Mayor and Council Meeting, 4/16/2001
CITY OF GAITHERSBURG
MINUTES OF A REGULAR CITY COUNCIL MEETING
April 16, 2001
A meeting of the Mayor and City Council was called to order at 7:30 p.m., Mayor Katz presiding. Council Members present: Alster, Davis, Marraffa, and Somerset. Absent: Edens. Staff present: City Manager Humpton, Assistant City Manager Felton, Assistant City Manager Tomasello, Finance and Administration Director Belton, Urban Design Director Wagner, Planning Analyst Patula, Public Works, Parks Maintenance and Engineering Director (PWPME) Arnoult, Police Chief Viverette, Human Resources Director Kee, City Attorney Abrams, and Administrative Assistant Stokes.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Francis Rose, Economic Development Committee, 9001 Edgewood Drive, Gaithersburg, Maryland.
In lieu of an invocation, Mayor Katz called for a moment of silence.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion was made by Council Member Alster, seconded by Council Member Marraffa, that the minutes of a Mayor and City Council meeting held April 2, 2001, be approved.
Resolution of the City Council Confirming Appointments of the Mayor
This resolution confirms the following appointments: Ad Hoc Dog Park Advisory Committee, Michael Greenberg, 109 Autumn Flower Lane, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878, indefinite term; and the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, Stephen R. Glenn, 6 Hutton Street, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877, three year term.
Motion was made by Council Member Marraffa, seconded by Council Member Somerset, that a RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL CONFIRMING APPOINTMENTS OF THE MAYOR TO THE AD HOC DOG PARK ADVISORY COMMITTEE AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE (Resolution No. R-32-01) be approved.
Mayor Katz presented a Proclamation designating April 15 - 22, 2001, as "Days of Remembrance" in the City of Gaithersburg to Holocaust survivor Elizabeth Strassburger. The year 2001 will mark the 60th anniversary of the destruction of European Jews. This year's theme is "Remembering the Past for the Sake of the Future." Ms. Strassburger accepted the proclamation on behalf of the United States Congress and the Holocaust Memorial Museum in commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust.
Mayor Katz presented a Proclamation designating April 2001, as "Arab-American Heritage Month" in the City of Gaithersburg to Mrs. Samira Hussein. On behalf of the Arab-American community, she thanked the City Council for allowing their community to keep their heritage alive. She stated the festival will be held on Sunday, April 29, 2001, from 1 - 5 p.m., on the City Hall grounds.
- Presentation of the Chesapeake Bay Partner Community Award to the City of Gaithersburg
Mr. Mark Thompson, staff coordinator for the Local Government Advisory Committee presented the Chesapeake Bay Partner Community Award to Mayor Katz. He stated the City has been an active member in this program since 1999 and was named a Chesapeake Bay Gold Level Partner Community. The City received the award by demonstrating a commitment to restoring and protecting the bay, its rivers, and its streams.
Mayor Katz applauded City staff for their efforts to receive this award.
- Courtesy Review - Washingtonian North Building 3 - Final Site Plan
Scott Wallace, Linowes and Blocher, representing Boston Properties, stated plans would be shown for the Washingtonian North Office Park. He stated the plan had received a courtesy review by the Mayor and City Council a year ago for approval of a revised SDP and an amendment to final plan. Both plans were approved by the Planning Commission and then appealed by the neighborhood to the Board of Appeals. The Board upheld the SDP and overturned the amendment to the final plan stating the original final plan for Manugistics had expired. The developer received approval from the Planning Commission for a new final plan for the construction of the entry road, storm water management pond, and grading of the site on February 21, 2001. He stated in response to concerns from the community, Boston Properties had reduced the height of the building, increased a visual buffer with the planting of shrubs and trees.
Andrew Greene, Boston Properties, stated the zoning and the physical layout had put constraints on the developer. The design team had made efforts to address the concerns of the community by lowering the height of the building and parking garage and increasing the landscaping buffer between the development and their neighbors.
Suzette Goldstein, HOK Architects, reviewed the plan for the proposed building. She gave a presentation on the general site of the building, stating the shortest side of the building is closest to the neighborhood. She showed the City Council renderings of a 2-1/2 story parking garage with the majority of the garage buried in the existing terrain. She stated the developer is proposing a 98 ft. building with street trees along the entrance road, a pond with plantings surrounding it, public pathway system throughout the property, and125 additional trees to create a dense buffer.
