Category

B-CC Middle School / RCH Park

Litigation Update RCH Park: April 2014

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers

Dear neighbors,

Last week, a three-judge panel of the Court of Special Appeals, in Annapolis, released a ruling affirming the decision of the Circuit Court in Rockville, to dismiss our litigation seeking to enforce the law and protect Rock Creek Hills Park. The panel did not rule against our arguments that the proposed conversion of the Park is unlawful; instead, their ruling was based primarily on their finding that the appealing parties lack adjacent property owner and taxpayer standing. Specifically, the Court of Special Appeals held that adjacent property owners lack adjacent property owner standing because the County’s option to reclaim the land for educational use was not a land-use related provision.

This week, the RCHCA Board held an emergency meeting. After reviewing the court’s ruling, and consulting with our counsel, we consider the findings of the Court of Special Appeals to be erroneous. This is particularly true given a March 27 decision of Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, which reached the opposite conclusion in a different case that dealt with similar issues. Given this, we are preparing a motion for reconsideration, asking the Court of Special Appeals to reconsider their decision on our standing in light of the recent Court of Appeals decision, and to rule on the merits of our case. Failing that, we are prepared to file an application for Certiorari to the Court of Appeals; that is, we are prepared to ask our State’s highest court to consider our case.

Your Board continues to believe that our case has considerable merit, and asks for your continued support in this matter.

Sincerely yours,
Jim Pekar – RCHCA President
John Robinson – RCHCA Litigation Committee

Litigation Update RCH Park: March 2014

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers

Dear Neighbors,

As you may know, our litigation seeking to enforce the law and protect Rock Creek Hills Park has reached the appellate stage. On Wednesday, March 5, an oral argument was held before a three-judge panel of the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis. The judges were engaged, well prepared, and the dialogue with our counsel, Bil Chen, was on point and civil. Bil was very well prepared and anticipated all the questions that were asked by the panel. The Board of Education and the County made the same arguments as they did at the initial trial, regarding standing and land use issues. The three state agencies involved also repeated their arguments regarding their twenty-year administrative practice. The M-NCPPC did not present an oral argument. We believe that we provided the court with essential information to make a determination on the merits, which should be rendered in the next three to five months. We will keep you informed of any further developments.

Sincerely yours,
Jim Pekar – RCHCA President
John Robinson – RCHCA Litigation Committee

School Board Announces Meeting Dates for B-CC MS #2

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers

Dear RCHCA Residents:

Below is a notice regarding the meetings the School Board Staff is
scheduling for the schematic design of the proposed BCC MS #2 planned for
the Rock Creek Hills Local Park site starting September 11. It is
appropriate to attend those meetings to be informed and to suggest design
changes that would mitigate the impact of the proposed school and to assure
it most effectively serves the students if it is built. However I believe
nothing will be gained at this point from protesting the prior decision at
these meetings or debating whether the school should be built. The Council
President recently affirmed that the Council and the rest of the County
government consider this issue closed. If we are to be effective as a
community in addressing design concerns, it should be for constructive
engagement and comment. Otherwise we are likely be ignored and undercut any
educational and design concerns our residents may have.

Please call if you have any concerns,

Regards,

John M. Robinson

President RCHCA

301-949-5452
From: westland-net@yahoogroups.com [mailto:westland-net@yahoogroups.com] On
Behalf Of Kelsey, Jo Anne
Sent: Wednesday, September 04, 2013 11:47 AM
To: westland-net@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [westland-net] Schematic Design Meetings for B-CC Middle School #2

Westland community members are encouraged to join any/all parts of the
design process for BCC MS #2. The first meeting will be held in Westland’s
media center at 3:00 on Wednesday, September 11th. Successive meetings will
be held at North Chevy Chase ES and will alternate between afternoon and
evening times.

Schematic Design Meetings for Bethesda Chevy Chase Middle School #2

Meeting Schedules

Work Session Meeting #1
Westland Middle School – Media Center
5511 Massachusetts Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20816
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:00 pm

Work Session Meeting #2
North Chevy Chase Elementary School – Media Center
3700 Jones Bridge Road, Chevy Chase, Md. 20815
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 7:00 pm

Work Session Meeting #3
North Chevy Chase Elementary School – Media Center
3700 Jones Bridge Road, Chevy Chase, Md. 20815
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 3:45 pm

Work Session Meeting #4
North Chevy Chase Elementary School – Media Center
3700 Jones Bridge Road, Chevy Chase, Md. 20815
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 7:00 pm

PTA/Community Schematic Design Presentation
North Chevy Chase Elementary School – Media Center
3700 Jones Bridge Road, Chevy Chase, Md. 20815
Tuesday November 11, 2013 7:00 pm

If you have any questions regarding this process please contact Mr. Dennis
Cross, MCPS project manager at 240-314-1012 or send an e.mail to
Dennis_Cross@mcpsmd.org

Jodie Kelsey

Main Office Secretary

RCHCA Comment to Planning Board for July 11 2013 meeting

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers, RCHCA Biz

All,

Please see below the comment submitted to the Planning Board regarding the
proposed transfer of Rock Creek Hills Local Park to Montgomery County as
stated on the Board’s July 11 agenda.

