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.