10), be approved.
Resolution of the City Council Confirming an Appointment and Reappointment by the Mayor to the Community Advisory Committee and the Economic and Business Development Committee
This resolution confirmed the following: Economic and Business Development Committee, Thomas Rowse (appointment), 101 Dogwood Drive, 20877, three-year term; and the Community Advisory Committee, Rachel Glass (reappointment), 12320 Parklawn Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20852, two-year term.
Motion was made by Council Member Marraffa, seconded by, Council Member Ashman, that the resolution above (Resolution No. R-31-10), be approved.
VI. FROM THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL/ANNOUNCEMENTS
Council Member Ashman
Gave a brief summary on the Gaithersburg Book Festival project. Staff and volunteers were commended for building the program, recruiting authors, sponsors, publicizing and promoting the all day event scheduled for May 15th on the grounds of City Hall in Olde Towne Gaithersburg from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thanked his colleagues, City Manager Jones and other staff from various departments for their support. Special thanks was expressed to Denise Kayser and Carolyn Crosby. Noted that as part of the festival, the Mayor’s Book Club was added. Participating 3rd graders from area schools accepted the challenge to read the most school approved books within a month would win a pizza party with the Mayor and receive recognition on stage at the festival. Council Member Ashman read a letter from Brown Station Elementary School who accepted the challenge.
Council Member Spiegel
- Thanked Council Member Ashman for his leadership on the Book Festival project.
- Thanked and congratulated organizers of the 2nd Annual Kentlands Community Day. Apologized for missing the State of the City Dinner due to a prior engagement and thanked volunteers and staff for their efforts.
- Attended the annual NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner on April 25th. Thanked all that participated in the Green Week activities to help clean up their neighborhoods and protect the environment.
- Announced vacancies on various City Committees.
- Mentioned that the County Council is scheduled to vote on May 4th for final approval on the Great Seneca Science Corridor Plan, formally Gaithersburg West Master Plan. The Plan had been modified to address concerns and priorities of various jurisdictions.
- Reported that the City has been in communication with the County regarding the threat of losing tax duplication funds which is intergovernmental money that is given to jurisdictions from other levels of government. Tax duplication funds reimburses the City for various services provided to its residents. He encouraged residents to contact their County Council members to express concerns
Council Member Marraffa
- Congratulated Council Member Ashman on his hard work on the upcoming Book Festival. Reported that he will not be in attendance due to a NLC meeting.
- Attended the Kentlands Community Day event. In addition, he and others attended the Active Aging Expo, which was well attended.
- Announced the Main Street Tailgate Farmer’s Market in the Kentlands, now open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, on Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. starting June 3, you can purchase seasonal produce at the Olde Towne Farmer’s Market on Fulks Corner Avenue. More information on the City’s website at www.gaithersburgmd.gov.
Council Vice President Drzyzgula
- Announced that starting May 7 through Sept. 3rd, visit the street market along East Diamond Avenue behind the Train Station in Olde Towne, 2-7 p.m., each Friday. Also, free concerts will take place every Friday night at the City Hall Concert Pavilion.
- Attended the annual Arbor Day Celebration at Rosemont Elementary School and received the banner for the 21st year as a Tree City. Joined her colleagues and thanked staff on the State of City Dinner and applauded the video “The Facts” produced by staff.
- Thanked Council Member Ashman on the Book Festival project and reported the increase of subscribers to Alert Gaithersburg, an emergency notification system.
Council Member Sesma
- Announced that Gaithersburg’s Miniature Golf Course is now open weekends until June 18, and then open daily through Labor Day.
- Congratulated area students on their acceptances on the college of their choice.
- Gave kudos to City staff for their efforts on the State of City Dinner and the video mentioned above. He thanked volunteers for their service to the City and its residents.
- Stated that the Great Seneca Science Corridor Plan has been much improved from the beginning and smart growth is back in the Plan. The City worked with Rockville and members of the County Council to examine the flaws in the Plan that didn’t make sense and would impact various suburban neighborhoods. Acknowledged Council County Members Phil Andrews, Marc Elrich, and Mike Knapp on their efforts to improve the Plan.
