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by Aaron Kraut — November 26, 2014 at 3:00 pm 0

Political Pulse, via Montgomery Municipal CableIf you find yourself tired of turkey and football this weekend (and you’re really interested in local issues) consider checking out “Political Pulse” on Montgomery Municipal Cable Channel 16.

Host Charles Duffy and I discussed development in Westbard and White Flint, how Purple Line advocates hope to convince Governor-elect Larry Hogan to keep the project, the county’s oft-criticized Department of Liquor Control and other news topics of local interest.

The half-hour show will be shown at 9 p.m. on Thursday and at 6 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The interview will be put online next week.

by Aaron Kraut — November 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm 587 7 Comments

Hamburger Hamlet/Du-par's in Georgetown Square Shopping Center

Casual dining chain Not Your Average Joe’s is officially coming to the vacant Hamburger Hamlet space at Bethesda’s Georgetown Square Shopping Center.

Not Your Average Joe’s founder and CEO Steve Silverstein told BethesdaNow.com in July that the restaurant was close to executing a lease for the 8,500-square-foot space with the hopes of opening in March 2015.

On Dec. 4, Silverstein and two others will go before the county’s Board of License Commissioners seeking a beer, wine and liquor license.

Over the summer, the property management company leasing the space had crews do a general demolition inside the restaurant to remove all remaining fixtures left over from Hamburger Hamlet.

That construction — and a dumpster full of debris in the Georgetown Square Shopping Center parking lot — drew the attention of many waiting to see what would replace the Hamburger Hamlet.

It closed in December 2013 after fellow California-based chain Du-par’s attempted a revival by making it into a 24-hour diner and eatery. Original Hamburger Hamlet owners Marilyn and Harry Lewis opened the restaurant — the chain’s first location on the east coast — in 1973.

Not Your Average Joe’s started in 1994 and has more than 20 locations along the east coast, with 15 in Massachusetts. Silverstein opened the group’s first Maryland location two years ago in the Kentlands community of Gaithersburg.

by Aaron Kraut — November 26, 2014 at 12:25 pm 1 Comment

Uber DC, Flickr photo via MikeUber and Maryland regulators have come to an agreement that would allow UberBlack and UberSUV to operate legally in the state.

The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) announced the settlement agreement on Tuesday. (See the PDF below).

If formally approved by the PSC, it would mean the app-based ride company would have to identify all UberBlack and UberSUV drivers for the state.

It would also have to publish a schedule of its times, rates and charges (which would likely include maximum and minimum rates plus surge pricing) on a website that would be available to the public.

UberBlack and UberSUV would be allowed to use only drivers who have Maryland passenger-for-hire driver’s licenses and vehicles that have Maryland operating permits, though drivers licensed in D.C. or Virginia would be allowed to take passengers from those neighboring jurisdictions into Maryland.

The settlement comes after an August decision by the PSC that UberBlack and UberSUV should be classified as part of a traditional transportation company. That means Uber should be subject to the same state laws that other non-taxicab transportation for hire services are.

That decision and the settlement announced Tuesday don’t apply to UberX or UberXL.

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by Aaron Kraut — November 26, 2014 at 11:15 am 1 Comment

Parking meters in a county garage in downtown Bethesda

Montgomery County will let developers apply retroactively for a tax exemption that could cost the county $5.5 million for upkeep of its parking lots and garages.

The County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that will allow developers in the Parking Lot Districts of Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton to apply for exemptions from the county’s parking tax until Dec. 31.

The actual deadline for applying for an exemption was April 1, but developers including StonebridgeCarras, Washington Property Company, Home Properties and Southern Management Corp. said that only after careful investigation, they found they were being charged Parking Lot District taxes that they shouldn’t have had to pay.

The PLD tax is charged to developers in the Parking Lot Districts of Montgomery County’s downtown areas that don’t include the required amount of on-site parking in their projects. The PLD taxes go toward maintaining the county’s parking lots, curbside spaces and garages.

“Sophisticated developers with reams of accountants and lawyers did not know the rules of the game,” Councilmember Roger Berliner said on Tuesday. “For years and years, they have paid millions of dollars into a Parking Lot District fund, when they had spent the money to create enough parking spaces.

“Presumably, going forward everybody will know the rules of the game,” Berliner said.

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by Aaron Kraut — November 26, 2014 at 10:15 am 0

This week’s 2nd District crime summary is a few days early to account for Thanksgiving:

A residential burglary occurred in the 8000 block of Glendale Road in Chevy Chase on Tuesday, 11/18 between 10:40 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Unknown entry; property taken.

An attempted residential burglary occurred in the 4600 block of Woodfield Road in Bethesda on Friday, 11/14 between 7:15 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Attempted forced entry; nothing taken.

An aggravated assault occurred on Friday, 11/14 at 10:20 p.m. in the 5000 block of Strathmore Avenue in Kensington. The suspect is known to the victim.

A commercial burglary occurred at Vie de France, 5218 Nicholson Lane in Kensington on Tuesday, 11/11 at 4:30 a.m. Forced entry; property taken.

Two attempted burglaries occurred in the 11900 block of Hunters Lane in Rockville overnight between Tuesday, 11/11 and Wednesday, 11/12. Attempted forced entry; nothing taken at either location.

An attempted residential burglary occurred in the 5700 block of Glenwood Road in Bethesda on Monday, 11/17 between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Attempted forced entry; nothing taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 6700 block of Michaels Drive in Bethesda on Monday, 11/17 between 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 9700 block of Brimfield Court in Rockville on Monday, 11/17 between 3:00 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. Unknown entry; nothing taken.

by Aaron Kraut — November 26, 2014 at 9:25 am 0

B-CC senior Patrick Cha, via Wendy's High School HeismanBethesda-Chevy Chase High School senior Patrick Cha has been named one of 12 national finalists for Wendy’s High School Heisman — an award given to high school athletes with impressive off-the-court accomplishments.

