Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's In and What's Out for 2012

IN -- Business: The Montgomery Business Development Corporation, which is made up of key people from some of the County's most significant business enterprises, delivered its first report to the Council in October and is poised to offer us meaningful advice on how we can better send out the word that we are open for business. 

OUT -- Red Tape: The new family of commercial/residential (CR) zones strip away much of the red tape that has hindered business for decades. Old zones are replaced by clearer, more predictable and more accessible standards. CR zones encourage business to develop in ways that benefit neighborhoods and focus density near transit. They are designed to create interactive streetscapes where people can live, work, shop and play--all within one neighborhood.

IN -- Wheaton: The new Wheaton Sector Plan establishes a vision for future private sector redevelopment of this vibrant and diverse community. We rezoned large portions of the area to encourage mixed use development, including retail, office and residential, while protecting surrounding residential neighborhoods.

OUT -- Disposable Bags: Although I thought there were better ways to approach environmental protection, the Council approved a five-cent charge on paper and plastic bags which will take effect January 1, so bring your reusable bag.

IN -- The ICC: You can now drive from Sam Eig Highway in Gaithersburg all the way to I-95 in Prince George's County on the Intercounty Connector. BWI Airport, here I come.

OUT -- Maintenance of Effort: After years of doing more than required under the State's Maintenance of Effort law for school funding, we decided not to meet the requirement in 2011, deciding instead that we must create a stable, sustainable future for our schools and all County agencies.

IN -- Collaboration: At the urging of Councilmember Hans Riemer and me, Montgomery County and the District of Columbia will explore the possibility of extending the District's planned streetcar system to the Silver Spring Metro Station/Transit Center.

OUT -- Power Failures: Montgomery County has been aggressive in pursuing better reliability from Pepco after learning that that the power company's service ranked in the lowest quartile nationwide. Improvements, including tree trimming, are underway.

IN -- Clarksburg Grocery Store: We approved a limited amendment to the Clarksburg Master Plan that could lead to quicker establishment of a grocery store in Clarksburg, easing longstanding frustration among residents there.

OUT -- Curfew: The Council tabled a bill which would have imposed a curfew on minors. Although this means in effect that the bill does not pass, I would have preferred to take an up or down vote. Unless we decide to reconsider the bill, there will be no curfew.

IN -- Higher Property Values: While housing prices nationwide fell to their lowest level since 2002, median home values in Montgomery County rose 5 percent from $460,000 in 2009 to $483,000 in 2010.

OUT -- Empty Nests: More of Montgomery County's young adults are living with their parents. According to Census data, the number of adult children living at home grew 36 percent in the last decade.

IN -- Marriage Equality: We passed a Resolution in support of Maryland's Religious Freedom and Civil Protection Act, which would have allowed same-sex couples in Maryland to marry. Although the measure failed in 2011, there is reason for optimism in the new year.

IN -- Economic Recovery: The forecast of County revenues is up $79.2 million in FY12 and $36.4 million in FY13. We aren't out of the woods, but this modest improvement is encouraging.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

County Will Vigorously Contest Pepco's Request for Rate Increase

The County will vigorously contest Pepco's recent request for a $68 million rate increase.

County Executive Ike Leggett and Council President Roger Berliner said in a joint statement that Pepco's request is "not a nice holiday gift, but more like coal in our County's holiday stocking.”

They went on to say the following:

“Based on our initial review of the 1,000-page filing, we have concluded that the rate request is flawed in many respects, including these three major issues:

• While pitched as only a 4 percent increase, this is spin, not reality. In truth, Pepco's request, when considering only its distribution costs, may be more than double that amount.
• Pepco seeks full recovery of all forecasted reliability related expenditures. The County's position is that shareholders should bear a portion of actual expenditures to increase reliability given Pepco's imprudence in the past.
• Pepco is seeking an increase in its allowed rate of return. The County's position is that Pepco's rate of return should be reduced, not increased."

The County Executive and Council President said that a number of these issues have been awaiting decision since August by the Maryland Public Service Commission in its investigation of Pepco's reliability. The investigation was initiated by the Commission at the request of the County Council.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NOAA Renews Lease in Montgomery

From our Department of Economic Development:

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), last week signed a 15-year lease renewal for more than one million square feet of Foulger-Pratt Companies-owned office space in Silver Spring - keeping more than 4,000 well-paying jobs in Montgomery County.

With more than 8.3 million square feet of federally-leased space in the County, our Department understands that working with GSA, federal agency leadership and the development community is critical to ensuring we continue to facilitate the retention and growth of the federal sector in Montgomery County, as it remains a steady contributor to our local economic and job base.

NOAA’s lease renewal comes on the heels of other positive federal activity in the County over the past 18 months including: the Department of Health and Human Services’ lease renewal for 932,391 square feet to house 3,000 employees at the Parklawn office complex in Twinbrook; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAIDs') 15-year lease on a new 490,998 square foot Class A office building in Twinbrook to house 2,000 employees; and a new $200 million satellite campus at the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center for 2,100 employees of the National Cancer Institute. This activity helps us end 2011 on a high note and we look forward to working hard in 2012 and beyond to ensure continued success.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Schedule for Christmas and New Year's

We will observe the following holiday schedule for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays:

~County Offices – closed on Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2

~Libraries – closed December 24, 25, 26 and 31 and January 1 and 2

~County liquor stores – all stores closed on December 25 and 26 and January 1 and 2; On December 24 and 31, all stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

~Ride On – Sunday schedule on December 26 and January 2 (regular weekend service except Christmas Eve, December 24, service ends early with last trips departing terminals around 10 p.m.)

~TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed on December 26 and January 2

~Refuse/recycling pickup – regular collection on December 26 and January 2

~Transfer Station – open on Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2. Closed on December 25 and January 1.

~Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free on December 26 and January 2
~MCPS Administrative Offices – closed on Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2

~State offices & courts – closed on Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2

Monday, December 12, 2011

Montgomery Will Meet with DC on Streetcar Possibilities

County Executive Ike Leggett advised Councilmember Hans Riemer and me that the Department of Transportation will work with the District of Columbia to explore the possibility of expanding the District’s proposed streetcar system to Silver Spring. This is in response to the request we sent on November 16. Here is the full text of the letter:

December 9, 2011

To: Nancy Floreen, Councilmember
Hans Riemer, Councilmember
Montgomery County Council

From: Isiah Leggett, County Executive

Subject: District of Columbia (DC) Transit Future System Plan

Thank you for your memorandum dated November 16, 2011, concerning coordination between the Departments of Transportation from the DC and Montgomery County for possible modifications to the “DC’s Transit Future System Plan”. I have asked Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) Director, Arthur Holmes, Jr., to follow up with his counterpart at the DC Department of Transportation to initiate the process by setting up a meeting the explore the possibility of a rerouting of the Takoma Metrorail Corridor to have its end of the line station at the Silver Spring Metro Rail Station.

MCDOT’s Director will coordinate the first meeting and will invite representatives of the agencies suggested in your memorandum to the meeting. Thank you for your interest in the promotion of transit alternatives and coordination between the two governmental bodies and appropriate transit agencies in the area.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bethesda Parking Lot 31 to Close

Beginning in mid-January, two surface parking lots in Bethesda (known as Lots 31 and 31A), located at the intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues, will close for about 30 months for the construction of a public-private partnership project that will more than triple the number of public parking spaces available on the site. One to two months after the project begins, Woodmont Avenue between Bethesda Avenue and Leland Street will also close for about 20 months. The adjacent Capital Crescent Trail will remain open during the entire construction project.

In the interim, you can park at the Bethesda-Elm Parking Garage (Garage 57), which has more than 900 parking spaces and is located between Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street. If you need to park for a longer time, you can use the Woodmont Corner Garage (Garage 11), at Woodmont and Old Georgetown Road, and the Auburn-Del Ray Garage (Garage 36), as well as at privately operated parking facilities surrounding Lot 31. Also remember the free Bethesda Circulator shuttle bus. Starting in December, and throughout the construction period, the Circulator schedule will expand, and the frequency of service will increase.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Council Elects New Leadership

Congratulations to Councilmember Roger Berliner who we elected unanimously as our new Council president. Roger, who is also chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, has demonstrated himself to be a dedicated and effective public servant, and I’m sure he will make a great president this year. Roger said today that we have every reason to be confident about the future, and I agree.

