Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Montgomery County Council Appeals Circuit Court Ruling Overturning Cosmetic Pesticides Ban

I was disappointed with the recent Circuit Court decision that overruled the ban on certain pesticides in the County, but I am pleased that the Council is appealing this ruling. Having battled breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. I am concerned with the public’s health and welfare, and that all residents, particularly our children, stand to benefit from reduced exposure to pesticides. Here is the full press release on today's action:

ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 16, 2017—Today the Montgomery County Council directed the Office of the County Attorney to appeal the Montgomery County Circuit Court ruling that overturned the County’s cosmetic pesticides ban.  The ruling stated, “Maryland’s comprehensive program of pesticide regulation occupies the field of pesticide use and thus impliedly preempts the ordinance.” The court also held that the County’s ban on the application of certain pesticides on private property conflicted with Maryland law.

In October 2015, the Council enacted Bill 52-14, Pesticides - Notice Requirements - Cosmetic Pesticide Use Restrictions, which would have prohibited the use of certain registered pesticides on private property starting on January 1, 2018.   The County is one of the few local jurisdictions to have such restrictions.  The Council enacted this legislation with a focus on pesticides that included chemicals linked to the risk of developing cancer.

Complete Lawn Care, Inc., et al. v. Montgomery County invalidated certain provisions of Bill 52-14 because the Circuit Court found that County regulation of the use of pesticides on private property is preempted by state law.

“Our Council’s legal team advised us that the County would have a reasonable chance of prevailing in an appeal of the Circuit Court’s decision,” said Council President Roger Berliner, who also serves as chair of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee.  “It is important that the Council is allowed to protect our community from the threat posed by pesticides on private lawns.  Moreover, the broad scope of the court’s decision threatens our existing regulatory regime and other efforts short of a ban, even if the ban itself is ultimately deemed in direct conflict with state law.  We have also been advised that an appeal will not carry significant costs, as the work involved can be absorbed as part of the Office of the County Attorney’s normal workload.  Accordingly, my colleagues and I agree that an appeal is in the public interest.” 


The Annual County Health Rankings for Maryland has recognized Montgomery County as the “Healthiest County in Maryland” for the last four years.  The County is often at the forefront of initiatives that enhance public health like the cosmetic pesticides ban.


“I am delighted that the Council is appealing the Circuit Court ruling on the pesticides ban,” said Councilmember George Leventhal, who was the lead sponsor of Bill 52-14 and serves as chair of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee.  “Studies have linked numerous chemicals found in lawn pesticides to cancer and other serious health conditions. The Council sits as the Board of Health, but the court has ruled that we are preempted from protecting our residents from this health threat.  This sets a worrisome precedent that should be overturned.”   

County law provides that the Council is, and may act as, the County Board of Health.  In this capacity, the Council may adopt any regulation which a local board of health is authorized to adopt. “With Trump’s EPA protecting the interests of chemical companies instead of our residents, it is more important than ever that local communities take action to ensure that our children are not exposed to hazardous chemicals,” said Council Vice P
resident Hans Riemer.  “This decision takes that right away from us and should be overturned.”

“Too many people believe that because a pesticide is allowed for use by the federal government and by the state, then it must be safe,” said Councilmember Marc Elrich.  “Yet scientists, medical researchers and physicians advocate for great caution when using pesticides.  Pesticide use simply is not necessary on lawns - it is not good for the environment, our children or even our pets. It is important that we appeal this decision.”


“I was disappointed with the recent Circuit Court decision that overruled the ban on certain pesticides in the County, but I am pleased that the Council is appealing this ruling,” said Councilmember Nancy Floreen. “Having battled breast cancer myself, I am particularly sensitive to the need to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals. I am concerned with the public’s health and welfare, and that all residents, particularly our children, stand to benefit from reduced exposure to pesticides.”


“While I was disappointed with the Circuit Court’s ruling, I am pleased that the Council will be appealing this decision,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro. “I have received hundreds of emails from constituents in just the last few days, and there is nearly unanimous support for an appeal. The County’s leadership with regard to local health and environmental policies has been a great source of pride for our residents. It is important that the Council be able to act in the best interest of County residents by ensuring we maintain our high standards for quality of life.”
 

Enacted
Bill 52-14 can be viewed here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Minimum Wage Impact Study

Hot off the press: here’s the Montgomery County, Maryland Minimum Wage Increase Impact Study.  The report addresses the impact on the county economy and labor market; the impact on the county government; the impact on county businesses; and the socioeconomic impacts. When the Council reconvenes in the fall we will take up Bill 28-17 that would increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2020 for many workers in Montgomery County. The current minimum wage is $11.50 per hour, and there are no requirements in law for further increases. In January the Council enacted a minimum wage bill in a vote of 5-4 that was subsequently vetoed by the County Executive. If you would like to weigh in on Bill 28-17, sign up to testify later this month at the public hearing to be held in late September; or send your written comments to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Council Urges Stronger Carbon Emissions Standards

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., July 26, 2017—Today the Montgomery County Council sent a letter to Governor Larry Hogan urging him to take a stand against climate change by supporting stronger carbon emissions reduction standards in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  

Maryland is one of nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states that are part of RGGI, a regional cap-and-trade system on power plant carbon emissions established in 2009.  Last year RGGI began a review to determine whether to adopt a lower cap and stricter standards.  All nine Councilmembers signed a letter to Gov. Hogan asking the state to back increasing RGGI’s annual emissions reduction target to five percent.

“The urgency with which more aggressive emission reduction goals are needed has only increased in recent months given our federal government’s shortsighted and negligent decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement,” wrote the Councilmembers.  “It is more important than ever that state and local governments do their part.  And it has become increasingly clear that doing so will not hurt our economy.  Power generators under existing RGGI standards have successfully adapted to current standards while continuing to provide a reliable supply of electricity.”

RGGI is expected to announce the results of its review this summer.  Maryland is represented on the Board of Directors of RGGI, Inc., by Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Benjamin Grumbles and Maryland Public Service Commission Chairman Kevin Hughes.

“The regional cap-and-trade system established by RGGI in 2009 has proven to be a success, with 2015 power plant emissions in the participating states falling 6.3 percent below the cap and electricity prices across the region decreasing by 3.4 percent on average compared to a 7.2 percent increase in other states,” wrote the councilmembers.  “During this time, the nine RGGI states reduced carbon emissions by 16 percent more than other states while experiencing 3.6 percent more economic growth, according to a 2016 study by the Acadia Center.  Even stronger standards will bring stronger results.”