Cha, a tennis player at B-CC, has been ranked as high as No. 16 in Maryland’s junior tennis rankings. He’s also kept a 4.0 unweighted GPA in B-CC’s International Baccalaureate program and is an editor-in-chief of the school’s student newspaper, the “Tattler.”

After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Cha founded a NGO called NetBenefitUSA. He’s asking for pledges to raise money for a Boston Marathon victim’s fund and an organization working to help victims of domestic violence.

B-CC Principal Karen Lockard announced Cha had been named a national finalist for the award during a special senior assembly on Nov. 10.

The fast food chain Wendy’s created the award in 1994 to coincide with the presentation of college football’s Heisman Memorial Trophy, given annually to college football’s most outstanding player. Cha and the 11 other national finalists will be invited to New York City for a weekend and $2,000 will be donated to B-CC in Cha’s name.

If Cha is named one of the two national award winners (a judging panel picks one male and one female), he’ll be recognized during ESPN’s Dec. 19 broadcast of the college Heisman Trophy ceremony, Wendy’s will donate $10,000 to B-CC in Cha’s name and Cha will get a $500 Wendy’s gift card.

Photos via Wendy’s High School Heisman

by Aaron Kraut — November 26, 2014 at 8:45 am 0

Flickr photo by jacdupree

Bethesda Nonprofit Receives $3.3 Billion Payoff – The Bethesda-based Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will get $3.3 billion for selling royalties to Cystic Fibrosis drugs it helped fund the development of. The sum is thought to be the largest return ever for a charitable organization pursuing disease treatments. Some are concerned that profit motive could cause a conflict of interest for organizations such as the Foundation, especially when it comes to the patients they help. [New York Times]

Pepco Debuts Official “Merger Website” – Pepco has unveiled a website it said will include information and updates about its acquisition by Chicago-based power company Exelon. On the website, Exelon-Pepco claims the merger will mean benefits for customers. The merger is expected to be complete next year, though its regulatory filings still must be approved by the Public Service Commission. [PHITomorrow]

Familiar Face Added To Hogan’s Transition Team – Doug Duncan, the Democrat and former Montgomery County executive, was one of 20 new people added on Tuesday to Republican Governor-elect Larry Hogan’s transition team. Duncan, who took a new job as CEO of Leadership Greater Washington after failing to win back his seat in June, said he won’t be joining Hogan’s administration and is merely offering advice before January. [Washington Post]

Flickr photo by jacdupree

by Aaron Kraut — November 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm 337 2 Comments

WSSC truck Bar at Caddies on Cordell (file photo) A pinball arcade -- not in Montgomery County, Flickr photo by Tomas Fano

A new batch of bills from Montgomery County legislators could legalize the sale of refillable wine growlers, repeal a ban on businesses having more than two pinball machines and create a board to review utility company disputes.

The county’s delegation to Annapolis has revealed 15 bills its members will introduce once the 2015 General Assembly starts in January.

As is often the case, one of the bills draws on an obscure state law — the 1950s provision that prohibited more than two “free-play pinball machines from being available for public use” in Montgomery County.

According to bill sponsor and District 14 Del. Eric Leudtke, “the statutory provisions enacted in the 1950s are obsolete and should therefore be repealed.”

A number of the bills deal with the county’s alcohol law — another common source of legislation. Specific Montgomery County alcohol laws must be changed at the statehouse in Annapolis, rather than in Rockville.

One, from District 18 State Sen. Rich Madaleno, would allow the county’s Board of License Commissioners to waive the county’s residency requirement for those applying for an alcohol license.

Those applying for an alcohol license in the county must have lived in the county for the two years prior to their application — a law that some say has made it hard for out-of-county restaurant owners to open up shop.

An effort last session to exempt the county from the two-year residency requirement failed.

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by Aaron Kraut — November 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm 0

Montgomery County sealThe Thanksgiving holiday will bring a bunch of government closures and free parking at all meters in downtown Bethesda on Thursday.

Also be sure to avoid southbound Wisconsin Avenue and northbound Old Georgetown Road on Thursday morning, as hundreds of runners will be taking part in the annual Turkey Chase:

County Offices — Closed

Libraries — Closed

County liquor stores — Closed

Recreation — All programs and facilities are closed

Montgomery Parks — all Parks facilities are closed on Thursday. For operating schedules on Friday, including Brookside Gardens, ice rinks, tennis centers, trains and carousels, visit www.MontgomeryParks.org.

Ride On — Sunday schedule

Metrobus — Sunday schedule

Metrorail — Holiday schedule. On Friday, rail and bus service will operate on a regular weekday schedule with normal fare and parking rates in effect.

TRiPS Commuter Stores (Silver Spring and Friendship Heights) — Closed

Refuse/recycling pickup — No collection. Collection provided one day later for remainder of week (last collection day is Saturday).

Transfer Station — Closed

Parking at public garages, lots, curbside meters — Free. Meters won’t be free on Friday.

MCPS Administrative Offices — Closed

State offices and courts — Closed

Regular weekend schedules will be in effect on the Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving.

by BethesdaNow.com Sponsor — November 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm 0

This sponsored, biweekly Q&A column is written by Andrew Goodman, broker/owner of Goodman, Realtors. Based in Bethesda, Andrew serves clients in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia. Please submit comments, questions, and opinions…

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