We also elected Nancy Navarro to serve as our vice president. Nancy has proved her mettle as the chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, and I look forward to her leadership. Roger and Nancy will serve one-year terms as officers. Congratulations to both!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Council Approves Wheaton Sector Plan

The Council approved the new Wheaton Sector Plan, which establishes a vision for future private sector redevelopment of this vibrant and diverse community. We rezoned large portions of the area to encourage mixed use development, including retail, office and residential, while protecting surrounding residential neighborhoods. We hope incentives in our new family of commercial/residential (CR) zones will preserve small businesses while allowing for large-scale development and adding the creation of a tree canopy as a priority. It has been a great collegial effort among planners, community members and the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, and I think it does a good job of accounting for a wide variety of needs and visions.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Richard Montgomery Finally Gets His Due

Check out the new historical marker honoring our County’s namesake, Richard Montgomery. The aluminum-cast marker, which will be dedicated this Friday, was installed in a landscaped area next to the Old Brick Courthouse at the 100 block of E. Jefferson Street in Rockville.

Most people have forgotten--or never knew--who Montgomery was: a recent immigrant from England who joined the American cause of freedom at the start of the Revolution. Having been a career officer in the British Army, he had fought in numerous battles during the French and Indian War. In fact, Montgomery was the most experienced general in the young American forces at the start of the Revolution. Commander-in-Chief George Washington put him in charge of the western army that marched into Canada, trying to help the colonists there to throw off the British crown and join our cause.

Montgomery succeeded in capturing several forts and Montreal, but was killed in the attack on Quebec on December 31, 1775, making him the first general to die in the American Revolution. His death was a national tragedy.

When the Maryland Constitutional Convention voted in 1776 to split the huge Frederick County into three parts, the large eastern third was named “Montgomery” while the smallest third in the mountains was named “Washington.” That shows the relative esteem that Richard Montgomery was held in at the time.

My hat is off to Stuart Grosvenor, who as a ninth grader got this project going with his application to the Maryland Historical Trust, the organization that provided the marker.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Drive Free on the ICC

The ICC's second segment opened to traffic at 6 a.m. today, just in time for holiday travel. The second segment stretches for 10 miles from Georgia Avenue in Montgomery County to I-95 in Prince George's County. It connects with the first segment of the ICC, from I-270/I-370 to Georgia Avenue, which opened to traffic in February. You can test drive the entire ICC from I-370 to I-95 at no cost through Sunday, Dec. 4, at midnight. The MDTA will electronically collect tolls on the ICC beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 5.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Schedule for Thanksgiving

Here's our holiday schedule for Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 24:

~County Offices -- closed
~Libraries -- closed
~County liquor stores – closed
~Ride On – Sunday schedule
~Metrobus – Sunday schedule
~Metrorail – Sunday schedule
~TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
~Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*
~Transfer Station – closed
~Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
~MCPS Administrative Offices – closed
~State offices & courts – closed

* Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Can Streetcar Program Expand to Silver Spring?

I, along with Councilmember Hans Riemer, sent a letter to District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett asking them to explore the possibility of extending the District’s planned streetcar system to the Silver Spring Metro Station/Transit Center. The letter continues Montgomery County’s interest in finding transportation alternatives that would benefit the Washington region beyond jurisdictional boundaries.

The complete text of the letter:

November 16, 2011

The Honorable Vincent C. Gray, Mayor
District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 316
Washington, DC 20004

The Honorable Isiah T. Leggett
Montgomery County Executive
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, MD 20850

Dear Mayor Gray and County Executive Leggett:

Recently we took time to review the final report of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) entitled “DC’s Transit Future System Plan” (April 2010). The report outlines plans for a comprehensive streetcar system within the District.

One of the proposed lines would run from Buzzard Point, north through downtown, continuing north on Georgia Avenue to Butternut Street, and then east to the Takoma Metro Station. Instead, would the District of Columbia consider the possibility of re-routing this line so that it proceeds north on Georgia Avenue to the Montgomery County line, and from there north to the Silver Spring Metro Station/Transit Center? While the terminus of each route is at a Metro Station, Silver Spring is also served by MARC Commuter Rail, as well as 46 bus routes and approximately 120 buses per hour in the peak hour—versus 15 bus routes and approximately 50 buses per hour at Takoma. Silver Spring will also be served by the Purple Line. Finally, there are many more opportunities for redevelopment along Georgia Avenue north of Butternut Street and in South Silver Spring that could be spurred and served by this extension.

If there is interest in both our jurisdictions, we would propose that our two DOTs engage in a sketch-planning exercise, in coordination with Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Maryland Transit Administration, and Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission staffs, to determine the design and operational feasibility of this route. Given our other respective transportation priorities, we are not under the illusion that this route would come about in the next few years, or even the next decade. But we think it is important to explore this idea now to determine whether we should revise our master plans accordingly. We look forward to hearing your response.


Nancy Floreen, Councilmember
Hans Riemer, Councilmember

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Parade this Saturday

Lady (my schnoodle) and I look forward to seeing you this Saturday at the 14th Annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade. It will begin at 10:00 and will travel the same route as last year starting at Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street, proceeding south on Georgia Avenue and ending at Silver Spring Avenue.

This year’s parade will feature some new elements including the Rolling Gingerbread House Balloon complete with the Gingerbread Man. Also new this year is a walking balloon Holiday Nutcracker, an inflatable turkey and an inflatable Rudolph. For the first time, there will be intermittent performances of the Ronald McDonald Magic Show on Silver Spring Avenue near the end of the parade route.

In addition to the giant balloons that have appeared in the parade for many years, there will be a wide variety of marching bands including the ever-popular Washington Redskins Marching Band. The Washington Nationals Baseball Club, dancing groups, beauty queens, clowns, fire engines and a number of rescue animal groups will also participate. As always, the parade will end with Santa’s sleigh accompanied by reindeer and elves handing out candy canes to the crowd.

The parade will be held rain or shine and will be broadcast live on News Channel 8. The telecast will be repeated on Thanksgiving Day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's Happening at the Pike Center?

Several people have written to me with questions about Bagel City, the Shell gas station and other retail establishments in the Pike Center in light of planned redevelopment there, so here is the letter I received from JBG Rosenfeld Retail detailing the status:

November 8, 2011

The Honorable Nancy Floreen
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850

Dear Ms. Floreen:

I am writing to share information with you about JBG Rosenfeld Retail's communications with Pike Center tenants, and to provide details regarding the lease arrangements that we have had with them in order to clarify any misunderstanding regarding this issue.

I want to emphasize that we value our relationships with all of our tenants and have been communicating with them throughout this process, to keep them informed of our plans. That is why I am mystified regarding the erroneous statements made over the past few weeks. The
below information will give you a better sense of the reality of the situation.

When JBGR acquired Pike Center in 2006, the property was already repositioned for
redevelopment with termination provisions included in all of the tenant leases.

• All of the tenants whose leases have expired since 2006 have been operating on short
term extensions, knowing that redevelopment of the Center was imminent.

• With the exception of the tenants who are expected to remain, all but three tenant leases
expire by October 2012.

As early as 2010, JBGR representatives began meeting with the Pike Center tenants to
inform them of our plans.

• Motiva (the corporate entity holding the Shell lease) has requested extensions ofterm for
at least 18 months and we have informed them on each occasion that we cannot extend
their lease due to our redevelopment plans. We have recently learned that Motiva did not
share this information with the operator of the station, Lobsang Wangkang

• Both David's Beautiful People and Bagel City have sought additional terms for their
respective leases and we have consistently informed them that we cannot give additional
terms due to our development plans . We offered to help them locate new space.

However, they both informed us that they have been looking for new space on Rockville
Pike for the past few months and each have identified available relocation options.

JBGR has been extremely sensitive to tenants' needs over the years and has worked to
accommodate the tenants during the recent lean economic times

• We significantly decreased rents for struggling tenants -- in some cases by 50% of market

• We have agreed to release tenants from their leasehold interests in advance of the
expiration of their term in order to facilitate their relocation.

The need for tenant relocation is in no way unique to Pike Center.

• The redevelopment of any property affects the existing tenants and often requires them to
relocate. What is to occur at Pike Center is the exact situation that will occur throughout
the County in connection with the redevelopment of existing shopping centers, including
those recently approved under the White Flint I Sector Plan.

I trust that this information helps to clarify this issue and would be glad to meet with you to
discuss this matter in greater detail if you so desire.


Krista Di Iaconi

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Montgomery's Economic Outlook

Dr. Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis, George Mason University, addressed the economic forecast for Montgomery County as it relates to transportation, housing and workforce development issues at yesterday’s Council session. He also discussed what steps the County can take to anticipate and absorb growth as well as the best practices to spur economic development and to make the connections between economic development, housing, and transportation. I’m extremely grateful to Dr. Fuller for this thought-provoking presentation. You can see the slide show here, or better yet, watch the video of the presentation (click on November 8, agenda item 4).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Leaf Vacuuming Starts This Week

Our Department of Transportation's Division of Highway Services will conduct its annual vacuum collection of leaves in the southern part of the county from November 7 through mid-December. DHS makes two collections on every street in the vacuum leaf collection district during the fall.