The complete letter can be viewed at:
https://tinyurl.com/yb7p79pb.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Rental Housing Study Briefing

In response to concerns raised about affordable housing, and particularly market-rate affordable housing, during discussions of the Long Branch and Glenmont Sector Plans, Park and Planning proposed and the Council funded a county-wide Rental Housing Study. The Planning Department provides this background on the purpose of the study.

The economic trends of Montgomery County and the Metropolitan DC region have exacerbated a rental housing shortage. And providing the appropriate housing stock to meet the demand for affordable housing is a challenge. The purpose of the study is to identify Montgomery County's rental housing issues and needs, and offer holistic and sustainable approaches to meeting them. A goal of the study is to help guarantee long term affordability of rental housing for a diverse range of households. The study will provide recommendations for increasing the availability of affordable rental housing by determining factors that contribute to increased housing costs, identifying best practices that could be implemented to preserve and add to the affordable rental stock, and recommending potential changes to current policies and programs. 

At yesterday's briefing on the study, we learned that 33 percent of all residential housing units are rental units; that 74 percent of renter households earn less than 100 percent of area median income; and that only 19 percent of rental units are affordable to households earning less than 50 percent of area median income.

The Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee will start looking at these issues and recommendations on October 2. Read the full study or watch the briefing.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Council Opposes New Potomac River Crossing

This morning the Council passed a resolution reaffirming our opposition to a new Potomac River bridge. We took the action at this time because the Long-Range Plan Task Force of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board recommended further study of a northern crossing. Montgomery County has long opposed a second crossing as a part of our commitment to protecting the Agricultural Reserve, to conserving farmland and to protecting established residential neighborhoods. We also believe our scarce transportation dollars would be better spent on other projects, including solutions on I-270. See the resolution.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Watch Out for Telephone Scam

The County is asking for your help with this scam. Here's the full press release:

Montgomery County Government wants to inform residents about a telephone spoofing scam that is taking place in our area. Several County residents have reported receiving calls from scammers who are fraudulently using County telephone numbers (240-773-xxxx and 240-777-xxxx). While we don't yet know the objectives of the perpetrators, there have been no reports of loss of money, nor personally identifiable information, to date.

Many calls are left without a message, which has prompted affected residents to call back. When the resident calls back the County number, the County employee answering the call is unaware that anyone is using their telephone number. County officials are investigating and would like to hear from residents who have received these calls to assist our efforts in addressing this problem. 

If you receive a call from a County government telephone number that is suspicious, please report it by calling MC311 or by visiting MC311.com to answer the following questions:

  1. When did you receive the call or message (date/time)?
  2. If you received a message or spoke to someone, what did they say?
  3. What number did the caller ID indicate that the call originated from? (What County number was used in the spoof call?) 
Residents can reach MC311 in the County by dialing 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311 from anywhere, Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The MC311 website, www.mc311.com, is available 24/7.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Take the Transportation Survey

The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is working on a new kind of long-range transportation plan for the region, and they are calling it Visualize 2045. The plan will will highlight hundreds of regionally significant highway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects being planned throughout the region in the coming decades. It also will serve as a tool for visualizing the future—to help us understand where today’s planning and funding decisions will get us. Learn more about Visualize 2045 or take the public input survey.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Holiday Schedule for Independence Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Independence Day, Tuesday, July 4:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County Liquor stores – all stores will be open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Recreation – Indoor and outdoor pools open, Germantown Indoor Pool closes at 3 p.m. all other pools close at 6 p.m.; Administrative offices, senior centers and recreation centers will be closed.
  • Montgomery Parks - Information available at http://www.montgomeryparks.org/
  • Ride On – will operate on a Saturday schedule. Information is available at this link: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/holiday_schedules.html.
  • Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no July 4 collection. Collection will slide by one day. For information on slide schedule go to https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/sws/holidays/
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - closed
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – closed
  • State offices and courts – closed

Monday, June 19, 2017

Apply Now to Airpark Liaison Committee

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 16, 2017--The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants to fill positions on the Montgomery County Airpark Liaison Committee. The Council authorized the re-establishment of the committee on June 13.
The committee was established to provide a forum for increased communication among interested groups and individuals concerned with the operations of the Montgomery County Airpark.
Applicants are being sought for the following seats on the committee:

  • Seven residential neighborhood representatives: two from Montgomery Village East and five from other neighborhoods surrounding the Airpark.
  • Two business representatives: one from inside the Airpark and one from outside the Airpark.
  • One Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board representative.
  • Two Airpark users.
In addition, the Council will appoint two Montgomery County Revenue Authority representatives, including the designated Airpark manager, and one representative from each of the following: the Montgomery County Executive, the County Council, the County Planning Department and an Airpark lease holder.

Letters of application expressing interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, should be addressed to: Council President Roger Berliner, County Council Office, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. Applications also can be submitted via email to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19. It is the Council’s policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. The Council will review the letters of application and resumes, and anticipates making the appointments in July.

Letters of application and resumes are made public as part of the appointment process, and are available for public review.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Apply Now for Board of Appeals

Get your application in by July 19. Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 16, 2017— The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants for a four-year term on the County Board of Appeals. The term of Carolyn Shawaker (Democrat) will expire in September 2017. She also serves as chair of the board. Ms. Shawaker has served on the board since October 2008 and is not eligible for reappointment to another term. Applications for the position must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19.

County law provides that the Council may designate a member of the Board for the position of chair. The Council will select a new chair from among the current or new members of the board in conjunction with this appointment process.

By law, no more than three members of the board shall be from the same political party. This position can be filled by a Democrat, a Republican, a voter who is unaffiliated with a party or a voter who is a member of another party officially recognized by the Board of Elections.
In addition to Ms. Shawaker (Democrat), current members of the board include John Pentecost (Democrat), Stan Boyd (Democrat), Edwin Rosado (unaffiliated), and Bruce Goldensohn (Republican). Members of County boards, committees and commissions may not serve on more than one such group at a time.

Members of the board receive $15,272 annually, with the Chair receiving $21,584. Salaries are adjusted annually each December to reflect 50 percent of the change in the Washington Area Consumer Price Index.

Duties of the Board of Appeals include hearing and deciding requests for variances from development standards contained in the Zoning Ordinance; hearing appeals from certain administrative decisions rendered by County government agencies; and hearing oral argument on and deciding appeals from decisions of the Hearing Examiner on conditional uses. The board also considers and decides requests for modifications of special exceptions.

The board normally holds weekly hearings all day Wednesday and worksessions every other week. If necessary to accommodate an extended caseload or continued hearings, the board schedules hearings on other weekdays. Members are expected to prepare for the hearings by reading the cases to be heard and to share the workload of drafting and editing opinions or to follow-up on investigations on specific cases. Members work approximately 15-25 hours a week.

