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Board Correspondence

RCHCA Meeting: Monday, October 17

By | Board Correspondence, From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings, RCHCA Biz | No Comments

Please find below a draft agenda for our Fall RCHCA meeting, which will take place at 7:30 PM on Monday, October 17th, at Grace Episcopal Day School.

Please let any Board member know if you have additional agenda item(s). Thank you.

With best regards,
Jim P.

P.S. If you haven’t yet, please consider paying your RCHCA $40 dues for the year. You may pay them online (via <http://rchca.org>), in person at the meeting, or by sending a check payable to “RCHCA” to our Treasurer, Ms. Maria Marzullo, at 9801 East Bexhill Drive, Kensington, MD 20895. Your dues are the only source of support for the Association’s activities that seek to preserve and enhance your quality of life in our neighborhood.

***

Agenda for RCHCA meeting on 17 October 2016

1. Crime & safety
– recent incidents
– tips from the police

2. Traffic & pedestrian safety
– recent incidents
– how to get the County to trim branches to reveal hidden signage
– sidewalk update
– adding crosswalks(s)?
– a walkable route to Forest Glen Metro via Capitol View / Metropolitan Avenue?
– permit parking?

3. Middle School construction update
– stormwater management
– noise concerns
– lighting concerns
– concrete spill into Silver Creek

4. Silver Creek update

5. Gas/Sewer/Water updates

6. Salt Barn update.

7. Update on Rock Creek Hills Covenants

8. RCHCA party on October 30th!
– starting 3:30 PM
– costume parade, burgers, etc.
– volunteers needed

9. Other business.

fyi: a letter from MCPS, addressing stormwater concerns

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, Board Correspondence, From the RCHCA Officers | No Comments

Dear neighbors,

Monthly onsite meetings continue between representatives of your RCHCA Board, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), & Dustin Construction, to provide a forum for communication during construction of the new middle school.

At this month’s meeting, we received a letter from MCPS regarding last month’s stormwater concerns. You can see the letter (as the 3rd & 4th pages of the document) posted at dropbox at <goo.gl/mCPM7j>.

With best regards,
Jim Pekar
President, RCHCA

RCHCA Fall Meeting (& beavers!)

By | Board Correspondence, Meetings | No Comments

Dear neighbors,

In spite of today’s heat and humidity, it’s September and we’re looking back at Labor Day, so the Summer must be over. We’re working with Grace Episcopal Day School (our usual meeting venue) to find a date in late October for a meeting of the RCHCA. Here is a draft agenda for that meeting (please let me or any Board member know if you have other items we should cover):

1. Park update & outlook;
2. Potential incorporation of Rock Creek Hills;
3. Halloween parade & party;
4. Update on Villages of Kensington <http://villagesofkensingtonmd.org>;
5. Treasurer’s report.

If you have not done so, please may I ask you to pay your RCHCA dues of $40? You can do this by sending a check to your Treasurer, Ms. Maria Marzullo, at 9801 East Bexhill Drive, Kensington, MD 20895, or per the “Instructions for Online Dues Payments” at
<http://rchca.org/communications/online-directory/>

Election of officers would take place at our January meeting; as of this writing it appears that all members of your Board are willing to serve another term.

And finally, speaking of Labor Day, each morning of the three-day weekend I walked to the Kensington Parkway bridge over Rock Creek, and I can report that the beavers are back! You can see them at <http://goo.gl/rwE3Zx>.

With best regards,
Jim Pekar
President, Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association

RCHCA Response to Accessory Apartment Application

By | Board Correspondence, From the RCHCA Officers | No Comments

Dear neighbors,

Please find below the complete text of a letter, submitted today (May 5, 2014), regarding the pending accessory apartment application that we will consider at our upcoming meeting on May 29th.

With best regards,
Jim Pekar
President, RCHCA

***

Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association
9723 Kingston Road
Kensington MD 20895
301-962-9230
email: jjpekar@gmail.com
May 5, 2014

Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings
100 Maryland Avenue
Room 200
Rockville, MD 20850

Attn: Ms. Ellen Forbes
Office Services Coordinator

Re: Application for Accessory Apartment: 9641 E. Bexhill Drive / Application No. 84414.