Look for signs posted along the streets announcing the collection dates in your neighborhood. The green signs indicate the first collection, and red signs indicate the second and final collection. Place your leaves in piles or containers on the grass or behind the curb.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holiday Schedule for Veterans Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Veterans Day on Friday, November 11:

~County Offices -- closed

~Libraries -- closed

~County liquor stores – open

~Ride On – Special modified holiday schedule

~Metrobus – Saturday supplemental

~Metrorail – Opens at 5 a.m.; closes at midnight

~TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed

~Refuse/recycling pickup – regular collection

~Transfer Station – open

~Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free

~MCPS Administrative Offices – open

~State offices & courts – closed

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Find Out About Veterans' Services

Our Commission on Veterans Affairs invites active duty military personnel, guard members, reservists, veterans and family members to a free resource fair on Saturday, November 5, 11:00-4:00 at White Flint Mall. More than two dozen organizations will be on-site to provide information and resources about veterans' service organizations; non-profit organizations serving military veterans and their families; and federal, state and local government agencies providing services. For more information, call 240-777-1724.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Helping Neighbors in Need Celebrate the Holidays

There is no better way to share in the holiday spirit than to help make the holidays better for our neighbors in need. For more than 30 years, the Holiday Giving Project of Montgomery County has helped low-income residents celebrate Thanksgiving and the December holidays. A coalition of non-profit agencies, local governments and faith groups collect and distribute donations those in need. To find out how you can help, visit A Wider Circle, the Holiday Giving Project’s coordinating agency.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Montgomery Business Development Corporation Delivers Report

The Montgomery Business Development Corporation (MBDC) delivered its first year’s report, saying the County must work to encourage the growth of for-profit businesses, advocate for increased transportation options and work collaboratively with educational institutions to develop needed workforce. In delivering its report, the corporation, whose board includes members of some of the County’s most prominent businesses and representatives of businesses of all sizes, pledged to work with us to achieve those goals.

I introduced the legislation which formed the MBDC last year and established the overall goal to promote practices that will help sustain current businesses and encourage new businesses to relocate to the County. From its origin, the MBDC has sought to engage executive level business leaders to establish a vision for the County’s long-term economic future; to develop and articulate strategies to achieve that vision; to advocate for strategic changes in practices and policies; and to set performance metrics and report on their achievement.

We are currently in an economic era unprecedented in our lifetimes, so we are grateful that key people in some of the County’s most significant business enterprises have volunteered to serve on this corporation, with the singular goal of helping Montgomery County remain as one of the nation’s economic engines. We have asked the MBDC how we can better send out the word that we are open for business, and now they have delivered the outline of a plan that can help do that.

MBDC board members who presented the report to the Council included Brian Gragnolati, president and CEO of Suburban Hospital (and chair of the MBDC board of directors); Robert Brewer, principal, Lerch, Early & Brewer Chartered; Deborah Marriott Harrison, senior vice president for government affairs of Marriott International; Brett McMahon, vice president of business development, Miller & Long; Mathew Mohebbi, vice president/general manager of Mobile Satellite, Hughes Network Systems; Susan Nemes, president and CEO, Social Solutions International, Inc.; and Lawrence Shulman, president, Shulman Rogers.

Other members of the board include Bryant Foulger of Foulger-Pratt; Douglas Liu of Qiagen Sciences, Inc.; Ron Paul of Eaglebank; and Daisy Wallace of Computer Technology Services, Inc. Ex officio members of the board are DeRionne Pollard, president of Montgomery College; Steve Silverman, director of the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development; Rollin Stanley, planning director of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission; and Joshua Starr, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Town Hall Meeting in Wheaton/Northern Silver Spring

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the Wheaton/Northern Silver Spring area on Wednesday, November 2, at Mario Loiederman Middle School (12701 Goodhill Road in Silver Spring) 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 (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Zoning Means Montgomery is Open for Business

Check out my opinion piece which appeared in today's edition of The Gazette. I have reprinted it here for your convenience:

We have a new tool for economic development, and it comes from a place you wouldn’t suspect — the zoning code. In this case, changes to the zoning code represent modern and innovative action that helps the private sector create jobs and commerce right here in our communities. The new tool is what we call the commercial/residential, or CR, zones.

After months of study, the Montgomery County Council made bold changes to a complicated and sometimes inconsistent zoning code that has been characterized as unfriendly to both businesses and communities.

The new family of CR zones can strip away much of the red tape that has hindered business, particularly small business, for decades. By allowing a hodgepodge of commercial zones to be replaced with three flexible CR zones, we’re making our standards clearer, more predictable and ultimately more accessible to those who can create jobs and housing.

The CR zones do away with the traditional approach of land use planning by specific uses, such as commercial or hotel, and replace it with zones that allow commercial and residential uses to coexist in the same street or block. The zones strictly regulate the height and density of buildings, thereby creating attractive communities where people can pick up a pair of shoes, grab a bite to eat and catch a movie on their way home from work, all without getting in a car.

Some people have expressed fears that skyscrapers will go up right next door to their single-family homes. That couldn’t be further from the truth. CR zones provide incentives for business to develop in ways that benefit neighborhoods and focus density near transit. They are designed to create interactive streetscapes where people can live, work, shop and play all within one neighborhood. It is important to note that the zones will place absolute limits on the allowable total density and building height.

The original CR zone already has been applied to the White Flint Sector Plan, which centers on the White Flint Metro station and which the council adopted in 2010. That ambitious and complex plan soon will transform the White Flint area along Rockville Pike into an exciting destination where strip malls are replaced by housing, stores and restaurants located together. Now the CR zones, which include lower-density provisions for towns and neighborhoods, are ready for other locations to be determined through our master planning process.

My hat is off to the Planning Board, planning staff, community activists, council staff, the council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee and all who participated in creating the family of CR zones. This new tool is an action statement to the business community that Montgomery County’s doors are indeed open for business, while at the same time serving as a commitment to residents and communities.

Nancy Floreen, Garrett Park

The writer is chairwoman of the Montgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Proclamation Honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Montgomery County is fortunate to have many partners across various disciplines that raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer as well as provide services to those who have been diagnosed with the disease. Today it was my privilege to recognize a few of them with a proclamation on behalf of the Council.

One of the recipients was the County’s own Women’s Cancer Control Program which provides breast and cervical cancer screening to low-income women. Also receiving proclamations were that programs partners, Adventist HealthCare, Holy Cross Hospital and Suburban Hospital (see my October 6 post about Key to the Cure).

We also recognized the Montgomery County firefighters and their union for the pink shirt campaign which allows firefighters to wear pink t-shirts emblazoned with “Fighting for a Cure.” throughout the month as an optional part of their regular uniform. Included among the firefighters was Marshall Moneymaker who lost three sisters to breast cancer and now dedicates much of his time to raising awareness and money for organizations fighting the disease. He is known for wearing all pink, including the pink turn-out gear he received from fellow firefighters.

More than 600 Montgomery County women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Although Montgomery County has the highest incidence of breast cancer in the state, it also has the lowest mortality rate. That’s due in part to the fact that approximately 2,500 uninsured women receive free mammograms in Montgomery County.

Have you had your mammogram this year?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Unveiling New Agricultural Reserve Sign

Montgomery County’s efforts to protect more than 93,000 acres of farmland and woodland will be better known after this Saturday’s formal unveiling of a new sign telling drivers that they are in the County’s Agricultural Reserve area.

I, along with Phil Andrews, Ike Leggett and representatives of the Agricultural Services Division of the County’s Department of Economic Development, will celebrate the unveiling with the Greater Goshen Civic Association, which used its own funds to purchase and install the sign. It will be the sixth sign in the County that declares “Welcome to the Agricultural Reserve.”

The sign to be unveiled at 1:00 is located at the intersection of Brink Road and Wightman Road, at the northern end of Montgomery Village. Parking is available nearby and the Greater Goshen Civic Association will be hosting a picnic immediately afterward for all those who attend.

The Agriculture Reserve was established in 1980 by the Preservation of Agriculture and Rural Open Space Functional Master Plan. The plan seeks to protect about 93,000 of the County’s 316,000 acres for farming and horticultural use. Montgomery currently has about 570 farms and 350 horticultural enterprises.

Intern's Thoughts on Youth Town Hall

My intern, Seth Ross, who is a senior at Churchill High School, attended this week’s Youth Town Hall, so I asked him for his thoughts on the evening. Here is what Seth has to say:

At first glance, you might think the Youth Town Hall meeting this week was a full work session devoted to the teen curfew. However, teens filled the hearing room to capacity and asked many questions pertaining to their own education and the county’s mystifying budget.

