Thursday, April 28, 2016

Take Your Child to Work Day

What fun to have children of Department of Permitting Services staff members join us for Take Your Child to Work Day. Our guests learned about the Council’s work, the public process and the importance of getting involved in local issues. Then they convened a Kid Council to decide on a bill requiring children to wear helmets while bicycling. After hearing testimony from witnesses, the Kid Council rejected the bill in a close vote. FYI, the adult Council decided this bill several years ago and determined that children do need to wear helmets. We look forward to seeing these young people again when they return as engaged citizens or elected officials.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Health Officer's Report on Zika Virus

On Tuesday the County's Health Officer briefed the Council on the Zika virus, how it may affect Montgomery County and what precautions you should take. Although no cases of the virus have been reported in Montgomery County, there have been eight travel-related cases in Maryland, and the range of mosquitoes that carry the disease can expand to our area. See the video of the briefing (agenda item 6) or visit the County's Zika virus Web page for more information.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Golden Shovels Awarded Today

It is always a pleasure to recognize our Montgomery County residents who have gone above and beyond to help their neighbors shovel out after a snowstorm. And this year, our heroes had a lot of work to do with snow totals ranging from 32.4 inches in the southern part of the County to 53.5 inches in northern areas of the County. Here are this year's Golden Shovel winners.

Rich Castillo and Family of Olney unselfishly shoveled out the homes and driveways of elderly neighbors.

Tom Cheplo of Bethesda enthusiastically used his snow blower to clear the sidewalks on both sides of the street, driveways and even part of the road. His neighbor said, “He is always helpful and a fine example of a good neighbor and citizen.”

Jeffrey Cohen of Rockville worked tirelessly with only a shovel and manual ice breaker to clear several snow piles allowing safe passage for school children and other neighbors.

Marcus Colyer and his 9-year-old son of Kensington cleared nine driveways, making his neighbors extremely grateful.

Roger Deshaies of Silver Spring used his snowblower to clear the sidewalks and driveways of seven houses on his block. He also cleared the crosswalk entrances at the end of the sidewalk multiple times, enabling children to walk safely to the local middle school.

Moe Gazafroudi of Gaithersburg cleared the driveways in his cul-de-sac. He also cleared a trail path of snow because many in the community use the path to walk their dogs.

Richard Hoye of Bethesda is a previous Golden Shovel Award winner. He continues to clear sidewalks in Bethesda and has invested his own money to purchase snow removal equipment so that he can better help his community.

Christine Kim of Olney, referred to as the “energizer bunny,” shoveled her senior-citizen neighbors’ driveways, walkways, steps and mailbox areas.

John Lee of Wheaton received four neighbor nominations. He cleared almost his entire block of snow, including driveways, walkways and sidewalks.

Andrea McCarren of WUSA Channel 9, while searching for those in need of shoveling in the Storm Tracker 9 vehicle, spotted a Bethesda woman and her young daughter with their snow-buried car. Beyond just worrying about the video she set out to get, Andrea mobilized an “all women shoveling flash mob” to clear and free the car after 20 minutes of rugged digging.

John Malone of Silver Spring organized neighbors to purchase a snow blower and then, when the major storm came in January, he cleared several pathways on his street—including one leading to the local elementary school so the students did not have to walk in the street.

Amy and Brian Palmer of Rockville gave Herculean efforts to clear snow from their neighborhood using shovels, salt and snowblowers. And after street plows left massive ice packs, they broke them up to further make sure the road was passable.

Earl Pfeiffer of Montgomery Village is 82 and shows no sign of slowing down. He tirelessly shoveled walkways and paths to the neighborhood school and with safety in mind, he cleared snow from buried fire hydrants.

Phelps Rogovoy and Casey Scufca of Germantown are neighbors who combined efforts during the major two-day storm to help another neighbor several times clear her driveway and walkway while her husband was away, serving in Afghanistan.