Selin Ozertugrul, HOK Architects, briefed the Council on the architectural design of the building and features. She stated the building's main entry will face I-270/Sam Eig Highway and is almost two stories lower. She stated to be more environmentally responsible building, they have situated the building due south and created the glass panels with sun screens giving the feeling of a deeper façade rather than pre-cast façade. On the north side, the building connects both physically and visually back into the pond area. The overall design was to create a connection from the entry side of the building back to the pond side. She stated the height and location of the garage were addressed.
- David Kaysen, 1086 West Side Drive, expressed opposition to the architectural design of the building. He stated concern with the lack of amenities, public transportation access and bus shelters, and the proposed roadway system for the Washingtonian North Office Park development.
- Linda Gore, 60 Oak Shade Road, resident of Bennington, stated concern with the proposed Parklands Development. She has environmental issues with Phase I and II of the plan. She is opposed to the plan because of traffic congestion, school overcrowding to the area, and the clearing of trees and disturbance of wetlands.
- Mark Hackman, 64 Apple Seed Lane, expressed overall density concerns with the Washingtonian North Property development. He stated the traffic study done for the area is outdated and flawed. He asked that his letter submitted to City Attorney Abrams and Council Member Somerset be incorporated into the record. He expressed concern with traffic safety in the area.
- Carol Martin, 23 Norwich Court, stated she has been involved in the development process for the Washingtonian North Office Park development and was surprised see the surface parking lot, once again, included in the plan. She applauded the height decrease, but expressed concerns with the reflection of glass from the building and traffic safety issues. She also questioned the status of the wall extension on the property.
- William Grenke, 37 Apple Seed Lane, expressed concerns with the outdated traffic study done for the Washingtonian area. With additional development in the Washingtonian area, he urged the City to investigate the traffic patterns and the impact on the surrounding communities.
- Rick Marvin, 223 Little Quarry Road, expressed opposition with the modified plan for the Kentlands development to remove a tree save area near Little Quarry Road in order to build additional development. He also stated the developer had not posted the hearing notices properly and the hearing had been rescheduled.
- David Kaysen, 1086 West Side Drive, referred to comments made by Mark Hackman. Mr. Kaysen stated Boston Properties has not met with other HOA's and asked for this to be addressed.
- Scott Wallace, Linowes and Blocher, responded to several comments made. He stated Boston Properties will address the concerns for the surface parking lot and meet with other HOA's in the surrounding areas. He noted that Mr. Kaysen has been at every presentation made by Boston Properties involving this project. He stated Boston Properties will cooperate with the City and other agencies involved to address traffic safety issues.
FROM THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL/ANNOUNCEMENTS
Council Member Alster
- Stated Boston Properties has made progress on the proposed buildings for development in the Washingtonian North Office Park. He stated concerns with tree save areas. He asked the Planning Commission to review the amenities for the development.
- Informed the public that the local Red Cross offers a Holocaust and war victims tracing service to search for Holocaust survivors. He stated the service is free and confidential.
Council Member Somerset
- Reported that legislation was passed to increase the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony for animal cruelty. She thanked all involved.
- Asked staff to follow-up on the pending study from the County on sound issues.
- Expressed concerns with traffic circulation proposed in the plan for the Washingtonian North Office Park development. She suggested staff and Boston Properties investigate the traffic safety issues.
- Shared that the individual gold medallist in equestrian sports David O'Connor went to Gaithersburg High School.
Council Member Marraffa
- Applaud Boston Properties and HOK Architects on their proposed plan. He encouraged the developers to continue working on the areas of concern with the surrounding communities.
- Stated he attended the Diamond Elementary DARE program and congratulated the schools and staff involved.
Council Member Davis
- Concurred with other City Council Members that Boston Properties continue to work with the communities surrounding the Washingtonian North Office Park development.
- Announced upcoming events, noting a public meeting to discuss proposals for a park to be established on the site of the Gaithersburg International Latitude Observatory on Thursday, April 26, 2001, 7 p.m. at the Activity Center, Bohrer Park at Summit Hall Farm. He also announced the City will host a Bark in the Park, Saturday, May 5, 2001, 12 noon. For details on City events check the City's website at www.gaithersburgmd.gov or call 301-258-6350.
