Friday, October 20, 2017

A Community Meeting on Small Cell Antennas is this Monday, October 23 from 7-9 p.m.

The County Executive is asking for the community's input regarding a proposed Zoning Text Amendment to revise the County’s zoning code for deployment of small antennas on neighborhood streetlights and lower-height buildings.  Here's the full press release:

The County Executive is requesting public input on a draft Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) to revise the County’s zoning code to address deployment of small antennas on neighborhood streetlights and lower-height buildings. A community meeting for this input is being held from 7-9 pm on Monday, October 23, 2017 at the Stella B Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd Floor Hearing Room Rockville, MD 20850 and will be carried live on County Cable Montgomery, Facebook, and YouTube.
Because wireless technology is evolving, Montgomery County has recently received an unprecedented number of applications to deploy small cell antennas in residential neighborhoods as well as commercial areas around the County. Federal law is clear that Montgomery County cannot pass zoning laws that would have the effect of prohibiting service throughout the County. Therefore, the proposed ZTA is intended to allow providers to provide service while protecting the character of both our residential neighborhoods and commercial areas by regulating how and where these antennas can be placed, and how they should be screened or camouflaged.
The ZTA, an interactive map, and links to submit public comments can be found at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/antennaZTA.
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Release ID: 17-439
Media Contact: Mitsuko Herrara 240-777-2928

Thursday, October 19, 2017

County Council Proclamation Presented to For 3 Sisters for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Earlier this week, I presented a County Council Proclamation recognizing October as Breast Cancer Awareness month to For 3 Sisters. This grassroots organization is headquartered in Olney, MD and was founded by retired Montgomery County firefighter, Marshall Moneymaker, after he lost his three older sisters to breast cancer. You can watch the Proclamation presentation here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Council Unanimously Approves Legislation on Short-Term Rental Services

Yesterday, we voted unanimously to enact two pieces of legislation, Zoning Text Amendment 17-03, and Bill 2-16, which address the legal and regulatory status of short-term rentals in the county. Effective July 1, 2018, these two measures allow county residents to legally use short-term residential services like Airbnb and HomeAway, with some restrictions.

For example, each short-term rental must have a license, and that location must be the primary home of the person applying for the license. Furthermore, if the owner of the property, or the authorized representative of the owner, isn’t on the premises during the rental, then rentals are limited to 120 days a year. Also, online ads must include the County license number. Here’s the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 11, 2017—The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, October 10 to enact two legislative proposals that address the legal and regulatory status of short-term rentals in the County. The two measures, ZTA 17-03 and Bill 2-16, represent Council Vice President Riemer’s and the Montgomery County Planning Board’s recommendations to balance the substantial economic potential for County residents of short-term residential services like Airbnb with concerns about regulating these services. The measure was initially introduced by Council Vice President Riemer more than a year ago, and was sent to the Planning Board to gather public input and refine the approach. After a September 12 public hearing and two Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee meetings to review these measures, the Council voted unanimously (9-0) to adopt both measures.  
ZTA 17-03 makes bed and breakfasts limited uses in most residential and mixed-use zones. It limits the total number of adult overnight guests in a short-term rental to six, limits the total number of adult overnight guests per bedroom to two, and requires one off-street parking space for each rental contract. These measures put in place a regulatory framework that did not exist before, addressing concerns about the potential for residential housing to be used exclusively as a short-term rental service.  
ZTA 17-03 was approved with two revisions: (1) The dwelling unit used as a short-term rental must be the property owner’s or owner-authorized resident’s primary residence, which was an amendment recommended by the PHED Committee and (2) If the property owner or owner-authorized resident is not present in the residence, the property can be used as a short-term residential rental for a maximum of 120 days in a calendar year, which was an amendment recommended by Councilmember Katz. 
The Council also enacted Bill 2-16, which requires that several conditions be met to receive short-term residential licensing. Bill 2-16 was introduced by Council Vice President Riemer and cosponsored by Councilmember Rice.  
Council Vice President Riemer spoke about the importance of these measures which ensure that residents can benefit from short-term rental services while maintaining the security and character of neighborhoods.  
“By bringing all the stakeholders together, we were able to find a balance that works for us here in Montgomery County,” said Council Vice President Riemer. “This legislation will allow residents and visitors to get the value of home-sharing services, while preventing abuse and stopping investors from creating de facto hotels in residential neighborhoods and taking valuable housing stock off the market.”  
At the September 12 public hearing, the Council heard compelling testimony from County residents who use Airbnb and similar services to rent out rooms. Marcy Wolf-Hubbard described how, after her husband retired due to health issues, “the income we make from renting our room helps with the high cost of living here in Montgomery County.”  
Another resident, Elizabeth Wallace, described how short-term rentals help her age in place, which was a common theme among those testifying. “I’ll be 65 next month. I paid off my mortgage a decade ago; I’d like to stay in my home.”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Councilmembers Ask State to Limit Toxic Coal Waste from Power Plants