Larry Solomon of Olney assisted approximately 15 homeowners remove snow from their properties, sidewalks and streets. He also cleared sidewalks along both sides of the streets.

Mark Ujczo of Olney worked long hours and used his snow blower to clear his entire block and then went on to clear the public paths in and around the neighborhood common area. He also assisted shoveling out the sidewalks and driveways of several elderly neighbors.

Sofia and Nevan West of Rockville are 12-year-old twin siblings. They not only helped their mother shovel mountains of snow from their property, they also went to help a disabled neighbor shovel their driveway and sidewalk. And when a snow plow became stuck, they helped the driver shovel out the truck and even brought him a soda.

Thom Wolf of Takoma Park regularly cleared the sidewalks after every snowfall. All of his neighbors value his help, especially the elderly, the single mothers and those with physical injuries who could not clear the snow themselves.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Operating Budget Overview

This Tuesday our Council Administrator provided his extremely informative and insightful overview of the core budget issues involved the FY17 operating budget. We're conducting our committee work over the next several weeks, and we are scheduled to make final decisions May 19 with implementing resolutions to be adopted on May 26. See the full discussion (agenda item 6).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Golden Shovel Winners to be Honored April 19

I look forward to presenting the 2016 Golden Shovel awards at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 19, to honor residents who helped out neighbors at various times during the harsh winter of 2015-16.

According to our Department of Transportation, the County had an average total snow and ice accumulation of 40.35 inches and snow and ice totals ranging from 32.4 inches (in the southern part of the County) to 53.5 inches (in northern areas of the County) this past winter. 

Residents submitted more than 75 nominations for this year’s awards, and I will recognize 17 Golden Shovel award winners at the April 19 ceremonies. As I read through the nominations, I recognized how grateful people are for the kindness of their neighbors. These nominees are truly unsung heroes, so it was difficult to select the winners. All those nominated are certainly deserving of our appreciation, and we thank them for their selflessness. 

The 2016 awardees (in alphabetical order) are as follows:

Rich Castillo and Family of Olney unselfishly shoveled out the homes and driveways of elderly neighbors.

Tom Cheplo of Bethesda enthusiastically used his snow blower to clear the sidewalks on both sides of the street, driveways and even part of the road. His neighbor said, “He is always helpful and a fine example of a good neighbor and citizen.”

Jeffrey Cohen of Rockville worked tirelessly with only a shovel and manual ice breaker to clear several snow piles allowing safe passage for school children and other neighbors.

Marcus Colyer and his 9-year-old son of Kensington cleared nine driveways, making his neighbors extremely grateful.

Roger Deshaies of Silver Spring used his snowblower to clear the sidewalks and driveways of seven houses on his block. He also cleared the crosswalk entrances at the end of the sidewalk multiple times, enabling children to walk safely to the local middle school.

Moe Gazafroudi of Gaithersburg cleared the driveways in his cul-de-sac. He also cleared a trail path of snow because many in the community use the path to walk their dogs. 

Richard Hoye of Bethesda is a previous Golden Shovel Award winner. He continues to clear sidewalks in Bethesda and has invested his own money to purchase snow removal equipment so that he can better help his community. 

John Lee of Wheaton received four neighbor nominations. He cleared almost his entire block of snow, including driveways, walkways and sidewalks. 

Andrea McCarren of WUSA Channel 9, while searching for those in need of shoveling in the Storm Tracker 9 vehicle, spotted a Bethesda woman and her young daughter with their snow-buried car. Beyond just worrying about the video she set out to get, Andrea quickly mobilized an “all women shoveling flash mob” to clear and free the car after 20 minutes of rugged digging.

John Malone of Silver Spring organized neighbors to purchase a snow blower and then, when the major storm came in January, he cleared several pathways on his street—including one leading to the local elementary school so the students did not have to walk in the street.

Amy and Brian Palmer of Rockville gave Herculean efforts to clear snow from their neighborhood using shovels, salt and snowblowers. And after street plows left massive ice packs, they broke them up to further make sure the road was passable. 

