Mayor and Council Meeting, 12/20/2010
CITY OF GAITHERSBURG
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, Deputy City Manager Tomasello, Public Works Director Arnoult, Planning and Code Administration Director Ossont, Finance and Administration Director Belton, Police Chief Sroka, Lieutenants Pettaway and Wilkes, Planner Marsh, City Attorney Board and Municipal Clerk Stokes.
MINUTES OF A REGULAR CITY COUNCIL MEETING
MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2010
I. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The Pledge was led by Keith Bryan, President of the Gaithersburg Police Foundation.
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 Marraffa, that the minutes of the Mayor and Council work session held December 13, 2010, be approved.
Vote: 4-0-1 (Abstained: Spiegel)
IV. OATH OF OFFICE
Mayor Katz administered the Oath of Office to Victor MacDonald to execute the office of Board of Appeals according to the United States and Maryland Constitutions, the Laws of this State and the Gaithersburg City Charter and Code.
- Certificate of Recognition Presented to Andrea Faris Roberts, People’s Choice Award
Mayor Katz recognized Andrea Faris Roberts, Executive Director of Reece’s Rainbow Down Syndrome Orphan Ministry. The ministry created an outreach program to support new mothers of babies with Down Syndrome. In 2006 the program expanded to international adoptions with the help of many dedicated volunteers. In four years, Reece’s Rainbow has helped over 350 children with Down Syndrome and other special needs to find homes in the United States. Mrs. Roberts is also the recipient of the 2010 Congressional Angel in Adoption Award and has recently won the PEOPLE’s Magazine 2010 Readers’ Choice Hero Award.
- Promotion Recognition for Lieutenants Pettaway and Wilkes
Police Chief Mark Sroka joined by City Manager Jones and Mayor Katz recognized the promotion of Gaithersburg Police Department Lieutenants Curtis Pettaway and Robert Wilkes. Chief Sroka noted that promotions are not often made and that the position is the second highest rank in the Police Department. Robert Wilkes was hired by the Gaithersburg Police Department on September 19, 1989 and has served as an officer for twenty-one years. Curtis Pettaway was hired on January 20, 1992 and has served as an officer for 18 years. Both promotions became effective on November 14, 2010.
- City of Gaithersburg’s Auditors
Finance and Administration Director Belton introduced Greg Bussik of Clifton Gunderson, LLP to make the final post-audit presentation for 2010 required communications to the Mayor and City Council. The City has received the Government Excellence in Financial Reporting Award for thirty-seven consecutive years. Mr. Bussik reported that the City received an Unqualified Opinion which is a clean opinion in accordance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and Government’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reporting (CAFR). The financial documents received from City staff was reviewed and found complete and accurate. Mr. Bussink thanked the City for the opportunity to serve as the audit firm for five years.
Finance and Administration Director Belton, Comptroller Smith and other finance staff were commended for their efforts and preparation of the City’s financial documents.
VI. PUBLIC APPEARANCES
- Randy Lord-Wilkinson, Rector, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, submitted a petition signed by members of the church opposed to the historic designation of the house at 202 South Summit Avenue. Stated that adequate parking is a must to offer necessary services to the community. He further stated that the church will have to incur the expense of creating a new parking lot. He thanked the City for seeking options to deal with their parking issues and livelihood of their church.
- Roy Belvington, Senior Warden, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, referred to the parking study provided by the church and the 15 alternatives provided by City staff and stated that the only alternative would be to build a parking lot on the property at 202 South Summit without the house. Asked the Mayor and City Council to make a decision in favor of an organization that has been in Gaithersburg for 128 years.
- Tom Rowse, 101 Dogwood Drive, wished the Mayor and City Council happy holidays. Stated he is in favor of the proposed election amendments.
VII. FROM THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL/ANNOUNCEMENTS
Council Vice President Ashman
- Congratulated Lieutenants Pettaway and Wilkes on their promotion.
- He and Council Member Sesma spoke at Gaithersburg High School Liberty’s Promise program.
- Attended the Maryland Transportation Administration open house and public hearing for the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) held on December 15th at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park.
- Attended the Business and Economic Development Committee breakfast. Reported that Montgomery County Council member Phil Andrews gave a sobering talk about the state of the County’s challenging budget.
- Wished all happy holidays!
- Recapped the City’s accomplishments (revising multifamily residential parking requirements, updating stormwater management regulations, updating elements of the Master Plan, amending the Ethics Code, newly formed Historic District Commission, and the right to raise chickens) over the 2010 year despite the necessary budget cuts. Stated that the commitment and efforts of 2010 have brought forth development and redevelopment in 2011 which include the Highland apartments at West Deer Park and 355, Crown Farm has broken ground, approved financing for the Summit Center (Hidden Creek) and Archstone (Westchester at Olde Towne) projects and proposals for the Fishman site and possible movement for the “Y” site.
- Reported that over 6,000 subscribers use the Alert Gaithersburg emergency notification system to receive important messages. Encouraged residents to sign up at alert.gaithersburgmd.gov.
