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Rapid Transit Supporters Bringing Campaign To County Fair

by Aaron Kraut | July 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm | 55 views | No Comments

Potential look for a Bus Rapid Transit vehicle in Montgomery County, via County Planning DepartmentAmong the rides, food and farm animals at this year’s Montgomery County Agricultural Fair will be a group of bus rapid transit boosters offering a look at what a future county rapid transit vehicle might look like.

The Communities for Transit, a nonprofit created to push the county toward implementing its bus rapid transit master plan, will hold court at the annual fair in Gaithersburg when it starts on Friday, Aug. 8.

Members will give out information to fair-goers about the latest details of the system — which could include a bus rapid transit corridor along Rockville Pike/Wisconsin Avenue and Old Georgetown Road.

David Hauck, the group’s executive director, told a group of supporters at an event in White Flint this week that County Executive Isiah Leggett is expected to show up at the display on Aug. 12 for a press conference. He encouraged as many BRT supporters as possible to show up.

A BRT system is also planned for the Corridor Cities Transitway, meant to connect residents of Gaithersburg, Clarksburg and nearby places with the Shady Grove Metro station.

BUP Reports Record Ridership On Bethesda Circulator

by Aaron Kraut | July 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 82 views | 1 Comment

A Bethesda Circulator shuttle in Woodmont Triangle (file photo)Monthly ridership on the Bethesda Circulator surpassed 30,000 trips for the first time in the history of the service in April and increased again in May.

Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, reported the numbers in a regular email to subscribers on Thursday.

The 30,484 riders in April were an 18 percent increase compared to April 2013. The 31,043 riders in May were a 10 percent increase compared to May 2013.

The free shuttle is operated by the Bethesda Urban Partnership and hits 19 stops stretching from Woodmont Triangle to Bethesda Avenue, with stops in and around the Bethesda Metro station in between.

In 2006, BUP took over operation of the Bethesda Trolley as Ride On planned to shut it down. In 2011, BUP switched out the old-school trolleys for sleek, modern Circulator buses similar to the vehicles in downtown D.C.

Expansion of the service is a possibility, according to BUP officials, though there are no imminent plans. Any expansion would of course depend on funding. BUP gets a majority of its funding through Bethesda’s Parking Lot District — the parking fees paid at Montgomery County meters in the Central Business District.

Much could depend on any new recommendations in the upcoming Bethesda Downtown Plan. The last master plan for downtown Bethesda, written in 1994, outlined the idea of a shuttle to transport people around various spots downtown.

Earlier this year, BUP put out a survey about the Circulator.

Weekly Crime Report: July 7 to July 15

by Aaron Kraut | July 25, 2014 at 12:25 pm | 109 views | No Comments

The latest in crime from the most recent Montgomery County Police 2nd District crime summary:

An aggravated assault occurred in the 7600 block of Maple Avenue in Bethesda on Sunday, 7/13 at 10:30 p.m. The suspect is known to the victim.

Arrested: Male, age 39, from Bethesda

A commercial burglary occurred at 4825 Bethesda Avenue in Bethesda overnight between Monday, 7/7 and Tuesday, 7/8. Forced entry; nothing taken.

A commercial burglary occurred at 4350 East West Highway in Bethesda sometime between Tuesday, 7/8 and Thursday, 7/10. Forced entry; property taken.

A commercial burglary occurred at 4720 Montgomery Lane in Bethesda between Friday, 7/11 and Sunday, 7/13. Forced entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 8800 block of Altimont Lane in Chevy Chase on Thursday, 7/10 between 1:10 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Forced entry; nothing taken.

A theft from vehicle occurred at 8710 Brookville Road in Chevy Chase on Monday, 7/14. Vehicles were taken from a vehicle.

An aggravated assault occurred in the 10800 block of Hampton Mill Terrace in North Bethesda on Saturday, 7/12 at approximately 4:30 p.m. The suspects are known to the victim.

A commercial burglary occurred at the Exxon located at 6729 Goldsboro Road in Bethesda on Monday, 7/14 at approximately 6:00 a.m. No further information is available at this time.

Nine thefts from vehicles occurred in the beat during this reporting period. Most incidents occurred near Little Falls Park in Bethesda (off of Massachusetts Avenue). Incidents occurred primarily during the overnight hours and all involved unforced entry. Cash, GPS units, iPods, and glasses were taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 7600 block of Carteret Road in Bethesda overnight between Friday, 7/11 and Saturday, 7/12. Forced entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 7300 block of Millwood Road in Bethesda sometime between Saturday, 7/12 and Sunday, 7/13. No forced entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 8900 block of Charred Oak Drive in Bethesda sometime between Friday, 7/11 and Saturday, 7/12. No forced entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 10600 block of Democracy Boulevard in Bethesda on Monday, 7/14 between 12:20 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.

