Thursday, March 29, 2012

Zoning Rewrite Open Houses

Montgomery County planners have undertaken a comprehensive rewrite of the county’s Zoning Ordinance. In concert with a team of consultants and a public steering committee, planners are simplifying a complex, outdated code to reinforce Montgomery County’s enviable quality of life. The zoning code was last comprehensively rewritten in 1977.

You can help the consultants and staff shape the future direction of the rewrite at one of several spring open houses. At these meetings, you will have the chance to learn what’s being considered and how potential zoning changes might apply to your neighborhood. To learn more, visit the M-NCPPC Web site.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Planning Board Vacancy

We’re now taking applications for the Planning Board. This is an important position as the Planning Board serves as the Council’s principal adviser on land use planning and community planning. This means the board is responsible for preparation and amendment of the County General Plan; preparation and amendment of Master Plans and functional plans; implementation of the subdivision process and a whole lot more.

The Planning Board meets all day every Thursday and often meets on one other evening a week. The entire Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission meets the third Wednesday of every month. On average, a Planning Board member can expect to spend at least two full days a week in scheduled and informational meetings. Additionally, substantial time is required for preparatory work and other activities related to Planning Board responsibilities.

The term of Amy Presley (Republican) will expire on June 14, 2011. Ms. Presley has indicated her intent to apply for reappointment to a second term. To learn more, check out the job announcement. Applications are due by April 25.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sharon Bulova and I Talk on No Boundaries

Check out this episode of County Cable Montgomery’s new television show, No Boundaries, where Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova and I talk about how our early community activism and the influence of our families led us to devote our lives to public service, why we share a passion for improving the area’s transportation opportunities and why our two counties must work together on key issues.

Striving to go beyond the way residents normally hear views of local leaders, No Boundaries aims to show not only the views of local leaders on certain issues, but also what has influenced them to take these positions.

The half-hour show will be broadcast numerous times on CCM (channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, channel 30 on Verizon) in March and April. Upcoming viewing times include Sundays at 1:30 p.m.; Mondays at 10 a.m.; Wednesdays at 9 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 p.m. The show is available for viewing on demand from the Montgomery County Web site.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Council Approves Kensington Sector Plan

Today, five years after work began, we approved the Kensington Sector Plan which will guide the long-term redevelopment of the Town of Kensington and surrounding area. Because of collaboration among neighbors, planners, and municipal and county elected officials, we have been able to create and approve a plan that will achieve the two goals we all have agreed on—revitalizing the area’s commercial core and preserving residential communities.

The plan addresses factors such as land uses, building heights, changes to street patterns, and preservation the area’s historic character. It incorporates infrastructure improvements to reduce traffic congestion, creates new buffers between commercial districts and residential neighborhoods, and protects the unique character of Kensington. While this plan serves as a long-term vision, residents still have opportunities to weigh in on individual projects as they are submitted to the Planning Board.

The plan encourages redevelopment of an area near the downtown train station into a visible center of town life. At the same time, it includes language about the importance of transitions to residential neighborhoods. To facilitate the transitioning, we directed the Planning Board to develop new zones (CRN and CRT) that will create a buffer between commercial and residential areas.

I want to thank all who participated for their advice on the Sector Plan. Together, we have been able to craft a plan that will create opportunities for more vibrant shopping, living and dining for the residents of Kensington. We all agreed on the importance of revitalizing the area while also preserving the community character and addressing traffic issues. I believe this plan does just that in a way that takes into account many different viewpoints. Advocacy and collaboration have been important parts of this process, and the plan has benefitted tremendously from them.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Do You Think about the Proposed Budget?

Today the County Executive presented us with his recommended operating budget for FY13. Let us know what you think about the proposals by testifying at any of the five scheduled public hearings. They will be held on April 10 at 7:00 p.m., April 11 at 1:30 p.m., April 11 at 7:00 p.m., April 12 at 1:30 p.m. and April 12 at 7:00 p.m. To register to speak, call 240-777-7803.

The hearings will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and also will be available via streaming through the County Web site.

Over coming weeks, the Council and its six committees will analyze the recommendations, and we will adopt the FY13 budget in late May. The budget will take effect on July 1.

If you can’t make the public hearings, you can still let us know your views by e-mailing

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Has Your Council District Changed?

New Council districts are now in effect in Montgomery County. As an at-large Councilmember, I still represent you if you live anywhere in Montgomery County. However, you may have a different district Councilmember. To find out, visit the updated map on the Council’s Web site. Click on “Find your Council District” and type in your address to find out what district you live in.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Montgomery County and the New Economy

In a special Wednesday Council meeting, we will hear a briefing entitled “Montgomery County and the New Economy” in which national leaders will highlight future trends and ideas for the County to make the most of them. We expect to hear from Brad Burnham, Managing Partner of Union Square Ventures; Wayne Jackson, CEO of Sonatype; Roger Ballentine, President of Green Strategies Inc.; David Lieber, State Policy Counsel for Google; and Steve Silverman, Director of our Department of Economic Development.

Tune in to this briefing on County Cable Montgomery channel 6 on March 14 at 9:30 a.m. to hear these experts’ thoughts on how we can capitalize on new opportunities. After the briefing, the video will be available on demand on the County Web site by going to the CCM page.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Save Time--Vote Early

The Primary Election is April 3. Not only is this the Presidential Primary, but candidates for Senate, Congress, the Circuit Court, the national conventions and the Board of Education are also on the ballot.

If April 3 is not conveniont for you, that's fine. Montgomery County will open five Early Voting Centers from March 24-29, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (Sunday hours noon-6 p.m.) You can vote on the same voting equipment used on Election Day, but at a time that is more convenient.

Early Voting Centers are located at:

~ Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center, 14625 Bauer Drive, Rockville

~ Germantown Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown

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

~ Montgomery County Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville

~ Silver Spring Civic Building, 1 Veteran’s Plaza, Silver Spring

During early voting hours, the Web site will display a scroll bar with wait times of each of the five centers, updated hourly.

Remember, you must register to vote by 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13. on order to vote in the Primary Election.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Council Approves School Bus Cameras

We unanimously approved a bill that authorizes installation of cameras on County school buses to monitor vehicles that illegally pass stopped buses. Given that about 100,000 students ride school buses in Montgomery County, this is a very important safety measure.

The bill authorizes the County’s Chief of Police, after consulting with the Board of Education, to install cameras on Montgomery County Public School buses to monitor traffic. Drivers caught on tape illegally passing a stopped school bus would be subject to a maximum civil fine of up to $250. No points would be assessed to an individual’s driving record.

A Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) survey released in March 2011 reported that in a single day in February, 7,028 drivers overtook stopped buses in Maryland. The report stated 56.9 percent of the violators were oncoming vehicles passing the bus from the opposite direction; 37.9 percent passed the bus from behind on the driver’s side; and 5.2 percent passed the bus of the side of the bus passenger door. The survey was coordinated by MSDE along with transportation directors in all 24 County school systems. Approximately 65 percent (more than 4,700) of all bus drivers statewide participated in the survey.

The approximately 1,500 County school bus drivers file an average of 500 reports each about drivers who illegally pass their stopped buses during a school year. Local school bus drivers showed strong support for the measure.

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Talk" Event on Council in Brief

Check out this week's Council in Brief for a great story on the February 22 Talk With a Teen Girl panel put on by Crittenton Services. In the video, young county women talk about the challenges they face and how they are learning to become their own advocates. Note that this story starts at about 2:25 in the video.