The full Council sent a letter to Benjamin H. Grumbles, Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, asking him to reduce toxic coal waste from the Dickerson power plant and other coal-fired plants in the State. It’s imperative the State abide by current standards adopted by the federal EPA in 2015, to protect our water from the pollutants that coal plant waste produces. Here's the press release

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Georgetown Branch Trail - Detour Biking Routes

Looking for an alternate biking route for the Georgetown Branch Trail? You might want to try one of these detour routes suggested by the Montgomery Bicycle Advocates. Here's the official MCDOT bike detour route. And Here's suggested detour routes from The Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA).

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Council's T&E Committee Receives Purple Line Update Tomorrow, Thursday, September 28 at 10:30 a.m.

Tomorrow I join my colleagues, Council President Roger Berliner and Councilmember Tom Hucker at a Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) Committee meeting for a Purple Line Project update from officials at the Maryland Transportation Administration (MTA), and the Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP). Here's the press release:
ROCKVILLE, Md., September 27, 2017—The Montgomery County Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) Committee will meet at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 28 to receive an update from Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP) and the Metro Transit Authority (MTA). PLTP and MTA will answer questions gathered by Council staff from civic groups and residents who live along the Purple Line right-of-way.
The T&E Committee, which is chaired by Council President Berliner and includes Councilmembers Floreen and Hucker, will meet in the Third Floor Council Hearing Room.
The main purpose of the meeting is to enable MTA and PLTP, the consortium responsible for designing, building, operating and maintaining the Purple Line, to respond to the many questions raised by community organizations, the Planning Board, and Council staff, as well as any brought up by Councilmembers.
Council President Berliner, who also chairs the T&E Committee, asked the MTA and PLTP to introduce the key individuals who will direct the implementation of the Purple Line and related projects including the Capital Crescent Trail, the Silver Spring Green Trail, and the Bethesda Metro Station Southern Entrance. The T&E Committee also invited individuals with whom the public can be in direct communication during the construction period.
The Purple Line is a 16-mile light rail line that will extend from Bethesda to New Carrollton. It will provide a direct connection to the Metrorail Red, Green and Orange Lines at Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton. Twenty-one Purple Line stations are planned. The Purple Line will also connect to MARC, Amtrak and local bus services.

The staff report can be viewed at:
http://montgomerycountymd.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=169&event_id=7419&meta_id=143545

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Apply For the Merit System Protection Board

Applications are due by Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., September 19, 2017 - The Montgomery County Council is accepting applications from qualified voters of the County for appointment to a three-year term on the Merit System Protection Board. The term of Charlotte Crutchfield (Democrat) will expire on Dec. 31. Ms. Crutchfield has indicated that she does not intend to apply for reappointment. Applications must be received in the Council office by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1.  

In addition to Ms. Crutchfield, current members of the board are Angela Franco (Republican) and Michael Kator (Democrat). By law, no more than two of the three members of the Merit System Protection Board may be of the same political party. The appointee for this position may be a Democrat, Republican, a voter who declines to affiliate with a party, or a voter who is a member of another party officially recognized by the Board of Elections.

Generally, the board is expected to oversee the Merit System and to protect employee and applicant rights guaranteed under the County Merit System. There are two methods in which the board processes appeals:
·         A written decision issued after a review and discussion of a written record.
·         A written decision issued after a pre-hearing conference and a formal hearing in cases involving a suspension, demotion or dismissal. 

The board, on a periodic basis, conducts special studies, audits or inquiries of the administration of the merit and retirement pay systems and, in this effort, may compel the attendance of witnesses. Written reports of its findings and recommendations are filed with the County Executive and the County Council. The board also provides comments on any proposed changes in Merit System law or regulations.

The board generally holds hearings during the day, which may take the full day, with any additional proceedings normally scheduled for subsequent days or evening(s). The board normally meets once per month during the day for approximately two hours. Additional time is also required for preparatory work. 

Members of the board currently receive $7,862.91 per year, which is adjusted annually to reflect 50 percent of the percentage change in the Washington Area Consumer Price Index. The chair receives $10,084.77 per year.