The principal jurisdiction of the Board of Appeals (concerning variances, special exceptions and conditional uses under the Zoning Ordinance) does not include the municipalities of Barnesville, Brookeville, Gaithersburg, Laytonsville, Poolesville, Rockville and Washington Grove. The normal Council practice is not to appoint residents of those municipalities to the board, however, exceptions to this practice may occur.

Letters expressing interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, political party affiliation, home and office telephone numbers and an email address, should be addressed to: Council President Roger Berliner, County Council Office, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850 or can be emailed to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov. Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on July 19. It is the Council’s policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. After the application closing date, Councilmembers will review the letters of application and may select applicants for interview.

Letters of application and resumes are made public as part of the appointment process. Any interviews held are open to the public and will be televised. A financial statement of assets, debts, income and family property interests will be required of all applicants. Only the appointed candidate will be required to make the financial statement available to the public.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Security Changes at Council Office Building

You will want to make note of these security changes for the next time you visit the Council Office Building. Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 12, 2017—To enhance the safety of all who visit and work at the Council Office Building in Rockville, starting on or about July 5, visitors will use two entrances with security screening measures.

All visitors to 100 Maryland Ave. will enter at one of two designated, ADA-accessible public entrances. One is in front of the building near the second-floor cafeteria. The other is adjacent to the first-floor auditorium near the parking garage adjacent to the building. No other entrances will be open to the public. Signs will be posted that identify the two public entrances.

All visitors will pass through a metal detector. Hand-held items, including but not limited to bags, briefcases, cell phones, containers, laptop computers and purses, will pass through an X-ray machine. Individuals who are unable to go through a metal detector will be screened by security personnel using a hand-held electronic wand. Individuals who have health-related issues that prevent them from passing through a metal detector or coming in close contact with an X-ray machine can request special accommodations from security personnel.

At the screening stations, security personnel will ask visitors to place all metal objects, such as coins, cell phones and keys, into a small basket. Visitors will not be asked to remove belts, coats, jackets, shoes or watches.

Items that are prohibited in the Council Office Building include, but are not limited to, explosives, guns, knives, pocket knives, box cutters, pepper spray, Mace, tasers, batons, and scissors.
Screening stations will be in operation from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Public access to the Council Office Building will not be available outside of these hours.

For public hearings and meetings attended by many visitors, those coming to the building may experience a line to enter and are asked to plan accordingly. For Council public hearings, visitors may want to base their arrival time on the order of the speakers’ list, which is available online the day of the hearing by 11 a.m. for afternoon hearings and by 3 p.m. for evening hearings. The speakers’ list can be viewed at: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/PHSignUp.html.

For questions or concerns regarding visits to the Council Office Building, email County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-7910.

Monday, June 5, 2017

New -- Montgomery Arts Infusion

Check out Montgomery Arts Infusion, a new monthly 15-minute television show focusing on the arts and entertainment of Montgomery County.

The first edition of MAI includes a feature on artist Steven Luu, a Vietnamese refugee who joined the U.S. Air Force and left the military with post-traumatic stress syndrome after assignments most people would find unthinkable. He went on to become an artist working in mixed media and recently displayed his works at the Park View Gallery at Glen Echo Park.

Another segment is on Kensington-based Arts on the Block, which offers youth of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to learn first-hand about the intersection of art, design and business by engaging in real-world projects.

You will also find links to venues and events on the show's Web site. Congratulations to everyone who worked hard to get this exciting new resource off the ground.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Council Appoints Tina Patterson to Planning Board

I'm very pleased to say we appointed Tina Patterson of Germantown, whose background includes extensive experience in dispute resolution, to the Planning Board. She will replace Marye Wells-Harley, whose second term on the board will expire on June 14. She was not eligible for reappointment.

Ms. Patterson is the principal at Jade Solutions, LLC of Germantown. She is not affiliated with a political party.

Ms. Patterson’s business, Jade Solutions, provides consulting services including product management, proposal development, alternative dispute resolution and facilitation services. She is a member of Committee for Montgomery and Leadership Montgomery. She is a volunteer with the Montgomery County Interfaith Advisory Board. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown.

Council Approves Bethesda Downtown Plan

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 25, 2017—The Montgomery County Council today approved the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan that will guide commercial and residential redevelopment in the County’s central business area over the next two decades. The plan is unique in recommending increased heights while requiring that increases in density be allocated through a process prescribed in the Bethesda Overlay Zone. The plan also seeks to protect nearby existing residential neighborhoods from being overwhelmed by tall structures. It also provides opportunities for new parks and open space and expands the County’s affordable housing inventory.

The plan was approved by a vote of 8-1. Council President Roger Berliner, Vice President Hans Riemer and Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice voted to approve the plan. Councilmember Marc Elrich was opposed.

The approved sector plan amends the approved 1994 Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan and the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment to that sector plan.

Details of the plan can be found at http://tinyurl.com/mq2vat7 .

In considering a plan recommended by the Montgomery County Planning Board, the Council reduced the recommended height limits near existing neighborhoods, particularly on the east side of Wisconsin Avenue. The plan allows for the new world headquarters of Marriott International, which will be relocating to Downtown Bethesda from its long-time presence in an office park in another area of Bethesda. The plan requires new development to include at least 15 percent Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs).

The Council sought to concentrate increased building heights near the Bethesda Metro Station. It also wanted to ensure that the park and open space elements of the plan are implemented through the recommendation that a park impact fund possibly be created. The plan recommends that four County-owned surface parking lots be converted to parkland or neighborhood greens. To attain this goal, the plan recommends exploration and alternative financing mechanisms. It also states that the parking needs of neighborhood businesses that currently rely on those lots be addressed and parking be replaced where necessary.

The plan recommends the creation of a Bethesda Overlay Zone that will require increased affordable housing, provide new incentives to retain existing affordable housing, require additional design reviews and provide for contributions to fund the acquisition and development of new parks.

The plan sets a cap on development to ensure that the total density in the plan area—including existing buildings and approved and new development—does not exceed 32.4 million square feet of gross floor area. The heights recommended by the plan would allow significantly more development than 32.4 million square feet, meaning some properties will be unable to develop to the full amount that may have been allowed by their assigned maximum heights.

The plan recommends a new strategy to encourage the preservation of market-rate affordable housing units by offering “public benefit points” to developers in exchange for a specified amount of preservation of rent-restricted units in existing and/or replacement units within the sector plan.