Yours,

John M. Robinson

From: John Robinson [mailto:jmarkrobinson@verizon.net] Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 7:35 AM
To: ‘MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org’
Subject: July 11 meeting – Item 17 – Transfer of Rock Creek HIlls Local Park

Comment on Item 17, July 11 Agenda.

To Planning Chair Carrier and the Planning Board Commissioners:

On returning from vacation late last night, I read the Board’s proposed July
11 agenda and noticed that the Parks Department Staff is recommending the
transfer of the Rock Creek Hills Local Park to Montgomery County per the
Transfer Agreement dated February 9, 1990. The Rock Creek Hills Citizens
Association regrets the likely loss by the public of the use of that Park
some two years before the scheduled construction of the new middle school.
We had hoped that the Park would be available to the general public until
that time. Please be advised that the Association has appealed the recent
court decision affirming the proposed used the Park for a middle school and,
if we were to prevail, the transfer would have to be rescinded.

I know that the Commission would have also preferred that the site remain a
park.

Sincerely yours,

John M. Robinson

for the

Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers

Dear Members,

As you are aware, on April 11, 2013, Judge Rubin made on oral ruling against
the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association and the individual plaintiffs on
matters relating to the proposed conversion of Rock Creek Hills Local Park.
On April 23, 2013, Judge Rubin entered a 13 page written Declaratory
Judgement stating his reasons. Counsel, the Association, and the individual
plaintiffs have reviewed the April 23 order carefully and have again
concluded that the Court’s erred in ruling that (1) the plaintiffs have no
standing to challenge the proposed conversion, (2) the Board of Education
has a valid reclaim right to the park, and (3) the government defendants did
not violate any statutes in deciding to convert the park without further
review by the state agencies having statutory jurisdiction over the proposed
conversion. Therefore the Association and the individual plaintiffs are
appealing the April 23 order. In addition, the Association’s park
litigation fund has the resources to pay all its current obligations and has
accumulated a modest reserve for the initial phase of the appeal.

Yours,

John M. Robinson
9616 Old Spring Road
Kensington, MD 20895

Notice from RCHCA Pres re April 11 Court Ruling

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers

Dear members,

At the April 11 court hearing Judge Rubin ruled for the defendant government
agencies and issued a declaratory judgment dismissing the Rock Creek Hills
Citizens Association’s and the individual plaintiffs’ complaints. The
complaints had alleged that the Montgomery County Planning Board, the Board
of Education, and the County Executive, as well as three state agencies,
incorrectly decided not to follow certain statutory requirements in their
plans to convert the Rock Creek Hills Local Park to non-park. Our counsel
and your community members involved in this litigation (who attended the
hearing) believe that the Court’s decision was erroneous for several
significant reasons. We are now evaluating an appeal of the merits of the
Court’s decision.

Yours truly,

John M. Robinson

RCH Park Hearing Update from John Robinson

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers

MARCH 18 UPDATE:
Dear Members,

Regarding the RCHCA litigation before Judge Rubin, the hearing scheduled for
tomorrow, Tuesday March 19, has been postponed until March 26 at 3:30.
There is no reason to believe that this is of any significance beyond a
conflict in the Court’s schedule.

Yours,

John M. Robinson

Dear Members,

On March 15 there was a two hour hearing before Judge Rubin on the RCHCA
lawsuit regarding the proposed conversion of Rock Creek Hills Local Park to
school site use. The hearing was continued until March 19 for another two
hours beginning at 3:00. Please do not be concerned about this development.
Our counsel and your local litigation team believe that the continuance
reflects the Court’s efforts to render a well informed decision and is
consistent with our perception that we are receiving a fair hearing. This
does not mean that we will ultimately win on the merits, but given the
proceedings so far, we remain positive about the ultimate outcome of this
procedurally and substantively complex case.