- Attended the Carnival of Chocolates fundraiser benefiting The Dwelling Place that provides transitional housing opportunities for families experiencing homelessness.
- Mentioned that the Farmers Market is growing and vendors appreciate the business in Gaithersburg.
- Reported that Cinco de Mayo is held May 5th, commemorating the Mexican army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
- Wished Happy Mother’s Day to the public.
- Requested the following:
Motion was made by Council Member Spiegel, seconded by Council Member Drzyzgula, to conduct a closed Executive Session immediately following its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 3, 2010 at City Hall. The meeting is proposed to be closed pursuant to the State Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Section 10-508(a)(1)(3) to consider the acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto; Section 10-508(a)(1)(4) to consider a matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the State; and Section 10-508(a)(1)(i) to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of appointees, employees, or officials over whom it has jurisdiction. The topics to be discussed are the Fishman property, 201 East Diamond Avenue and the annual performance evaluation of the City Attorney.
- Announced the following meetings:
- budget work sessions on Tuesday, May 4, 2010, 7:30 pm. at City Hall, and if necessary, Thursday, May 6 and Monday, May 10, 2010.
- next regular meeting on Monday, May 17, 2010.
VII. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT UPDATE
Assistant City Manager Tomasello
- Reported ribbon cutting ceremonies held for Kohl’s Department store at the Rio and Sephora, a cosmetic store located within JC Penny at Lakeforest Mall.
- Reported that Northrop Grumman selected Northern Virginia for its corporate headquarters over Maryland. Stated that the State and County did work together and made an aggressive offer.
XIII. PUBLIC HEARING
- An Ordinance to Adopt the City Budget for the Fiscal Year July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011, and Levying an Ad Valorem Tax on all Assessable Property Within the City of Gaithersburg, Maryland
City Manager Jones began the hearing on the process to date. Mentioned budget work session dates which are open to the public and announced that the record will close on May 17th. Copies of the proposed budget are available online for citizens and paper copies may be requested from the City’s Finance and Administration Department at City Hall.
Council Member Spiegel stated that it would be useful for the public to see a more detailed explanation of how the exceptions for low income and moderate income residents actually functions and how it would be applied should the City decide to raise the tax rate. In response to the request above, City Manager Jones stated that staff will give an update and address other policy questions received throughout the process at the upcoming budget work sessions.
Speakers from the public:
There were no other speakers at the hearing.
- Yale Wiesberg, 804 Amber Tree Court, reported that he was responsible for promoting the homeowners tax credit last year in the City. Disagreed on the proposed property tax rate increase and stated that cuts would reduce the quality of life and would not promote revenue. Mentioned four items that impacts the budget: 1) overtime; 2) salary increases/stipend; 3) health benefits of employees; and 4) economic development. Recommended that the property tax increase be no more than three cents.
- Tom Rowse, 101 Dogwood Drive, asked for more detail on the budget and the economic incentives. Commented that a decrease for leaf pick-up will cause various problems and stated that a rate increase at the Senior Center is irresponsible.
- Miriam Gandell, Executive Director, The Dwelling Place, thanked the Mayor and City Council and Community Services staff for their support. Mentioned the new process for applying for grants overall is good.
- Tracy Seward, Summit Avenue, expressed concern with the lack of economic planning for Olde Towne and asked to see more action taken to combat drugs and loitering activity. Questioned the status of filling the Olde Towne Revitalization Coordinator position. Assistant City Manager Tomasello stated the questioned position is part-time and staff is proposing a fulltime position in the budget.
- Alicia Mahone, Executive Director, Home-Free USA, resident of Gaithersburg for 17 years, thanked the City for their support. Stated that the foreclosure prevention program was helpful and thanked the City for the new process to award grants to nonprofits which will reduce overhead.
- Mary Brown, 203 Tulip Drive, resident since 1965 and has seen the City grow. Expressed concern with overcrowding in homes. Applauded the City’s snowplow team.
