Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

Retreat to focus on priorities

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The City Council will brainstorm about Rockville’s future during a three-day retreat at the Glenview Mansion Cottage this weekend.

The event kicks off Friday afternoon with a closed session. The council will discuss interpersonal issues over dinner, City Manager Scott Ullery said.

No public policy will be discussed during that session, which will not violate the state’s Open Meetings Act, he said.

Like a retreat held early in the last council’s two-year term, the majority of the meetings will be open and focused on developing a strategic vision for Rockville. In February 2006, the council brainstormed on what it wanted the city to look like in the year 2020.

Mayor Susan R. Hoffmann said she expects the new council to build on that vision.

Meeting canceled

The City Council will not meet as planned on Jan. 14.

The meeting was scratched, City Manager Scott Ullery said, because of a light agenda and the council retreat this weekend.

The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 22.

No charges yet

It is still free to park in Rockville Town Square parking garages.

An item that called the parking fee question for a vote was bumped from the council agenda Monday, pending more information on the current usage.

City Manager Scott Ullery said some council members wanted to know how many cars are using the three city-owned garages.

Totaling about 1,000 spaces, the garages have offered free parking well past the target date by which the city planned to begin charging.

Some on the council have called for free parking to continue, at least for the next few months, while the new Town Square businesses get better established.

Each month Rockville does not charge parking fees costs the city approximately $100,000, according city staff.

In related business, the council on Monday authorized an agreement with the county finalizing how Rockville Library patrons and employees will get free parking. The county has agreed to subsidize their parking, paying the city for the use of the spaces through an automated pay station in the library entrance.

The station will allow library users to register for free parking in the garages. Before that, they must push a ‘‘15 minutes free for library patrons” button on one of the garage pay stations. County employees will be given codes to account for their parking.

After a unanimous vote supporting the deal, City Manager Scott Ullery said he would put the agreement in a drawer until the council sets a fee schedule for parking.

Zoning draft to bepresented at forum

The third and final public forum for the city’s zoning draft revision will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Glenview Mansion Conservatory.

The presentation was scheduled to have occurred last month, but was delayed due to weather. The informational meeting is part of an ongoing public outreach effort. City planners continue to present the plan’s broad brush strokes to civic associations and other groups.

The Planning Commission is expected to hold a public hearing on the draft plan on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.

Staff indicates the city has already received a total of 500 comments on the draft. Staff will report them to the commission.