City officials and residents from Gaithersburg and Rockville alike have offered strong opinions regarding Gaithersburg's unanimous vote to annex the 27.9 acre Sears property located along Shady Grove Road.
The decision follows a Montgomery County Council July 31 decision to approve a zone change for the property, shifting it from Research and Development (R&D), which prohibits retail, to Mixed Use District (MXD) zoning.
Prior to the vote, Rockville City Council member Tom Moore said in a blog on Patch that Gaithersburg officials were "preparing to wreak serious, unnecessary and perhaps permanent damage upon the relationship between their city and the City of Rockville."
Gaithersburg City Council member Cathy Drzyzgula replied directly to Moore in a prepared statement at Monday evening's mayor and council meeting, and both, as well as Gaithersburg's Ryan Spiegel, expressed interest in maintaining a strong working relationship with each other.
Spiegel cited Gaithersburg's inclusion of the property in the city's proposed Maximum Expansion Limit (MEL) as part of the Municipal Growth Element (MGE) as far back as 2008 while Rockville did not express interest in the property for its own MGE until March of 2011.
"Let's forget the Gaithersburg event, as I would call it, and let's move on with what we'd like to do." Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio said a short time after Moore announced in the Rockville council chamber that Gaithersburg had approved the Sears site annexation.
In a comment on his own blog, Moore conceded Rockville needs to be more proactive in its future planning.
"If nothing else, this whole episode has demonstrated to me that Rockville does need to be proactive in where we want our city to go, and by 'we' I mean the Mayor and Council," Moore wrote. "Otherwise, over the long term, we're going to have our lunch eaten."
Others, including Rockville council member John Hall, agreed, but don't want this series of events to harm the cities' relationship.
“I don’t want us to be at war with Gaithersburg,” Hall said. “I’d like for us, after a time, to have as good communication, consultation. I’d like for us to get to work on a revised [memorandum of understanding].”
Patch users from Rockville and Gaithersburg also expressed their thoughts on the decision.
"I do not think there was anything amiss with this annexation, user Peter Mork, of Rockville, wrote. "Mr. Spiegel's explanation strikes me as well-reasoned and not an attempt to "cling to [a] narrow definition of what is legal ... and ethical behavior."
"Instead, I find it dismaying that Rockville is perceived as so hostile to mixed use that the property owners had no interest in approaching our city. Good luck, Gaithersburg, I hope the project is mutually beneficial."
Gaithersburg's Tom Rowse was highly critical of his city's actions.
"This type of arrogant and poorly thought out conduct is par for the course from Gburg's 'leadership' and is what I have come to expect," Rowse commented. "Rockville should move to annex the former Gaithersburg West area and call it Rockville North. I'm sure that would get [Gaithersburg's] attention."
Another hoped this would not mark the start of Gaithersburg expanding in the Shady Grove area.
"Please leave Derwood and Mill Creek Towne alone as you sprawl toward Shady Grove Road," Patch user Jim Burnetti commented. "If I wanted to live in Gaithersburg, I would have bought a home there."
SPEAK OUT: How do you feel about Gaithersburg's annexation of the Sears property along Shady Grove Road? Will the decision affect the relationship between the two cities? Tell us in the comments.
Related Coverage of Sears Property Annexation:
Beaten by Gaithersburg on Shady Grove Annexation, Rockville Council Folds, Ponders Next Step (Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012)
Gaithersburg's Spiegel, Drzyzgula Defend Shady Grove Annexation (Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012)
Gaithersburg Unanimously Approves Sears Property Annexation (Monday, Aug. 6, 2012)
Gaithersburg's Destructive Drive Toward Annexing Sears (Monday, Aug. 6, 2012) [Blog post by Rockville city council member Tom Moore]
It's Gaithersburg vs. Rockville: Which Will Win? (Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012)
Border Wars: Gaithersburg, Rockville Fight Over Shady Grove Site (July 26, 2012)
Rockville Letters Oppose Great Indoors Site Annexation (June 7, 2012)
Council Considers Adding 28 Acres To City (March 5, 2012)