My regards,

John M. Robinson

President, RCHCA

Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association February 2013 Electronic Newsletter

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, Meetings, Newsletters, RCHCA Biz

Click here for pdf version of the February 2013 Newsletter

Dear Members,

This is the electronic newsletter for the annual meeting and for the first quarter of 2013. The principal issues are scheduling the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association (RCHCA)annual meeting (Thursday, April 4, 2013), the status of litigation related to Rock Creek Hills Local Park and its immediate future, our general financial situation (including dues), and the election of officers.

Annual Meeting

The RCHCA annual meeting will be held Thursday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue, in the multi-purpose room. The meeting has been delayed to coincide with the anticipated date of a court ruling on the merits of RCHCA’s suit to prevent the conversion of Rock Creek Hills Local Park to non-park use, in this case a proposed middle school. The agenda items include the status of that litigation, RCHCA’s overall financial situation, and the election of officers.

Rock Creek Hills Local Park Litigation

The RCHCA complaint was filed on August 16, 2103, in Circuit Court against the Montgomery County Board of Education, the County Executive in his official capacity, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (the Planning Board), three state agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Montgomery County Council. The action against the Council was later dismissed without prejudice by stipulation. The legal issues are such that it was necessary to sue all of these agencies. The number of parties involved increased the amount of filings well above what is normally involved with a significant increase in cost.

Although there are a number of issues related to standing, timing, and the
like, there are two principal substantive issues. Somewhat more than 20
years ago RCH Local Park was developed with Public Open Space (POS) funds.
Given the use of these funds, the most important issue is whether RCH Local
Park may be converted to non-park use without full DNR review of the
conversion, and if conversion occurs, whether the converting agency must
replace the current park with the same amount of new parkland providing
replacement recreation facilities of the same recreation value as those now
located in RCH Local Park. DNR is arguing that because the improvements
arising from this development of our park are more than 20 years old no DNR
review of the facilities is necessary nor is their replacement by the
converting agency required. We believe there is no statutory or other legal
basis for this position. In addition, we are arguing that the law bars the
Planning Board from transferring the RCH Local Park for non-park use unless
it finds that RCH Park is not needed for park purposes, which speaks for
itself.

Since the filing of the complaint, the parties have completed most factual
and document discovery, and each side has prepared motions for summary
judgment based on the record to date. In our case, that effort has meant
preparing such a motion containing multiple counts against each of the
defendant parties, as well responding to each of the defendant’s arguments
about why our actions should be dismissed. The defendants have filed their
answers to our motions to dismiss, to which we will now reply. At that
point the record should be complete and we anticipate that the case will be
decided without requiring a factual hearing.

The hearing on the pleadings is scheduled for March 14, 2013. RCHCA
continues to believe in it and the individual plaintiffs will prevail, and
therefore the defendant parties will be enjoined from converting RCH Local
Park to non-park use without complying with the required statutory
provisions. Such compliance would be extremely expensive as it would
require the purchase of new land, and thus would likely require any new
school to be located elsewhere. Depending on the court’s ruling and the
actions of the defending parties, we will discuss at the April 4 what
actions the Association should take.

For the reasons I have discussed, this lawsuit has been quite costly. By
December 31, we had spent somewhat in excess of $50,000 and have raised just
enough funds to cover our costs through that date. You will recall that
RCHCA determined that this litigation would be funded as a separate
association activity, and that funding would be solicited as needed to
moderate the impact of that funding. To this end, RCHCA established a
litigation account to be kept strictly separate from our general operating
funds.

We have done so and it is our intention to continue to fund this litigation
from a separate account. Another round of funding is being requested at
this time. Specifically, an additional $20,000 is needed to sustain the
litigation through the end of March (after the hearing on the pleadings).
As before, in addition to maintaining separation of litigation funds from
other association funds, if there is a surplus in the funds raised since
December 31, they will be refunded pro rata based on the contributions since
that date. Please make any checks to the Rock Creek Hills Citizens
Association, noted to the Litigation fund, and mail them to John M. Robinson
at 9616 Old Spring Road, Kensington, MD, 20895. The funds should be
received no later than March 1, 2013.

General Financial Information

This is the report for the general operating fund which has been separately
maintained as a reserve for other important matters such as the enforcement
of the RCHCA covenants (particularly related to ongoing fence and
construction issues), meeting and minor regulatory and tax expenses, and our
community activities. As of December 18, 2012, our checking and savings
account totaled $14,089. This is not as much money as it seems when
ordinary operating expenses for 2012 were $8033.47 against ordinary income
of $8107. 47. A final report will be provided by our treasurer at the
meeting, along with a request that you renew, or join, our membership. An
envelope requesting the payment of the $40 per household will be coming your
way. Please contribute.

