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.