Sunday, January 22, 2012

The council agenda decoded: January 23, 2012

Another week, another council meeting. This go-around, Monday evening, January 23, starts with two legislative-session items, consideration of:

  1. A resolution of support for Montgomery County Zoning Text Amendment 11-08, which would define "commercial kitchen" (CK) and allow church CKs as a permitted use within certain residentially zoned areas.
  2. Three consent-agenda resolutions, that is, covering items considered non-controversial and therefore presented for vote without discussion.

I've posted several blog articles about ZTA 11-08, the commercial-kitchen zoning bill. In order of appearance, they are:

In sum: I've considered the positive role community commercial kitchens (CCKs) can play. Meals on Wheels of Takoma Park/Silver Spring, operating out of a commercial kitchen at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church on New Hampshire Avenue, illustrates CCKs' potential. (Zion is in the Prince George's annexation area of Takoma Park. Zion's CK is grandfathered into Montgomery County zoning.) CCKs are a very promising tool for promoting food security and healthy, local food sourcing and for creation of small-business opportunity, all with manageable neighborhood impact. I'm happy to be able to support the individuals and groups that are spear-heading this effort.

There are 3 items on the city council's worksession agenda:

  1. Takoma/Langley Sector Plan Design Guidelines
  2. Implementation of the Council’s Mission for the Recreation Department
  3. Discussion of Ward Nights and/or Council Engagement with the Community

On September 26, 2011, the (previous) city council passed a resolution calling on the Montgomery County Council to not approve the Takoma/Langley Crossroads Sector Plan without critical changes. (City staff explain that "design guidelines help implement the recommendations of approved and adopted master and sector plans," themselves important documents that create a framework for community development. The guidelines "illustrate how plan recommendations and goals might be met and encourage applicants and public agencies to propose designs that create an attractive and successful public realm.") My guess is that New Hampshire Avenue of 2020 will look much the way it does today, but I believe that dedication to revitalization, in cooperation with Montgomery and Prince George's Counties and with help from the State of Maryland -- noting new possibilities that will be created by the Purple Line -- will transform the New Hampshire Avenue corridor and the Takoma/Langley Crossroads area by 2030, for the better for current and future residents and businesses.

The Takoma Park Recreation Department has a new and, I believe, very able leader in Gregory Clark, who was recently promoted to fill the role vacated by retired former Director Debra Haiduven. The "council's mission" derives from a process that has included the city's Recreation Committee and residents, implemented in a "conceptual plan" to be presented Monday evening by Mr. Clark. I'm looking forward to his presentation!

Ward nights, the last Monday-evening topic, were started a couple of years ago, in recognition of the benefits of an occasional focus on particular areas of the city and of, when appropriate, bringing the council to the people via meetings in several of the city's wards. The council will discuss whether and how to continue ward nights. Myself, I'm all for them and of additional steps to make council deliberations more accessible and attendable.

As always, Ward 1 residents, if you have concerns about Monday's evening's issues or other city matters, please get in touch.

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