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by Aaron Kraut — March 2, 2015 at 1:40 pm 1 Comment

Rendering of Purple Line vehicle heading to Bethesda, Image via Maryland Transit Administration

A group of Purple Line supporters plan to protest a Monday night debate of the 16-mile light rail.

Members of the Action Committee for Transit will hold a rally in front of the AFI Cultural Center in Silver Spring, where a think tank called the Maryland Public Policy Institute is hosting “a nonpartisan debate on the proposed Purple Line and its alternatives.”

But ACT lashed out at the Policy Institute (MPPI) for including “anti-transit propagandist” Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Cato Institute who will argue against the project. Rich Parson, a lobbyist and vice chair of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, will argue for the Purple Line.

ACT also criticized the $45 ticket price for the event.

“Given these biases and the $45 ticket, debating transit at an MPPI sponsored event is like playing football with the New England Patriots — and asking the Patriots to bring the football,” read an ACT press release.

Acting Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn was scheduled to attend the event and give opening remarks. But MPPI President Christopher Summers said Rahn had to back out because of his ongoing nomination process in Annapolis.

ACT members said they pressured Rahn to back out because of MPPI’s slant in opposition of the project. Rahn, Gov. Larry Hogan’s pick to take over as transportation chief, is reviewing the Purple Line for more cost efficient options.

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by Aaron Kraut — March 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm 0

County Councilmember George Leventhal with U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski during a meeting in Rockville in 2009, Flickr photo via George Leventhal

Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced on Monday she will retire at the end of her current term, ending the decades-long tenure of Congress’ longest-serving woman legislator and inviting a wealth of reaction from local and national elected officials.

County Council President George Leventhal worked on Mikulski’s staff for five years in the 1990s and told reporters “to say I love her is not strong enough.” Council Vice President Nancy Floreen also worked on Mikulski’s staff.

In his official statement, Leventhal said “all Marylanders should be grateful” for her service:

It is hard to remember now what a seismic change Barbara Mikulski represented when she was elected to the U.S. Senate as one of only two women in that body. Her election sent a signal to America and the world that the U.S. Senate didn’t have to be an exclusive good old boys club. She has consistently been a strong voice for a more open and inclusive politics and her retirement announcement continues that tradition, as it offers an opportunity for a new generation of leadership to rise. All Marylanders should be grateful to Senator Mikulski for her influence and her example. Through her efforts, thousands of jobs have been created and retained and Maryland’s share of federal spending has remained generous. Most importantly, women and men of every background, regardless of where they lived in Maryland, had an effective fighter working on their behalf in the Senate. She has been a force for good in American politics.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, rumored as a candidate to replace Mikulski in 2016, said she’s been a “true champion for the people of Maryland”:

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by Aaron Kraut — March 2, 2015 at 11:15 am 0

7013 Winterberry Lane 7550 Spring Lake Drive 5219 Goddard Road

Last week was a busy one for home and condo sales around Bethesda and Chevy Chase:

  • 5225 Pooks Hill Road; 1 BD | 1 BA condominium; List price: $159,900; Sale price: $140,000
  • 5225 Pooks Hill Road; 1 BD | 1 BA condominium; List price: $144,900; Sale price: $145,000
  • 7505 Democracy Boulevard; 2 BD | 2 BA condominium; List price: $200,000; Sale price: $195,000
  • 7550 Spring Lake Drive; 1 BD | 1 BA condominium; List price: $219,900; Sale price: $199,900
  • 5101 River Road; 1 BD | 1 BA condominium; List price: $219,000; Sale price: $219,000
  • 10101 Grosvenor Place; 2 BD | 2 BA condominium; List price: $409,500; Sale price: $385,000
  • 5450 Whitley Park; 2 BD | 2 BA condominium; List price: $449,000; Sale price: $410,000
  • 4928 Sentinel Drive; 2 BD | 2 BA condominium; List price: $524,000; Sale price: $430,000
  • 8902 Ridge Place; 3 BD | 2 BA single family detached; List price: $669,000; Sale price: $630,000
  • 9010 Lindale Drive; 3 BD | 2 BA single family detached; List price: $699,900; Sale price: $635,000
  • 5017 Alta Vista Court; 3 BD | 2.5 BA single family detached; List price: $700,000; Sale price: $700,000
  • 6005 Rudyard Drive; 4 BD | 2.5 BA single family detached; List price: $739,000; Sale price: $730,000

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by Aaron Kraut — March 2, 2015 at 10:00 am 5 Comments

Bus Rapid Transit vehicle and station in Eugene, Oregon, via MCDOT

County Executive Isiah Leggett on Saturday made clear his intention to fund a bus rapid transit system for Montgomery County despite a failed recent attempt at creating an independent transit authority to do so.