Short Comment on Covenants Issues, Objection Regarding Parking Issues, and Request for Hearing Postponement of the Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association

To the Hearing Examiner:

The Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association (RCHCA) is filing this comment and opposition to the proposed accessory apartment at 9641 East Bexhill Drive, Kensington, MD. RCHCA is also requesting that any hearing be held until after May 29, 2014. On that date the RCHCA will hold a community-wide meeting to help determine whether this proposed Class III accessory apartment at issue would violate a covenant governing the lot in question that limits the use of the lot in question, as we believe it, to single family residences. The specific language is provided below. We are also concerned that the parking is inadequate and are protesting the application on that ground without regard to the covenants issue. We have had an initial exchange of correspondence and several telephone conversations with the applicants, Steven and Erica Weiss. From those exchanges it is clear the applicants appreciate that a community-wide decision is involved and RCHCA can take no action earlier than the general meeting we have scheduled for May 29.

Turning first to the covenants issue, the Applicants and RCHCA agree that the material language governing the lot in question is fairly stated as follows, based in part on the Applicants submission to RCHCA on this matter. The specific set of covenants for the Weiss’s house (Block 26, Lot 4) at 9614 E. Bexhill Drive were recorded on May 14, 1952 under recordation 1663-321 (Liber 1663 Folio 321). Of these the relevant provision provides “no apartment house, or houses in rows, or semi attached houses, or houses for the occupancy of more than one family (servants and the owner excepted) shall be erected or maintained upon said lots, or either of them.” The Applicants are of the view that having a Class III permitted accessory apartment with one single adult tenant under the new County provisions for Class III accessory apartments would be in spirit of this covenant. This interpretation is disputed by several adjoining and confronting neighbors, who argue that this language precludes a Class III accessory apartment, and that allowing such units in Rock Creek Hills would change the character of the neighborhood. For its part, the RCHCA board has met to discuss this issue, and has concluded that it should not determine if the proposed apartment violates the RCHCA covenants without consulting RCHCA’s general membership, which includes all homeowners having lots within the Rock Creek Hills community. It is clear this will be a precedent-setting case affecting the rights and concerns of almost 600 houses within our community, as most houses are subject to covenants that have the same language, or somewhat different language that reads in terms of a house’s architecture, namely, that houses shall be only of single family design. I also note that counsel has advised RCHCA that regardless of the how the County code may be applied to the Weiss’s pending application, RCHCA has independent status under the covenants to enforce its interpretation of the covenants, and if necessary to enjoin the proposed apartment under the RCHCA covenants. Therefore, in our opinion, the Hearing Examiner’s authority is limited to determining whether the proposed apartment conforms to the County’s code and regulations regarding accessory apartments.

As such, there is some danger that your office and the Association may reach different conclusions regarding the conformity of the Weiss’s application to the RCHCA covenant at issue, and whether accessory apartments are permitted under the various other covenants regarding the nature of residences that may be maintained in the community. While some of our residents will be filing objections to the Weiss’s application, it is not clear whether the general membership will accept or oppose the application. Specifically, if the membership finds the application acceptable, then this would eliminate any conflict if your office should thereafter decide to approve the application. If the membership and the RCHCA covenants community decide to oppose the application, this implies that the community will seek to enforce the opposition, through litigation if necessary, and the Weiss’s might then choose to withdraw their application, which would make a hearing even on the parking issues unnecessary. It would be helpful if any conclusions by the Hearing Examiner and RCHCA were consistent, and for this reason, we believe the hearing should be not be scheduled before May 30, to allow time for the meeting and for the RCHCA to inform the Hearing Examiner and interested parties of the Association’s decision.

In any case, any delay would be quite limited. Assuming the protests are filed on May 5, the hearing would have to be scheduled in five business days, or May 12. As we understand it, the hearing itself would be normally be within 20 business days thereafter, or no later than June 10. In any event, RCHCA will have prepared the necessary materials on the parking issue in advance of the scheduled May 29 general membership meeting, and the hearing Examiner will have almost certainly received arguments pro and con on the interpretation of the cited covenants. The Applicants have long understood that RCHCA could not resolve this matter before its May 29 meeting and should have no problem with such a short delay of the hearing until after May 29. Your office will hear from RCHCA, which is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the covenants, promptly after the May 29 meeting, and the case would be able to move to a hearing shortly thereafter.

