MARYLAND

Montgomery County Council bill would reduce executive's power, stop Potomac soccer field plan

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A contentious bill in Montgomery County would strip significant power from the county executive.

The bill would have an effect on many big projects including a controversial plan to turn Potomac farmland into soccer fields.

In recent months, a plot of public land has caused controversy in Potomac. County Executive Ike Leggett is pushing a plan to turn it into soccer fields. But most of the residents in the surrounding community are opposed to the plan.

"This proposal as it stands for a four-field soccerplex theatens our community," says Curt Uhre, a Potomac resident. "The community had absolutely no voice in the decision of what to use this property for."

Today 400 nearby residents threatened to sue the board of education for turning the land over to the county.

"If we have no other choice, we will file this lawsuit and other lawsuits," says Uhre.

But a new bill could stop this and other big projects, stripping the county executive of his ability to make unilateral decisions on the sale and lease of property. It would require the council approve all deals on properties worth more than $100,000. The measure already has enough votes to pass.

"We're elected to protect the public interest and provide oversight," says George Leventhal, Montgomery County Councilmember. "And it's appropriate that the council have a role in major transactions like this."

The county executive's office says the council does not have the authority to do this and that it has to go before voters on the ballot. To stop the Potomac project, the law would have to go into effect before the county signs a lease on the property.

Residents of the Brickyard community call it a step in the right direction.

Uhre: "We're very happy with the actions that the council has taken and we're very thankful," Uhre says.

The bill will be introduced on March 13th and there will be a public hearing on the 20th in Rockville.

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