Monday, March 27, 2017

Apply Now for Property Tax Credit for Long-time Homeowners

Visit the Department of Finance's Web site to get more information on Bill 42-16 that creates a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have either lived in the same home for at least 40 years or are retired veterans of the U.S. military. The application form is at the bottom of the page.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Information Posted on Property Tax Credit for Long-time Homeowners

Visit the Department of Finance's Web site to get more information on Bill 42-16 that creates a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have either lived in the same home for at least 40 years or are retired veterans of the U.S. military. The application form will be available later this month.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Date for Town Hall Meeting for Silver Spring Area

The Town Hall Meeting for Silver Spring has been rescheduled for Wednesday, April 19.

The meeting will be held at the Long Branch Community Center (8700 Piney Branch Road) beginning at 8 p.m. with a pre-meeting reception at 7:30. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting. I hope to see you there.

The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery. You can find CCM on cable channel 996 (high definition) and 6 (standard definition) on Comcast; Channels 1056 (HD) and 6 (SD) on RCN; and Channel 30 on Verizon. For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.

County Executive Transmits Recommended Budget to Council

The County Executive has transmitted his Fiscal Year 2018 recommended operating budget to the Council. The recommended budget provides a good starting point for the Council’s work on the final County budget for the upcoming year. We appreciate the hard work by the Executive and his staff to begin the process.

The Council’s public hearings on the operating budget are scheduled for April 4-6. You can sign up online to testify at one of the five public hearings.

You can also send your comments in writing online; by emailing county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov; by regular mail to: County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850; or by calling the Council budget hotline at 240-777-7802.

If you would like to follow along, visit the Council's Web site, and remember to check back regularly as information will change as we make our way through our work.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wednesday's Town Hall Cancelled

Wednesday's Town Hall Meeting for Silver Spring to be held at the Long Branch Community Center has been cancelled. I will let you know as soon as we have a rescheduled date.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tomorrow's Council Meeting Postponed

The Council has postponed its weekly session for Tuesday, March 14, due to predictions of heavy snow coming overnight. A scheduled special presentation on the “Future of Transportation” that will address the future impact of driver-less vehicles will be rescheduled for another date.

What to Know When it Snows

Here's the full press release from Montgomery County:

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Montgomery County, effective at 7 p.m. Monday, March 13 through 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14. Due to the weather conditions predicted, Montgomery County community members are encouraged to prepare for heavy snow, high winds, and power outages.  Community members are urged to subscribe to Alert Montgomery at alert.montgomerycountymd.gov to stay updated on the latest important information. Alerts can be sent to one or more electronic devices, including cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, and home and work emails.  For information during the storm, go to the County website www.montgomerycountymd.gov, check the County’s Twitter feed or Facebook page. The MC311 County informational call center remains open for extended hours during periods of emergencies and can be reached at 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311. Questions can also be asked of MC311 through their website: www.MC311.com

Preparing for the Storm

Check with neighbors or elderly family members who may require special assistance, to see if they need help in stocking up on supplies or medications, and call them during the storm. 
If there is a power outage, be prepared by having enough food, water, medication (if needed) and batteries to last at least two days. Make sure portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights are working properly. Make shelter, food, water and medication preparations for pets and livestock. 
Automobile owners are urged to help clear the way for snow plow operators. When parking on-street, pull close to the curb on the even numbered side of the street. Park vehicles in driveways, or off the street, whenever possible. Plan where you will park if a State or County Snow Emergency is declared, making parking illegal on those roads. Drivers may park in County public-parking garages and lots for free during a snow emergency. 

Be sure your vehicle(s) are ready to drive after the storm by filling the gas tank; checking tires to make sure they have an adequate tread and are fully inflated; checking oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels; and ensuring windshield wipers, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes and defroster are all working. Keep a windshield scraper, small shovel and broom in the car for ice and snow removal, and a small sack of sand or kitty litter to improve wheel traction.

During the Storm

Power Outages:

Treat all “dark” intersections as four-way stops. Stop - then proceed cautiously. 
During a power outage, relying on battery-operated lights, rather than candles, is much safer. Using candles increases the risk of a fire. 

