FEBRUARY 3, 2016
The following is a link to the agenda for this Wednesday night's City Council meeting: http://documents.takomaparkmd.gov.s3.amazonaws.com/government/city-council/agendas/2016/packet-20160203.pdf
You will note that the only voting item is the second reading of the Budget Amendment that was discussed in last week's meeting. It is very similar to the version that was considered last week. The only change is a reduction in the amount for outside legal services related to the Takoma Junction Development and the Washington Adventist Hospital Certificate of Need Review. The potential funding related to the Junction will be the discussed in the future. I am planning to vote in favor of the Amendment.
The other items on the agenda are discussions only (with the possibility of votes at future Council meetings). These are the topics: a County Council zoning limit relating to the siting of medical marijuana facilities in Takoma Park; an ordinance to establish a vacant and abandoned property registry; an ordinance related to fees paid by tenants; and an ordinance banning certain plastic bags.
Again, these are initial discussions on potential future actions. It is not clear at this point whether we will definitely vote on them in the future, and if so, what precise form these proposals may take. So I offer the following general sense of my views on each topic, which I am sure will be enriched by the discussions.
Several of the links included in the online agenda relating to actions on medical marijuana taken by other Maryland jurisdictions do not appear to be live. I have asked City Staff to check on that, and I am hopeful that information will be available prior to Wednesday night.
I am pleased that we now have a process in Maryland for establishing medical marijuana dispensaries, and I don't have objections to locating a dispensary in Takoma Park. Because it is still a new concept for our state, however, I want to make sure that -- if the City is approved as a site for a dispensary -- we have a location that will be acceptable to the community, so the program starts on a positive note. I don't know at this point whether that means there should be some zoning limitations on where in the City dispensaries can be located, but I think it's important that we have that conversation, and I look forward to being part of it on Wednesday.
VACANT AND ABANDONED PROPERTY
I am generally supportive of the proposed vacant and abandoned property ordinance, though I do think we may need to provide some additional clarifications as to what happens to properties that are placed on the registry.
I agree that tenants in Takoma Park should not be charged fees for more routine or basic services that landlords provide, and I think it is important that we take steps to move in that direction.
BANNING PLASTIC BAGS
I am studying this proposal, including the specific exemptions that are included and the impact on trees and forests if stores switch to paper bags.
I will also be speaking at the Montgomery College Board meeting tonight in Rockville to urge a delay in the Board's vote on the proposed Facilities Master Plan (which affects the North Takoma Neighborhood) because of the inadequate consultation by the College with the community about the Plan (this was discussed in our January 20 Council meeting).
As always, please let me know if you would like more information or if you have any questions.
Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One