Leggett spoke about the county’s hopes for a Rapid Transit System (RTS) on Saturday morning at the kick-off meeting for citizens advisory boards that will advise transportation planners designing five RTS corridors, including on Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue.

The county’s RTS, made possible by a master plan approved in 2013, would provide “rapid” bus service all-day and on weekends throughout the heavily-traveled corridor with dedicated, bus-only lanes and a series of new stations.

Five RTS corridors under study that will have corridor advisory committees“The beneficiaries of what we are doing will be people long, long down the line, children and grandchildren, for years to come,” Leggett told an audience of about 150 at the meeting. “But it would be sad for us, a few years from now, to still be simply talking about this process and not to have had the opportunity to move forward in some fashion.”

The proposed countywide system of 10 corridors and more than 80 miles could cost anywhere from $800 million to $1.5 billion to build. RTS Development Manager Joana Conklin said the county’s examination of a Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue corridor should produce cost estimates, phasing plans and ridership studies by the summer of 2016.

The Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue corridor — for now labeled 355 South — would run from the Rockville Metro station to the Bethesda Metro station. Because there’s little to no room to widen the road, the corridor could require changing existing mixed-traffic lanes to bus-only lanes.

That’s a prospect that faced plenty of pushback during the master plan process in 2013.

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by Aaron Kraut — March 2, 2015 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Density from this St Elmo Avenue property will likely be sold to a planned apartment building down the street Transfer of Density notification in front of a Del Ray Avenue building A density transfer could keep this Cordell Avenue building intact

Jeff Black does restaurants. The developer building a 17-story, 250-unit apartment building around the corner from his Woodmont Triangle restaurant does construction.

For that reason, the veteran restaurateur said it made sense to sell that developer a little more than 7,000 square feet of unrealized density on his land, effectively giving up the rights to redevelop his own building through a process called a density transfer.

The Planning Department put the idea in motion in its 2006 sector plan amendment for Woodmont Triangle, a commercial-heavy section of one- and two-story Bethesda buildings home to the bulk of its locally-owned restaurants and retailers.

One of the goals, according to Bethesda area Planning Chief Robert Kronenberg, was to preserve those restaurants and retailers by allowing their building owners to sell density to other sites in the area.

Since 2006, 13 properties have sent density to four high-rise apartment and condo projects, saving tenants in those properties from the specter of redevelopment.

St Elmo Apartment project proposed for Woodmont Triangle, via Planning DepartmentAnother three properties have agreed to do the same with a 16-story apartment project on St Elmo Avenue that’s yet to be fully approved.

“That was the goal and if it has preserved 13 sites for retail, I think it’s been pretty good,” Kronenberg said.

Black, who owns the building that houses his Black’s Bar & Kitchen at 7750 Woodmont Avenue, sold the density to developer JBG for a total he said was in the tens of thousands of dollars. He used the money to improve the restaurant and to finance his Republic restaurant in Takoma Park, which opened in late 2013.

JBG got more space to build more units in its 7770 Norfolk Avenue project.

And Bethesda restaurant-goers don’t have to worry about losing Black’s popular restaurant to a future redevelopment project in the foreseeable future.

“The county gets more density near the Metro. It puts more people in Bethesda. I get more residents who live right around the corner from my restaurant,” Black said. “It’s a win-win all the way around.”

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by Aaron Kraut — March 2, 2015 at 8:00 am 788 2 Comments

Icy tree on Cordell Avenue, Sunday

Reminder: No More Free Parking At New Garage – Today is the first day Montgomery County will charge those who park at its new Capital Crescent Garage (7171 Woodmont Avenue). The county opened the garage in January and allowed drivers to park for free until today. The cost will be 80-cents-per-hour from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday. [Montgomery County]

Marriott Will Move From Bethesda Headquarters – Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson said the hotel giant will move away from its Bethesda headquarters, now in an office park on Fernwood Road. The company’s lease is up at the spot in 2022 and Sorenson said he’s looking for a more Metro-accessible location. More than 2,000 people work at the Bethesda headquarters. Sorenson said he’s held informal discussions with leaders from other area jurisdictions about the move. Marriott posted a 2014 profit of $753 million. [Washington Post]