Earl Pfeiffer of Montgomery Village is 82 and shows no sign of slowing down. He tirelessly shoveled walkways and paths to the neighborhood school and with neighborhood safety in mind, he cleared snow from buried fire hydrants.

Phelps Rogovoy and Casey Scufca of Germantown are neighbors who combined efforts during the major two-day storm to help another neighbor several times clear her driveway and walkway while her husband was away, serving in Afghanistan.

Larry Solomon of Olney assisted approximately 15 homeowners remove snow from their properties, sidewalks and streets. He also cleared sidewalks along both sides of the streets.

Mark Ujczo of Olney worked long hours and used his snow blower to clear his entire block and then went on to clear the public paths in and around the neighborhood common area. He also assisted shoveling out the sidewalks and driveways of several elderly neighbors.

Sophia and Nevan West of Rockville are 12-year-old twin siblings. They not only helped their mother shovel mountains of snow from their property, they also went to help a disabled neighbor shovel their driveway and sidewalk. And when a snow plow became stuck, they helped the driver shovel out the truck and even brought him a soda.

Thom Wolf of Takoma Park regularly cleared the sidewalks after every snowfall. All of his neighbors value his help, especially the elderly, the single mothers and those with physical injuries who could not clear the snow themselves.


The Council’s regular weekly session will be held in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The ceremonies will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Council Meets with Metro's General Manager

Yesterday the Council met with Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager Paul Wiedefeld to discuss his priorities for Metro, including safety, reliability and fiscal responsibility. We also talked about the Red Line, Metrobus, the agency's partnership with the planned Purple Line and other issues specific to Montgomery County. You can see the video (go to 12:45 p.m. in the index) on demand on the Council's Web site.

Friday, April 1, 2016

T&E Discusses Residential Lead Pipe Issues

The Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee recently held a discussion of residential lead pipe issues. Most of the news is good, especially as WSSC reminded us that there are no lead pipes in the public water system. As an extra precaution, WSSC adds a corrosion inhibitor to its water. It is possible that private property -- older homes in particular -- could still have lead pipes or solder. If you are concerned about your water quality, call WSSC at 301-206-7575 for a lead testing kit. If your home is served by a well, call 311 and the County will provide testing. See the entire discussion.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Early Voting April 14-21

Early Voting Centers will be open April 14-21, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. As long as you are registered to vote in Montgomery County you may cast a ballot at any one of these sites:

Activity Center at Bohrer Park
506 S. Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg

Damascus Community Recreation Center
25520 Oak Drive, Damascus

Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street, Rockville

Germantown Community Recreation Center
18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown

Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center
4301 Willow Lane, Chevy Chase

Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center
14906 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville

Mid-County Community Recreation Center
2004 Queensguard Road, Silver Spring

Potomac Community Recreation Center
11315 Falls Road, Potomac

Silver Spring Civic Building
One Veterans Place, Silver Spring

Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad
2400 Arcola Avenue, Wheaton

Potomac Community Recreation Center
11315 Falls Road, Potomac

Of course, you can also vote at your assigned polling place on election day, April 26. For more information visit 777vote.org or call 240-777-VOTE.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Montgomery County GreenFest on April 30

Mark your calendar for the Montgomery County GreenFest on Saturday, April 30, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Takoma Park Community Center. GreenFest is a fun-filled day for the whole family, featuring music, films, speakers, exhibitors and workshops all focused on building community and improving our environment.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Register to Vote or Change Your Party by April 5

Is your voter registration up to date?  Is your political party affiliation correct?  Do you wish to change your political party affiliation or make any other changes to your voter registration?   Generally, you must be registered with either the Democratic or Republican Party to vote in the primary election. If there are non-partisan offices that are elected in a primary election (i.e., school board), any voter can vote for these offices. Make sure you update your registration prior to April 5, 2016, so you are ready to vote.

