Friday, June 12, 2009

Weed & Seed Committee Supports Montgomery County Code Enforcement Legislation

June 9, 2009, Silver Spring, Maryland – “To not enact these changes would result in the continued eroding of the quality of life in Montgomery County neighborhoods….” stated the Steering Committee of the Weed & Seed Program in its letter to the Montgomery County Council conveying support for County Executive, Isiah Leggett’s legislation on code enforcement.

On May 21st the Steering Committee took up discussion on four separate issues related to the Zoning Text Amendment, Bill 22-09, Bill 23-09 and Bill 24-09 slated for this evening’s public hearing. Alan Bowser, a member of the Silver Spring Citizen’s Advisory Board led the committee through the process of motion introductions, seconds, discussions and final vote. With each call for the vote came a “Unanimous” response from committee members. “I support these changes…” replied Richard Rosenzweig, Vice-President of the Oakview Citizen’s Association, an older 700 home community impacted by the changes.

The proposed legislation deals with a broad range of issues affecting Montgomery County’s oldest communities which includes home occupations and residential off-street parking, lessening the amount of time for violators to continuously appeal, standardizing the storage of unused vehicles, and mandating a time frame of completion of projects so they don’t continue to be an eyesore to the community.

“The result of the vote is no surprise the Oakview Community has been working towards this day for at least two years…” says Maura Lynch, Assistant State’s Attorney, with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. In the spring of 2007 the Oakview Community had requested assistance from the Weed & Seed program to implement a Nuisance Abatement Initiative. Soon after a collaboration of county agencies joined together under a “Nuisance Abatement Task Force” responding to resident complaints ranging from large commercial vehicles being parked on driveways and streets, neglected vacant properties, graffiti on private and public property, and pursuit of criminal operations that included the drop off of stolen vehicles and sale of drugs.

“Please don’t leave us out, will this impact apartment complexes as well?” asked Luther Hinsley, the President of the Avery Park Community Association. Residents in the apartment complex have been pursuing the removal of commercial vehicles from their 600 unit complex and at least one former resident claimed the presence of the vehicles contributed to her entrapment by juveniles in an armed robbery attempt a couple of years ago.

This evening John Walters President of the Oakview Citizen’s Association will testify on behalf of the Oakview community and will be one of thirty-five speakers slated to speak before the Montgomery County Council.

This public hearing will be carried live over County Cable Montgomery Channel 6 starting at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Weed and Seed is a U.S. Department of Justice program that provides more than $1 million in funding over a five-year period to help communities provide focused law enforcement activities to “weed out” persistent criminal activity, while at the same time “seeding” with human services and community-building programs. With the Weed and Seed Model, community leaders work hand in hand with law enforcement officials, educators, government agencies and non-profits to help grow safe and healthy communities.

For more information about the Weed and Seed Program contact Victor Salazar at the Silver Spring Regional Services Center (301) 565-5847.

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