The plan recommends incentives to developers to provide 25 percent or more MPDUs. It increases the minimum MPDU requirement from 12.5 percent of units in new development to 15 percent MPDUs for all residential optional method projects. In the South Bethesda and Battery Lane districts, preservation of market-rate affordable housing and/or additional MPDUs beyond 15 percent is the top priority for public benefit points.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Council Reaches Budget Agreement

This morning we reached unanimous preliminary agreement on a $5.4 billion County operating budget for Fiscal Year 2018, a 2.7 percent increase over the approved budget for FY 2017. The budget strongly supports Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, the County’s public safety programs and the safety net services provided by the County and non-profit organizations. See the full press release, including highlights by departments, a link to the approved list of community grants and a link to the final list of approved reconciliation items. We will formally adopt the budget on May 25, and it will go into effect on July 1.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Holiday Schedule for Memorial Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Memorial Day, Monday, May 29:

  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries - closed
  • County Liquor stores – all stores will be open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Recreation –all indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities will close at 6 p.m.; administrative offices, senior centers and community recreation centers will be closed
  • Montgomery Parks - Information available at http://www.montgomeryparks.org/
  • Ride On – will operate on a Sunday schedule. Information is available at this link:   http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/holiday_schedules.html.
  • Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • Refuse/recycling pickup – no collection, all collections scheduled on or after the holiday will be made one day later in the week
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - closed Memorial Day; will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30. The Public Unloading Facility at the Route 355 (Frederick Road) entrance will operate normal operating hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – closed

Monday, May 15, 2017

Gaithersburg Book Festival

I'm looking forward to the Gaithersburg Book Festival this Saturday, where I'll have the pleasure of introducing my husband and favorite author, David O. Stewart.

The Gaithersburg Book Festival is an annual celebration of great books and great writing that has made its mark as one of the nation’s top literary events. On May 20 more than 100 featured best-selling and award-winning authors—including Laura Lippman, David Swinson, J. Courtney Sullivan, Jami Attenberg, Dominic Smith, Sidney Blumenthal, Kay Redfield Jamison, Doreen Cronin, Tom Lichtenheld, Dave Roman, Sheila Turnage, Meg Medina, Michelle Knudsen, Carol Weston and more—will participate in panel discussions and book signings at the festival, taking place on the grounds of City Hall (31 S. Summit Ave., Gaithersburg, MD 20877).

Other activities include free, interactive writing workshops for all ages, a Children’s Village, literary exhibitors, food and drink, the Brew and Vine Cafe featuring live entertainment, and on-site book sales by Politics & Prose. Admission, parking and accessible shuttle buses from Shady Grove Metro and Lakeforest Mall are free.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Recognizing Regeneron Science Talent Search Finalists

Congratulations to Walt Whitman High School student David Rekhtman and Montgomery Blair High School students Sambuddha Chattopadhyay and Rohan Dalvi for being named among the 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search and competing for top honors at a high-profile event in Washington D.C. The Regeneron Science Talent Search was formerly known as the Intel Science Talent Search and the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Despite the change in sponsors/names over the decades, it is still the nation's oldest and most prestigious science competition, having honored the nation's most promising young scientists since 1942. Each of the finalists received $25,000 scholarships. See the video of today's presentation.

In his project, A Study of the Induction of Immunogenic Cell Death in Response to Local Ablative Therapies of Cancer, David Rekhtman experimented with heating cancer cells using a laser to prompt an immune response. In his project, On T-Reflection via Analytic Continuation in Quantum Mechanics, Sambuddha Chattopadhyay explored dark energy, looking for ways to understand and quantify it. In his project, Kinetic Trapping and Structural Determination of Native-State Biomolecules in the Gas Phase, Rohan Dalvi aided Georgetown University researchers in developing a faster and more efficient technique for gauging the size and structure of biomolecules.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Four to Interview for Planning Board

We will interview four applicants for the Planning Board on May 11 at 9:30 a.m. The applicants selected for interviews are Peter Myo Khin of Silver Spring, Tina Patterson of Germantown, Dan Reed of Silver Spring and Bruce Romer of Bethesda. 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. You can watch these interviews live or on demand 24 hours later.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Our County at its Best

Check out this excellent marketing video from Visit Montgomery, the official tourism bureau for Montgomery County. It is a great reminder of why we love our county. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Local Ice Dancers Win Gold

What a treat it was this morning to recognize Rachel and Michael Parsons of Rockville, who recently became the first brother-sister duo to win the ice dancing gold medal in the International World Junior Figure Skating Competition. In the competition in March in Taiwan, they produced their best-ever score to come from behind and pass the then-leading Russian team to win the title. The pair trains at the Wheaton Ice Arena. See the video.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Microloan Program for Entrepreneurs

The Council unanimously approved Bill 49-16 that will create a County microloan program that would provide loans from $500 to $15,000 for County residents needing additional help to start small businesses.

Nationally and locally, micro businesses have been found to improve the economic well-being and self-sufficiency of individuals who often find themselves in low wage jobs, but have the creativity and desire to own and operate a wide variety of businesses.

The amended legislation calls for the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to administer a “culturally proficient” program. Loans would be limited to no more than $15,000, with the expectation that most loans will initially be in the $500 to $5,000 range. Loans would be limited to County residents who headquarter their business in Montgomery County. Loan recipients would be required to participate in educational and technical assistance that would be part of the program.

The legislation was inspired by a meeting with the leadership of organizations that are currently working the most in this arena. During the meeting, the leaders expressed the belief that Montgomery County’s entrepreneurs would greatly benefit from the necessary technical assistance and access to microloans that can help aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

More information on the legislation is available at http://tinyurl.com/l3leg22.

Protection for Neighborhoods from Foreclosed Properties

Today we unanimously approved bill 38-16 that will impose a civil penalty for property owners who fail to register a foreclosure purchase. The intent of the bill is to keep unmaintained properties from becoming a nuisance to the community.

The bill will impose a civil penalty for the failure to register a property that is purchased by foreclosure. By Maryland law since 2012, the purchaser of a foreclosed property must register the property with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and the Maryland Foreclosure Task Force within 30 days of the property's foreclosure sale. The law authorizes local jurisdictions to enact legislation to impose a fine of $1,000 for failing to register.

The law was meant to address the period of nine to 18 months that frequently occurs between the date of a foreclosure and the date that the property title is transferred. During this time, local jurisdictions have a hard time identifying the party responsible for maintenance, security and taxes. To date, Montgomery County has not enacted any punitive fine and hundreds of foreclosed properties have gone unregistered since the General Assembly approved the law.

DLLR estimates that 20 percent of foreclosure property purchasers statewide do not register their property or register after the deadline. Based on the data from the State Foreclosure Registry, there were 1,432 foreclosures in Montgomery County in Fiscal Year 2015. Of these, 34 percent (492) either failed to register or registered long after the deadline. The unregistered properties are much more likely to go unmaintained, costing the County thousands of dollars in housing code enforcement and impacting the value of nearby property.