In addition, we believe that regardless of whether the proposed accessory apartment is permitted under the RCHCA covenants, a finding by the Department of Housing and Community Affairs dated April 25, 2014, that the parking would be adequate under the subject lot’s current configuration, is erroneous. The requirements are for a SEPARATE parking space for such an apartment. While the driveway in question may have sufficient square feet, RCHCA believes that the cars would have to be stacked one behind the other given the existing driveway’s narrow configuration. This will result in the extra vehicle(s) being parked on the street because there is no separate parking space within the lot’s existing configuration. Therefore the tenant or owners will park on the street, as this is easier that switching cars around in the driveway. In this regard, the lot in question is also subject to a covenant that requires most physical changes to the lot or the construction or modification of any structures to be approved by the RCHCA covenants committee. Thus, regardless of whether the proposed accessory apartment conforms to the land use portions of the covenants, RCHCA opposes this application unless the parking arrangement is satisfactory to RCHCA and RCHCA approves its configuration.

Please let me know when the hearing will be held, the final date for submission of exhibits, and any additional information that may be required. In any event, we wish to be as helpful as possible because it is in all parties’ interest to have the matter wrapped up in the near future.

Sincerely yours,

James J. Pekar, Ph.D.
President
Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association

####

Spring Meeting: May 24, 2012 & Note from RCHCA President, John Robinson

By | Board Correspondence, From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings | No Comments

May 11, 2012

Dear Members,

This is the May 24 meeting update that was promised you in my prior e-mail and on the post card I hope that most of you received. First, the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association spring meeting is confirmed for May 24 at 7:30 at Grace Episcopal Day School on Connecticut Avenue. The meeting is in the all-purpose room as follows.

Administrative Matters

First, we will discuss possibly raising the annual dues by $5 for calendar year 2013. The dues levels have been the same for almost seven years and $5 dollars would be significantly less than the rate of inflation. This increase is to be used for our ongoing regular activities such as the mailings, meetings, the Mother’s Day Picnic, Halloween Parade, landscaping maintenance, and the like.

Second, use of the post card plus electronic newsletter and the website saved some $700 for this one meeting. We will discuss using this format in the future except where the Board concludes that written notice of the issues is required, such as by-law changes. This meeting’s experience suggests that post card notice with supporting website and email notice is sufficient to establish the meeting date once this is a well-known practice.

Third, I will inquire at the meeting whether the winter and spring meeting should be combined to put us on a six month meeting schedule with special meetings as required. The most difficult events we have faced over the last 16 months have never coincided with our three meeting schedule. Given the realities of the electronic age I leave this for your consideration, but do not feel strongly about it. It is your time that is involved.

School Site and Litigation Update

As most know, on April 17 the Montgomery County School Board again selected our local park, Rock Creek Hills Local Park, as the site for the B-CC Middle School #2. The School Board did so despite the limitations of our park as a school site, including its size, projected enrollment growth, and probable construction cost. While we are of course concerned with the implications for our community, it is important to emphasize that there are educational, budget, and recreation issues that transcend our immediate concerns and would affect many outside our community. The School Board’s decision was particularly troublesome because the Planning Board Chair expressed a willingness to cooperate and work with them to select a site of mutual benefit that would best fit the needs of both the school and park systems.

Based on the instructions at our last meeting, RCHCA will file an administrative appeal shortly with the State Board of Education. We see no basis for the School Board’s decision that would destroy a valuable recreation resource. Because we will be handling this internally based on prior experience, we expect the cost to be minimal.

A second issue is more complicated and would require the use of outside counsel with expertise in land use issues. We have consulted two land use attorneys and have confidential memos from both that indicate a strong cause to challenge the relevant state agency, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It is DNR’s practice that would make Rock Creek Hills Local Park available to the School Board when there is no statutory basis for DNR’s position.

It is the conclusion of the lawyer we would retain that there are meritorious grounds to bring an action. If RCHCA prevails, the School Board would have to replace the land and all the facilities with a 13 acre site elsewhere in the surrounding community before it could take action to reclaim Rock Creek Hills Local Park. This is what we believe Maryland law requires of the School Board and this would be difficult for it to do.