Right off the bat, the first question was about the curfew. The question included a fair amount of research about constitutional rights that the student believed would be infringed upon if the proposed curfew bill were to be passed. Quick to respond was Councilmember Berliner who made it very clear that the Council did not propose this bill, and that is was being reviewed as a favor to the County Executive. Things began to heat up when a teenager raised the notion that some of the Councilmembers may just be passing the curfew to gain votes in the next election. I believe this is a possible tactic the Councilmembers are using to appeal to voters who live in areas with higher crime rates. Councilmember Andrews was the only Councilmember to be upfront and direct with his opposition to the curfew. I thought he was spot on when he explained that crime is not being committed by youth 22 and under during curfew hours and that youth crime in general is declining. Why is it necessary to impose a curfew when youth crime is going down?

While there were many teens opposed to the curfew, many others came to question the Council’s budget regarding MCPS. Councilmember Floreen got right to the point in clarifying that the Council gives approximately half of the $4.4 billion budget to MCPS. At first, what most students did not seem to grasp is that the roughly $2 billion for education is directly handed to the School Board. From there, the School Board is in charge of doing what they see fit with the money. It seems like neither teens nor adults can really understand our County’s budget!

Council Approves Commercial/Residential Zones

After months of work, we approved Zoning Test Amendment 11-01 that adds changes to the County’s Commercial/Residential Zone (CR Zone) and will greatly influence the scope of future development near Metro stations. The changes will encourage more urbanized, mixed-use development in those areas, allowing neighborhoods to evolve with retail, restaurants, services, entertainment, offices and near public transportation.

The Planning Board proposed ZTA 11-01. In our reviews, we made significant changes in the ZTA. Our revisions better protect communities by limiting land uses in CR Neighborhood zones, increase respect for master plans by implementing them through site plans, add increased incentives for affordable housing and create more certainty for communities and developers by clarifying the sketch plan process.

The ZTA provides incentives for developers to build near Metro stations. Current Commercial/Residential Zones allow for buildings in some circumstances to be between 16 and 27 stories high. To get permission to build, developers must meet specific criteria, which award “points.” Developments closer to Metro stations qualify for more points than those further from the stations. The new regulations clarify the criteria to get points, while also adding more options for developers to add points. For example, making buildings more environmentally friendly would earn additional points.

By this week’s adopting of two additional series of zones with lower building heights and density than allowed by current mixed-used zones, the Council will have more flexibility to respond to the competing demands of commercial and residential property owners reflected in master plans.

Future development will be required to get site plan approval to a greater extent than current standards, providing increased opportunities for the involvement of neighbors.

Those developing under the new zoning will be able to choose from a longer list of land uses. Dense development will still be required to provide public benefits, but development in the new zones will have to provide fewer public benefits than currently required on higher density mixed-use development.

The Commercial/Residential Neighborhood (CRN) and Commercial/Residential Town (CRT) zones were developed for areas where there are smaller properties, lower densities and more challenging economic conditions than where the Commercial/ Residential (CR) zones apply.

The new zones are structured like the current CR zones. The total floor area ratio (FAR), the residential FAR, the non-residential FAR and the maximum building height are identified with each zone.

One zoning series will apply to areas where existing commercial zones are located next to single-family residential neighborhoods. Another zoning series will apply to areas where requiring too many public benefits might impede redevelopment.

The allowed land uses and development standards vary with each zone. The CR Neighborhood zones would have the most limited land uses of the three commercial/residential zones.

Optional method development—where developers are often granted permission to build higher structures than would be permitted under regular zoning in exchange for providing certain public benefits—would not be allowed in CR Neighborhood zones.

The CR Zones will apply in some aspects to the future stops along the planned Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway, depending upon provisions of master plans for those areas.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Apply Now to Merit System Protection Board

We’re taking applications for appointment to a three-year term on the Merit System Protection Board. Generally, the board is expected to oversee the Merit System and to protect employee and applicant rights guaranteed under the County Merit System. Get your application in by November 9.

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 to this term may be a Republican or someone who declines to affiliate with a party. In addition, the appointee may be a member of another party officially recognized by the Board of Elections.

The County Merit System Protection Board's mission is to oversee the Merit System for the protection of employee's and applicant's rights guaranteed under the 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 holds hearings during the day, which can take the full day, with any additional proceedings scheduled for subsequent evening(s). Also, the board normally meets for approximately an hour in the evening once or twice every month. Additional time is also required for preparatory work. Members of the board receive $7,467 per year, which is adjusted annually to reflect 50 percent of the percentage change in the Washington Area Consumer Price Index.

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 of application are made public as part of the appointment process. Letters expressing interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, should be addressed to: Council President Valerie Ervin, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850.

For more information on the Merit System Protection Board appointment, call 240-777-7979.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bring Donations for Wounded Soldiers to Council Building

Employees here at the Council are going to celebrate the County’s 25th Annual Community Service Day with a weeklong event that also recognizes the County’s newest residents: the U.S. military’s injured personnel who are now receiving treatment at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that has been relocated to its new campus in Bethesda.

Although the Military Medical Center is well-recognized for the superior treatment it offers military personnel suffering severe injuries in conflict worldwide, there are items that the wounded soldiers need, but the items are not provided to them. From Monday, Oct. 17, through Friday, Oct. 21, County Council employees will collect items that the American Red Cross—which has a unit that works with the Military Medical Center—has recommended are in need by injured soldiers and veterans at the facility.

Council employees invite you join in the drive.

The items sought for the drive include:

New and unused plain cotton t-shirts and athletic shorts (sizes small through extra large in colors black, gray, charcoal gray and navy)
Calling Cards and Gift cards (including those specifically for Subway and Dunkin Donuts, which have commercial outlets on the Walter Reed campus)
Men's running/trail/walking shoes (sizes 9-12 including half sizes)
DVD's, XBOX 360 and Wii games
Non-perishable snacks or bottled water
Toiletries (including razors, toothbrushes, deodorant, etc.)
Monetary donations for use by the Walter Reed program (must be in the form of checks made out to "American Red Cross" with the specific notation "Walter Reed/Bethesda Hospital")

If you want to contribute to the drive, bring items to the 6th Floor reception desk of the County Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, Md. 20850.

For more information about the drive for items for injured warriors, call 240-777-7923.

The items will be donated to a representative of the American Red Cross chapter that works with the Walter Reed program on Friday afternoon, Oct. 21.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Join Me to Benefit Women's Cancer Programs

Join me on October 20 for the regional kick-off party for the Key to the Cure. Suburban Hospital and Saks Fifth Avenue Chevy Chase will host the event marking the start of a national three-day shopping event designed to raise funds for cancer research and treatment. I'm proud to be the honorary chair and an honoree at this festive event which will feature the latest styles and fashion trends, culinary samplings from 20 of the area's top restaurants, specialty cocktails, entertainment and the Key to the Treasure raffle box, all for the benefit of women's cancer programs at Suburban Hospital. In addition to the direct proceeds from the October 20th event, two percent of retail sales generated through the weekend (October 21-23) will be donated to the Suburban Hospital Cancer Care Program. Over the past decade, this event has raised more than $900,000 to help serve women in the Montgomery County/DC community. This year, Suburban Hospital and Saks Chevy Chase expect to surpass the $1 million mark.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Reading at Snapshot Day

I had a great time reading to Beall Elementary School kindergarten students today at the Rockville Library as a part of Snapshot Day. The event is designed to demonstrate--through words and photos--how local residents love and use their libraries and underscore the value and importance of libraries in communities. We joined libraries across the state in the initiative.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Montgomery County Open on Columbus Day

Remember, Montgomery County government and Montgomery County Public Schools do not observe Columbus Day on October 10 as an official County holiday. Most Montgomery County services will operate, and facilities will be open on that day. Because the State of Maryland and the Federal Government do observe the holiday, state and federal offices and courts in Montgomery County will be closed.

Also remember to pay parking fees at Montgomery County-owned public garages, lots and curbside meters. Among the services that will operate on normal, Monday, weekday schedules are Ride On; refuse/recycling pickups; and County liquor stores.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Zoning as Economic Development

The Montgomery County Council stands poised to make bold changes to a complicated and sometimes inconsistent zoning code that has been characterized as unfriendly to both businesses and communities. The proposed family of Commercial/Residential (CR) zones strips away much of the red tape that has hindered business, particularly small business, for decades. By replacing a hodgepodge of commercial zones with three flexible CR zones, we’re making our standards clearer, more predictable and ultimately more accessible to those who can create jobs as well as the people living nearby.