In addition, many purchasers of foreclosed properties—often banks and out-of-state investors—wait to record the deed to the property until it is resold to another purchaser. By circumventing the normal process and improperly (and illegally) transferring the property to a new homeowner in this fashion, the County does not receive the recordation tax or the transfer tax, which shortchanges the County of approximately $6,000 in revenue for a property of average value.

Council Passes Healthy Vending Bill

This morning we unanimously approved Bill 1-17 that will require all vending machines on County property to carry at least 50 percent of items that meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures.

The bill provides for healthier items to be offered along with chips, candy and regular soda. For the next two years, 50 percent of snacks in machines on County property need to meet American Heart Association recommended nutrition standards for sugar, salt, fat and other measures. After that, the percentage of healthy food and drink offered will be required to rise to 65 percent. Every drink machine would also offer bottled water.

Almost one in four children in Montgomery County is not able to maintain a healthy weight. This rate outpaces the national average. More than half of all adults in the County are not keeping a healthy weight.

Healthy vending legislation was passed by the Howard County Council in 2015 and will be introduced to the Prince George’s County Council this year.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Budget Overview on Tuesday

Tune in to County Cable Montgomery on Tuesday (about 10:00 a.m.) as our Council Administrator provides his extremely informative and insightful overview of the core budget issues involved the FY18 operating budget. We're conducting our committee work over the next several weeks, and we are scheduled to make final decisions May 18 with implementing resolutions to be adopted on May 25. If you aren't able to watch the session live, you can see it on demand 24 hours later (agenda item 3). Get the background information.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Students: Learn about Business this Summer

Take a look at this new opportunity for MCPS rising juniors and seniors. WorkSource Montgomery, in collaboration with Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery County Government, is offering the Summer R.I.S.E. program to provide youth with enriching summer career development experiences through local businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Students will participate in a three-week career exploration that will introduce them to the structures of businesses, technical skills for a wide range of industries, the role of technology, and the importance of customer service in every profession. Students will complete a career-readiness curriculum and learn about financial literacy through online and in-person professional training to help prepare them for college and beyond. A $300 stipend will be awarded to students who successfully complete the program. See the video.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Local Heroes Honored

Today at the 43rd Annual Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Public Safety Awards, people from all over the county honored our public safety professionals for acts of valor that occurred in 2016. Honorees were nominated and selected by Montgomery County's Fire and Rescue Service, Department of Police, Sheriff's Office, Maryland-National Capital Park Police-Montgomery County Division and the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. The event highlighted dramatic video obtained from body-worn cameras.

Congratulations to today's honorees:

Sergeant Sabrina Pirtle
Chief Donald A. Deering Community Service Award

Critical Stress Management Team, Department of Correction and Rehabilitation
Unit Citation

Police Officer III Yves Didier N'Kodia
Honorable Mention, Medal of Valor (Northampton Drive Repeat Offender)

Deputy Sheriff III Jason Carew and Deputy Sheriff II Steven McDonald
Honorable Mention of Valor (Suicide Attempt in Silver Spring)

Resident Supervisor II Alicia Jackson and Resident Supervisor III Andre Stepp
Honorable Mention of Valor (Lifesaving Attempt in Pre-Release Center)

Sergeant Manuel Saponara and Police Officer Brian Holloway
Honorable Mention of Valor (Domestic Violence in Germantown)

Police Officer III Dale Steffen
Honorable Mention of Valor (Suicide Attempt in Germantown)

Police Officer III David Kocevar
Bronze Medal of Valor (Deadly Shooting Spree in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties)

Repeat Offenders Unit (Police Officer III David Kocevar, Sergeant Brady Clouser, Corporal Jeffrey Rachael, Detective Donnie Oaks, Detective Kenneth Halter, Detective Roger St. Louis, Detective Thomas Tippett, Detective Richard Volpe, Detective Charles Bullock and Detective Dominic Dinisio
Bronze Medal of Valor (Deadly Shooting Spree in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties)

Corporal Johnny Beason
Silver Medal of Valor (Shooter in Clarksburg)

Police Officer III Jeffrey Hughes
Silver Medal of Valor (Flower Branch Apartment Fire)

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (represented by Captain William Cooke, Fire Fighter Rescuer III Enrique Escolero and Fire Fighter Rescuer III David Wakely)
Unit Citation of Valor (Flower Branch Apartment Fire)

Fire Fighter Rescuer III David Braun
Bronze Medal of Valor

Monday, March 27, 2017

Apply Now for Property Tax Credit for Long-time Homeowners

Visit the Department of Finance's Web site to get more information on Bill 42-16 that creates a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have either lived in the same home for at least 40 years or are retired veterans of the U.S. military. The application form is at the bottom of the page.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Information Posted on Property Tax Credit for Long-time Homeowners

Visit the Department of Finance's Web site to get more information on Bill 42-16 that creates a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have either lived in the same home for at least 40 years or are retired veterans of the U.S. military. The application form will be available later this month.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Date for Town Hall Meeting for Silver Spring Area

The Town Hall Meeting for Silver Spring has been rescheduled for Wednesday, April 19.

The meeting will be held at the Long Branch Community Center (8700 Piney Branch Road) 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. You can find CCM on cable channel 996 (high definition) and 6 (standard definition) on Comcast; Channels 1056 (HD) and 6 (SD) on RCN; and Channel 30 on Verizon. For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.

County Executive Transmits Recommended Budget to Council

The County Executive has transmitted his Fiscal Year 2018 recommended operating budget to the Council. The recommended budget provides a good starting point for the Council’s work on the final County budget for the upcoming year. We appreciate the hard work by the Executive and his staff to begin the process.

The Council’s public hearings on the operating budget are scheduled for April 4-6. You can sign up online to testify at one of the five public hearings.

You can also send your comments in writing online; by emailing county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov; by regular mail to: County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850; or by calling the Council budget hotline at 240-777-7802.

If you would like to follow along, visit the Council's Web site, and remember to check back regularly as information will change as we make our way through our work.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wednesday's Town Hall Cancelled

Wednesday's Town Hall Meeting for Silver Spring to be held at the Long Branch Community Center has been cancelled. I will let you know as soon as we have a rescheduled date.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tomorrow's Council Meeting Postponed

The Council has postponed its weekly session for Tuesday, March 14, due to predictions of heavy snow coming overnight. A scheduled special presentation on the “Future of Transportation” that will address the future impact of driver-less vehicles will be rescheduled for another date.