Any action would be in two phases. The first is an action in local court to challenge DNR’s practice as not supported by law. While our prospects are good, this action will require complete participation by the Kensington community. If our community comes together to save the integrity of our neighborhood and the heart of this community, Rock Creek Hills Local Park, and the valuable attributes that this green space brings to our neighborhood, then we will have a good chance of success. We are asking for contributions per household of $250 (and welcome higher or lesser amounts) to fund the first phase of the litigation against DNR. If a second phase is needed, an appeal, we will examine the basis for any appeal before moving forward with any additional litigation.

Remember that funding for the DNR litigation is a voluntary contribution. Any funds received will be placed in a separately designated account and will not be commingled with our normal operating funds. Nor will operating funds be used henceforth to support this DNR litigation. The amount of each contribution will be recorded on a spread sheet and if there are any surplus funds, they will be refunded pro rata to the households making the contributions. The check for funds should be made to the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association and be mailed to 9616 Old Spring Road, Kensington, MD, 20895.

We will discuss this matter at our May 24 meeting, but if you support the proposed action against DNR it would be helpful to know the extent of support and your contribution in advance. All contributions and commitments regarding the proposed DNR litigation are confidential and inquiries should be made to the undersigned at jmarkrobinson@verizon.net. You do not need to be a member to support the proposed litigation, but you do need to be a member to vote at the May 24 meeting.

I thank you for your past sympathies and support and hope to see you at the meeting.

Yours,

John M. Robinson

Email from John Robinson, President RCHCA: Change in Meeting Schedule, Reminder on SSAC Meetings

By | Board Correspondence, From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings, RCHCA Biz | No Comments

Dear Rock Creek Hill Residents –

This e-mail contains several fairly important announcements about RCH
related matters that will over the next two months.

1. The first meeting of the new site selection advisory committee (SSAC)
for the new BCC cluster middle school is tomorrow, January 11, 2012 in the
cafeteria of BCC High School from 7 to 9 p.m. The other meetings are also
on Wednesday: January 25, February 8, and February 27. Our lead
representative is Sandra van Bochove, who will be providing you with
periodic updates as the SSAC process moves forward. John Robinson is the
SSAC alternate.

2. Election of Officers for 2012 – Sam Statland (samstatland@verizon.net)
and Joe Rosenberg (jrosenberg123@gmail.com) are serving as the nominating committee. The current officers have agreed to serve for 2012, but
additional suggestions are welcome and should be provided to either Sam or
Joe.

3. 2012 Annual Meeting – The annual meeting is normally held in late
January. However it has been postponed until a rescheduled date of March 8
to accommodate that new SSAC process. As noted, the last meeting of the new
SSAC is February 27. At that point we will know where things stand on the
selection of the site for a new middle school. The March 8 date provides
time for some slippage in the SSAC process and for a summary of the results
to be e-mailed to our members. There would also be a full presentation at
the meeting if the issue is still a matter of concern. There will be no
official report at that date, but we would be in a position to move forward
in response to any initial selection decision resulting from the February 27
SSAC meeting. If a further postponement is necessary I will advise you, but
at present we hope to avoid multiple meetings during the winter season. The
proposed slate of officers for 2012 will also be presented for action at the
meeting. At this point we do not contemplate any other substantive actions
at the annual meeting. However if the middle school matter is resolved to
our satisfaction, the agenda could be expanded.

In closing, my thanks again for all the time that a number of our residents
have committed to RCH matters over the last 12 months. I look forward to
seeing you at the annual meeting and at our several annual social events.

Regards,

John Robinson

Here is a PDF of the letter from RCHCA to Valerie Ervin re the Oct 3 meeting

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, Board Correspondence, RCHCA Biz | No Comments

The link below points to a pdf file of the RCHCA letter to Ms. Valerie Ervin, President Montgomery County Council, regarding the October 3 RCHCA meeting on the proposed middle school in Rock Creek Hills Local Park.  Identical letters were sent to County Executive Isiah Leggett, Mr. Christopher Barclay, President, Board of Education, and Dr. Joshua P. Starr, Superintendent, MCPS.

2011 10 08 Letter to Ms. Ervin on October 3 Meeting