Council Member Spiegel
- Missed several meetings due to the birth of his son Jack Kenneth Spiegel, born December 6, 2010, 7 lbs. 2 oz., 20.75 inches tall. On behalf of the family he thanked his colleagues, staff and members of the community for all the good wishes.
- Congratulated Lieutenants Pettaway and Wilkes on their promotion.
- Congratulated Andrea Faris Roberts on her recognition and award.
- Attended the CCT public hearing and the Maryland Municipal League (MML) Montgomery County Chapter meeting which was an opportunity to advocate for City priorities.
- Announced the vacancies on various committees.
- Wished all a safe, happy holidays.
Council Member Marraffa
- Echoed congratulations to Lieutenants Pettaway and Wilkes on their achievements.
- Reiterated that it’s been a good year with ground breaking now going on throughout Gaithersburg.
- Attended the CCT public hearing.
- Wish all happy holidays!
Council Member Drzyzgula
- Testified at the CCT public hearing and expressed support to approve funding.
- Attended the annual MML Legislative Dinner on December 16th and had an opportunity to express the City’s priorities.
- Attended the Gaithersburg/Germantown Chamber of Commerce Dinner.
- Attended the Council of Governments Annual luncheon. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney was the speaker at the event and he stated that we are in one of the riches areas of society and should be able to solve the financial and planning issues to attain sustainable communities in the region.
- Applauded the Police promotions that occurred earlier in the meeting and acknowledged the support of fellow co-workers, families and friends.
- Wished happy holidays to all!
- Announced that a closed meeting was held at City Hall by the Mayor and City Council of Gaithersburg on Monday, December 13, 2010 at approximately 9:30 p.m., to consult with staff, consultants, or other individuals about pending or potential litigation. The closed meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:00 p.m.
Council Member Sesma
- Mentioned the 2010 accomplishment of the inaugural Gaithersburg Book Festival. Recognized the efforts of Council Vice President Ashman, staff and volunteers. The festival is scheduled for May 21, 2011.
- Echoed congratulations to Lieutenants Pettaway and Wilkes and recognized the leadership of the Gaithersburg Police Department.
- Congratulated Andrea Faris Roberts on her award.
- Attended the annual Gaithersburg Community Chorus performance.
- Expressed best wishes for happy holidays and happy new year to all!
- Requested the following motion to conduct an executive session:
Motion was made by Council Member Marraffa, seconded by Council Member Spiegel, to conduct a closed Executive Session immediately following its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, December 20, 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)(3) acquisition of real property for a public purpose and matters directly related thereto.
- Reported that Council Vice President Drzyzgula was elected to serve as the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Corporate Vice President.
- Attended a forum on jobs and the economy at NIST with the Governor and others throughout the State of Maryland.
- Announced the following meeting schedule:
- no meeting Monday, December 27th
- next regular meeting scheduled for Monday, January 3, 2011.
- work session Monday, January 10, 2011, to receive guidance on the State of the City event and discuss policies on sponsorship opportunities.
VIII. FROM THE CITY MANAGER
Gave a report on the temporary public library. Mayor Katz directed staff to prepare a letter to Cathy Matthews and the County thanking them for the partnership to move forward with the temporary public library service at Lakeforest Mall.
IX. FROM THE DEPUTY CITY MANAGER
Economic Development Update
- Received notification from the Governor’s office that the City’s Enterprise Zone expansion application was approved.
- Reported that the 2nd round of interviews for the Economic Development Director position has begun.
- Staff has attempted to negotiate an adapted reuse for the firehouse in Kentlands with no success. Staff was directed by the Mayor and Council to investigate alternative plans for the site. Staff is seeking guidance to begin the process by declaring the property surplus which entails a notification and public hearing. He stated that no deals are pending and this action would open up bids for suggested uses. The City will continue to maintain the property.
X. POLICY DISCUSSION AND STAFF GUIDANCE
- Annual Review of Setting a Fee-in-Lieu Within the Enterprise Zone
Deputy City Manager Tomasello explained that pursuant to Chapter 24, Article XVI of the City Code, residential construction in an enterprise zone established by State law as of July 21, 2008 is exempted from the affordable housing requirements. Under the current Affordable Housing Regulations, the developer is required to pay a $1 fee-in-lieu for each unit constructed.
The amount of the per-unit fee is subject to annual review by the Mayor and City Council, and may be revised by resolution upon a finding that a higher fee is warranted. Since adoption of the Administrative Regulations, the Mayor and City Council have had the opportunity to review the fee-in-lieu in 2008 and 2009; neither time was the fee increased. Staff is recommending that the fee be retained at its current level of $1.00 per unit. It was noted that the exemption applies only to the original CBDG and not the entire Enterprise Zone. The Mayor and City Council agreed with staff retain the current fee.