What to Know When it Snows

Here's the full press release from Montgomery County:

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Montgomery County, effective at 7 p.m. Monday, March 13 through 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14. Due to the weather conditions predicted, Montgomery County community members are encouraged to prepare for heavy snow, high winds, and power outages.  Community members are urged to subscribe to Alert Montgomery at alert.montgomerycountymd.gov to stay updated on the latest important information. Alerts can be sent to one or more electronic devices, including cell phones, text pagers, wireless PDAs, and home and work emails.  For information during the storm, go to the County website www.montgomerycountymd.gov, check the County’s Twitter feed or Facebook page. The MC311 County informational call center remains open for extended hours during periods of emergencies and can be reached at 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311. Questions can also be asked of MC311 through their website: www.MC311.com

Preparing for the Storm

Check with neighbors or elderly family members who may require special assistance, to see if they need help in stocking up on supplies or medications, and call them during the storm. 
If there is a power outage, be prepared by having enough food, water, medication (if needed) and batteries to last at least two days. Make sure portable radios, smoke detectors and flashlights are working properly. Make shelter, food, water and medication preparations for pets and livestock. 
Automobile owners are urged to help clear the way for snow plow operators. When parking on-street, pull close to the curb on the even numbered side of the street. Park vehicles in driveways, or off the street, whenever possible. Plan where you will park if a State or County Snow Emergency is declared, making parking illegal on those roads. Drivers may park in County public-parking garages and lots for free during a snow emergency. 

Be sure your vehicle(s) are ready to drive after the storm by filling the gas tank; checking tires to make sure they have an adequate tread and are fully inflated; checking oil, antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels; and ensuring windshield wipers, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes and defroster are all working. Keep a windshield scraper, small shovel and broom in the car for ice and snow removal, and a small sack of sand or kitty litter to improve wheel traction.

During the Storm

Power Outages:

Treat all “dark” intersections as four-way stops. Stop - then proceed cautiously. 
During a power outage, relying on battery-operated lights, rather than candles, is much safer. Using candles increases the risk of a fire. 

Refrigerated food will remain unspoiled only about four hours if the refrigerator is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Use ice to keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below and the freezer at 0° or lower if there is a prolonged power outage. 

It can be fatal to use gas or charcoal grills, propane heaters and stoves, kerosene space heaters or generators indoors. These items are a source of carbon monoxide, which can build up indoors and cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Please see the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue site for more information.

Snow Treatment and Removal: 

State-maintained roads, which are the numbered roads in the County, are cleared by the Maryland State Highway Administration. Snow clearance of County roads begins with pre-treating major County roads with salt brine, a solution of salt and water, before snow begins falling unless there is rain to wash the solution away. Plowing of County roads begins when three or more inches of snow accumulates on the roads. The County’s Department of Transportation clears emergency and primary routes before it begins clearing neighborhood streets. Neighborhood streets are not cleared to bare pavement, but are made passable. Residents are asked to remain patient. There are approximately 1,000 lane miles of primary (arterial roads connecting subdivisions or business districts) and secondary roads (main collector streets through subdivisions) which are continuously treated with salt and sand and kept in “bare pavement” condition. Once the snow stops falling and major roads are clear, crews turn their attention to making streets passable for the more than 4,100 lane miles of neighborhood streets. 

For more information about snow removal operations visit the County’s website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/snow or call 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311. 

Snow Emergency Routes: 

Both the State of Maryland and Montgomery County have designated certain roads as SNOW EMERGENCY ROUTES marked with red and white signs. When the State and/or County initiates its snow emergency plan, it is illegal to park on these designated roads or drive without snow tires, all-weather tires, mud/snow radials or chains. Vehicles without the proper type of tire (all-weather) or chains that block snow emergency routes during an emergency may be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense. 

Snow Shovel Law: 

County residents are required by law to clear sidewalks in front of and alongside their properties within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm. Everyone is encouraged to help seniors or others who may not be physically able to shovel. Remember not to shovel snow over fire hydrants and make a point to shovel hydrants out with a three-foot diameter around the hydrant. 

Snow Removal in Parking Lots: 

Parking lot managers are reminded not to block disability parking spaces and their adjacent striped areas when removing snow from commercial or residential parking lots.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Updated PHED Schedule

Here's the updated schedule for the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, including new meeting dates for continued work on the Bethesda Downtown Plan:

  • March 13, 2:00 -- Bethesda Downtown Plan
  • March 20, 2:00 -- Bethesda Downtown Plan
  • March 27, 2:00 -- Bethesda Downtown Plan
  • March 28, 2:00 -- Supplemental appropriation for WorkSource Montgomery; Bill 38-16 Housing and Building Maintenance Standards; Bill 39-16 Housing and Building Maintenance Standards; Executive Regulation 27-16 Schedule of Fees for Permits, Licenses and Certification; Wheaton Redevelopment financing plan
  • April 3, 2:00 ZTA 16-20 Overlay Zone Bethesda
All of the committee meetings will be televised live and on demand, so tune in to County Cable Montgomery if you want to follow along. You can get agendas and background information at the Council Meeting Portal.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Property Tax Credit for Long-time Homeowners and Retired Veterans

Good news, today we approved my bill to create a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have lived in the same home for at least 40 years. The bill also provides a tax credit for residents 65 or older who are retired veterans of the U.S. military.

As introduced, Bill 42-16 would have created a new property tax credit for residents who are at least 65 years old and who have lived in the same home, with an assessed value of $500,000 or less, for at least 40 years. Retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard) who are at least 65 years old also are eligible for the credit if their home has an assessed value of $500,000 or less.

However, the approved bill included an amendment that increases the maximum assessed value for eligibility for 40-year homeowners to $650,000.

Residents who qualify are eligible to receive a 20-percent credit for the property tax imposed on their homes. The credit would be granted annually for up to five years, subject to application requirements.

We want to do whatever we can to encourage people who love living in Montgomery County to continue to be able to live here as their life circumstances change. We understand that this can be an expensive place to live for many people at the prime of their earning power, and it gets more challenging for those in retirement years. With this bill, we can offer some help to people who have lived here a long time and helped build this County and to those who served our country and helped preserve and protect all the things for which we are thankful.

The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2017. Those seeking a credit must apply by April 1 of the year in which the tax credit is sought. However, for 2017 only, the deadline was extended to September 1. I'll let you know when the application process has been finalized.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Girl Power Writing Contest

Here's the full press release from the Commission for Women:

The Montgomery County Commission for Women is kicking off Women’s History Month in a unique way this year. The Commission is inviting residents of all ages to participate in the first annual Girl Power Writing Contest, “What’s It Mean to Be a Woman in 2017?” 

Children and adults are welcome to submit a short story, poem, drawing or anything else that reflects the contest theme. Girls and women can share their own experiences while boys and men can reflect on what they think life is like for the women in their life. 