Refrigerated food will remain unspoiled only about four hours if the refrigerator is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Use ice to keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below and the freezer at 0° or lower if there is a prolonged power outage. 

It can be fatal to use gas or charcoal grills, propane heaters and stoves, kerosene space heaters or generators indoors. These items are a source of carbon monoxide, which can build up indoors and cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Please see the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue site for more information.

Snow Treatment and Removal: 

State-maintained roads, which are the numbered roads in the County, are cleared by the Maryland State Highway Administration. Snow clearance of County roads begins with pre-treating major County roads with salt brine, a solution of salt and water, before snow begins falling unless there is rain to wash the solution away. Plowing of County roads begins when three or more inches of snow accumulates on the roads. The County’s Department of Transportation clears emergency and primary routes before it begins clearing neighborhood streets. Neighborhood streets are not cleared to bare pavement, but are made passable. Residents are asked to remain patient. There are approximately 1,000 lane miles of primary (arterial roads connecting subdivisions or business districts) and secondary roads (main collector streets through subdivisions) which are continuously treated with salt and sand and kept in “bare pavement” condition. Once the snow stops falling and major roads are clear, crews turn their attention to making streets passable for the more than 4,100 lane miles of neighborhood streets. 

For more information about snow removal operations visit the County’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/snow or call 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311. 

Snow Emergency Routes: 

Both the State of Maryland and Montgomery County have designated certain roads as SNOW EMERGENCY ROUTES marked with red and white signs. When the State and/or County initiates its snow emergency plan, it is illegal to park on these designated roads or drive without snow tires, all-weather tires, mud/snow radials or chains. Vehicles without the proper type of tire (all-weather) or chains that block snow emergency routes during an emergency may be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense. 

Snow Shovel Law: 

County residents are required by law to clear sidewalks in front of and alongside their properties within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm. Everyone is encouraged to help seniors or others who may not be physically able to shovel. Remember not to shovel snow over fire hydrants and make a point to shovel hydrants out with a three-foot diameter around the hydrant. 

Snow Removal in Parking Lots: 

Parking lot managers are reminded not to block disability parking spaces and their adjacent striped areas when removing snow from commercial or residential parking lots.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Updated PHED Schedule

Here's the updated schedule for the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, including new meeting dates for continued work on the Bethesda Downtown Plan:

  • March 13, 2:00 -- Bethesda Downtown Plan
  • March 20, 2:00 -- Bethesda Downtown Plan
  • March 27, 2:00 -- Bethesda Downtown Plan
  • March 28, 2:00 -- Supplemental appropriation for WorkSource Montgomery; Bill 38-16 Housing and Building Maintenance Standards; Bill 39-16 Housing and Building Maintenance Standards; Executive Regulation 27-16 Schedule of Fees for Permits, Licenses and Certification; Wheaton Redevelopment financing plan
  • April 3, 2:00 ZTA 16-20 Overlay Zone Bethesda
All of the committee meetings will be televised live and on demand, so tune in to County Cable Montgomery if you want to follow along. You can get agendas and background information at the Council Meeting Portal.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Property Tax Credit for Long-time Homeowners and Retired Veterans

Good news, today we approved my bill to create a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have lived in the same home for at least 40 years. The bill also provides a tax credit for residents 65 or older who are retired veterans of the U.S. military.

As introduced, Bill 42-16 would have created a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have lived in the same home, with an assessed value of $500,000 or less, for at least 40 years. Retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard) who are at least 65 years old also are eligible for the credit if their home has an assessed value of $500,000 or less.

However, the approved bill included an amendment that increases the maximum assessed value for eligibility for 40-year homeowners to $650,000.

Residents who qualify are eligible to receive a 20-percent credit for the property tax imposed on their homes. The credit would be granted annually for up to five years, subject to application requirements.

We want to do whatever we can to encourage people who love living in Montgomery County to continue to be able to live here as their life circumstances change. We understand that this can be an expensive place to live for many people at the prime of their earning power, and it gets more challenging for those in retirement years. With this bill, we can offer some help to people who have lived here a long time and helped build this County and to those who served our country and helped preserve and protect all the things for which we are thankful.