- Concurred with City Council Members regarding the proposed Washingtonian North Office Park development. He thanked Boston Properties for working with the City, HOA's, and neighboring communities and urged them to continue to address the concerns raised. He asked the Planning Commission to look into a traffic study update.
- Thanked Eric Soter for taking City Officials from Canada around to show them Gaithersburg and surrounding areas.
- Received an email from a citizen regarding the construction of a bikeway on Oakmont Avenue. He asked staff to contact the County with the possibility.
- Announced the Mayor and City Council will not conduct a work session on Monday, April 23, 2001.
- Asked staff to invite Quince Orchard High School teacher Leon Busche to a City Council meeting to be recognized for receiving the 2001 Anges Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award from the Washington Post.
- Asked staff to investigate additional weeding at the City's Constitution Gardens.
- Asked staff to increase signage for the City's new parking garage. Council Member Alster asked for permanent signs be placed in the surrounding surface parking areas in Olde Towne directing citizens to the parking garage.
- Stated staff will schedule a follow-up meeting with Mark Hackman on a traffic study for the Washingtonian area.
- Stated the Chesapeake Bay Gold Level Partner Community award received earlier was a Strategic Direction goal approximately four years ago, asking staff to enhance the environmental standards for the City.
- He announced Urban Design Clark Wagner will be leaving the City after 16 years of service.
- Complimented Maureen Herndon for coordinating the Drug Education and Prevention programs at area Elementary and Middle Schools for the month of April.
- Reported the City is sadden by the passing of long-time employee Carl Webb on April 6, 2001. He expressed condolences to the family on behalf of the Mayor and City Council.
RECESSED THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEETING AT 8:35 P.M.
FOR A HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION MEETING AND RECONVENED AT 8:50 P.M.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS, AND REGULATIONS
1. Nonexclusive Contracts to Provide Medical Insurance to Qualified Employees
The City issued a Request for Proposals to provide health insurance coverage for City employees in Fiscal Year 2002, beginning July 2001. The Mayor and City Council rejected all bids received and authorized the City Manager to negotiate a contract by Resolution No. R-23-01 approved on March 19, 2001. This resolution authorizes the City Manager to enter into Nonexclusive Contracts with the City's current providers Optimum Choice, Inc. (OCI), 4 Taft Court, Rockville, Maryland 20852, and Kaiser Permanente, 2101 East Jefferson Street, Rockville, Maryland 20849-6611. Staff believes the decision to renew the above contracts would have the least impact on the employees as well as the City. She stated it would be a substantial savings to the City as well as the employee.
Motion was made by Council Member Somerset, seconded by Council Member Marraffa, that a RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF GAITHERSBURG AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO ENTER INTO NONEXCLUSIVE CONTRACTS TO PROVIDE MEDICAL INSURANCE TO QUALIFIED EMPLOYEES (Resolution No. R-33-01) be approved.
2. Granting Approval of SDP-00-002, Lots 6 and 7 Quince Orchard Park Crescent
Urban Design Director Wagner stated this matter has been before the Mayor and City Council and Planning Commission on several occasions. This application requests approval of two lots (6 and 7) and the development of two, one-story buildings with a total of 47,900 square feet of office space for the applicant, Quadrangle Development Corporation.
The Planning Commission recommended approval at their January 3, 2001 meeting with the following conditions: Execution of an escrow agreement requiring the funding of $50,000 for the construction of a right-turn lane from Quince Orchard Road to Great Seneca Highway northbound. The escrow agreement will require the funding to be paid before July 1, 2001, so that the necessary permitting and construction may be done in conjunction with the occupancy of the Arbee Building (SDP-00-001); and the applicant is to work with staff on a revision to the plan for Building F, so as to eliminate the parking and loading dock fronting on Quince Orchard Road. Following the Planning Commission's recommendations, staff held several meetings with the applicant to resolve the traffic improvement issues raised by residents. The applicant has agreed to fund the cost of retrofitting the "jughandle" intersection of Twin Lakes Drive and Quince Orchard Road to allow for left turns directly from Quince Orchard Road. It is understood that the State Highway would fund the cost of all intersection modifications at Quince Orchard Road and Great Seneca Highway, including lane restriping, signal modifications, and any new turn lanes. It is understood that the City would release the developer from any obligation to fund a new traffic signal at Purchase Street and Quince Orchard Road.