Board members are restricted in political activity while serving. Section 403 of the County Charter states, in part: “No member shall hold political office or participate in any campaign for any political or public office during the member’s term of office.” 

Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time.

Letters 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, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850, or can be emailed to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov. Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 1. It is the Council’s policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. After the application closing date, Councilmembers will review the letters of application and may select applicants for interview.

Letters of application and resumes are made public as part of the appointment process. Any interviews held are open to the public and will be televised. A financial statement of assets, debts, income and family property interests will be required of all applicants. Only the appointed candidate will be required to make the financial statement available to the public.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Montgomery County Adopts the International Green Construction Code (IgCC)

Today we unanimously passed Executive Regulation 21-15 AMII, which adopts the International Green Construction Code (IgCC). We established green building code requirements that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Montgomery County. Here's today's press release:

Montgomery County is taking a major step forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet climate protection goals with today’s unanimous Council approval of Executive Regulation 21-15 AMII, which adopts the International Green Construction Code(IgCC) establishing green building code requirements.

“I commend the Department of Permitting Services for its persistence in pushing this code forward and I thank the County Council for its approval of the Executive Regulation,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.

With adoption of the IgCC, Montgomery County establishes a baseline requirement that new, non-residential construction and additions of 5,000 square feet or more must be designed and constructed to reduce building energy use by at least 50% over the average commercial building energy consumption in the base year of 2000. 

In addition to reducing energy consumption by 50%, projects must mitigate heat island impacts associated with development and divert at least 50% of construction and demolition waste material from landfills.  This green building code is a critical step in meeting the County’s commitment to implementation of the County’s Climate Protection Plan

“This green construction code will result in reduced energy spending for building users,” said Diane Schwartz Jones, director of the Department of Permitting Services. “It is essential to reduce environmental impacts from building-related greenhouse gases and places us on a path to leave a far better legacy for future generations.”

The requirements of the IgCC will take effect on Dec. 1, 2017 in Montgomery County. 

For more information, visit the Department of Permitting Services website.

Monday, September 18, 2017

FOX 5 Chooses Montgomery County for Their New Headquarters

I am pleased that WTTG Fox 5 and WDCA Fox 5 Plus will move its headquarters to Bethesda. This is great news as it will bring approximately 200 jobs to the County. You can read more about the relocation here.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Montgomery County Launches "Renters Have Rights" Campaign

Today I joined County Executive Ike Leggett, Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Hans Riemer, Tom Hucker; DHCA Director Snuggs, and HOC Executive Director Stacy Spann for a press release that  launched a “Renters Have Rights” campaign of stepped-up inspections and outreach to tenants. You can view my comments at today's event or read the full press release:

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett today launched a “Renters Have Rights” campaign of stepped-up inspections and outreach to tenants. The purpose of this campaign is to let renters know they have a voice and that the County Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) is here to listen.

“Due to our recently updated housing law, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs now has expanded responsibilities and resources to step up their housing inspections and tenant advocacy,” said Leggett. “I urge tenants to call 3-1-1 if they have any concerns so that our housing department can inspect and enforce fixes, if needed, or otherwise offer tenants the help they request.”

Leggett was joined by Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, Tom Hucker, and Hans Riemer, as well as Department of Housing and Community Affairs Director Clarence Snuggs, and the Executive Director of the Housing and Opportunities Commission, Stacy L. Spann.

The County Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) will inspect every multifamily apartment building over the next two years. Renters can request their unit be inspected. Results of those inspections will be used to establish a list of problem properties that will be subject to at least an annual inspection, based on the responsiveness of the owner and tenants to address identified life and safety issues. The inspection process will begin with older properties, those that have received many tenant complaints, and those with a history of code violations – especially life and safety violations.

Increased inspections are a staple of the updated law, but this campaign is more than just announcing inspections. Renters are encouraged to contact DHCA to learn about their rights and DHCA is available to help mediate conflicts between renters and landlords.

The “Renters Have Rights” outreach campaign directs people to call 3-1-1 to learn how Montgomery County can provide free, confidential, anonymous help to ensure housing safety, mediate conflicts, and otherwise advocate for tenants. The updated law also includes funding for additional tenant advocacy staff.

“I am very happy to see both this public outreach campaign for renters and the stepped up inspection and enforcement actions taken by the Executive,” said County Councilmember Marc Elrich.  “This is the kind of pro-active approach that I hoped my tenant legislation would foster. I believe that this can make a meaningful difference for tenants, who account for one third of residents in our county.  I recently saw one of the signs on a Ride-On bus directing tenants to contact the county if they are having issues; in the past, tenants often did not know that the County could offer help. It is also worth noting that tenants can be anonymous even when interacting with the County.  This effort signifies a new prioritization for the safety and well-being of our County’s renters.”