The CR zones also incentivize business to develop in ways that benefit neighborhoods and focus density near transit. They are designed to create interactive streetscapes where people can live, work, shop and play—all within one neighborhood. After months of work on these new zones, the Council is scheduled to take action on October 4.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Council Holds Worksession on Commercial/Residential Zones

Tune in to today’s Council session on County Cable Montgomery (channel 6). Beginning at 10:15, the Council will hold a worksession on Zoning Text Amendment 11-01 that would amend provisions of the County’s Commercial/Residential (C/R) Zones. The discussion is expected to continue with the start of the afternoon session at 1:30 p.m.

The Planning Board proposed ZTA 11-01, to which the PHED Committee has suggested significant changes. The committee’s recommendations better protect communities by limiting land uses in C/R Neighborhood zones, increase respect for master plans by implementing them through site plans, add increased incentives for affordable housing and create more certainty for communities and developers by clarifying the sketch plan process.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Council President's Letter to Residents

Dear Friends of Montgomery County:

As the Council gears up for its busy fall schedule, we want to update you on some key issues the Council will be addressing. We also want to share with you our perspective on the Council's recent actions.

Issues we will consider this fall range from the curfew bill proposed by the County Executive to the post-Census redrawing of Councilmember district lines. We will also take up several land use master plans that are vital to strengthening our economy and improving our quality of life.

Our agenda so far this year has focused on the severe budget challenges that the County, like governments across the nation, has continued to face. The Council acted unanimously on issue after issue and approved a $4.4 billion County budget for Fiscal Year 2012. We listened closely to the comments we received from thousands of concerned County service recipients and taxpayers, we consulted extensively with our employee representatives, and ultimately we spoke with one voice on how best to close the huge gap between projected expenditures and resources.

The Council started with three priorities: to protect our core services - education, public safety, and assistance for our most needy residents; treat our taxpayers fairly; and provide equity among our employees. In a series of 9-0 votes on controversial issues, we did just that. Even though the overall approved budget was actually smaller than the budget approved three years ago, we targeted the reductions carefully. For MCPS and Montgomery College, we focused on areas that do not affect the classroom. For some core services, we felt that the reductions proposed by the County Executive cut too deeply, and so we restored limited funds to Police, Fire and Rescue, Health and Human Services, Libraries, and other key operations.

One of our top goals was to protect our hard-working employees and their families from layoffs. Another top goal was to ensure fair treatment for the employees of all County agencies. We felt that the County Executive's recommended changes to health and retirement benefits for County Government employees were too large, and so we made them more equitable.

Another essential goal was to protect classroom instruction in our world-class school system while ensuring that scarce resources are available for all our critical priorities. The $2.1 billion budget we approved for Montgomery County Public Schools will help create a stable future for our schools and all County agencies. The tax supported budget that we approved for the school system was an increase over the last fiscal year.

In June, despite these budget challenges, the three major bond rating agencies reaffirmed the County's critical AAA bond rating, but the continued turmoil in financial markets makes clear that our challenges are far from over.

We are proud of the way the Council came together to act unanimously on this year's difficult budget. We are deeply committed to progressive values, and all of us care deeply about the concerns of our taxpayers, service recipients, and employees in this economy. We will continue to do the best job we can for the County's one million residents.


Valerie Ervin
Council President

Roger Berliner
Council Vice President

Phil Andrews

Marc Elrich

Nancy Floreen

Nancy Navarro

Craig Rice

Hans Riemer

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Montgomery's Median Income Drops

The median household income has dropped in Montgomery County, according to new Census information and reported in today’s Washington Post. We’re in good company—company that includes most of the country as well as our neighbor, Fairfax County. This doesn’t come as a surprise as we have experienced decreased income tax revenue for the past couple of years, due in large part to drops in capital gains for our residents. We also know that our unemployment rate has hovered at twice our historical average, although well below the national average.

Certainly we need to take this information seriously, and we need to be thoughtful about the conclusions we draw. We also need to remember that we have some forward-thinking, long-range economic development plans in place, and these plans will take advantage of our changing demographics as well as our changing landscape. They include tax credits for the bioscience industry, transit-centered master plans and zoning code changes.

With a median household income of $89,000, we’re still in great shape. What’s more, we are poised and ready for the future, so I remain confident in Montgomery County.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Exchange with Chinese Delegation

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending time with a delegation of Chinese auditors discussing the County’s perspective on auditing and budget oversight issues. The delegation was here as a part of a University of Maryland program that hosts delegations from foreign countries. During our discussion, we focused heavily on performance auditing and how the County goes about it. I shared my ideas on the structured and systematic auditing system we use in the County. It was a great learning experience and cultural exchange for all.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Deadline Extended for Board of Appeals Positions

The deadline to apply for a position on the Board of Appeals has been extended to September 28. We’re accepting applications for two four-year terms. The terms of Stan Boyd (Democrat) and David Perdue (declined to affiliate) expire in September 2011, and both are eligible for reappointment.

By law, no more than three members of the board can be from the same political party. These positions can be filled by a Democrat, a 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.

The Board of Appeals makes decisions on most applications for special exceptions as provided in the Zoning Ordinance; hears and decides requests for variances from development standards contained in the Zoning Ordinance; and hears appeals from certain administrative decisions rendered by county government agencies.

Send your letter of interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, to Council President Valerie Ervin, County Council Office, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Opening of Cancer Center of Gaithersburg

They say that cancer is a word, not a sentence. And that’s because of places like the Cancer Center at Gaithersburg, where I had the opportunity to participate in today’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

You may be aware that the Upcounty has seen a 20% increase in population since the year 2000, according to Census data. Germantown and Clarksburg, the County’s two fastest growing communities, account for most of the population growth. That’s why I am so pleased to see this facility opening in the northern part of the county. We really need it.

Now our Upcounty residents will have access to the same cutting-edge technology available at Johns Hopkins. And it is not just the technologies that will be great for our residents, but they will get resources on cancer treatments and side effects as well as an environment that promotes comfort and peace of mind.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Redistricting Commission Makes Recommendation

The Montgomery County Redistricting Commission voted to recommend a Democrat-proposed plan that would revise the boundaries of the five County Council districts. The Council’s public hearing on the plan likely will be set for early November, so stay tuned.

The recommended plan keeps all municipalities in single districts. It puts the unincorporated areas of Germantown, Clarksburg, Montgomery Village, Olney, Wheaton, Four Corners, Burtonsville, White Oak, Fairland and Potomac in single districts. Residents along River Road and Route 29 would be in single districts according to the plan, which uses 2010 precincts as its building blocks to districts.

The targeted population for each revised district was 194,468. The recommended plan is close in all five districts, ranging from being only 15 below the target (194,453) in District 5 to 2,060 below the target (192,408) for District 2. District 1 is 1,762 above the target (196,230), District 3 is 62 below the target (194,406) and District 4 is 373 above the target (194,481).

The Commission meets every 10 years to evaluate population shifts as indicated by the most recent Census. The mission of the Commission (as required by the County Charter) is to recommend five Council district boundaries based upon information in the Census.

The new districts will be in effect for the 2014 Council election.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

BSO Celebrates Women Leaders

As a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Women's Leadership Forum, I am looking forward to the five BSO concerts at Strathmore and related activities celebrating women in music. The kick-off event on September 24 will feature the world premier of a special commissioned work, Chuphshah! Harriet's Drive to Canaan, depicting Harriet Tubman's journey from slavery to freedom. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Town Hall Meeting for Students

Join us for our second-ever town hall meeting for students on Wednesday, October 12. High school, middle school and elementary school students from across the County will be able to express views on issues and ask questions of councilmembers in an organized, but informal, setting.

When it comes to decisions affecting young people--whether in regard to schools, libraries, recreation, parks or the community in general--the practice too often is to have one set of adults talk to another set of adults. This Council will have many important decisions to make in the coming months--and many of these decisions could have significant impacts on people 18 and under. We think the best way to find out what this generation of Montgomery County residents need and want is to hear directly from them.

The meeting, in the Council's Third Floor Hearing Room, will start at 7 p.m. A pre-meeting reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the building's second-floor cafeteria. The meeting will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (CCM--cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and rebroadcast at various times in the following weeks.

RSVP by calling 240-777-7931.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Another Year With the Transit Subcommittee

I've been re-appointed as chair of the Transit Subcommittee of the National Association of Counties' (NACo) Transportation Steering Committee, so I'm looking forward to another year of advocacy. In particular, I find talking with leaders from more than 2,000 counties across the country especially productive as we share best practices and common challenges related to transportation and transit.

