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Rockville Letters Oppose Great Indoors Site Annexation

City wants County Council to intervene in its fight to block Gaithersburg proposal.

The Rockville City Council sent letters on Tuesday to the Montgomery County Council and to the Gaithersburg City Council voicing Rockville’s concerns about Gaithersburg’s plans to annex the Great Indoors property on Shady Grove Road.

The City of Gaithersburg is . The properties, totaling 28 acres, are owned by Sears and Roebuck Co. and are home to , a soon-to-close home goods store. They are currently part of the county, with an address of unincorporated Gaithersburg.

A report by City of Rockville staff raised two concerns for Rockville:

  1. Shady Grove provides a “logical boundary” between Gaithersburg and Rockville, staff wrote. Because of this, Rockville did not consider annexing land north of Shady Grove Road when it drafted the “Municipal Growth Element” portion of its master plan in 2009.
  2. The property is a gateway to other sites at Rockville’s boundaries, namely the U.S. Postal Distribution Center and , which is being considered for closure, and, just beyond the post office site, land that is the focus of the county’s Shady Grove Sector Plan for redevelopment. “If Gaithersburg annexes the Sears property, one pathway for Rockville to access the properties in the Shady Grove Sector Plan will be blocked,” staff wrote in the report.

The Rockville City Council expressed those concerns in the letter to Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz. Click the PDF above to read the letter.

In a letter to the County Council, the Rockville council called on the County Council “to firmly establish the boundary between the two cities at Shady Grove Road.” Click the PDF above to read the letter.

The Rockville City Council is proposing a working group to resolve the issues. The group would include representatives of the two cities and, at times, include county representatives. It would focus on a 1992 memorandum of understanding between the cities aimed at providing guidance for annexations.

“While it has no line drawn in the sand that identifies Shady Grove Road,” Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said of the MOU during a council discussion on Monday, “we’ve got in here the notion that we will consider each other. That’s very clear—that we don’t do these things without consideration of the other party.”

A County Council committee is scheduled to discuss the issue at 2 p.m. on Monday in the seventh floor hearing room of the in Rockville.

“Land use is not the issue here,” Marcuccio said. “It is really a matter of encroachment, not land use.”

The proposed annexation could have serious long-term consequences for the future of the two cities and for the relationship between their elected bodies, Rockville City Councilman Tom Moore said.

“I think we should say something very strong, very firm and make no bones about how we do not want this to happen,” Moore said.

Councilman John Hall said he did not want “to use language that evokes a threat” to the relationship between the cities. “Other than that I fully endorse the need to make a strong, strenuous, heartfelt point,” he said.

The Gaithersburg City Council is accepting public testimony on the annexation proposal through July 5. The council is expected to make a decision on the proposal within a couple of weeks of the end of the public comment period.

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