The County Council will meet to interview applicants for the Montgomery County Planning Board this week. From a pool of more than 15 applicants, only 5 were chosen for in person interviews. There was little public outreach and minimal public input to this process, Each of the applicants have served in some type of position in the county previously; two are current planning board members, one is a former board member, another was a member of the County Council and one was a staff member and a former Rockville mayor. This appointed position which pays over $160,000 and lasts for a four year term is one of the most important in the county as it addresses major issues in land use, parks development and environmental protections.
Upcounty Action urges members to let the council hear from you about this process and the limited choices available. Montgomery Countryside Alliance has made copies of the resumes available here: http://mocoalliance.org/2014/05/mc-planning-board-chair-5-applicants/
The following letter was sent to the Council by Upcounty Action:
Upcounty Action PO Box 132 Brookeville MD 20833 UpcountyAction.org
July 6 2014
Attn. County Council members:
Upcounty Action has been involved with issues in the county for more than 7 years; we advocate for and testify on matters we care deeply about. The selection of the Planning Board Chair is one of those concerns, especially since the position is appointed for four years without deep community input .
Everything in this county is touched by decisions made by both the Planning Board and the County Council. Not only are our growth and development intimately affected in these areas, but these decisions also affect our quality of life, our shared heritage and hopes for environmental protections. Powerful interest groups, ordinary residents and new arrivals share some goals and clash on others. New ideas, developed elsewhere, can intrude on old ways now held tightly.
To address all of these vital decisions you have brought a selection of five candidates to the application process. Not only is this final group limited in scope, they do not reflect new ideas, or show diversity in breadth. Despite having more than 15 people apply, some of which are better qualified than others, you have given a final cut to only a few. Planning in this county seems to rely on recycling the same groups with the same ways of functioning. Where are the strategic thinkers from elsewhere, those outsiders who can bring in new life and new ideas into a department which really needs revitalization? Upcounty Action thinks you have short-changed our county in your implementation of this process and hopes that you will consider widening the pool in order to find the very best applicants.
Should you not follow this suggestion – Upcounty Action requests that you select Meredith Wellington as the person who can best address the interests of both business members and civic groups. She was involved in the zoning code re-write and has an in depth understanding of what Master Plans mean to both residents of a neighborhood and store owners in a business district. While some applicants seem unwilling to have a dialog with community groups, Meredith is approachable and willing to entertain open discussions. We are impressed with her knowledge of Smart Growth and look forward to expanding her understanding of the upper county and its need for environmental protections and adequate transit options sooner rather than later.
Thank you for consideration of our thoughts regarding this important decision.