Submissions can be intellectual, emotional, funny, spiritual or serious. Possibly inspirational themes include: I’m proud to be a girl/woman; battling stereotypes; breaking the glass ceiling; body confidence; I can do anything a boy/man can do. Creative entries are welcome, but entrants should refrain from using vulgarities and racist or sexist comments or images.

The Commission for Women will select winning entries from four categories: elementary school students, middle school students, high school students and adults. Entries will be judged on creativity and content.

Contest winners will be featured on the Commission for Women website and receive a swag bag, a photo with Commissioners, a congratulatory letter from County Executive Isiah Leggett and an invitation to be a guest of honor at a Montgomery County Commission for Women event of their choice.

Submissions will be accepted through March 31 and are limited to one per person. Written entries should be no more than 500 words. Entries should include full name, age, grade and school (if applicable), phone number, and e-mail address. Winners will be announced by April 14. 

Entries may be submitted by mail or email. Mail entries should be sent to Girl Power Contest, Montgomery County Commission for Women, 21 Maryland Avenue, Suite 330, Rockville, MD 20850. Email entries should be sent to cfwinfo@montgomerycountymd.gov with “Girl Power Contest” in the subject line. 

Entries submitted by minors must include written permission from a parent or guardian and be the minor’s own work. All entries become the property of the Montgomery County Commission for Women and may be used for publicity purposes. 

For more information, call 240-777-8300 or visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cfw.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Town Hall Meeting for Silver Spring

Let us know what matters most to you at our Town Hall Meeting for the Silver Spring area on Wednesday, March 15. The meeting will be held at the Long Branch Community Center (8700 Piney Branch Road) 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. You can find CCM on cable channel 996 (high definition) and 6 (standard definition) on Comcast; Channels 1056 (HD) and 6 (SD) on RCN; and Channel 30 on Verizon. For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Free Trees for Qualifying Properties

The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is offering free trees to qualifying property owners in certain urban districts of Montgomery County.

The Shades of Green program was launched in 2012 as a pilot program and has expanded to include additional areas of the county that have a high level of impervious surfaces in an effort to enhance the tree canopy cover. The program is financed through the Forest Conservation Fund, which primarily consists of fees paid by developers who cannot meet tree planting requirements on their own development sites.

Find out if you are eligible to receive free trees by filling out the Shades of Green request form.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Apply Now for Planning Board

Here's the full press release:

ROCKVILLE, Md., February 24, 2017—The Montgomery County Council is seeking applicants to fill a vacancy on the Montgomery County Planning Board. The second term of Marye Wells-Harley (Democrat) will expire on June 14, 2017, and she is not eligible for reappointment.

Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12.

Members serve four-year terms and are limited to two full terms. No more than three members of the Planning Board may be from the same political party, and each member must be a resident and registered voter of Montgomery County when appointed. This position may be filled by a Democrat, Republican, a voter who declines to affiliate with a party, or a member of another party officially recognized by the Montgomery County Board of Elections. 

In addition to Ms. Wells-Harley (D), current board members are Chair Casey Anderson (D), Norman Dreyfuss (R), Gerald Cichy (R) and Natali Fani-Gonzalez (D). Annual compensation for Board members is currently $30,000, and the chair currently earns $201,500. 

The Planning Board serves as the Council’s principal adviser on land use planning and community planning. Planning Board members also serve as commissioners of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

The Planning Board’s responsibilities with regard to planning include preparation and amendment of the County General Plan; preparation and amendment of master plans and functional plans; formulation of subdivision regulations; preparation of or recommendations on text amendments to the County Zoning Code; implementation of the subdivision process by reviewing and approving all preliminary plans, site plans and other plans for development; advice on the planning implications of capital facilities and programs of the County government, Montgomery College, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Montgomery County Public Schools; commenting, under its mandatory referral authority, on plans for public facilities of local, state and federal agencies; and approval of the work program and the annual operating budget for the Planning Department and the Commission’s bi-county offices.

The Planning Board sits as the Park Commission and approves the annual Parks Department operating budget and Capital Improvements Program (CIP); land acquisition contracts and major development contracts for parks; development plans for individual park facilities; policies for park operations; and park user fees. 

The Planning Board meets all day, including into the evening, every Thursday and will schedule other meetings, as needed. The entire Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission meets the third Wednesday of every month. On average, a Planning Board member may spend two full days a week in scheduled and informal meetings. Additionally, substantial time is required for preparatory work and other activities related to Planning Board responsibilities.

Application Process and Deadline

Letters of application expressing interest, including a resume listing professional and civic experience, political party affiliation, home and office telephone numbers and an email address, should be addressed to: Council President Roger Berliner, County Council Office, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. Applications can also be submitted via email to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov 

Letters of application and resumes are made public as part of the appointment process, and are available for public review. The interviews are conducted in public and will be televised. 

Letters with resumes must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12. It is the Council’s policy not to consider applications received after the deadline. After the closing date, Councilmembers will review the letters of application and select applicants for interviews to be held soon thereafter.

Financial Disclosure

A financial disclosure statement of assets, debts, income and family property interests will be required to be filed by each applicant. The financial disclosure form will be sent to you after we receive your letter of application. Only the financial disclosure statement of the ultimate appointee will be made available to the public; all others will be returned to the applicants.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Revised PHED Schedule for Bethesda Plan

We have revised the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee's schedule for considering the Bethesda Downtown Plan. The PHED Committee already held worksessions on February 6 and 13. The agendas for the March 2 and March 6 PHED meetings have been switched with each other. The March 6 meeting is not related to the Bethesda Downtown Plan. Here is the updated schedule:

  • February 27, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, transportation
  • March 2, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, continued
  • March 13, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, ZTA 16-20--Overlay Zone
All of the committee meetings will be televised live and on demand, so tune in to County Cable Montgomery if you want to follow along. The Council held three public hearings on the Bethesda Downtown Plan on October 18, 19 and 20, but you can still send your comments to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov. We want your input, and we give equal weight to written and oral testimony. You can get agendas and background information at the Council Meeting Portal.

We have not yet scheduled a date for the full Council to consider the Bethesda Downtown Plan.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Discussion: Hate Crimes and Extremism--the Montgomery County Model

Tune in to County Cable Montgomery tomorrow at about 11:00 for our discussion called “Hate Crimes and Extremism—the Montgomery County Model.” A panel that will include Police Chief Tom Manger will address County and community efforts to prevent both hate crimes and extremism. Don't worry if you aren't able to watch live; the session will be available on demand about 24 hours later.

In 2016, there were 94 reported bias incidents, which is an increase of 42.4 percent over 2015 (66). Of these, 34 percent were reported in November and December.

