Monday, March 31, 2014

Open Houses on the New Zoning Code

The Montgomery County Planning Department invites you to give feedback on the comprehensive District Map Amendment proposed for Montgomery County. There will be several open houses held throughout the County this spring and all are invited to attend. The new Zoning Code was approved by the County Council in March 2014 after months of worksessions and discussions. The new zoning code will modernize antiquated, redundant zoning regulations and create new tools to help achieve goals in community plans.
Although the new code has already been approved, it cannot go into effect until a new zoning map has also been adopted, since the zoning on many non-residential properties is changing. Over the next few months, Planning Department staff will be focusing their attention on the proposed zoning map and are seeking feedback from affected property owners as well as from residents. Staff will be available and will have interactive maps at each of the open house events to help answer questions about the proposed zoning.
After the spring open houses, staff will bring a revised version of the proposed zoning map to the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) committee for review. Once the PHED committee completes its review, the full County Council will evaluate the proposed zoning map. It is anticipated that the map will be adopted by Council in the summer or early fall, and that the new code will become effective on October 30, 2014.
Zoning Code Open Houses Details:
April 22 (6-8 p.m.) Rockville Memorial Library
April 24 (6-8 p.m.) Wheaton Regional Library
April 29 (5-8 p.m.) Park and Planning Headquarters, Silver Spring
May 1 (6-8 p.m.) Marilyn J. Praisner Library, Burtonsville
May 5 (6-8 p.m.) Upcounty Regional Services Center, Germantown
May 6 (6-8 p.m.) B-CC Regional Services Center, Bethesda
About the Zoning Code Rewrite:
Montgomery County’s Zoning Code was originally written in 1977. It is the law that governs growth in the county. The comprehensive rewrite of the ordinance started five years ago with the goal of simplifying the complex and outdated code. The Council’s recent approval of the text for the Zoning Code Rewrite will be instrumental in all future planning and development in the County. Planning Department staff is looking forward to embracing a new zoning code: one that is easier to use, encourages better development, enhances compatibility, promotes sustainability, and supports our county master plans. The new zoning code represents a great step forward for Montgomery County to have a more understandable, clear and coherent zoning ordinance that will be easier to use and to enforce. It offers a better organization of uses and zones, clearer procedures for approval and a solid foundation in modern planning and design principles.
Learn more about the Zoning Rewrite and how to get involved in the process.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Community Beautification Grants Now Available

Apply now for a Keep Montgomery County Beautiful grant for beautification projects that help improve the appearance of communities. The grants pay 50 percent of the total cost, up to $500, on a competitive basis to any non-profit community association. Volunteer hours spent on the project are valued at $7.25 an hour.

Since 2000, KMCB has helped 65 communities fund beautification projects to plant flowers, shrubs, or trees; landscape a community entranceway or traffic circle; convert weed fields to wildflower meadows; screen highways; and beautify schools. Grants must be used for new projects that improve community aesthetics or serve to protect the environment. Construction and general maintenance projects or those that have already been completed do not qualify.

The Keep Montgomery County Beautiful Task Force is a group of concerned citizen volunteers who help educate residents and change public attitudes about littering; support cleanup and beautification projects; encourage citizens to start or improve recycling programs; and raise awareness of the problems caused by graffiti. The County’s Department of Transportation has funded KMCB since the mid-1980s. The group welcomes new members and meets informally once a month in Rockville.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Women's History Month Proclamation

It is Gloria Steinem's birthday--an auspicious day for us to honor National Women's History Month at the County Council by presenting a Proclamation to the Montgomery County Commission for Women.

During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the courage, foresight and creativity of women of every race, class and ethnic background who have contributed to our county and our country. Today, we took time to remember the many Montgomery County women, including Rachel Carson, mother of the modern environmental movement; Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross; and Emily Edmonson, freed slave and abolitionist, who figure importantly in our local and national history.

To learn more about Montgomery County women in history, check out the Commission for Women’s display in the Rockville Library or visit their history page on the Web.

