Montgomery County 4Business listening session
County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council Vice President Sidney Katz hosted a 4Business listening session at the Upcounty Regional Services Center in Germantown on June 10. It was an opportunity for business owners, including a number from Montgomery Village, to share their concerns and experiences about starting and growing a business in Montgomery County.
General topics discussed included difficulty in getting family daycare businesses started; complaints about the Department of Liquor Control and how the regulations impact the pricing of alcoholic beverages to Montgomery County consumers; and county procurement policies that would benefit businesses looking to contract with Montgomery County.
During the meeting, both the County Executive and Councilmember Katz encouraged those in attendance and others to email their thoughts about how to improve the county’s business climate to email@example.com.
Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-01 – Accessory Residential Uses – Accessory Apartments
The Montgomery County Council is considering legislation that will allow homeowners in single family neighborhoods to significantly affect the traditional character and density of those neighborhoods. While “accessory apartments” have been permitted uses on single family lots for many years, in the past few years the “apartment” concept was expanded to allow for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) within single family homes, and even to permit additions and a detached additional unit on lots larger than an acre.
It is important to note that any ADU must have its own bathroom and kitchen facility within the unit, and that the owner of the property must live there, as a requirement of constructing the ADU.
This change was a departure from the traditional zoning standard that there could only be one dwelling unit per lot. County Executive Marc Elrich has indicated that he does not support the ZTA and believes that the current accessory apartment statute should be given time to see how changes made to the law in 2018 work out.
The council’s Planning, Housing and Education Committee evaluated the zoning amendment and presented its generally positive comments to the full county council on June 18. During the council session, it was clear that a majority of the council supported the zoning change. Council members asked questions about a series of topics, including the process for approving detached ADUs in R-200, R-90, and R-60 zones, and maximum size and height proposed for ADUs. Council members also weighed in on whether to expand ADUs to lots that are smaller than an acre and whether to allow higher concentration of ADUs than the current standard of approximately one per block.
The council will meet again on Tuesday, July 9 to consider further amendments drafted by staff in response to issues raised on June 18. Council President Nancy Navarro encouraged the public to continue to comment on the amendment.
UpCounty Citizens Advisory Board Annual Meeting / Linda Moore, new President
MVF Board President Glenn Gargan, Assistant EVP Mike Conroy and I attended the annual meeting of the UpCounty Citizens Advisory Board on Monday, June 17. Outgoing chair, Kraig Walsleben, highlighted the work of the board during 2018-19.
Work highlights included taking various positions on important county issues, which were then transmitted to both the county executive and county council. They dealt with a wide range of issues, including collecting per zip code where county grant dollars were being spent, to ensure that the upcounty was getting its fair share of grant funding. They also discussed the custom crush wine making facility in Poolesville; pedestrian safety around schools; increasing transit services; and roadway improvements.
A number of county officials were in attendance—councilmembers Katz, Albornoz and Rice—all of whom thanked the board for its service. Dale Tibbits, Special Assistant to the County Executive, represented County Executive Marc Elrich. Each discussed various county issues, including the process for hiring a new county police chief; the racial equity initiative, including hiring a chief equity officer; economic development initiatives, including a local business preference program to support small businesses; and increasing broadband in the upcounty.
It was announced that Village resident Linda Moore will be the new chair of the Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board for 2019-2020.