“More than a third of residents in our county are renters and that number will continue to increase for the foreseeable future,” said Council President Roger Berliner. “Understanding your rights as a renter is an essential step to address issues of importance to your quality of life.  We must educate and empower our growing and diverse renter community and I am pleased that our county is playing a more proactive role in doing just that.”

“Renters Have Rights” Outreach Campaign Elements

·         Ads on interior (EnglishSpanish) and exterior Ride On buses, bus shelters and County facilities
·         Doorhangers regarding tenant rights and responsibilities to be distributed in multifamily apartment buildings
·         Online communications via social media (TwitterFacebook) and the County website, electronic boards (English,Spanish)

and the Paperless Airplane
·         Lobby signs posted in every multifamily apartment building, in six languages
·         Upcoming County-wide training sessions for landlords and tenants
·         Flyer to be distributed via elementary school backpacks in communities where renters are primarily located
The updated housing law also encourages the formation of tenant associations that can develop a voice and establish a relationship with property owners. And, it assures that landlords must offer a two-year lease at signing and renewal. Updated tenant responsibilities are included in the enacted legislation, as well.

For more information visit DHCA’s Tenant Rights website, which includes tenant rightsresponsibilitiesDHCA services, and more.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Council's Statement on President Trump’s Decision to Rescind DACA

We released the following statement today regarding President Trump's decision to rescind DACA:

The Montgomery County Council denounces President Trump's decision to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The temporary status provided through DACA empowered about 800,000 young people, who came to the United States as children and are often referred to as “Dreamers,” to establish roots in our community, earn college degrees and obtain the skills and training necessary to secure meaningful jobs.  DACA has provided a sense of safety and ladders of opportunity for these young people and enhanced America's economy.  

President Trump's decision on DACA will force these young people back into hiding and destroy their chances for full and productive lives.  His decision flies in the face of racial and social justice and will have an economic impact on our nation.  A December 2016 policy brief from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center estimates that 685,195 young immigrants will become unemployed if DACA is eliminated.  This could mean a $24.6 billion loss for Social Security over the next decade.  The Cato Institute reports that rescinding DACA will cost Maryland about $3 billion from 2018-2028.
     
The young people with temporary status provided through DACA have played by the rules and worked hard to establish their lives in America.  That is why the Montgomery County Council will continue to stand by our "Dreamers."  We will work with our representatives in Congress to stop this misguided and unjust decision. 


Regardless of what happens at the federal level, Montgomery County remains an open and welcoming community for all its residents who are working hard to achieve the American dream.  

Click here for the press release.



Friday, September 1, 2017

Georgetown Branch Trail Detour Routes

Here's additional detour options from the Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA) for cyclists using the Georgetown Branch Trail, which is scheduled to close this Tuesday, September 5 for the duration of the construction of the Purple Line.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Purple Line Construction Begins - Georgetown Branch Trail Scheduled to Close Tuesday

The Purple Line construction has begun in Montgomery County. The Georgetown Branch Trail is scheduled to close this Tuesday, September 5 for four to five years between Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda and Talbot Avenue in Silver Spring. Visit here for a detailed map of the alternate route and click here for MTA construction updates and notices.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Purple Line Groundbreaking

Yesterday I joined Governor Larry Hogan, my Council colleagues, other elected officials, and community members at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Maryland Transit Administration's Purple Line. This 16.2-mile light rail line will run from Bethesda to New Carrollton and will provide a mobility option that has never existed before with connections to Metrorail, bus lines and a train station. Learn more about the Purple Line and watch highlights from the ceremony here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Labor Day Holiday Schedule

Here is our holiday schedule for Labor Day on Monday, September 4:
County Offices – closed

Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection.  Collection provided one day later for remainder of the week.  (Last collection is Saturday).  More information available at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/sws/holidays/

The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - closed

Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
Libraries – closed

County Liquor stores – all stores will be open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Recreation – Bethesda, Germantown, Western County, Wheaton/Glenmont and MLK outdoor aquatic facilities will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Olney Indoor Swim Center will be open normal hours; all other indoor aquatic facilities, as well as the Long Branch and Upper County outdoor pools, will be closed. Administrative offices, senior centers and community centers are closed.

Montgomery Parks - For operating schedule, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org

Ride On – will operate on a Sunday schedule. Information is available at this link:   http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/holiday_schedules.html.
Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com
Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com
TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – closed

State offices and courts – closed