Rockville City Council member Viola D. Hovsepian, named by the council to fill the seat of departing Mayor John R. Freeland, says she hopes in the coming year to take a hard look at the direction development has taken in recent decades.
She said she also wants to encourage better understanding between developers and residents of the areas they build in, as they frequently have been at odds over such issues as increased traffic.
Freeland, who came under fire after he took a job with a city developer, has resigned as of Sunday, citing personal reasons.
While Freeland had close ties to the business community, Hovsepian said she will bring to the job several years of working as a civic activist.
Hovsepian said she wants to keep close watch on the direction of development in Rockville, which is currently two-thirds homes and a third businesses and industry.
"With all the development that's going on, if we're not careful we'll become an employment center rather than a residential center," she said.
The planning department recommends a mixture of about 75 percent residences and 25 percent businesses, she said.
Hovsepian also must bring together a fractious council left divided by the fierce conflict-of-interest controversy touched off when Freeland's accepted a job with a city developer five months ago.
"There is tension on the council, there's no doubt about it," Hovsepian said. "But I think the council is going to continue to work as representatives of what they were elected to do. I have the support of a majority of members on the council. Hopefully, down the road, it will all smooth out."
City Council members have picked Peter R. Hartogensis, a Rockville planning commission member who unsuccesfully sought a council seat in last April's election, to replace Hovsepian on the council.
Hovsepian, 61, Rockville's first female mayor, will be sworn in at a City Council meeting Monday. Her husband, Dickran, was mayor of the city from 1954 to 1958.
Stephen H. Fisher, chairman of the Alliance of Rockville Citizens, Hovsepian's party, noted that the new mayor received the largest number of votes among council members who ran in last April's city election.
First elected to the council in 1982, her political activities began in the 1950s, when she served as a board member for the now-defunct Citizens for Good Government organization. She has been a member of the Twinbrook Citizens Association for several years and is a founder of the Alliance of Rockville Citizens, which for the past six years has challenged the longtime ruling Independents for Rockville for control of the city's government.