Category

From the RCHCA Officers

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if we were to prevail, the transfer would have to be rescinded.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

“The Village” Informational Meeting May 16, 2013 @ 8 pm

By | From the RCHCA Officers, Intergenerational Village, Villages of Kensington

All,

At our annual meeting we discussed establishing a Rock Creek Hills chapter
of “The Village”, which provides supportive services to local communities.
Fifi Chase will host a meeting in this regard on May 16, 8:00 p.m. at her
house [on] Old Spring Road. A representative of The Village will be
there to discuss the organization. Drop a note to Fifi at (fortfifi@aol.com) if
you would like to attend.

Yours,

John M. Robinson

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

Next General Meeting will be Thursday, October 11, 2012 @ 7:30 p.m.

By | From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings

Dear Members,

THE RCHCA FALL MEETING will be held Thursday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue in the Multi-Purpose Room. The agenda includes a litigation update, selecting an officer nominating committee, covenants review if necessary, and Treasurer’s report. No voting items are anticipated, but please check before the meeting.

The President’s Message and details will be posted on the RCHCA web site at rchca.org.

Yours,

John M. Robinson

MEETING REMINDER: Thursday, May 24, 2012 7:30 pm

By | From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings

Dear Members –

Just a reminder that the spring RCHCA meeting is Thursday, May 24, at 7:30
at Grace Episcopal Day School on Connecticut Avenue in the all-purpose room.
The agenda includes the meeting schedule, dues, and the status of legal and
political matters involving Rock Creek Hills Local Park. Also, if you want
to preserve Rock Creek Hills Local Park as the core of our community, we
need your contributions to the litigation fund. The action we intend to
file would direct the State Department of Natural Resources to require the
Montgomery County School System replace Rock Creek Hills Local Park and all
of its facilities if MCPS proceeds to build a new middle school on that
site. Please make any contributions to the Rock Creek Hills Citizens
Association and mail or deliver the check to John M. Robinson at 9616 Old
Spring Road, Kensington, MD 20895.

Hope to see you at the meeting,

John M. Robinson

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

By | Board Correspondence, From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings

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

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