Visit www.777vote.org to confirm that your registration is up to date or to download a voter registration application to mail to the Board of Elections.  You may also call 240-777-VOTE to verify your voter registration using the automated phone system or visit the office at 18753 N. Frederick Avenue, Suite 210, in Gaithersburg.  The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; on Saturday, April 2, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and on Tuesday, April 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Applications are also available at county libraries, regional service centers, all offices of the Montgomery County Health and Human Services, the State of Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles, and US Post Offices.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Apply Now for the Charter Review Commission

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 15, 2016—The Montgomery County Council is accepting applications to fill a vacancy on the Charter Review Commission. Since no more than six members can be from the same political party, this appointee may be a Republican, someone who declines to affiliate with a party or a member of another party officially recognized by the Board of Elections. The term of the current commission will expire on December 2, 2018.

Applicants should submit letters of interest by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13.

The County Charter was amended in 1976 to provide that a Charter Review Commission be appointed by the County Council every four years to study the Charter. The commission researches and evaluates Charter issues raised by the County Executive, County Council, other government officials and the public. Commission reports are submitted no later than May 1 of every even-numbered year. These reports contain recommendations concerning any proposed Charter amendments.

The commission is composed of 11 residents of the County, five of whom are appointed from a list of names submitted by the County Executive. No more than six members can be from the same political party. Since six Democrats are currently serving on the commission, applications from Democrats will not be considered for this particular vacancy.

Applicants should submit letters of interest and resumes to Nancy Floreen, President, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, Maryland 20850. Resumes should include professional and civic experience, political party affiliation, home and office telephone numbers and an e-mail address. Applications can also be submitted via email to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov

Letters and resumes submitted are made public as part of the appointment process. Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time.

For more information about the Charter Review Commission or how to apply for consideration to become a commission member, call Anne Brown at 240-777-7925.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

County Executive Transmits Recommended Budget to Council

This morning the County Executive transmitted his Fiscal Year 2017 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 Great Recession and its aftermath created serious fiscal challenges for families, businesses, and governments alike. Now, as the economy continues to recover steadily, we must carefully balance the need for important County services and pressures on our taxpayers. That is what our Council Committees and the full Council will undertake over the next two months. We look forward to receiving the views of our residents as we move through the budget process.


The Council’s public hearings on the operating budget are scheduled for April 5-7. You can sign up to testify starting Thursday, March 17, either online or by calling 240-777-7803.

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.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Intensive Effort to Fill Potholes

The Department of Transportation is conducting an intensive effort to fill the County’s potholes that have resulted from recent freeze/thaw cycles. MCDOT repairs potholes every day of the year except during rain and snow. But in the coming days, the department will devote additional resources to filling potholes and replacing damaged road sections.

MCDOT relies on resident reports of potholes, and repair crews also stop to fill any other potholes encountered as they make their rounds. Report potholes online or by calling the MC311 Call Center at 311 or 240-777-0311. Please also be cautious and patient when encountering crews filling potholes.

MCDOT fills potholes on 5,000 lane miles of County-maintained roads. The Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) fills potholes, plows snow and maintains numbered routes in the County, such as Maryland routes 355 or 97. MSHA can be reached at 301-513-7300. In addition, municipalities, such as the cities of Rockville or Gaithersburg, handle their own repairs.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Letter Asking State to Review Safety Issues at River Road/Pyle Road

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 1, 2016—The Montgomery County Council, County Executive Ike Leggett, Congressman Chris Van Hollen and four members of the Maryland General Assembly today sent a letter to the administrator of the Maryland State Highway Administration asking for a review of safety issues at the intersection of River Road (Maryland 190) and Pyle Road/Braeburn Parkway in Bethesda. The intersection was the site of an accident this past weekend in which three members of a local family were killed in a two-vehicle accident.

State Senator Susan Lee and State Delegates William (Bill) Frick, Arianna Kelly and Mark Korman also signed the letter.

