The Montgomery County Council last week gave preliminary but reluctant approval to a local manufacturing firm's bid to move from Rockville to the county's airpark in Gaithersburg.
The council unanimously voted to approve the request of C&C Industries, a builder of equipment trailers for NASA and the Army, to make the move to larger quarters in Gaithersburg. The firm is requesting tax-exempt financing for the relocation under Maryland's Industrial Development Financing Authority. That program was designed to provide such financing to small businesses that want to locate in the county.
Some council members complained the financing program was never designed to support businesses moving from one part of the county to another.
"This is an example of arbitrary and capricious funding," council member William Hanna Jr. said. "We should be certain when we use this kind of money there is an overpowering reason to do so."
Hanna said any misuse of the federally funded program would give ammunition to opponents who would like to kill it.
But County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist, through the county Office of Economic Development, argued that without the help, the firm would move to Howard County, where land is cheaper.
The Montgomery Council also voted to reiterate its position on the unification of the City of Takoma Park: It wants a task force study the issue.
The border of Montgomery and Prince George's counties splits the city. Political and civic leaders in Takoma Park have been mounting a drive for a unification referendum. If the General Assembly allows the referendum, voters will be asked whether they want the entire city to become part of Montgomery County.
But the proposed referendum has hit a new snag in the Montgomery delegation in Annapolis. The county's delegates are considering an amendment that would seek to change the boundaries of the legislative districts, should the city vote for unification.
Another amendment would make the city residents liable for legal costs associated with the unification. Takoma Park Mayor Sammie A. Abbott said those amendments would only help kill the measure before the entire General Assembly.
The County Council decided not to take a position on either amendment but to stick to its original position favoring the task force study. Council members said they are concerned about the fiscal and social costs of adding a new chunk of Takoma Park to the county.