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 .

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
  • Ride On – will operate on a Sunday schedule. Information is available at this link:
  • Metrorail – Information available at
  • Metrobus – Information available at
  • 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.