NACo advances issues important to local jurisdictions with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public's understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. It's a great mission, and I'm glad to be a part of it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Holiday Schedule for Labor Day

Montgomery County government will observe the following holiday schedule for Labor Day on Monday, September 5:

~County Offices -- closed

~Libraries -- closed

~County liquor stores – open 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., with the exception of the following store which will be closed: Diamond Square

~Ride On – Sunday schedule

~Metrobus – Sunday schedule

~Metrorail – Sunday schedule

~TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed

~Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection*

~Transfer Station – closed

~Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free

~MCPS Administrative Offices – closed

~State offices & courts – closed

* All collections scheduled on or after the holiday will be made one day later that week.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene to Affect Montgomery County This Weekend

Hurricane Irene may impact the region in the days ahead, and officials remind residents that they should prepare for the possibility of high winds, power outages and flooding. The hurricane season traditionally runs through November. Currently, Irene is a category 2 hurricane.

Anyone who has not already signed up for the County’s Alert Montgomery notification system is encouraged to do so by going to https://alert.montgomerycountymd.gov and selecting the types of emergency alerts they are interested in receiving regarding weather, severe traffic, schools, park and government facilities, athletic fields and public events; along with the devices they would like the messages sent to (cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, home and work emails).

During severe weather and all other times, residents are reminded to call 9-1-1 only in emergencies that threaten life or property, which includes any type of fire or serious medical condition, when there is fear for personal safety or the safety of others, or during a crime in progress. Calling 9-1-1 for the wrong reason or calling the number inadvertently may keep someone else from getting the help they need. DO NOT call 9-1-1 to ask for directions; check on power, phone, or cable outages; inquire about road or weather conditions; check on the status of school closings; for information about public services; or to report situations that are not emergencies. If you do call by mistake, please stay on the line until the call taker can confirm that you do not require emergency assistance.

Whenever a hurricane threatens a region, within 24-36 hours a hurricane watch will be issued. A hurricane warning will be issued if hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours or less. Hurricane conditions include winds of 74 miles per hour (64 knots) or greater, and/or dangerously high tides and waves. Actions to protect life and property should begin whenever a warning is issued.

Below are some more preparedness tips for hurricanes and other storms:

Before a Storm

Put copies of important documents in a safe place, preferably a waterproof container. Important documents can include passports, birth certificates, insurance policies or anything else that might be needed immediately or cannot be easily replaced.
Have enough cash for a few days – ATM’s may not work during power outages and stores might not be able to take debit and credit cards.
Make sure vehicle gas tanks are full.
Secure or bring inside exterior items that might become windborne, such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools.
Fill prescriptions that might be needed and stock up on any necessary medical supplies.
Keep flashlights and battery-powered radios with extra batteries on hand, along with a basic first aid kit, emergency food and water, and a non-electric can opener. Have enough non-perishable food and water for at least 72 hours.
Listen to the radio or television for hurricane progress reports.
Clean out gutters.
Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting in anticipation of a power outage. Open the doors only when necessary and close quickly.
Refrain from putting out trash cans the night before the regular pickup.

During a Storm

Avoid using candles for lighting. Use a battery-powered flashlight.
Never use a candle when fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern, since the candle flame can ignite fumes from the fuel.
Try to stay in an interior room or away from windows.
Stay calm and do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.
If flooding occurs, turn off electricity at the main breaker.
During a power outage, turn off major appliances. This will minimize losing power again through a power surge and protect the equipment when power returns.
Do not go outside. Flying debris from high winds is a danger. As the eye of the storm passes, there will be a short period of calm followed by rapid wind speed increases to hurricane force that will come from the opposite direction.

After a Storm

Do not touch fallen or low-hanging wires of any kind under any circumstances. Stay away from puddles with wires in or near them. Do not touch trees or other objects in contact with power lines.
USE PHONES ONLY FOR EMERGENCIES. Call 911 only for life-threatening situations.
Call police or your utility companies immediately to report hazards such as downed power lines, broken gas or water mains or overturned gas tanks.
Avoid areas subject to flooding, including low spots, canals and streams. Do not attempt to drive on a flooded road –you can be stranded or trapped. The depth of the water and the condition of the road is not always obvious.
Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers, downed wires and other hazards.
For downed trees on public property, call 3-1-1 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays (or 240-777-0311 from outside the County or from a cell phone) or go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/311 at any time to report the problem. If live wires are involved, the tree is blocking a roadway, the tree is on a structure, or if persons are trapped under the fallen tree, call 9-1-1.
Trees that have fallen on private property are the responsibility of the property owner. The County’s Office of Consumer Protection advises homeowners to deal with established businesses only, and to call Consumer Protection first to check a business’ complaint record. Consumer Protection can be reached at 240-777-3636.
For non-emergency police assistance, call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000.
If case of a power outage, residents are urged to take steps to ensure that food left in the refrigerator and freezer is safe. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service, meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be refrigerated at 40° F and frozen food at or below 0° F, which may be difficult with a prolonged power outage. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. A refrigerator will only keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened. Food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, soft cheeses, butter and leftover cooked meats, casseroles and pizza should be thrown out if they have been held above 40° F for over two hours. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. To be sure a particular food is cold enough; take its temperature with a food thermometer. Never taste food to determine its safety.
Do not operate charcoal grills, propane camping stoves or generators indoors.

Important Utility Numbers:

Pepco: 1-877-737-2662
BG&E: 1-877-778-2222 or 1-800-685-0123
Potomac Edison (Allegheny Power): 1-800-255-3443
Washington Gas: 800-752-7520
WSSC: 1-800-828-4002

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Public Hearing on Two Council Redistricting Maps

Share your views at the Montgomery County Redistricting Commission's public hearing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building. The Commission, which has previously held five public meetings, is working on the once-in-a-decade task of redistricting the five County Council districts.

You can speak at the hearing without signing up in advance. However, those who sign up in advance will be permitted to speak earliest. To sign up, call 240-777-7803.

Commission members Henry Kahwaty and Don Spence have each proposed new maps that will be the focus of the public hearing. The 2010 Census showed significant gains in population in the Germantown and Clarksburg areas in the northern part of the County, both of which are now in District 2. New maps will apportion the County into five districts--each with approximately 194,000 residents. Each of the proposed new maps differ significantly from the current district divisions.

The mission of the Commission (as required by the County Charter) is to recommend five Council district boundaries based upon information provided in the 2010 Census.

The proposals by Commission member Kahwaty (a Republican) and Commission member Spence (a Democrat) each seek to place municipalities in single districts and communities such as Olney, Wheaton and Four Corners in single district. However, each plan takes significantly different approaches on how to achieve balanced districts.

Appointed by the County Council in January 2011, the Commission was tasked to present a redistricting plan and report to the County Council by October 3. Within 30 days after receiving the plan, the Council must hold a public hearing on it. If within 90 days after presentation of the Commission’s plan no other law reestablishing the boundaries of the Council districts has been enacted, then the plan, as submitted, will become law.

The County Charter requires districts to be substantially equal in population, compact, and contiguous. The new districts will be in effect for the 2014 Council election.

For more information and to view the proposed maps, click here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sharing my Story, the Final Cut

Check out this month’s Council in Brief on County Cable Montgomery (channel 6). The 15-minute program encompasses the three earlier short segments entitled Nancy Floreen—The Next Chapter, in which I discuss my experiences with breast cancer. This longer program also includes information on the County’s Women’s Cancer Control Program which provides mammograms and cervical cancer screening for low-income women.

September 11 Community Remembrance

Join us for the September 11 Community Remembrance ceremony on Friday, September 9 at 12:30 p.m. in Courthouse Square Park in Rockville. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the ceremony is planned as a time for remembrance and tribute to the victims, their families, emergency responders and members of the military.

The program will include remarks by a family member of one of the Montgomery County victims, and musical selections by the Montgomery County Police Gospel Choir will complete the program. Members of Montgomery County’s Fire and Rescue Services (MCFRS) and the Montgomery County and City of Rockville Police will also participate. The MCFRS Pipe and Drum Corps will perform.

The “Memorial to the Events of 9/11/01” park designed by Gene and Susan Flores of Plainfield, MA, consists of 11 benches, each dedicated to one of the lost Montgomery County residents. Each bench is engraved with lines from a poem, song or thought selected by family members, and the victim’s signature is inscribed in stainless steel on the end of their bench. At one corner of the park, a pavilion stands housing a plaque bearing the names of the 11 victims who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. Each year on September 11, from approximately 9:15 to 10:50 a.m., sunlight passes through a lens in the roof of the structure to highlight each of the 11 names.