And since it is her birthday, here's some wisdom from Ms. Steinem, "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Kids In Need Distributors Provides Weekend Food

Do you know about this relatively new non-profit organization whose primary focus is to end childhood hunger here in Montgomery County? Kids In Need Distributors provides children who are on the federal Free And Reduced Meal Program with nutritious foods on the weekends, when FARM is not available. Every six weeks, KIND volunteers meet at the store, pick up six weeks worth of food for participating schools and deliver the food to the schools. The schools then arrange to pack the individual bags and give them discretely to the kids every Friday to take home. In just two years, the program has grown from feeding 35 kids in one school to approximately 900 kids in 15 schools. The program is 100 percent volunteer based, with no paid positions at all, so all of donations go directly to the purchase of food for the kids. Stay tuned for an upcoming summer food program, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Program to Attract Technology Sector

Check out Montgomery County's new initiative to support the innovation economy. The MOVE (Make Office Vacancies Extinct) Program is designed to attract life sciences, IT, cybersecurity and green technology businesses to Montgomery County. These are the technology-based sectors critical to the County’s economic future.

The program will reduce Class A and B office vacancies by offering a $4 per square foot rent assistance for year one on new commercial leases of at least three years and at least 2,000 square feet to companies that are newly formed in or relocate to the County.

The innovative MOVE program came out of engagement by the Department of Economic Development with the local real estate sector over the past year. It is a creative and proactive way to attract innovative businesses to the County while reducing Class A and B office vacancies.

The program is capped at 10,000 square feet or $40,000 per company. New company attraction over 10,000 square feet is managed through the County’s Economic Development Fund that awards grants, loans and/or tax credits based on the projected impact of the business. The MOVE program is effective immediately. DED will administer the program using initial funding from its existing FY14 budget.

DED pojects that every $250,000 in rent abatements through the MOVE program will yield about 15 new business formations or attractions in the County, with an estimated 250 to 320 new jobs.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Recommended Budget Transmitted to Council

The County Executive released his Recommended Operating Budget today, and now it is up to the County Council to consider his proposals and approve a final budget at the end of May. We will hold our public hearings on the budget on April 8-10. To sign up to speak call 240-777-7803. If you can't make the hearings, you can also let us know your views by e-mailing Also, check the Council's Web site for regular budget updates.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Think Green this Spring

The groundhog may be eking out every moment of his six more weeks of winter, but spring is coming, and along with it…gardening and lawn care. As you undertake your beautification projects this spring, I encourage you to consider our water quality, wildlife, pets and children (particularly those with asthma), and please limit your use of pesticides.

Pesticides are defined as substances to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate the effects of any pest ranging from insects, animals and weeds to microorganisms such as fungi, molds, bacteria and viruses. Pesticides are regulated at the federal, state and local level, and they are considered hazardous waste.

Our Department of Environmental Protection has an excellent brochure, Pesticides: Selection, Safe Use and Alternatives, which has some great advice. Among the alternatives:

  • Remove sources of food and water in your home.
  • Eliminate places where pests may hide inside and outside your home.
  • Block pest entry into your home.
  • Remove pest breeding sides in your lawn and garden.
  • Make sure you take proper care of the plants around your home, lawn and garden.
DEP can also help you create an Integrated Pest Management program using a wide variety of the best available pest management strategies, which are both economical and pose the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Council Approves Ten Mile Creek Master Plan

This week we gave tentative approval to a limited master plan amendment for the Ten Mile Creek area of Clarksburg that stays close to the original density projected in the 1994 Master Plan for the emerging community but takes significant steps to protect the long-term health of the watershed.

We heard from environmental experts of every description and reduced the area available for development significantly in the Ten Mike Creek drainage area in order to protect the long term health of one of Montgomery County's last remaining environmental resources. Nonetheless, potential development opportunities proposed in the 1994 Clarksburg area plan remain possible under our approach, subject to stringent environmental controls. While the area for development is not as much as some might have preferred, the plan's original intent to ensure a successful Town Center is carried through in the amended plan. The Council carefully balanced environmental issues with community sustainability and ensured Clarksburg's continued ability to thrive. For details, see the press release.