Election of Officers

We will be electing RCHCA officers for period through January 2014. The
following have agreed to serve another term: President, John M. Robinson;
Vice-President, Samuel Statland; Secretary, Kenneth Sanford. David Hall is
stepping down as Treasurer after excellent service in computerizing our
books and straightening our past records. He will provide Quicken training
for his successor, who we badly need. Please step up and volunteer for this
important, but modest, time commitment.

SPRING MEMBERSHIP MEETING ON THURSDAY MAY 24 AT 7:30 – GRACE EPISCOPAL DAY SCHOOL

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings

Dear Members:

The RCHCA spring meeting will be held Thursday May 24 at 7:30 in the
all-purpose room of Grace Episcopal Day School. You will also receive
shortly a post card to this effect. The agenda includes a further discussion
of school site selection issues and related litigation matters, which will
be a voting item. We will also discuss and vote on a possible small
increase in the dues. Other matters will be entertained from the floor if
time permits. Remember that your dues must be paid if you want to vote.

There will not be a newsletter for this meeting because we have no
newsletter editor. The President’s message and other details regarding the
meeting will be posted by e-mail and on our website at rchca.org no less
than two weeks before the meeting. If you are willing to take on the
newsletter, please contact me. The Board would be most thankful for help
with this three times a year task.

Regards,

John M. Robinson

RCHCA Corresponds w/ County Council re B-CC Middle School

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers, RCHCANet

Dear Members –

Attached below is the text of a letter the RCHCA sent to the County Council
on Friday April 6 urging them to retain to the Council in this year’s budget
Council authority to make the final decision on the site selection for new
B-CC Middle School. I urge you to send the same message to the Council if
you are opposed to placing the proposed school in Rock Creek Hills Local
Park. The issue should be addressed in the near future because it is now
under consideration by the Council. You should be advised that the Council
President, Roger Berliner, does not favor the concept even though he is our
district council member.

Regards,

John M. Robinson

Text of the April 6 RCHCA Message to County Council on Retention of Site
Decision Authority by the Council

Dear Council President Berliner and Council Members Andrews, Elrich, Ervin,
Floreen, Leventhal, Navarro, Rice, and Riemer:

I am sure you have all received numerous e-mails and letters
regarding Superintendent Starr’s recommendation to the Board of Education
that the Rock Creek Hills Local Park be the site for the proposed B-CC
Middle School # 2. However the site selection process is moving forward
rapidly with the mandatory referral before the Montgomery County Planning
Board on Monday, April 9, and a hearing before the Board of Education on
Tuesday, April 17, 2012. While you have been provided the Minority Report
of the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association regarding that recommendation
and several of your offices have discussed it with our members, at this
juncture there are two fundamental policy issues involved.

The first policy issue is whether the Board of Education may ultimately rely
on an expedient reclaim right to Rock Creek Hills Local Park in making its
final site selection decision, or should engage in a more thorough analysis
of whether two or three other sites might be preferable for educational
purposes. While this might require making the necessary arrangements with
the Planning Board, at this point the Board of Education staff has made no
meaningful analysis of whether any such alternative sites might result in
lower cost to the taxpayer and would in some cases provide more land to meet
the Board of Educational program requirements. It is clear that the Board
staff does not intend to do so.

The second policy issue is whether the Board of Education should
have sole discretion in determining the structure of important recreation
and social assets in the lower County. While this issue is particularly
acute with regard to the two regulation soccer fields in Rock Creek Hills
Local Park, it is also true with regard to the recreation facilities in some
of the alternative sites considered in the latest site selection process,
including those in North Chevy Chase and Norwood Local Parks. I
respectfully suggest that reliance by the Board of Education on its reclaim
right may foreclose an adequate evaluation of the social and fiscal
implications of its site selection decision absent further review and
consideration by the Council. This is true even though the scarcity of open
land in the lower County raises broader issues that are of great
significance to the County’s long term well being. The Board of Education
staff’s priorities in this regard are clear, and while the position of the
Board of Education itself is unknown at this point, its pending decision is
obviously a matter of concern to a wide range of interested parties.

Given the needs of the broader community that uses the Rock
Creek Hills Local Park and the taxpayers in general, I urge that the
budgetary language for the next fiscal year reserve to the Council the
authority to make the final site selection decision for the proposed B-CC
Middle School #2.

Sincerely yours,

/s/

John M. Robinson

President

Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association.