Mayor and Council

   For the meeting on:

  November 19, 2012
   Department:   Community Planning and Development Services
   Division:  Planning
   Responsible staff:  Robin Ziek, Historic Preservation Planner
  phone: (240) 314 - 8236

Present draft of the Rockville amendment to the Montgomery County Heritage Area Management Plan, including proposed language to adopt the amendment into the Comprehensive Plan.

Receive presentation.

The Mayor and Council last received a summary of this program at its March 21, 2011 meeting. At that time, staff was instructed to proceed with production of the draft amendment for public review and Mayor and Council consideration. The draft amendment was prepared and it has been reviewed by both the Historic District Commission and the Planning Commission.

The Maryland Heritage Areas program, implemented by the State of Maryland in 1996, was conceived as a way "to identify regions where public and private partners make commitments to preserving historical, cultural and natural resources for sustainable economic development through heritage tourism." [Heritage Area web page] Goals of the program include enhancing visitor appeal and enjoyment of the State's history, culture and natural environment; increasing the economic activity associated with tourism; and encouraging preservation of historic buildings and natural areas important to the State's character.

The benefits to the City include extensive marketing of heritage and recreational resources, as well as the opportunity to compete for State grants. All State grants require a 50% project match, of which 75% must be cash and 25% may be "in-kind," such as staff time.

Montgomery County was officially certified as a Heritage Area in 2004, after submitting a Heritage Area Plan for State review in 2002. The Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County, Inc. (also known as "Heritage Montgomery") was incorporated to serve as the State's required liaison between the local partners and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. To date, the Montgomery County Heritage Area includes portions of Montgomery County and the Town of Poolesville, which best represent three distinct heritage themes: The Underground Railroad, Farming Heritage, and Innovation and Technology.

The State law (Maryland Annotated Code, Section 13, Subsection 11) has outlined a process to amend adopted Heritage Area Plans, and the City has been following this process, including outreach to the public and the business community. The State's requirement to amend the City's Comprehensive Plan to reflect Rockville's adoption of the entire Montgomery County Heritage Area Management Plan by reference, would be accomplished through the Mayor and Council's adoption of the proposed language. See Attachments A and B for the draft documents to be considered for adoption by the Planning Commission on November 14.

A schedule for the remainder of the review process is provided as Attachment C. This schedule proposes that the entire process could be completed by early spring 2013, in order to accommodate the upcoming yearly grant cycle for the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. Several groups in the City have expressed their interest in submitting applications, but they may only do so once the City has completed this amendment process.

Mayor and Council History
The Mayor and Council received information and updates on this program on November 8, 2010 and on March 21, 2011.

Public Notification and Engagement
Staff conducted an open house prior to the Planning Commission meeting on June 13, 2012, as well as prior to the Historic District Commission (HDC) meetings on January 26, 2012 and June 21, 2012. The public was notified via a press release, Rockville Reports articles, email blasts, and listservs. Required written notice to adjacent jurisdictions and the Maryland Department of Planning were accomplished in accordance with the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Boards and Commissions Review
The HDC reviewed the proposed Heritage Area Amendment multiple times during its development and recommended approval of the public hearing draft at its meeting of July 19, 2012.

The Planning Commission endorsed the review schedule of the amendment at its meeting of June 13, 2012. The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on October 10, 2012 and received testimony from four speakers, who spoke in favor of the amendment. The Commission conducted a Discussion and Instructions session on the amendments and directed staff to prepare a resolution for approval and to incorporate recommended changes to the document received from the public at its meeting of October 24, 2012. The Commission is scheduled to consider the resolution to approve the documents on November 14, 2012.

Fiscal Impact
There is no fiscal impact associated with the plan amendment. The only cost to the City is staff time to prepare the Amendment and move through the process. Benefits include State and local marketing efforts for heritage tourism, grant opportunities, and heightened visibility of the City's heritage resources and amenities for local and out-of-town visitors alike. A fiscal impact to the City would only occur if the City would apply for a grant under the program. All State grants require a 50% project match, of which 75% must be cash and 25% may be "in-kind," such as staff time.

Next Steps
The Mayor and Council public hearing is scheduled for December 10, 2012, with adoption projected for January 28, 2013. The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) will conduct a public hearing in Rockville, tentatively scheduled for February 7, 2012, prior to the final decision to add Rockville to the Montgomery Heritage Area, which is scheduled for the April MHAA Board meeting.

The Mayor and Council will receive the Planning Commission's approved and recommended documents after the Commission takes action on November 14, 2012 and prior to the public hearing notice in the Gazette on November 21, 2012.

Attachment A: Proposed Amendment to Comprehensive Plan
Attachment A CMP Amendment to Join MCHA.pdfAttachment A CMP Amendment to Join MCHA.pdf
Attachment B: Proposed Rockville Amendment to Heritage Area Plan
Attach B PC Draft HAA 111412.pdfAttach B PC Draft HAA 111412.pdf
Attachment C: Schedule for Adoption
Attach C Revised HAA Process for Adoption.pdfAttach C Revised HAA Process for Adoption.pdf

City Manager:

Approved on: 11/14/2012