An interfaith prayer service will be held on Sunday, September 11 at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville, located at 100 Welsh Park Drive. The service is open to the public and to all faith groups, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, as well as secular groups. For more information about the interfaith prayer service, call Rev. Lynn Strauss at 301-762-7666.

For more information about the memorial park or the ceremony, call Judy Stiles in the Department of Recreation, at 240-777-6875.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Maryland 511 Travel Information

Call 511 or visit MD511.org to “know before you go.” Maryland’s new 511 program provides travel information for major events, cross-state travel and daily commutes. You can even customize the information for your regular trips on the My Maryland 511 Web site.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Maryland Tax Holiday

Get your shopping list ready for Shop Maryland Week, August 14-20. Qualifying apparel and footwear $100 or less will be exempt from the Maryland six percent sales tax. Accessories are not included. To learn more, visit the Comptroller of Maryland’s Web site.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cedar Lane Bridge to Open Friday

The Cedar Lane in Bethesda that carries traffic over Rock Creek which was closed for rehabilitation will reopen to traffic Friday, August 5, three weeks ahead of schedule. The bridge was closed to traffic on June 16 to refurbish concrete beams and piers that were in poor condition.

When the bridge reopens, Ride On bus route 34, which was detoured during the bridge’s closure, will return to its normal routing.

The Cedar Lane Bridge was originally built in 1959 and the superstructure and pier caps were replaced. A shared-use pedestrian and bicycle path was added between Rock Creek Trail and Elmhirst Trail.

The construction is related to transportation improvements in progress to address increased traffic expected as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) changes at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Foreclosure Prevention Workshop

Do you know someone who has lost income due to unemployment or medical problems and has fallen behind on mortgage payments? The Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development will co-host a free workshop on Monday, August 8 from 3 to 8 p.m., to assist those faced with possible mortgage foreclosures. The workshop will take place at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place, Silver Spring. Register now at www.mdhope.org and click on “Attend the Montgomery County EMA Workshop,” or call 410-514-7324.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

County Files Brief in Pepco Investigation

Despite earlier reports that Montgomery County would withdraw its participation in the Maryland Public Service Commission's (PSC) investigation into Pepco's reliability, you can rest assured we are fully in the game, recently filing a brief in support of improving Pepco's service.

The 57-page brief argues that the PSC should declare that Pepco has been "imprudent" in operating an unreliable electric system in Maryland since at least 2005, and that the PSC should impose the following remedies:

~Require that Pepco/PHI's shareholders, not Pepco's customers, bear the cost of improving the quality of its service to at least a "second quartile" reliability level; 

~Consider reducing Pepco's allowed rate of return on equity and require Pepco to provide certain billing credits to its customers; and 

~Ultimately, consider modifying Pepco's service territory or revoking Pepco’s authority to exercise its franchise.

On August 8, Montgomery County and all other parties may file additional reply briefs answering the arguments contained in each other's initial briefs. The Public Service Commission then will review all the briefs in the hearing record and issue a written order deciding the case.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teens Protest Proposed Curfew

Young people (and quite a few older people) came out in force to express their opposition to a bill to establish a youth curfew in Montgomery County. The bill, introduced by the County Executive and supported by the Police Department, is intended to address issues relating to increased gang activity, violence and crime involving minors. It would impose a curfew of midnight on weekends and 11:00 p.m. on weekdays for people under the age of 18.

There’s a lot to think about in regard to this bill, and I expect we will have detailed discussions about it before taking any action. Regardless of whether this bill passes or how it may change during our deliberations, I must commend our youth for their civic engagement. Several teens spoke extremely eloquently at the public hearing, while dozens more supported them from the gallery. A few wrote us e-mails and thousands expressed their views via Facebook. To our civically active teens, I say: keep up the good work!

Our Public Safety Committee will take up the issue on September 15, and the full Council will consider it after that, so there is still plenty of time to let us know what you think.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Two Rockville Annexations Approved

Yesterday we approved requests by the City of Rockville to annex two properties. One is located at 15955 Frederick Road and is currently occupied by the Reed Brothers automotive business. The other property is known as the Burgundy Park Center at East Gude Drive and Southlawn Lane.

The city will allow the Reed Brothers property, which is close to the Shady Grove Metro Station, to be redeveloped for affordable housing. Prior to the vote, we debated whether the location would be suitable for housing because it was also adjacent to the Shady Grove Solid Waste Transfer Station. I voted against the annexation for this reason.

The Burgundy Park property annexation passed unanimously, and the property will continue its retail use. Since the property is partially in Rockville already, the annexation will allow the property to be in a single jurisdiction under a single zone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Report on Food in Montgomery Schools

Serving food that is both healthy and tasty (not to mention affordable) challenges not just parents but our school system too.

The food service program of Montgomery County Public Schools complies with or exceeds federal, state and local requirements for school food, and has implemented a variety of practices aimed at encouraging students to eat healthier foods. However, a report released today by our Office of Legislative Oversight also found that when it comes to encouraging healthy eating, the MCPS Department of Food and Nutrition Services (DFNS) “has not pursued these practices as vigorously as some other school systems.”

The report indicates that food service programs, although open to all MCPS students, serve mostly low-income students. MCPS data from the report also show that school meal participation levels are increasing and are close to reaching target school lunch participation rates.

Any MCPS student may purchase a school lunch or school breakfast. Students from low-income families earning up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level may qualify for free or reduced-price meals (FARMS). Overall, 58 percent of elementary school students and 29 percent of secondary school students participated in the School Lunch Program in Fiscal Year 2011. This reflected a slight increase from Fiscal Year 2010, when 54 percent of elementary and 28 percent of secondary school students participated.
FY11 data indicate that the School Lunch Program served an average of more than 57,000 meals per day. Of students enrolled in FARMS, 78 percent participated in the lunch program compared to 23 percent of students who were required to pay full-price for lunches.

The School Breakfast Program served an average of 21,000 meals per day, with half of these served in the 30 schools that participated in Maryland Meals for Achievement. Of students enrolled in FARMS, 36 percent participated in the breakfast program compared to 5 percent of students who were required to pay full-price for breakfast.

The report looked at 10 trends in school food service practices aimed at encouraging healthy eating and increasing school food program participation. The report finds that MCPS engages “to some degree” in each of the practices. For example, to encourage healthy eating, DFNS offers a salad bar as part of the school lunch in Parkland Middle School, posts menu and calorie information in cafeterias and serves flavored milk with reduced sugar content. To increase participation in the School Breakfast Program, DFNS recently began serving free breakfasts to all students who qualify for FARMS, eliminating the 30 cent charge for a “reduced-price” breakfast.

The report also noted that MCPS received recognition from the USDA’s HealthierUS Schools Challenge program and the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine for nutritious menus that exceed federal requirements.

However, the report also stated, “OLO found that some school districts have done more to encourage students to eat healthier foods.” Examples from other jurisdictions include revising the menu to eliminate all processed foods, offering “all you can eat” fruits and vegetables with school meals and offering in-classroom breakfast district wide.
Additionally, the report cites DFNS data that shows student satisfaction with the food served is not meeting the target set by DFNS, despite increasing participation levels. Specifically, DFNS has fallen short of its target of an 85 percent or higher satisfaction rating from parents or students.

Another factor the report considered was the financial aspect of the food service program. As an enterprise fund, DFNS is designed to be a self-sustaining operation. However, DFNS experienced a deficit in FY10, anticipates a deficit for FY11, and loses 50 cents for each free and reduced-priced lunch it serves.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Committee to Discuss Pepco Tree Trimming

The Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee will discuss Pepco’s tree trimming program on Monday, July 18, at 2:00. Because vegetation is the primary cause of outages during major storms, Pepco is increasing its tree trimming efforts. But with that increase comes concerns from neighborhoods about loss of tree canopy and resulting changes in the character of neighborhoods (or the character of officially designated rustic roads). Pepco officials, County staff, and community representatives will be on hand to help us sort out the issues. Tune in to County Cable Montgomery (channel 6) to watch the meeting live.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Making the Shady Grove Sector Plan a Reality

Today I joined the County Executive at the groundbreaking for the first new facility to be constructed under the Smart Growth Initiative which is designed to revitalize the old industrial area around the Shady Grove Metro station, transforming it into a modern urban village.

The Equipment and Maintenance Operations Center (EMOC) project is a collection of 13 buildings that will serve administrative functions, bus parking, maintenance, equipment storage and other functions for the Departments of Transportation and General Services.

When we approved the Shady Grove Sector Plan in 2005, we envisioned a modern, vibrant, transit-oriented community centered on the Shady Grove Metro station. With today’s groundbreaking, we’re taking the first step toward making that vision a reality. We’re paving the way to an exciting future—a future that’s full of opportunities for economic development, housing and quality of life.

