Mayor and Council

   For the meeting on:

  December 10, 2012
   Department:   Community Planning and Development Services
   Division:  Planning
   Responsible staff:  Robin Ziek, Historic Preservation Planner
  phone: (240) 314 - 8236

Public Hearing on an Amendment to the Rockville Comprehensive Master Plan (Attachment A) and Rockville's Amendment to the Montgomery County Heritage Area Management Plan (Attachment B)

Hold the Public Hearing and keep the record open until 5:00 p.m. on December 21, 2012.

The Mayor and Council received a presentation on this item on November 19, 2012. The draft amendments were prepared by the Community Planning and Development Services (CPDS) staff and have been reviewed and recommended for adoption by both the Historic District Commission (HDC) and the Planning Commission.

The State outlines the process by which the boundaries of an existing Heritage Area may be amended (Annotated Code of Maryland, Section 13, Subsection 11). This occurs with an amendment to the City's Comprehensive Master Plan and an amendment to the County's adopted Heritage Area Management Plan.
The proposed amendment to the City's Master Plan is included as Attachment A and highlights the importance of the heritage tourism themes and adopts the entire Montgomery County Heritage Area Management Plan by reference. The County's adopted Heritage Area Management Plan can be found at

The proposed amendment to the County's Heritage Area Management Plan is included in the form of a Rockville chapter (See Attachment B). Both the proposed language to amend the City's Comprehensive Master Plan and the Rockville chapter of the County's plan are the subject of this public hearing.

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. Amenities that support heritage travelers, such as restaurants, hotels, and entertainment offerings, are all considered important elements of the program (see page 4 of the County's Management Plan).

The State provides support for this program with yearly funding from the State legislature, which is then administered by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority Board. Grants are provided on a competitive basis in an annual grant cycle. All State grants require a 50% project match, of which 75% must be cash and 25% may be "in-kind," such as staff time. In addition, the State supports a local heritage area non-profit in each of the 12 certified Heritage Areas in the State to assure that the program serves at the local level.

Montgomery County was officially certified as a Heritage Area in 2004 (see page 11 of the County's Management Plan for the portions of the County which are included in this program). 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.

The Montgomery County Heritage Area includes portions of Montgomery County and the Town of Poolesville that best represent three distinct heritage themes: The Underground Railroad, Farming Heritage, and Innovation and Technology. Rockville's chapter addresses those same themes by including the aspects of farms within the City that have been preserved, such as the Dawson Farm and King Farm Farmstead Parks, the Rose Hill Mansion and Barn, and Glenview Mansion. In addition to Rockville's documented associations with Underground Railroad activities, the City contains significant resources associated with the Civil War and African-American heritage sites. Rockville's transportation-related resources, such as the former B&O Railroad station and nearby neighborhoods associated with the railroad's construction, also relate well to the County Heritage Area themes.

The boundaries for Rockville's part of the Heritage Area were drawn to include the largest concentration of Rockville's historic resources. The boundaries include most of the properties listed in and eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, as well as historic districts designated by the Mayor and Council; they generally follow the City's corporate limits as they existed in 1949, with a few modifications. If the boundaries of the County's Heritage Area are amended to include those portions of the City identified on page 15 of the Rockville chapter (Attachment B), local cultural and recreational groups, as well as the City, may compete for Heritage Area grants on the State and local levels.

The Rockville chapter of the Heritage Area Plan includes a list of proposed Targeted Investment projects that would enhance Rockville's historic resources and related tourism, and that can be accomplished by the City or nonprofit and private organizations in the City. The list includes improvements at Rockville Civic Center, the Beall Dawson House and Rockville Cemetery, among others, that potentially could be eligible for grants through the program. The Plan also encourages the use of strategies related to elements of Rockville's character that support heritage tourism, including use of the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit program, enhancing pedestrian and streetscape links, renovation of historic properties and promotion of connections to County historic and natural resources.

Attachments A and B are the documents recommended for adoption by the Planning Commission, while Attachment C is their approved resolution. Ultimately, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) will approve the addition of Rockville's proposed amendment to the Management Plan, thereby adding the recommended areas of Rockville into the Montgomery County Heritage Area.

A schedule for the remainder of the review process is provided as Attachment D. This schedule proposes that the entire process through MHAA approval could be completed by early spring 2013, in order to accommodate the upcoming FY2014 grant cycle. Several groups in the City have expressed their interest in submitting applications, but they may only do so once the City has approved these amendments.

Mayor and Council History
The Mayor and Council received a presentation of this plan on November 19, 2012. Prior to that, discussion and updates occurred on November 8, 2010 and March 21, 2011.

Public Notification and Engagement
The public hearing before the Mayor and Council was advertised in the local newspapers for two weeks prior to the date of the hearing. A press release about the hearing was released on November 16.

Boards and Commissions Review
The HDC reviewed the draft 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 on June 13, 2012 and conducted a public hearing on October 10, 2012. Verbal testimony was provided by four speakers, all of whom spoke in favor of the amendment. A summary of all testimony, including copies of written testimony received, is included at Attachment E.

On October 27, 2012, the Commission conducted a Discussion and Instructions session on the amendments; it directed staff to prepare a resolution for approval and to incorporate recommended editorial changes to the document received from Eileen McGuckian and others. The Commission approved the resolution on November 14, 2012 (Attachment C), thereby approving both documents and recommending them for adoption by the Mayor and Council.

Next Steps
After close of the Public Record on December 21, 2012, the Mayor and Council is scheduled for Discussion and Instructions to staff on January 14, 2013, with introduction and adoption projected for January 28, 2013. The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) will conduct a public hearing in Rockville, tentatively scheduled for February 7, 2013, prior to the final decision by MHAA to add Rockville to the Montgomery Heritage Area; the final decision is anticipated to occur at the April MHAA Board meeting.

Attachment A CMP Amendment to Join MCHA.pdf
Attach B PC Draft HAA 111412.pdf
Attach C  PC Signed Resolution.pdfAttach C PC Signed Resolution.pdf
Attach D  Revised HAA Process for Adoption.pdfAttach D Revised HAA Process for Adoption.pdf
Attach E  - PC Public Testimony.pdfAttach E - PC Public Testimony.pdf

Department Head:

Susan Swift, Director of Community Planning and Development Services
Approved on: 12/03/2012

City Manager:

Approved on: 12/05/2012