Chevy Chase Neighborhood Group Protests Inconsistent Sign Fee

Rollingwood signThe Rollingwood Citizens Association was all set to apply for the right to install neighborhood signage this spring to better identify its tight-knit Chevy Chase community.

But on the way, the neighborhood bordered by Western Avenue, Beach Drive, East-West Highway and Martin’s Additions ran up against a small, but potentially difficult roadblock. While Montgomery County law allows a waiver of fees for neighborhood association sign permits, it still required payment of the fee for the right-of-way permit.

That meant the Rollingwood Citizens Association had to pony up a total of $144 to apply for right-of-way on three spots at different entrances to the neighborhood.

“It’s not a lot of money, but it’s the principle that matters,” said Rollingwood Citizens Association President Fritz Hirst. “It’s inconsistent with the spirit of what’s already on the books.”

Hirst contacted Councilmember Roger Berliner about the issue and Berliner sponsored a bill to ensure official neighborhood associations won’t have to pay any right-of-way signage fees. The Council unanimously passed the bill on Tuesday.

“It’s really about placemaking — local communities, local civic organizations and neighborhoods saying we’re proud of our community and we’re going to put up a small, unobstrusive sign,” Berliner said, “and we don’t want the county to charge us.”

Rollingwood embarked on the sign project to better distinguish itself among the many municipalities and communities of Chevy Chase.

“For Rollingwood, it creates a sense of identity and a sense of place,” Hirst said.

Hirst said Rollingwood hopes to get the signs installed by fall or early winter in three locations, at Woodbine Street and Beach Drive near the Rollingwood School, at Wyndale Road and Beach Drive and on a triangular patch of grass at Leland Street and Beach Drive.

County Council staff predicted loss of revenue from the right-of-way fee waiver at less than $500 a year.

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