- HD-33 - Application Requests Historic Designation of the Severance House at 202 South Summit Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland. The Structure was Built About 1903, and is Listed within the City's Inventory of Historic Resources. The City's Historic District Commission Recommended Historic Designation of the House Based on Criteria Within Section 24-226 of the City Code
Planner Marsh presented the above discussion stated that the record closed on December 2, 2010 at 5 p.m. and currently there are 80 exhibits in the record file. A joint public hearing was held on November 1, 2010 and the Planning Commission held a discussion on their recommendation to the Mayor and City Council on December 1, 2010. Staff sought direction to prepare a resolution of approval or denial of historic designation application HD-33. City Attorney Board stated that a memorandum in regards to the legal issues surrounding the pending designation action and request for demolition has been included in the record. She stated that action taken will be a legislative action and not a quasi judicial proceeding. The standard of review is set forth in Section 24-226(a) of the City Code and mirrors the language in Article 66B, Section 802 of the Maryland Annotated Code. Mentioned that there has been discussion with regards to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and stated that that statute does not apply to designation decision by the Mayor and City Council. If the property were to move forward for demolition, the property would apply to that proceeding.
Several Council members agreed with the historic designation as recommended by the Historic District Commission and Planning Staff and supported by the Planning Commission. It was stated that the property meets a number of the criteria for historic designation. Many recognized the historical significance and believe that historic resources were identified. In addition, the property was highlighted for special consideration as a potential historic resource in the Historic Preservation Element of the Master Plan.
Other Council members recognized the church as a viable part of the Gaithersburg community, but also believe that the church has met the criteria against historic designation under the process established by City law. Several members stressed the importance of following the current process in a step by step manner. It was stated that the Mayor and Council has the authority and discretion to consider other policy factors beyond the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for historic designation and beyond the City’s Master Plan. It was stated that while RLUIPA does not directly apply to the designation decision, it does apply to the churches ability to make use of the property.
Motion was made by Council Member Sesma, seconded by Council Member Ashman, directing staff to prepare a resolution of approval for historic designation of application HD-33.
Vote: 3-2 (Opposed: Marraffa and Spiegel)
- Ordinance to Amend Chapter 6C of the City Code, Entitled "Elections," so as to Amend Section 5 Entitled "Time and Manner of Reporting - Candidates," and to Amend Section 10 Entitled "Failure to File Report," and Further, to Add Section 12.1 Entitled" Loans to Candidates"
- Resolution of the Mayor and City Council to Amend Section 27(b) of the City Charter Entitled “Qualifications of Voters; Registration” to Reduce Number of Days Prior to an Election Required to Register as a Voter for City Elections
- Resolution of the Mayor and City Council to Amend Section 30 of the City Charter Entitled “General Elections” to Eliminate the Requirement that Candidates Receive the Votes of More than 40 Percent of the Total Qualified Voters to be Elected
- Resolution of the Mayor and City Council to Amend Section 32 of the City Charter Entitled “Election Places; Ballots or Voting Machines; Hours Polls Open” to Amend the Polling Site Hours and Electioneering
- Resolution of the Mayor and City Council to Amend Section 33 of the City Charter Entitled “Counting of Votes; Runoff Elections”
City Attorney Board presented the above ordinance and charter amendments for election laws.
Motion was made by Council Member Sesma, seconded by, Council Member Drzyzgula, that AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 6C OF THE CITY CODE, ENTITLED "ELECTIONS," SO AS TO AMEND SECTION 5 ENTITLED "TIME AND MANNER OF REPORTING - CANDIDATES," AND TO AMEND SECTION 10 ENTITLED "FAILURE TO FILE REPORT," AND FURTHER, TO ADD SECTION 12.1 ENTITLED" LOANS TO CANDIDATES" (Ordinance No. O-28-10), be adopted.
Motion was made by Council Member Spiegel, seconded by, Council Member Sesma, that a RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL TO AMEND SECTION 27(b) OF THE CITY CHARTER ENTITLED “QUALIFICATIONS OF VOTERS; REGISTRATION” TO REDUCE NUMBER OF DAYS PRIOR TO AN ELECTION REQUIRED TO REGISTER AS A VOTER FOR CITY ELECTIONS (Charter Amendment No. CA-5-10), be approved.
Motion was made by Council Member Drzyzgula, seconded by, Council Member Marraffa, that a RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL TO AMEND SECTION 30 OF THE CITY CHARTER ENTITLED “GENERAL ELECTIONS” TO ELIMINATE THE REQUIREMENT THAT CANDIDATES RECEIVE THE VOTES OF MORE THAN 40 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL QUALIFIED VOTERS TO BE ELECTED (Charter Amendment No. CA-6-10), be approved.
Vote: 4-1 (Opposed: Sesma [not broken, don’t need fixing])
Motion was made by Council Member Sesma, seconded by, Council Member Spiegel, that a RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL TO AMEND SECTION 32 OF THE CITY CHARTER ENTITLED “ELECTION PLACES; BALLOTS OR VOTING MACHINES; HOURS POLLS OPEN” TO AMEND THE POLLING SITE HOURS AND ELECTIONEERING (Charter Amendment No. CA-7-10), be approved.
Motion was made by Council Member Ashman, seconded by, Council Member Drzyzgula, that a RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL TO AMEND SECTION 33 OF THE CITY CHARTER ENTITLED “COUNTING OF VOTES; RUNOFF ELECTIONS” (Charter Amendment No. CA-8-10), be approved.
There being no further business to come before this session of the City Council, the meeting was duly adjourned at approximately 8:44 p.m.