- Thomas Anderson, President of Youth Suspension Opportunities, Inc., stated he has been a resident for 25 years. Expressed concern with the newly proposed RFP process causing a problem and giving a lead agency an advantage.
- Dr. Christine Handy-Collins, Principal of Gaithersburg High School, thanked the Mayor and City Council and City Manager Jones and asked for continued support for youth development programs such as Youth Suspension Opportunities, G-Sharp Program, Identity, Inc., Early Head Start, Family Services, Brothers Program and Liberty’s Promises.
Motion was made by Council Member Drzyzgula, seconded by, Council Member Sesma , that the City Council hold the record open on the above until 5 p.m. on May 17, 2010, with anticipated policy discussion on June 7, 2010.
- Public Hearing on Constant Yield Tax Rate and Proposed Property Tax Increase for the City of Gaithersburg for FY 2011
Finance and Administration Director Belton introduced the above public hearing. The hearing was advertised in the Gaithersburg Gazette on April 14, 2010. Staff recommended the Mayor and City Council vote to close the record on Monday, May 17th, 5 p.m., and notify the public that the proposed tax rate of $,2620 per $100 of assessed value will be voted on during the meeting on June 7, 2010.
Speaker from the public:
Tom Rowse, 101 Dogwood Drive, questioned whether the property tax increase was appropriate.
There were no other speakers at the hearing.
Motion was made by Council Member Spiegel, seconded by, Council Member Ashman, that the City Council hold the record open on the above until 5 p.m. on May 17, 2010, with anticipated policy discussion on June 7, 2010.
IX. POLICY DISCUSSION
- Ordinance to Repeal and Reenact with Amendments to Chapter 15, Section 15-8.1 of the City Code, Entitled, “Special Events, Permit Required”
Parks, Recreation and Culture Director Potter presented the above discussion. A public hearing was held on the proposed ordinance on April 5, 2010, and the record was held open for 10 days, closing on April 15, 2010. City Attorney Board reviewed the ordinance and based on the comments during the hearing, staff researched insurance options for special events defined in the policy and suggested clarifications and changes were incorporated into the proposed ordinance. Additional concerns were expressed for neighborhood block parties, permit fees for non-sponsored events, required insurance, timeline approval for a special event application, and the clarification of significant impact. A separate process for neighborhood and larger events was suggested. Staff was directed to address policy issues and concerns expressed. In addition, it was recommended that a list be provided identifying established events.
- Staff Guidance on a Proposed Text Amendment to Permit Automobile Filling Stations in the C-1 Zone
Planning and Code Administration Director Ossont stated the proposed amendment would expand the permitted uses in the C-1 Zone to allow automobile filling stations. Client Andrea Investors, LLC (Alex Diaz) is the contract purchaser of the property located in the northeast quadrant of Quince Orchard Road and Darnestown Road (at 12175 Darnestown Road). A letter from Linowes and Blocher states that the property was used as a gas station prior to its annexation into the City and was permitted to continue as a gas station after the annexation and reclassification to the C-1 Zone, a zone that currently does not permit automobile filling stations. The gas station has ceased operation and is currently boarded up. Mr. Diaz is seeking to restore operation of the gas station and incidental food mart. To do such, a Zoning Text Amendment is required to allow the property to become an appropriate and compatible use. It was suggested to do away with the C-1 Zone. Concern was expressed with residential being near a gas station due to the underground storage of gas tanks. Staff recommended addressing compatibility issues and adjusting the Development Standards. In response to a question to change the zone, Mr. Ossont stated that allowing a property into the C-1 Zone would be less expensive and more expedient. It was suggested to do away with the C-1 Zone and doing a comprehensive rezoning as part of a master plan in the future, stating that MXD would be ideal. Staff was directed to advertise the above for a public hearing for the proposed text amendment to add the permitted use to the C-1 Zone under certain standards.
X. FROM THE ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER, CITY ATTORNEY AND OTHER STAFF
City Attorney Board
Reported that staff received notice from the Circuit Court that Judge Greenburg signed the order affirming the City’s decision on the Wilson property. Formal opinion will be forthcoming.
There being no further business to come before this session of the City Council, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:05 p.m.