Montgomery in Focus Masthead
July 2011

 

Two Bills to Help Clarksburg - back to top

Clarksburg homesI, with co-sponsorship from Councilmember Craig Rice, introduced two bills that could lead to quicker and more orderly construction of needed public infrastructure in the emerging community of Clarksburg in northern Montgomery County.

We need to find innovative solutions and incentives to help Clarksburg become the community that the Master Plan envisioned two decades ago. The Clarksburg Infrastructure Working Group has looked at many possibilities to get development back on track. These two bills reflect ideas that could make this happen. We owe it to the current and future residents of Clarksburg to find answers for their community.

The bills seek to help resolve how infrastructure improvements will be funded in Clarksburg, and they reflect recommendations of the Clarksburg Infrastructure Working Group that was formed to address these funding issues. Sufficient financing is not currently identified to build needed transportation improvements in the Clarksburg area so these bills seek to allow enhanced use of transportation impact tax credits, along with a special taxing district in parts of Clarksburg, to stimulate funding of needed transportation improvements. Public hearings are tentatively scheduled for each bill at 1:30 p.m. on July 21. Call 240-777-7803 to sign up to speak.

Bill 21-11 would extend the time period that a developer can use impact tax credits from six to 20 years. The Working Group's recommendations said that the current rule of six years unfairly penalizes larger developments that have an extended buildout period. The bill also would grant impact tax credits--for Clarksburg developments only--for capacity improvements to state roads. The current impact tax law allows credits for improvements only to County roads. The bill also would designate other types of roads that are currently not eligible--for Clarksburg only--for impact tax credits.

Bill 21-12 would create a Clarksburg Area Special Taxing District, consisting of the Clarksburg Village and Arora Hill subdivisions. The special taxing district was recommended by the Working Group as an alternative to the private infrastructure charge that was attached to the deeds of the properties in these subdivisions. The bill would authorize the levy of a property tax to fund specified transportation infrastructure improvements and would authorize the issuance of a certain type of bond to finance certain transportation infrastructure improvements. Bill 21-12 is based on Bill 50-10, enacted in November 2010, which created a similar special taxing district in the White Flint redevelopment area.


 

Budget: Next Year Will Be Bigger Challenge - back to top

Nancy FloreenLast year's fiscal plan projected a very small 0.1 percent increase in funds available for agencies in FY12.  The actual number turned out to be very close at 1.4 percent (the inflation rate for 2010 was 1.7 percent).  That was valuable information for us to have last June, and we planned accordingly.  This year’s projection for FY13 shows a decrease of 2.7 percent, and that means we need all hands on deck.  It means that next year looks even more challenging than this year.

We approved our second annual fiscal plan this week. We started requiring a six-year balanced fiscal plan at my urging last year when I was Council President as a way of addressing our structural deficit. While the plan does not constrain future Councils in their year-to-year decision making, it provides valuable information and guidance for sustainability over the long term. The plan gives communities and the County's four agencies--Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and County Government--a realistic view of what they can expect in the upcoming years.

This year's plan makes clear what we already know intuitively--that absent a far more robust economic recovery than has occurred to date, we are facing limited resources for FY13 and beyond.  Current projections for FY13 showing a decrease of 2.7 percent in funds (nearly $100 million) available for agency expenditures mean we again are going to have to work together to make difficult decisions.  Future years show very modest increases of 2.2 percent, 3.4 percent, 4.8 percent and 3.6 percent. 

FY12 begins on July 1, 2011, and budget deliberations for FY13 will begin on March 15, 2012, when the County Executive transmits his proposed budget to the Council.


 

Paving the Way for a Grocery in Clarksburg - back to top

We unanimously approved a limited amendment to the Clarksburg Master Plan that could lead to quicker establishment of a grocery store. Councilmember Craig Rice and I proposed this amendment in response to frustrations expressed by people living in the area.

The intent of the master plan was to have the first grocery store located in the Town Center to make sure the focus of retail development in Clarksburg was in the Town Center. The unintended consequence has been to delay the construction of a much needed grocery store because the Town Center property owners have no immediate plans to construct a grocery. However, property owners in the Village Centers section of Clarksburg have expressed interest in developing a grocery.

For a variety of reasons, Clarksburg has not developed as intended, and in regard to needed retail amenities--such as a grocery store--the residents have not received what they expected. While we believe in the intent of the master plan, this was a needed action to correct a situation we did not anticipate.


 

Congratulations Casey Anderson and Norman Dreyfus - back to top

Welcome Casey Anderson and Norman Dreyfus who we named to full terms on the Montgomery County Planning Board.

Mr. Anderson, who lives in Silver Spring, is a litigation consultant for Kauffman Anderson Consulting. He has been a long-time civic activist, working on a wide variety of land use and transportation issues, including the White Flint Sector Plan, the move of Walter Reed Hospital to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and the proposed building of the Purple Line east-west connection of Metro. He serves as a member of the Planning Board's Zoning Advisory Panel, as vice chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board and as a director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Clearly, Mr. Anderson is active, engaged and committed.

Mr. Dreyfus, who lives in Potomac, was the developer of Leisure World in northern Silver Spring--the region's largest age-restricted community. He oversees the development of Virginia, a 2,400-unit active adult community in the Lansdowne community near Leesburg. He serves on the County's Housing Opportunities Commission and on the Affordable Housing Conference. He has served on the County Task Force for Moderate Price Rentals, the Child Care Task Force and the Wheaton Redevelopment Steering Committee. Mr. Dreyfus is currently filling a partial term on the board, where he has shown great vision in combination with a common sense approach.

As Chair of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, I'm impressed with these selections. We have a lot of important work ahead of us, and these are two great people for the job.


 

Apply Now to the Board of Appeals - back to top

Apply now to the Board of Appeals. We're accepting applications for two four-year terms. The terms of Stan Boyd (Democrat) and David Perdue (declined to affiliate) expire in September 2011, and both are eligible for reappointment. Mr. Boyd has indicated that he will apply for reappointment. Get your application in by September 7.

The Board of Appeals makes decisions on most applications for special exceptions as provided in the Zoning Ordinance; hears and decides requests for variances from development standards contained in the Zoning Ordinance; and hears appeals from certain administrative decisions rendered by county government agencies.

By law, no more than three members of the board can be from the same political party. These positions can be filled by a Democrat, a Republican, a voter who declines to affiliate with a party or a voter who is a member of another party officially recognized by the Board of Elections.

Send your letter of interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, to Council President Valerie Ervin, County Council Office, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850.


 

Fast Fact - back to top

While housing prices nationwide fell to their lowest level since 2002, home values in the Washington region gained 4.3 percent in the last year, according to research from our Planning Department.  The most recent data for median sales prices in Montgomery County shows a price of $483,000 in 2010, a 5-percent increase over the median price of $460,000 in 2009.  While the housing index report indicates the strength of the local economy, it also exposes limited opportunities for homebuyers.


 

Green Tip of the Month - back to top

Celebrate our agricultural heritage, visit local farms and indulge in seasonally fresh food at Montgomery County's Annual Farm Tour and Harvest Sale the weekend of July 23-24.  Every year, this event coincides with the Buy Local Challenge which encourages people to eat locally grown food.  The Farm Tour gives you the opportunity to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants and other local products.  Several farms have hayrides, pony rides, music, demonstrations and other fun and educational activities planned for people of all ages.


 

Let's Talk - back to top

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting?  Please let me know how I can help.  I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process.  Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you.  Send your meeting notices to councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.