Four thefts from vehicles occurred in the 8500 block of River Road in Bethesda. During the daytime hours on Saturday, 7/12, entry was gained into four unlocked vehicles parked at Congressional Country Club. Laptops and wallets left inside were taken.

Open Houses This Weekend

by Aaron Kraut | July 25, 2014 at 11:15 am | 104 views | No Comments

Check out our picks for open houses this weekend around Bethesda.

See our Real Estate section for a full listing of open houses and houses for sale:

8216 Stone Trail Drive8216 Stone Trail Drive
4 BD | 3 BA single family detached
Agnes Maroshek, Long & Foster Real Estate
Listed: $699,000
Open: Sunday, July 27 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

4408 Sangamore Road4408 Sangamore Road
4 BD | 3.5 BA single family detached
Sylvia Bergstrom, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Listed: $1,090,000
Open: Sunday, July 27 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

9210 Town Gate Lane9210 Town Gate Lane
4 BD | 4.5 BA single family detached
Wendy Banner, Long & Foster Real Estate
Listed: $1,134,900
Open: Sunday, July 27 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

7531 Bradley Boulevard7531 Bradley Boulevard
4 BD | 3.5 BA townhouse
Keene Taylor, Long & Foster Real Estate
Listed: $639,000
Open: Sunday, July 27 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

SBW: Gluten-Free Food Delivery Company Expands To Bethesda

by Aaron Kraut | July 25, 2014 at 10:10 am | 203 views | No Comments

This is Small Business Weekly, a recurring feature in which we’ll spotlight a small, independently owned business in Bethesda or Chevy Chase. Got a business you think we should check out? Drop us a line at desk[at]bethesdanow[dot]com.

The Green Spoon founder Hanson Cheng, via Ethan Rothstein/ARLNow.comIt’s not often a gluten-free food delivery service wins an award for best tasting food at an event full of established restaurants.

That’s what happened to The Green Spoon founder Hanson Cheng and chef Donn Souliyadath in May, when their dish of Kofte meatballs with tzatziki, spiced kale and chickpeas won the best entree award among 46 restaurants at the Taste of Arlington.

It came at a fortunate time for Cheng, who has expanded the Arlington-based business to other areas around the Washington region, including Bethesda, where The Green Spoon has about 12 clients.

At least a week before the customers want the meal, they order it online from The Green Spoon’s website. They can choose which day they want it and which meal. Lunches are $12.95, dinners are $16.95 and kids meals are $8.95. All are gluten free and all our sourced from local ingredients Cheng said are delivered a day or a day-and-a-half after bought from a farmer, farmers market or other vendor.

The concept is simple: No genetically altered ingredients and no chemical substitutes that you’ll typically find in gluten-free breads or pastas. The Green Spoon, which Cheng founded in January in part because of his own interest in nutrition and fitness, avoids gluten-heavy foods altogether.

“I wanted a chef to go into a farmers market and make and plan out a healthy meal for me for every day of the entire week,” Cheng said. “Basically, I thought about what a personal chef does. And then I got the idea that you could deliver that to people.”

As word about the company grew — no doubt helped by the Taste of Arlington showing — people from Bethesda and other places began inquiring about what it would take to get deliveries.

Cheng said he uses a simply formula to determine when it would be economically viable for his company, now 12 employees strong, to deliver to a particular area. Once he got about five customers in Bethesda, it made sense to start deliveries.

Souliyadath cooks the meals out of an operating Arlington restaurant, which mainly means cooking overnight when the restaurant is closed. Based on the company’s early success, he’s hoping to find a kitchen space just for The Green Spoon.

“That’s our number one priority,” Cheng said. “My guys are cooking overnight during off-hours and it’s just killing them. We’re growing very quickly.”

Cheng said what separates The Green Spoon from similar services such as Power Supply is that while his company uses many of the same Paleo diet principles, it’s not quite as strict and includes direct delivery to customers, instead of pre-arranged pick-up spots.

“It’s not rocket science,” Cheng said. “We do have a great chef, but it just takes a lot more planning. So to win in Taste of Arlington against all these restaurants that don’t have a health focus, it showed people we can make healthy meals that taste amazing.”

Photo via Ethan Rothstein/ARLNow.com

Small Business Weekly Archive

Residents, Environmental Group Threaten State With Purple Line Lawsuit

by Aaron Kraut | July 25, 2014 at 9:10 am | 222 views | 8 Comments

Kenk's amphipod, Photos via Brett Hartl/Center for Biological DiversityA month after threatening the federal government with legal action over the Purple Line light rail, an environmental group and many of the same Chevy Chase residents have done the same to the state of Maryland.