Motion was made by Council Member Davis, seconded by Council Member Marraffa, that the City Council record on SDP-00-002, be closed.
Motion was made by Council Member Davis, seconded by Council Member Alster, that a RESOLUTION OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL OF GAITHERSBURG GRANTING APPROVAL FOR SCHEMATIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN SDP-00-002, KNOWN AS LOTS 6 AND 7 QUINCE ORCHARD PARK CRESCENT, ZONED MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT (MXD). APPROVAL OF THIS SCHEMATIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN PERMITS CONSTRUCTION OF 47,900 SQUARE FEET OF TOTAL OFFICE SPACE WITHIN TWO ONE-STORY BUILDINGS ON A 6.03-ACRE SITE (Resolution No. R-34-01) be approved.
Urban Design Director Wagner thanked the Mayor and City Council, City Manager, City Attorney and staff for the opportunity to work for the City during the past 16 years.
3. Introduction of an Ordinance to Adopt the City's Budget
Finance and Administration Director Belton stated a public hearing to adopt the City Budget for FY 2002 will be held May 7, 2001, and at that time, the City Manager will present the proposed budget to the Mayor and City Council and the citizens of Gaithersburg. He stated this year, the State of Maryland has required that property tax rates on real property be based on a full (100%) cash value assessment replacing the historical 40% of cash value. The municipal real property tax rate of $.53 per $100 of assessment on July 1, 200, was reduced to $.212 per $100 of assessment on October 1, 2000. He noted there would be no change in the liability and collection of real estate taxes.
Following the public hearing, several budget work sessions have been scheduled as follows: Monday, May 14, Wednesday, May 16, and Wednesday May 23, 2001, 7:30p.m., Activity Center at Bohrer Park, Summit Hall Farm.
Motion was made by Council Member Alster, seconded by Council Member Somerset, that AN ORDINANCE TO ADOPT THE CITY BUDGET FOR THE FISCAL YEAR JULY 1, 2001, THROUGH JUNE 30, 2002, AND LEVYING AN AD VALOREM TAX ON ALL ASSESSABLE PROPERTY WITHIN THE CITY OF GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND, be introduced.
4. Notification of a Public Hearing to Establish a Constant Yield Tax Rate for the City of Gaithersburg for FY 2002
Finance and Administration Director Belton announced a public hearing will be held May 7, 2001, to establish a constant yield tax rate for the City of Gaithersburg for FY 2001 - 2002.
FROM THE ASSISTANT CITY MANAGERS, CITY ATTORNEY AND OTHER STAFF
Assistant City Manager Felton
Stated the City Council recently conducted a meeting to discuss the Alternate Planning Commission position and asked City Attorney Abrams to report whether or not the City was required to fill the position. City Attorney Abrams drafted a memorandum to the City Council stating the City Code is worded that the Council is required to appoint an alternate. Two alternate text amendments have been drafted to address the situation. The first text amendment would do away with the alternate planning commission, and the second would make it discretionary of the Mayor to appoint someone for the position.
City Council Members had concerns with doing away with the Alternate Planning Commission position. They concurred that they would like the flexibility to appoint an alternate member at the discretion of the Mayor to have a quorum or to fill the term of a regular Commissioner on a temporary basis. Council Members questioned the ability of the alternate to participate and vote on a subject with long history before the Commission.
City Attorney Abrams was asked to review State Legislation, Article 66B, for any conflict in appointing an alternate for an interim period. City Attorney Abrams stated staff would be responsible for updating the alternate and providing documentation on all upcoming subjects being discussed when the alternate is called upon to serve.
Assistant City Manager Tomasello
Reported staff is in the final stages of designing a three fold map of Olde Towne parking lots to be given away by merchants and City Hall. He stated staff met to discuss increase signage for the different lots.
City Attorney Abrams
Stated the City should receive a decision in 30 - 60 days on the Court of Appeals case regarding Health Regulations.
Police Chief Viverette
Announced the City's Police Department will go through an on-site assessment as part of a program to achieve accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. will administer the assessment. She stated a public information session will be held on Tuesday, April 24, 2001, 7 p.m. at City Hall.
There being no further business to come before this session of the City Council, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:16 p.m.