In the letter to Administrator Gregory C. Johnson, the elected officials wrote: “As representatives of the area at the state and county levels, we believe that traffic and pedestrian safety issues at this intersection must be more comprehensively addressed.”

The letter goes on to state: “Residents and members of the Whitman High School community are again calling for a traffic light at this intersection via a petition that already has over 2,000 signatories. We ask that you conduct a traffic safety study that examines all potential options—including a traffic light—that could make that intersection safer for all users. We ask that you conduct this study as quickly as possible.”

The complete text of the letter:

March 1, 2016

Mr. Gregory C. Johnson, Administrator
Maryland State Highway Administration
707 N. Calvert Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Dear Administrator Johnson:

            We are writing to you today concerning the recent fatal crash at the intersection of River Road (MD 190) and Pyle Road/Braeburn Parkway in Bethesda that took the lives of three members of our community. As representatives of the area at the state and county levels, we believe that traffic and pedestrian safety issues at this intersection must be more comprehensively addressed.

            We appreciate that you have agreed to evaluate this intersection again. Safety at this intersection has been a priority of the local community since at least 2008. Local residents report that the combination of high speeds on River Rd., limited visibility due to the nearby crest of the hill, wide travel lanes, and proximity to the Beltway make this intersection particularly dangerous. As this is a major entry point for a local high school, we must take all possible steps to address the unsafe conditions.

Residents and members of the Whitman High School community are again calling for a traffic light at this intersection via a petition that already has over 2,000 signatories. We ask that you conduct a traffic safety study that examines all potential options—including a traffic light—that could make that intersection safer for all users. We ask that you conduct this study as quickly as possible.

We understand that the District 3 team recently reviewed the pedestrian safety issues associated with the nearby crosswalk. We regretted SHA’s initial determination to not make any significant pedestrian safety improvement upgrades. We do not think that fresh paint will be sufficient to address the serious safety challenges posed by an unsignalized crosswalk frequently used by high schoolers where the posted speed is 45 mph. As we seek to improve traffic safety, everything must be done to also ensure that students walking to and from Whitman can do so safely.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter. We look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

Chris Van Hollen                            Isiah Leggett                                      Nancy Floreen
Member of Congress                     County Executive                                 Council President



Roger Berliner                              Marc Elrich                                        Tom Hucker
Council Vice President                  Councilmember                                  Councilmember



Sidney Katz                                 George Leventhal                              Nancy Navarro
Councilmember                            Councilmember                               Councilmember


                                                           
Craig Rice                                 Hans Riemer                                   William (Bill) Frick                         
Councilmember                             Councilmember                               State Delegate

                                           
Ariana Kelly                                  Mark Korman                                  Susan Lee
State Delegate                              State Delegate                               State Senator


CC:        Brian Young, District 3 Engineer, Maryland State Highway Administration
               Chief J. Thomas Manger, Montgomery County Police Department
               Captain Thomas Didone, Traffic Division, MCPD 


              

Friday, February 26, 2016

Apply Now for Planning Board

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., February 26, 2016—The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants to fill a vacancy on the Montgomery County Planning Board. The second term of Amy Presley (Republican) will expire on June 14, 2016, and she is therefore not eligible for reappointment.

Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20.

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. Since three Democrats are currently serving on the Board, this position must be filled by either a 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. Presley, current board members are Chair Casey Anderson (D), Norman Dreyfuss (R), Marye Wells-Harley (D), and Natali Fani-Gonzalez (D). Annual compensation for board members is currently $30,000. The chair currently earns $200.000.

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.

Letters of application expressing interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, should be addressed to: Council President Nancy Floreen, 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

Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20. 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.

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. A resume of professional and civic experience should be included with each letter of application. A financial disclosure statement of assets, debts, income and family property interests will be required to be filed by each applicant. Only the ultimate appointee will be required to make the financial disclosure statement available to the public.