The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2017. Those seeking a credit must apply by April 1 of the year in which the tax credit is sought. However, for 2017 only, the deadline was extended to September 1. I'll let you know when the application process has been finalized.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Girl Power Writing Contest

Here's the full press release from the Commission for Women:

The Montgomery County Commission for Women is kicking off Women’s History Month in a unique way this year. The Commission is inviting residents of all ages to participate in the first annual Girl Power Writing Contest, “What’s It Mean to Be a Woman in 2017?” 

Children and adults are welcome to submit a short story, poem, drawing or anything else that reflects the contest theme. Girls and women can share their own experiences while boys and men can reflect on what they think life is like for the women in their life. 

Submissions can be intellectual, emotional, funny, spiritual or serious. Possibly inspirational themes include: I’m proud to be a girl/woman; battling stereotypes; breaking the glass ceiling; body confidence; I can do anything a boy/man can do. Creative entries are welcome, but entrants should refrain from using vulgarities and racist or sexist comments or images.

The Commission for Women will select winning entries from four categories: elementary school students, middle school students, high school students and adults. Entries will be judged on creativity and content.

Contest winners will be featured on the Commission for Women website and receive a swag bag, a photo with Commissioners, a congratulatory letter from County Executive Isiah Leggett and an invitation to be a guest of honor at a Montgomery County Commission for Women event of their choice.

Submissions will be accepted through March 31 and are limited to one per person. Written entries should be no more than 500 words. Entries should include full name, age, grade and school (if applicable), phone number, and e-mail address. Winners will be announced by April 14. 

Entries may be submitted by mail or email. Mail entries should be sent to Girl Power Contest, Montgomery County Commission for Women, 21 Maryland Avenue, Suite 330, Rockville, MD 20850. Email entries should be sent to cfwinfo@montgomerycountymd.gov with “Girl Power Contest” in the subject line. 

Entries submitted by minors must include written permission from a parent or guardian and be the minor’s own work. All entries become the property of the Montgomery County Commission for Women and may be used for publicity purposes. 

For more information, call 240-777-8300 or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cfw.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Town Hall Meeting for Silver Spring

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the Silver Spring area on Wednesday, March 15. The meeting will be held at the Long Branch Community Center (8700 Piney Branch Road) beginning at 8 p.m. with a pre-meeting reception at 7:30. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting. I hope to see you there.

The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery. You can find CCM on cable channel 996 (high definition) and 6 (standard definition) on Comcast; Channels 1056 (HD) and 6 (SD) on RCN; and Channel 30 on Verizon. For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Free Trees for Qualifying Properties

The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is offering free trees to qualifying property owners in certain urban districts of Montgomery County.

The Shades of Green program was launched in 2012 as a pilot program and has expanded to include additional areas of the county that have a high level of impervious surfaces in an effort to enhance the tree canopy cover. The program is financed through the Forest Conservation Fund, which primarily consists of fees paid by developers who cannot meet tree planting requirements on their own development sites.

Find out if you are eligible to receive free trees by filling out the Shades of Green request form.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Apply Now for Planning Board

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., February 24, 2017—The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants to fill a vacancy on the Montgomery County Planning Board. The second term of Marye Wells-Harley (Democrat) will expire on June 14, 2017, and she is not eligible for reappointment.

Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12.

Members serve four-year terms and are limited to two full terms. No more than three members of the Planning Board may be from the same political party, and each member must be a resident and registered voter of Montgomery County when appointed. This position may be filled by a Democrat, Republican, a voter who declines to affiliate with a party, or a member of another party officially recognized by the Montgomery County Board of Elections. 

In addition to Ms. Wells-Harley (D), current board members are Chair Casey Anderson (D), Norman Dreyfuss (R), Gerald Cichy (R) and Natali Fani-Gonzalez (D). Annual compensation for Board members is currently $30,000, and the chair currently earns $201,500. 

