2020 off to a busy start

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Development Updates
•    Lidl: As of September 10, 2019, Lidl submitted a Preliminary Plan and Site Plan to develop two lots on 6.52 acres of land at the old Professional Center site. The first lot will be a grocery store of not more than 30,000 square feet, owned by Lidl. The second lot, although having a conceptual building layout on the Site Plan, has no use identified, but will probably be retail. 

The plan is scheduled to go to the Planning Board on Thursday, Jan. 30, during which public comment will be received. The plan will return to MVF’s Commercial Architectural Review Committee (CARC) for final review at its Friday, Feb. 7 meeting. Lidl has indicated that it will try to fast track a demolition permit with the Department of Permitting Services once the Planning Board has given its approval.

•    Montgomery Village Golf Course (Bloom): As of January 2020, the project team is close to having final approval from the county for the amended Certified Site Plan. As previously reported, the amendment was necessary to adjust the MPDU percentage, adjust forest conservation areas in the stream valley park and make other minor changes in the plan as a result of final engineering of the site. 

As a result of numerous minor tweaks and revisions requested by the county, processing times for various related submissions like the sediment and erosion control plans and utility plans have been delayed; ground breaking on the site development work is now likely to begin in March, with the first model home lots expected to be delivered in Fall 2020. 

Engineering work has also begun on the next phase of development that will deliver the new Central Park and associated open space, along with the single family homes in Area 3. That phase of development is currently projected to break ground by the end of the year, with the park and model home lot likely to deliver by Summer 2021.

•    Montgomery Village Center: Great progress is being made with the facelift and infrastructure improvements for Phase I of the Village Center project. The developer, Atlantic Realty Companies, has not yet filed a Preliminary Plan for the Watkins Mill side of the project, which will include condominium units and townhouses.

2020 Maryland General Assembly has begun
Some bills that are being considered include:
•    HB 30 Condominium Disclosures to Unit Owners /prohibited provisions in Instruments By Developers re: settlements of claims (Sunset Island Act): Clarifying that certain provisions of law relating to closed-door meetings of a board of directors of a condominium do not allow the board to withhold or agree to withhold any information about a legal agreement to which the board is a party from the unit owners; altering the applicability of a certain provision of law concerning claims against a developer or vendor; establishing that a provision in certain instruments made by a developer that prohibits a certain disclosure to unit owners is unenforceable; etc.
o    Impacts to condominiums: This bill would prohibit a condo board from withholding or agreeing to withhold information about legal agreements the board is a party to from unit owners, and would make unenforceable any provision that prohibits disclosure of terms of settlement to owners. Provisions that shorten statutes of limitations and waive discovery rules are already in the law. While this provision does not impact MVF directly, we believe that it sets forth good public policy for condominiums within Montgomery Village. 

•    HB 107 Real Property- Common Ownership Communities - Payment of Fees: Requiring a mortgagor or a grantor who secures a mortgage or deed of trust for the purchase of a single family dwelling unit that is subject to fees imposed by a common ownership community to pay the fees as part of the payments made under the mortgage or deed of trust; requiring a mortgagor or grantor to notify the mortgagee or grantee and the governing body of the common ownership community of the decision to pay the common ownership community fees to the mortgagee or grantee; requiring the mortgagor or grantor to forward the fees to the common ownership community; and setting out the administrative procedure for record keeping and accounting of the fees.
o    Impacts to HOAs and COAs: MVF is not aware yet of the impetus for this legislation that has been submitted by Senator Ellis. All owners with secured mortgages and deeds of trust would be obligated to make their assessment payments to the banks. All secured mortgagees and grantors of deeds of would be obligated to accept payments. The bill does not address delinquent assessment collection. MVF has no formal position on this bill as yet.

•    HB 58 Cooperatives, Condominiums and Homeowners Associations – Reserve Studies: Requires the governing body of any of the above common ownership communities to have a reserve study completed and delivered to the governing body before the governing body takes over operation of the community independently from the owner, and for the owner to deliver the amount of the reserved funds recommended to the governing body. Thereafter, each governing body must obtain a reserve study at least every 5 years. Requires the budget each year to include reserve funds at least 80% of the funding amount recommended in the most recent reserve study. Allows the governing body to increase an assessment to cover the recommended reserve amount, even if the governing documents restrict assessment increases.
o    Impact to HOAs/COAs: MVF has supported reserves studies generally, but last year did not support the requirement of this bill that each annual budget include funding at 80% of the recommended reserves amount. 

•    HB 25 Condominiums and Homeowners Associations – Amendments to Declarations and Governing Documents: Condo and HOA documents often require holders of mortgages and deeds of trust to vote on amendments in order for the amendment to be approved. By failing to respond, banks can frustrate the amendment process. This bill would allow an association to send a notice of the proposed amendment to a bank, and if the bank didn’t object in writing within 60 days, the association could treat that non-response as a “yes” vote. 
o    Impact to HOAs/COAs: In 2019 the bill passed the House. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, but did not vote on it. MVF believes that this is good public policy and will support this bill. There is already a provision in the Condominium Act that allows this type of notice to count as a positive vote. 

New Lighting on Montgomery Village and East Village avenues
Since mid-2019, Montgomery County has been installing new LED lighting fixtures along both of these roadways. Much of the work has been completed; however, the project manager reports that the contractor has to install additional wiring and transformers due to the final scope of the project. All of the lights are expected to be energized by the end of February.

New Police Leadership
With the appointment of the new Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones, there has been some reorganization and announcement of new appointments. As of January 5, Commander Paul Liquorie was named the new commander of the 6th District. Commander Liquorie has served in Major Crimes, Criminal Investigations, Special Investigations and Special Operations divisions, as well as in the 4th District and Commander of the 2nd District. 

Commander Liquorie is a graduate of American University and the Naval Post Graduate School of Homeland Security, LeadershipMontgomery and served as a United States Marine prior to joining MCPD. Joining Commander Liquorie will be Deputy Commander Brian Merryman, who was recently promoted to his new position. Deputy Commander Merryman comes from the Silver Spring District as the Supervisor of the Investigative Section. Lieutenants Hudson and Friz will remain at the 6th District.