The following letter was provided to the Montgomery Country Delegation, the Honorable Nancy King and the Honorable Shane Robinson, by the the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee on December 5th, 2016.
Dear Senator King and Delegate Robinson,
I am writing to you on behalf of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee to express the Committee’s strong support for MC 12-17, to alter the approval requirements to create and expand a Business Improvement District (BID) in Montgomery County. We thank Delegate Will Smith for his leadership on this important legislation.
The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee was charged by the County Executive and County Council to make recommendations on the eventual establishment of an urban services district in the White Flint Sector Plan Area, also known as the Pike District. Our committee includes local residents, businesses, and property owners.
After reviewing the tools available to accomplish this, we believe BIDs are a proven model to supplement existing government services and enhance public safety, marketing and events, neighborhood beautification, and infrastructure. BIDs are the future of economic development and have swept across the nation in the last few decades. BIDs are successful because they place these important services in the hands of local stakeholders. Unfortunately, the current 80% approval requirement makes forming a BID a daunting task and none have been formed in the state since the original legislation in 2010.
The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee strongly supports MC 12-17 because it will facilitate the formation of BIDs in Montgomery County and provide the County a real mechanism to compete with D.C. and Virginia in terms of economic development, marketing, and place-making.
MC 12-17 changes the approval requirement to 51% of individual property owners AND 51% of the assessed value within the proposed district. This lower requirement puts us in line with BIDs in the District of Columbia and Virginia. Additionally, the bill allows rental residential properties – a commercial use – to benefit from BID services.
In addition, we respectfully request two edits to improve the governance provisions in the legislation. The legislation currently specifies that a BID would have five (5) Board members, with three (3) Board members required for a quorum. We think this should be revised to allow flexibility in determining the appropriate size of a Board based upon specific circumstances, as follows:
1. Sec. 12-605(B)(1) currently provides that a Board “consists of five members.” (See Page 4, Line 22). We would propose that a Board “consists of a minimum of five members.”
2. Sec. 12-605(D)(1) currently provides, “Three voting members of the Board are a quorum,” (See Page 5, Line 3). We would propose, “A majority of members of a Board are a quorum.”
Thank you for your consideration.
Thomas D. Murphy