|The agenda for the|
Development Review Committee
...until it's not
What's going on here? I had double-checked the agenda online before leaving. Not only was there supposed to be a meeting, but Marriott was first on the agenda, as it had been for weeks.
Well, it turns out that a double whammy was pulled.
First, the meeting time was moved back to 10:00 AM. Well, that was just wrong, moving a standard meeting time 30 minutes later. But, wait - there's more! Marriott is now last on the agenda, and will be going on at 11:30 AM. The same time as the Macedonia Baptist Church protest at the Montgomery County Council Building in Rockville, and there's absolutely no question that I am going to be there.
I waited as long as I could, but nope, things dragged out just long enough. As I pulled out of the overpriced parking lot, where I had wasted several dollars parking for nothing, I could see the Marriott team heading toward the building. Whatever information I as a Bethesda resident had a right to learn about the Marriott project, and share with you, my fellow Bethesda residents on this blog, remains top secret. No apologies - if you wasted gas and time driving here for the Marriott review, well, too bad.
That is not an open process.
The department is fully aware of the high interest in this major project. Such a meeting should not be altered in time at the last minute. And it most certainly should not be altered without updating ALL of the agendas posted online. Check out this agenda - it's still online (until they take it down).
While it was stated that Marriott was expected to go overtime - too bad! The Planning Board does the same thing to us, the taxpayers, all the time. They use the parking meters as leverage, in fact. Numerous times, even when there is a big crowd there to testify, they have moved an agenda item to the end. This guarantees your meter is going to run out. Do you run out to put more quarters in, and miss being called to speak? Or just get a ticket? Ridiculous!
Yet, we are often forced to sit there, hour after hour through updates about plans and other irrelevant topics. Why can the developers not sit there, too, if Marriott runs over? Why is there anything else on the agenda with Marriott to begin with, if it is so complicated? The issues for the two projects that took Marriott's place were so minor, it was a waste of those applicants' time to haul them in there yesterday.
Once again, the department shows a shocking lack of respect for the citizens who are making an effort to participate in the process. If there is an important agenda item of great interest to the community, that item should be first, out of courtesy to the residents. And the time of the meeting itself certainly should not be changed.
What is going on here? "Find new ways?" How about respecting the time of the people who pay the salaries and keep the lights on at Planning HQ, and hold the meetings we have now when they are scheduled to be held?