Prominent Bethesda Justice Department Lawyer Dies – Robert Saloschin, the Justice Department lawyer who pioneered the Freedom of Information Act, died last week. He was 95. Saloschin was also credited with curbing violence against Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights era by suggesting the use of the Interstate Commerce Commission. After his Justice Department career, he worked for Bethesda law firm Lerch, Early and Brewer. [The Gazette]

Teachers’ Union Wants School Funding Restored, Decrease In Mandated Testing – The Montgomery County Education Association and its statewide counterpart will host a public briefing and call to action on Wednesday on federally-mandated standardized testing in elementary schools and proposed cuts to state education funding. The event is set to take place at 6 p.m. at MCEA’s headquarters (12 Taft Court, Rockville). [MCEA]

by Aaron Kraut — March 2, 2015 at 4:50 am 314 3 Comments

The quarter-inch of ice that fell on Sunday across much of Montgomery County has led to the closure of Montgomery County Public Schools on Monday.

MCPS announced just before 5 a.m. that schools would be closed today, and all school and community activities in school buildings would be cancelled.

Administrative offices will open two hours late and day care programs in school buildings may open at 9 a.m.

It is the fifth day MCPS has cancelled school this winter, putting it over the four inclement weather days included in the schedule. That could mean MCPS will have to apply for a waiver from the state in order to not have to make up the day later this year.

A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect for much of the area until 9 a.m. Monday, which could make it more difficult to navigate ice-covered sidewalks, according to the National Weather Service.

by Aaron Kraut — February 27, 2015 at 3:25 pm 0

Here are a few upcoming events from the BethesdaNow.com calendar. 

If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out our event submission form. Also, please check out the event calendar to see all that is going on:

Saturday

ArcadiaWhitman Drama Presents “Arcadia”
Walt Whitman High School 7100 Whittier Bouelvard
Time: 7:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.

Walt Whitman High School’s award-winning drama program presents “Arcadia,” the hilarious and heartbreaking play widely considered to be one of the most-influential shows of the 20th century. Exploring the complicated relationship between past and present, “Arcadia” follows the intertwined stories of two casts of characters in two time periods: a 19th century British family and the 20th century historians determined to discover their secrets.

Sunday

The Writer's Center logoLizzie Stark and Christopher Goodrich
The Writer’s Center 4508 Walsh Street
Time: 2:00 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Lizzie Stark reads from “Pandora’s DNA.” She is joined by poet Christopher Goodrich, author of “No Texting at the Dinner Table.” The reading will be followed by a reception and book signing.

Wednesday

B-CC ChamberBCC Chamber of Commerce March Networking Breakfast
California Tortilla 4871 Cordell Avenue
Time: 7:45 a.m. — 9:30 a.m.

Join us for our monthly Networking Breakfast. It’s a perfect way for newcomers to make lasting connections with established business contacts from across the B-CC community.

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by Aaron Kraut — February 27, 2015 at 2:10 pm 605 14 Comments

Montgomery County's liquor retail store in Chevy Chase

Complaints from restaurant owners about late and incomplete alcohol deliveries are one reason Montgomery County should get out of the alcohol distribution business, Councilmember Roger Berliner said Friday.

Berliner made the comments during the first meeting of the Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Liquor Control, referring to years of complaints from Bethesda restaurant owners in particular.

Montgomery County operates under a unique control model in which a county agency called the Department of Liquor Control (DLC) must distribute all alcohol products to restaurants and beer and wine stores, effectively acting as a wholesaler.

Over the rest of 2015, the committee will review a number of recommendations — including full privatization, a few hybrid approaches or fixes to improve DLC’s operations — for dealing with what has recently been a controversial issue.

Berliner said he spoke to a restaurant owner a week ago who said he made a special order of 45 cases of wine. DLC delivered just five cases.

“I really feel like we’ve got to get out of the way here,” Berliner said. “We are not providing a service to our community. We are providing a disservice to our community.”

Much of the first of four scheduled committee sessions focused on how DLC handles special orders of less common craft beers or special wines, since it’s the primary source of complaints from restaurants and beer and wine store owners.

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by BethesdaNow.com — February 27, 2015 at 5:45 am 0

BethesdaNow.com wishes a Friday thank you to all the advertisers who help make this site possible, including Urban Country.  The Bethesda Row furniture and design showroom (7117 Arlington Road) is…

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