MARYLAND

Some Montgomery County executive powers could be stripped

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In recent months, a plot of public land has stirred up controversy in Potomac. County Executive Ike Leggett has pushed a plan to turn it into soccer fields. Many in the surrounding community don't want it.

But a new bill could stop this and other big projects. It would strip the county executive of his power to make unilateral decisions on the sale and lease of property. It would require that the council approve all deals on land worth more than $100,000.

“I don’t think it is appropriate for the county executive to have unfettered discretion to dispose of valuable county property,” says Council President Roger Berliner.

The county executive's office says the bill violates the county charter - a claim that the council disputes. It also says it would hurt the county economically because businesses don’t want to have to engage the entire council on land deals.

“Bill 1112 violates the county charter, Bill 1112 is bad public policy, and on behalf of the county executive I urge you to vote against it,” says Kathleen Boucher, assistant chief administrative officer.

To stop the Potomac proposal, the law would have to go into effect before the county signs a lease on the property. And then the council would have to vote against that particular project.

The bill already has enough votes to survive even a veto by the county executive. But even if it does pass, the county executive can fight the enforcement of the measure.

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