The Center for Sustainable Economy, Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, and 16 individuals including a member of the Town of Chevy Chase Council have filed a Notice of Intent to sue state agencies for what the group says is the state’s violation of its own endangered species law.

At issue again is the existence of three types of amphipods, shrimp-like creatures known to live in the area’s streams that serve as an indicator of good water quality and healthy ecosystems. The group claims the state hasn’t adequately taken into account how construction and operation of the Purple Line would harm seven springs and seeps, plus two wetland areas in the path of the project or downstream.

“While this letter is a statutorily mandated precursor to filing a lawsuit, my clients are far more interested in the development and implementation of a conservation plan for protection of the endangered amphipods and their habitat than they are in litigation,” wrote Rockville-based attorney David Brown, who’s representing the group.

The notice letter cites research from American University biology professor David Culver, who the group claims has found evidence that the shrimp-like critters live in stream areas that would be directly affected — and perhaps wiped out — by construction of the 16-mile light rail through Chevy Chase.

The Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail hired Culver to conduct surveying for amphipods with a $15,000 grant from the Town of Chevy Chase, which is officially opposed to the Purple Line.

Culver is scheduled to go back out to the streams in the fall to survey for the creatures.

Also in the notice letter is a second expert opinion from Dr. David Berg, a biology professor at Miami University of Ohio who specializes in freshwater invertebrates, including amphipods.

Maryland has formally listed the Hay’s Spring and Kenk’s amphipods as endangered. The Kenk’s amphipod is still only a candidate for endangered species under federal law.

Not included in the notice letter to the state (see PDF below) is the Center for Biological Diversity, a major national organization that boasts 775,000 members that is a part of the complaint against the federal government.

The Center for Biological Diversity drew criticism from some Purple Line supporters, who said they were surprised to see such a major environmental organization opposed to a major transit project.

Also on Thursday, Town of Chevy Chase resident Christine Real de Azua urged the Planning Board to let developers in Chevy Chase Lake know that they should be responsible for protecting the amphipods, or face legal action.

The Board on Thursday approved the sketch plan for a 392 apartment and townhouse units on Chevy Chase Lake Drive, on the existing site of a series of two-story garden apartments.

While environmental steps aren’t ironed out in the sketch plan stage of the approval process, Real de Azua said planners should let the developer know of the amphipod issue. Planners have already told the developer that some efforts might need to be taken to protect a local population of herons:

But additional adjustments may be needed for amphipod protection, and traditional “rip-rap” rock and wire, or other bank stabilization may destroy stream bank seeps that are amphipod habitat. In short, the appropriate steps to protect the amphipods have yet to be determined. It is therefore important that the applicant be made aware through this Sketch Plan review process that the current proposed scale and configuration of this project is subordinate to the protection of all Endangered or otherwise protected species threatened by the project, not just the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.

In the notice letter, the group said the specific locations of the at-risk seeps and springs found by Culver were redacted “out of concern for the integrity of the amphipod habitat.”

Residents part of the notice letter include Real de Azua, environmental attorney John Fitzgerald and Town of Chevy Chase Councilmember John Bickerman.

PDF: Notice of Violation – Endangered Species Act

Photos via Brett Hartl/Center for Biological Diversity

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | July 25, 2014 at 8:15 am | 130 views | No Comments

Flickr photo by Danny Fowler

Politicians, Blogger Blame Media For Low Voter Turnout – After a paltry 16 percent of Montgomery County registered voters showed up for last month’s gubernatorial primary, the County Council on Tuesday used a session on voting reforms to reflect on why there’s such voter apathy for local elections. Some blamed the lack of media coverage. One blogger, Center Maryland’s Josh Kurtz, wrote the media was partly to blame, but so were other factors including a “minor league” field of candidates. [Center Maryland] [Washington Post]

County Official: The Bethesda I Know Is Not Snobby – A real estate website recently named Bethesda the No. 2 “snobbiest” small city in the U.S., something which the county’s lead official in Bethesda made clear he doesn’t agree with. Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, wrote in a regular Regional Services Center email that “the words ‘snobby’ and ‘snooty’ are inappropriate and unfair adjectives for our local communities of Rockville and Bethesda.” Rockville was also on the top-10 list. Hartman listed about a dozen local organizations and nonprofits that he said prove just how inaccurate the list was. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center]

Planning Board Approves Chevy Chase Lake Development – The Planning Board on Thursday approved the first development project to come as a result of the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan. The sketch plan would allow for up to 329 apartment and townhouse units on the existing site of HOC-controlled affordable housing. [Planning Board]

Flickr photo by Danny Fowler

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