The Sector Plan calls for transforming the area around the Shady Grove Metro station from light industrial uses to transit-oriented housing by building up to 6,500 new units, including affordable and workforce housing. To accomplish this goal, the County Service Park facilities, which are located in the heart of the planning area along Crabbs Branch Way, must be relocated. The facilities that will be moved include EMOC; the Department of Liquor Control Headquarters and Warehouse; Montgomery County Public Schools Food Distribution Center, Bus Depot and Facilities Maintenance Depot; Crabbs Branch Day Labor Center; County Radio Shop; and Park and Planning Facilities Maintenance Depot.

Of course the EMOC project incorporates many green design elements including a pilot project to reclaim, treat and reuse rainwater for toilet flushing and bus washing, reducing water use by 80 percent. Additionally, 75 percent of the building roofs will be green roofs to decrease stormwater runoff.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sharing My Story, Part 3

On County Cable Montgomery’s County Report This Week, I talk with Susan Kenedy about my breast cancer treatment in the third and final installment of a series entitled Nancy Floreen—The Next Chapter. In this part, I discuss my experiences with radiation and lifestyle changes as well as the conversations I have had people I met along the way. Tune in to channel 6 or watch the program on YouTube.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Budget: Next Year Will Be Bigger Challenge

Last year's fiscal plan projected a very small 0.1 percent increase in funds available for agencies in FY12. The actual number turned out to be very close at 1.4 percent (the inflation rate for 2010 was 1.7 percent). That was valuable information for us to have last June, and we planned accordingly. This year’s projection for FY13 shows a decrease of 2.7 percent, and that means we need all hands on deck. It means that next year looks even more challenging than this year.

We approved our second annual fiscal plan last week. We started requiring a six-year balanced fiscal plan at my urging last year when I was Council President as a way of addressing our structural deficit. While the plan does not constrain future Councils in their year-to-year decision making, it provides valuable information and guidance for sustainability over the long term. The plan gives communities and the County's four agencies--Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and County Government--a realistic view of what they can expect in the upcoming years.

This year's plan makes clear what we already know intuitively--that absent a far more robust economic recovery than has occurred to date, we are facing limited resources for FY13 and beyond. Current projections for FY13 showing a decrease of 2.7 percent in funds (nearly $100 million) available for agency expenditures mean we again are going to have to work together to make difficult decisions. Future years show very modest increases of 2.2 percent, 3.4 percent, 4.8 percent and 3.6 percent.

FY12 began on July 1, 2011, and budget deliberations for FY13 will begin on March 15, 2012, when the County Executive transmits his proposed budget to the Council.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Visit the Farm Tour and Harvest Sale for Local Products

Celebrate our agricultural heritage, visit local farms and indulge in seasonally fresh food at Montgomery County's Annual Farm Tour and Harvest Sale the weekend of July 23-24. Every year, this event coincides with the Buy Local Challenge which encourages people to eat locally grown food. The Farm Tour gives you the opportunity to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants and other local products. Several farms have hayrides, pony rides, music, demonstrations and other fun and educational activities planned for people of all ages.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Your Thoughts Sought on County Charter

Do you have a suggestion regarding the County Charter? If so, get your ideas to the Charter Review Commission by October 31.

The Charter is the constitutional framework for County government. Charter Section 509 provides for an 11-member Charter Review Commission to study the Charter and provide a report to the Council (scheduled for May of 2012). Any recommendations for possible Charter revisions would be considered by County voters in November 2012.

The Commission is requesting the views of residents, civic groups, organizations, County agencies, employees and other individuals on how County government operates and what Charter revisions could make government work more effectively. You can get a copy of the Charter by contacting the Council Office at 240-777-7900.

Send your submissions to: Charter Review Commission, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, 5th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850. Suggestions and comments also can be e-mailed to the Commission at CharterReview.Commission@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Change to Pave Way for Grocery in Clarksburg

We unanimously approved a limited amendment to the Clarksburg Master Plan that could lead to quicker establishment of a grocery store. Councilmember Craig Rice and I proposed this amendment in response to frustrations expressed by people living in the area.

The intent of the master plan was to have the first grocery store located in the Town Center to make sure the focus of retail development in Clarksburg was in the Town Center. The unintended consequence has been to delay the construction of a much needed grocery store because the Town Center property owners have no immediate plans to construct a grocery. However, property owners in the Village Centers section of Clarksburg have expressed interest in developing a grocery.

For a variety of reasons, Clarksburg has not developed as intended, and in regard to needed retail amenities—such as a grocery store—the residents have not received what they expected. While we believe in the intent of the master plan, this was a needed action to correct a situation we did not anticipate.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Holiday Schedule for the Fourth of July

Here's our schedule for the Fourth of July holiday:

~County offices--closed


~County liquor stores--closed

~Ride On--Saturday schedule

~Metrobus--Saturday schedule

~Metrorail--4th of July special service

~TRiPS Commuter Stores--closed

~Refuse/recycling pickup--no collection (all collections scheduled on or after the holiday will be made one day later that week)

~Transfer station--closed

~Public parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters--free

~MCPS administrative offices--closed

~State offices and courts--closed

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fireworks on the Fourth

Join us for either of two County-sponsored Independence Day fireworks displays on Monday, July 4. Germantown Glory will be held at the SoccerPlex in the South Germantown Recreational Park, 18041 Central Park Circle, Boyds. Mid-County Sparkles will be held at Albert Einstein High School, 11135 Newport Mill Road, Kensington.

Germantown Glory will begin at 6 p.m. with children’s activities hosted by the BlackRock Center for the Arts. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform a musical salute to America at 8 p.m., through the sponsorship of Hughes Network Systems and the Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union. Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m.

Mid-County Sparkles activities begin at 7:30 p.m. with a concert by Bobby and the Believers. The fireworks display will follow at approximately 9:15 p.m. Since there will be no on-site parking at the school or at adjacent properties, except for handicapped parking, shuttle buses will pick up passengers, beginning at 6:15 p.m., at Westfield Wheaton and the Wheaton Metro Station.

Low lawn chairs and coolers are welcome at both events. Food vendors will be on site. No alcoholic beverages are permitted. The rain date for fireworks only is July 5.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sharing My Story, Part 2

On County Cable Montgomery’s County Report This Week, I talk with Susan Kenedy about my breast cancer diagnosis in part two of a series entitled Nancy Floreen—The Next Chapter. In this installment, I discuss my experiences with surgery and radiation as well as the conversations I have had with other women facing similar challenges. Tune in to channel 6 or watch the program on YouTube.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Two Bills to Help Clarksburg

I, along with Councilmember Craig Rice, introduced two bills that could lead to quicker and more orderly construction of needed public infrastructure in the emerging community of Clarksburg in northern Montgomery County.

We need to find innovative solutions and incentives to help Clarksburg become the community that the Master Plan envisioned two decades ago. The Clarksburg Infrastructure Working Group has looked at many possibilities to get development back on track. These two bills reflect ideas that could make this happen. We owe it to the current, and future, residents of Clarksburg to find answers for their community.

The bills seek to help resolve how infrastructure improvements will be funded in Clarksburg. The bills reflect recommendations of the Clarksburg Infrastructure Working Group that was formed to address these funding issues. Sufficient financing is not currently identified to build needed transportation improvements in the Clarksburg area. The bills seek to allow enhanced use of transportation impact tax credits, along with a special taxing district in parts of Clarksburg, to stimulate funding of needed transportation improvements. The introduction of the bills begins the legislative process toward possible enactment. Public hearings are tentatively scheduled for each bill at 1:30 p.m. on July 21.

Bill 21-11 would extend the time period that a developer can use impact tax credits from six to 20 years. The Working Group’s recommendations said that the current rule of six years unfairly penalizes larger developments that have an extended buildout period. The bill also would grant impact tax credits—for Clarksburg developments only—for capacity improvements to state roads. The current impact tax law allows credits for improvements only to County roads. The bill also would designate other types of roads that are currently not eligible—for Clarksburg only—for impact tax credits for roads currently not eligible.

Bill 21-12 would create a Clarksburg Area Special Taxing District, consisting of the Clarksburg Village and Arora Hill subdivisions. The special taxing district was recommended by the Working Group as an alternative to the private infrastructure charge that was attached to the deeds of the properties in these subdivisions. The bill would authorize the levy of a property tax to fund specified transportation infrastructure improvements and would authorize the issuance of a certain type of bond to finance certain transportation infrastructure improvements.

Bill 21-12 is based on Bill 50-10, enacted in November 2010, which created a similar special taxing district in the White Flint redevelopment area.