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

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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Apply Now to the Board of Appeals

Apply now to the Board of Appeals. 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. Mr. Boyd has indicated that he will apply for reappointment. Get your application in by September 7.

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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Congratulations Casey Anderson and Norman Dreyfuss

Congratulations to Casey Anderson and Norman Dreyfuss who we named to full terms on the Montgomery County Planning Board.

Mr. Anderson, who lives in Silver Spring, is a litigation consultant for Kauffman Anderson Consulting. He has been a long-time civic activist, working on a wide variety of land use and transportation issues, including the White Flint Sector Plan, the move of Walter Reed Hospital to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and the proposed building of the Purple Line east-west connection of Metro. He serves as a member of the Planning Board’s Zoning Advisory Panel, as vice chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board and as a director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Mr. Dreyfuss, who lives in Potomac, was the developer of Leisure World in northern Silver Spring—the region’s largest age-restricted community. He oversees the development of Virginia, a 2,400-unit active adult community in the Lansdowne community near Leesburg. He serves on the County’s Housing Opportunities Commission and on the Affordable Housing Conference. He has served on the County Task Force for Moderate Price Rentals, the Child Care Task Force and the Wheaton Redevelopment Steering Committee. Mr. Dreyfuss is currently filling a partial term on the board.

As Chair of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, I’m particularly impressed with these selections. We have a lot of important work ahead of us, and these are two great people for the job.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sharing My Story

On County Cable Montgomery’s County Report This Week, I talk with Susan Kenedy about my breast cancer diagnosis in part one of a series entitled Nancy Floreen—The Next Chapter. In it, I relate my experiences during the first weeks of diagnosis and treatment 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.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Town Hall Meeting in Muncaster/Derwood

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the Muncaster/Derwood area on Wednesday, June 15, at Redland Middle School beginning at 8p.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.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Council Questions Board of Education on Found Money

Council President Valerie Ervin sent a letter to Board of Education President Christopher Barclay asking if the board will go ahead with previously announced program cuts after MCPS said late last week it “suddenly discovered millions of dollars in additional resources and intends to meet the Council’s approved FY12 budget level for MCPS without making changes to the employee cost-sharing required for health benefits.”

The complete text of Council President Ervin’s letter:

June 6, 2011

TO: Christopher Barclay, President
Montgomery County Board of Education

FROM: Valerie Ervin, Council President


The Council understands that the Board of Education has suddenly discovered millions of dollars in additional resources and intends to meet the Council’s approved FY12 budget level for MCPS without making changes to the employee cost-sharing required for health benefits. As you know, the Council’s budget action explicitly assumed a multi-million dollar reduction associated with a minor increase in school employee cost-sharing. The current share – 5% for employees in HMOs and 10% for others – is remarkably low. For example, federal employees on average pay 28%.

If the Board now finds itself with these additional dollars, do you still intend to implement the program cuts you tentatively approved on May 23? These include cuts to media assistants, academic intervention teachers, reading recovery teachers, staff development teachers, counselors, para-educators, and lunch hour aides. Will the Board use the newly discovered savings to restore these positions, or will you inflict the cuts on schools to preserve the employee share of health benefits?

In your May 19 statement to the community on the Council’s budget action, you said: “The Council has stated that they support the school system and that its cuts will not hurt the classroom. That simply isn’t true. Every school will feel the effects of these cuts.” On the contrary, the Council urged the Board to adjust employee health benefits explicitly to minimize cuts to the classroom and protect vital school services.

The Council urges the Board to reconsider its apparent budget approach and redirect any additional resources to the employees and programs that directly benefit our children. The Council would expeditiously consider any categorical transfer that might be required to achieve this important outcome for our schools. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible on this matter.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Home Values up in County Despite National Trend

While housing prices nationwide fell to their lowest level since 2002, home values in the Washington region gained 4.3 percent in the last year, according to research from our Planning Department. In Montgomery County, median house prices also continued to rise.

That stands in contrast to the losses in housing prices experienced by all other regions, save a small gain in Seattle. According to the Standard and Poors Case-Shiller Index, national housing prices fell 4.2 percent in the first quarter of the year. House prices had started to rebound in 2009 and early 2010.

The D.C. region and Montgomery County continue to counter the trend. The most recent data for median sales prices in the county shows a price of $483,000 in 2010, a 5-percent increase over the median price of $460,000 in 2009.

While the housing index report indicates the strength of the local economy, it also exposes limited opportunities for homebuyers. Planners looking to provide a diverse set of housing options for Montgomery County’s newest residents say the high house prices here challenge moderate- and low-income would-be home buyers.

While the county has seen progress on improving the housing balance, current master planning efforts are looking at providing more opportunities for a range of unit sizes and tenure. For example, as White Flint builds out under the guidance of the recently approved White Flint Sector Plan, planners expect a balanced housing mix that will attract Gen X and Y as well as young couples and seniors looking to downsize.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pay by Cell for Parking in Silver Spring

This new program gives a whole new meaning to phoning it in. You can now use your cell phone to pay for parking at 4,500 County parking meters in Silver Spring. By summer, the program will be expanded to include meters in Wheaton, Montgomery Hills and North Bethesda. Bethesda's 5,000 parking meters were converted in March. Register for the program once by going online to or calling 301-830-7074.

The new parking system provides many conveniences. If you pay by cell, you will get a text message reminder that your parking time is about to expire. You can extend parking time remotely and view transactions online. You can stop your parking session upon returning to your vehicle, so you only pay for the parking time you have used.