In 2016, the primary bias motivation was religious bias (40.4 percent of incidents), followed by racial bias (36.2 percent of incidents). The remaining 22 incidents were motivated by biases against ethnicity (12), sexual orientation (6) and gender (4). Of those motivated by race, most were anti-black bias incidents. Those motivated by religion mostly were anti-Jewish. Schools were the targets of 21 incidents: six in elementary schools, two in middle schools, 11 in high schools and two at Montgomery College.

Since many of the bias incidents occurred in the schools, the panel will discuss what steps Montgomery County Public Schools is taking to help reduce the number of incidents. The involvement of School Resource Officers—police officers based in schools—also will be explored.

Holiday Schedule for Presidents' Day

Here's our holiday schedule for Presidents' Day, Monday, February 20:
  • County Offices – closed
  • Libraries – closed
  • County Liquor stores – all stores will be open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Recreation – aquatic facilities and community centers open; aquatics programs will meet as scheduled; all other classes and programs cancelled; administrative offices and senior centers closed; 55+ Active Adult Programs are cancelled
  • Montgomery Parks - visit www.MontgomeryParks.org
  • Ride On – will run a special Holiday Schedule. Click on route number in this link to see the timetable for each route: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DOT-Transit/SpecialHoliday.html
  • Metrorail – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • Metrobus – Information available at www.wmata.com
  • TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) – closed
  • County-provided refuse/recycling pickup – no collection, all collections scheduled on or after the holiday will be made one day later in the week. Monday collections on Tuesday; Tuesday collections on Wednesday; Wednesday collections on Thursday; Thursday collections on Friday; and Friday collections on Saturday
  • The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station - recycling and trash drop-off open with normal hours. Recycling Center and administrative offices closed
  • Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters – free
  • MCPS Schools and Administrative Offices – closed
  • State offices and courts – closed

Friday, February 10, 2017

Public Libraries Offer "Fake News: How to Spot It"

Montgomery County Public Libraries is offering a program, “Fake News: How to Spot It.” The program will help you determine the kind of fake news that exists and provide tools to evaluate news for reliability and truth.

The topic of fake news is as old as the news industry itself—misinformation, hoaxes, propaganda and satire have long been in existence. Lately, there has been a lot of discussion and misinformation about what is considered real and fake news.

Presented by the Enoch Pratt Free Library/Maryland's State Library Resource Center, the free program, suitable for teens and adults, is scheduled for:

February 24, 4 p.m. – Silver Spring, 900 Wayne Avenue, Silver Spring
February 27, 6 p.m. – Bethesda, 7400 Arlington Road, Bethesda
February 28, 6 p.m. – Germantown, Century Boulevard, Germantown

For more information, contact Mary Ellen Icaza at 240-777-0006.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Shop Maryland Energy Tax-free Weekend

Are you in the market for new appliances? Take advantage of Shop Maryland Energy tax-free weekend on select ENERGY STAR appliances. The tax-free weekend will take place Saturday, February 18, through Monday, February 20. This is the eighth year for this annual event, which allows consumers to make qualifying purchases on qualifying ENERGY STAR products without paying the state’s six percent sales tax.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Does Sanctuary Jurisdictions Executive Order Affect Montgomery County?

Our County Attorney has advised us that the Presidential Executive Order concerning sanctuary jurisdictions does not affect Montgomery County. See the briefing notes for more information.




Joint Statement Reaffirming Community Values

The Montgomery County Executive and the Montgomery County Council issued the following joint statement reaffirming community values:

Montgomery County is committed to building and maintaining a safe and inclusive community for our residents. Understanding, tolerance, and respect are hallmarks of the Montgomery County way. Social justice for all is what we strive to achieve in our County. 

We greatly regret the anxiety that has been stoked among many in our community as a result of the President’s Executive Orders. We issue this statement to assure all of our residents that those orders will not change the way that County police officers or County workers interact with the public and will not impact how we provide social services.  

It is longstanding County policy that County police do not enforce federal immigration law. Neither will they inquire about immigration status when individuals are stopped nor target individuals based on their ethnicity, race, or religious beliefs. 

The County’s law enforcement leaders are also committed to our values, and they will continue working to build trust in our community. Police Chief Tom Manger, Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Rob Green, Sheriff Darren Popkin, and State’s Attorney John McCarthy are sworn to protect the rights of all residents and to treat all individuals equally.  

Your County leaders stand ready to take the steps necessary to defend our values and maintain the integrity of our community. Executive orders are not self-executing. They require additional actions by federal agencies to be implemented.  In addition, executive orders are subject to public scrutiny and legal challenges.  

Montgomery County has a long history of working to promote community safety and trust among its residents regardless of their culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. In 2011 the Council passed a resolution to promote public trust in government and law enforcement to ensure that that the federal Secure Communities initiative was implemented consistent with its stated purpose. 

In November 2016, the Council approved a resolution reaffirming community safety and trust and denouncing anti-immigrant activity, racial bias, and discrimination. Also in November, the County Executive initiated solidarity with our friends and neighbors from all walks of life at the “Stand Up for the Montgomery Way” rally, which was a strong and broadly shared public declaration of our collective values.   

Montgomery County remains steadfast in its commitment to fairness, justice, and equal treatment under the law. We believe that no deportations should take place without ensuring that individuals to be deported receive adequate representation and due process of law under the Constitution.  Regardless of immigration status, we will uphold the Fourth Amendment rights of our residents.  

As your local leaders we will continue to speak out on behalf of all of our residents to promote the values that define our community. Montgomery County will remain an inclusive and welcoming place to live, work, and raise a family.       

Residents who are in need of legal resources or support services are encouraged to dial 311 for help or visit the MC311 web page at: http://www3.montgomerycountymd.gov/311/Home.aspx.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

PHED Schedule for Bethesda Downtown Plan

The Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee started its work on the Bethesda Downtown Plan on January 23 with a comprehensive overview. We expect to work on this plan until mid-March, and we will add more worksessions if they are needed. I encourage you to check the committee calendar regularly as things do change sometimes, but here is the schedule we expect to follow for the next few weeks: 

  • February 6, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, schools and fiscal impact
  • February 13, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, continued
  • February 27, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, transportation
  • March 6, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, continued
  • March 13, 2:00, Bethesda Downtown Plan, ZTA 16-20--Overlay Zone
All of the committee meetings will be televised live and on demand, so tune in to County Cable Montgomery if you want to follow along. The Council held three public hearings on the Bethesda Downtown Plan on October 18, 19 and 20, but you can still send your comments to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov. We want your input, and we give equal weight to written and oral testimony. You can get agendas and background information at the Council Meeting Portal.

We have not yet scheduled a date for the full Council to consider the Bethesda Downtown Plan.