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Montgomery County Ike Leggett recommends not moving agencies to Wheaton

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Photo - standaloneFIRESTATION
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett speaks during  in a ground breaking ceremony for the new Germantown/Kingsview Fire Station in Germantown, Maryland on Thursday, November 29, 2007.  The new station, the first of 4 which will be built in the next 2-3 years, and the first to be built in Germantown since 1980, will serve a population of an estimated 86, 000 people and represents the county's infrastructure growth to accommodate for it's population growth and is located at the intersection of Clopper Road 117 and Germantown Road 118.  GregWhitesell/Examiner
standaloneFIRESTATION Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett speaks during in a ground breaking ceremony for the new Germantown/Kingsview Fire Station in Germantown, Maryland on Thursday, November 29, 2007. The new station, the first of 4 which will be built in the next 2-3 years, and the first to be built in Germantown since 1980, will serve a population of an estimated 86, 000 people and represents the county's infrastructure growth to accommodate for it's population growth and is located at the intersection of Clopper Road 117 and Germantown Road 118. GregWhitesell/Examiner
Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson,Montgomery County

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is recommending that two county agencies not move into a planned Wheaton development because it is too expensive.

The planned Wheaton headquarters would be the new home of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which would move from its current headquarters in downtown Silver Spring. The county was exploring whether two other county departments -- Permitting Services and Environmental Protection -- could be housed under the same roof to put many of the county's development functions together.

But moving the two agencies there from Rockville would cost about $67 million more than the $65 million planned to build the center. Leggett said he didn't think it was financially responsible for the county to go forward with the move.

"It was my initial belief that relocation of these related county offices would provide great synergy for the employees of these departments and those business and residents served by them," he said. "Despite these benefits ... I cannot recommend the inclusion of office space for DEP and DPS in the Wheaton redevelopment project."

He said the county's Capital Improvements Program, the comprehensive six-year plan for construction projects, for fiscal 2015 through 2020 is limited, and the move would mean delaying other projects, such as library renovations and recreation centers, which would not serve the public.

Director of General Services David Dise said that though officials at both departments felt the move would be beneficial for staff, because Parks and Planning works closely with the two agencies, they understand it was better to spend the money elsewhere.

"As much as it's a great thing to do, the county executive at this time can't do one at the expense of another," he said.

Bob Hoyt, director of the Environmental Protection Department, did not return calls for comment.

Though the plan is out the window for now, Dise said both departments are looking at automating services online, meaning residents wouldn't have to travel for services. Instead, people would be able to access information and submit applications through the Internet.

"We're trying to [develop] online and mobile app services to make dealing with essential functions without requiring people to drive to Rockville or Wheaton," he said.

In lieu of the $67 million to merge the three departments in Wheaton, Leggett recommended that the County Council maintain funding for a town square between Georgia Avenue, Veirs Mill Road and University Boulevard in Wheaton and the redevelopment of property on Georgia Avenue.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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