Is Annexation good for the City of Rockville?
Definition: A legal process to incorporate into the City the territory of another jurisdiction.
Over the past 50 years, Rockville has successfully annexed close by properties to achieve local Rockville community objectives. Generally, annexations are good for the City because they help our community’s future growth since most of our available land has been developed.
For example, two recent annexations have led to the successful developments: the King Farm and Falls Grove communities. These two farms presented the opportunity for the City to create mix-use developments featuring housing, business, and community facilities. Additionally, these annexations allowed the City of Rockville, rather than the County, to plan the developments and control the various outcomes in keeping with the City’s community objectives and Master Plan.
More importantly, since Rockville sees itself as primarily a residential community, annexation of the two farms provided the opportunity to protect adjacent residential neighborhoods, such as Woodley, College Gardens, Glenora Hills, and Lakewood and allowed the better staging of development to control traffic and other impacts. The commercial and retail portions of these new neighborhoods provided needed local community services as well as important tax revenues to the City.
Usually, a major advantage to the City of an annexation is the fact that the City has a lot of the needed infrastructure in place to handle some of the requirements of the new development. Or, the annexation allows for upgrades and expansion of existing resources. For example, expansion of the Blue Plains Sewage Plant and West Gude Drive were built in anticipation of the King and Thomas farms development. In addition, the City’s progressive Master Plan helps predict other long-range expansions of facilities to accommodate future development including Town Center and Rockville Pike.
A key issue with annexation for the City is to make sure an annexation makes sense. First, the City has to determine that the taxes and other revenues generated by the eventual development outweigh the increased costs of services. Secondly, the City has to determine that a particular annexation will give the City greater control over the zoning and land-use decisions rather than the current controlling jurisdiction, likely Montgomery County. For example, the City for years tried to annex the now Park Potomac property but was rebuffed by the owners who wanted higher densities than the City felt appropriate; Park Potomac was developed under County guidance.
Thirdly, if the City can control the use and costs of needed infrastructure on an annexed property, this offers more protection to City taxpayers, as well as, assures longer life spans for the infrastructure. Fourthly, as the results of King and Thomas farms show, the City acquired more land for parks, recreation, affordable housing, and other community benefits. Lastly, annexation does not injure or hinder Montgomery County but brings long term tax and services benefits to both jurisdictions.