The Planning Board serves as the Council’s principal adviser on land use planning and community planning. Planning Board members also serve as commissioners of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

The Planning Board’s responsibilities with regard to planning include preparation and amendment of the County General Plan; preparation and amendment of master plans and functional plans; formulation of subdivision regulations; preparation of or recommendations on text amendments to the County Zoning Code; implementation of the subdivision process by reviewing and approving all preliminary plans, site plans and other plans for development; advice on the planning implications of capital facilities and programs of the County government, Montgomery College, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Montgomery County Public Schools; commenting, under its mandatory referral authority, on plans for public facilities of local, state and federal agencies; and approval of the work program and the annual operating budget for the Planning Department and the Commission’s bi-county offices.

The Planning Board sits as the Park Commission and approves the annual Parks Department operating budget and Capital Improvements Program (CIP); land acquisition contracts and major development contracts for parks; development plans for individual park facilities; policies for park operations; and park user fees. 

The Planning Board meets all day, including into the evening, every Thursday and will schedule other meetings, as needed. The entire Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission meets the third Wednesday of every month. On average, a Planning Board member may spend two full days a week in scheduled and informal meetings. Additionally, substantial time is required for preparatory work and other activities related to Planning Board responsibilities.

Application Process and Deadline

Letters of application expressing interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, political party affiliation, home and office telephone numbers and an email address, should be addressed to: Council President Roger Berliner, County Council Office, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. Applications can also be submitted via email to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov 

Letters of application and resumes are made public as part of the appointment process, and are available for public review. The interviews are conducted in public and will be televised. 

Letters with resumes must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12. It is the Council’s policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. After the closing date, Councilmembers will review the letters of application and select applicants for interviews to be held soon thereafter.

Financial Disclosure

A financial disclosure statement of assets, debts, income and family property interests will be required to be filed by each applicant. The financial disclosure form will be sent to you after we receive your letter of application. Only the financial disclosure statement of the ultimate appointee will be made available to the public; all others will be returned to the applicants.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Revised PHED Schedule for Bethesda Plan

We have revised the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee's schedule for considering the Bethesda Downtown Plan. The PHED Committee already held worksessions on February 6 and 13. The agendas for the March 2 and March 6 PHED meetings have been switched with each other. The March 6 meeting is not related to the Bethesda Downtown Plan. Here is the updated schedule:

  • February 27, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, transportation
  • March 2, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, continued
  • March 13, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, ZTA 16-20--Overlay Zone
All of the committee meetings will be televised live and on demand, so tune in to County Cable Montgomery if you want to follow along. The Council held three public hearings on the Bethesda Downtown Plan on October 18, 19 and 20, but you can still send your comments to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov. We want your input, and we give equal weight to written and oral testimony. You can get agendas and background information at the Council Meeting Portal.

We have not yet scheduled a date for the full Council to consider the Bethesda Downtown Plan.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Discussion: Hate Crimes and Extremism--the Montgomery County Model

Tune in to County Cable Montgomery tomorrow at about 11:00 for our discussion called “Hate Crimes and Extremism—the Montgomery County Model.” A panel that will include Police Chief Tom Manger will address County and community efforts to prevent both hate crimes and extremism. Don't worry if you aren't able to watch live; the session will be available on demand about 24 hours later.

In 2016, there were 94 reported bias incidents, which is an increase of 42.4 percent over 2015 (66). Of these, 34 percent were reported in November and December.

In 2016, the primary bias motivation was religious bias (40.4 percent of incidents), followed by racial bias (36.2 percent of incidents). The remaining 22 incidents were motivated by biases against ethnicity (12), sexual orientation (6) and gender (4). Of those motivated by race, most were anti-black bias incidents. Those motivated by religion mostly were anti-Jewish. Schools were the targets of 21 incidents: six in elementary schools, two in middle schools, 11 in high schools and two at Montgomery College.

Since many of the bias incidents occurred in the schools, the panel will discuss what steps Montgomery County Public Schools is taking to help reduce the number of incidents. The involvement of School Resource Officers—police officers based in schools—also will be explored.