CORRECTION (5:00 p.m.): The Maryland Department of the Environment’s role in the Voluntary Cleanup Program was clarified. The agency oversees any environmental assessment or cleanup, if one is deemed necessary. The developer or owner of the property would conduct the actual cleanup.
The owner of the 8300 Wisconsin Ave. project, which will bring 360 apartment units and a rumored Harris Teeter grocery store to the north end of downtown Bethesda, is applying for a state environmental cleanup program typically reserved for sites where contamination has occurred in the past.
The Maryland Department of the Environment has received an application for its Voluntary Cleanup Program at the site, according to MDE spokesman Jay Apperson.
Apperson said developers typically use the process to certify a site isn’t contaminated and to avoid future inspections from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The MDE will oversee an assessment of the property to determine what, if any, environmental cleanup would be necessary. Property owners who request the program often are building new projects on sites formerly used for gas stations, pesticide facilities, industrial uses or other potentially environmentally damaging businesses.
The 8300 Wisconsin Ave. project is the former site of a Clarion hotel and has been vacant since at least 2006, when a previous development planned for the location fell through. It’s unclear what is prompting the application.
The project, by developer StonebridgeCarras, was approved by the Planning Board in May. A spokesman for the developer told The Gazette the company planned to break ground on the project in early 2013.
Workers on the site have been clearing weeds and smoothing over dirt since Monday.
Apperson said there’s no timeline for the Voluntary Cleanup Program, but the MDE might oversee soil samples, groundwater tests and determine any other sort of environmental assessment needed as part of the process.
Bethesda’s biggest event is tomorrow, which means drivers should avoid Woodmont Triangle for most of the day.
Before an estimated 45,000 people descend onto Norfolk, Fairmont, St. Elmo, Cordell and Del Ray Avenues for the Taste of Bethesda, workers from the Bethesda Urban Partnership will close down the roads to set up tents and stages for more than 50 Bethesda restaurants and a number of bands.
The preparation starts early.
Norfolk Avenue will be closed from 2:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. all the way through to Wisconsin Avenue.
The bulk of the set up will take place from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday morning, with BUP maintenance staff, the tent vendor and volunteers in full gear. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Street parking spots in Woodmont Triangle are being used for tasting booths, so plan to park in a public parking garage (the Bethesda Circulator will be making stops at the garages) or take Metro.
Berry Yogurt, the frozen yogurt shop with the ping pong table, foosball and air hockey, is adding a sushi bar to its spacious Norfolk Avenue store.
An employee said the sushi bar should be installed by the end of next week. The popular ping pong table will be moved to make room, but it was a natural next step for the store, which opened in August 2011.
The 2,000-square-foot space (7920 Norfolk Ave.), a former Chico’s clothing store, is much bigger than a typical froyo stop.
Customers will be able to pick out sushi at 49 cents a piece, similar to the 49 cents an ounce charge for yogurt.
A special sushi chef will start Monday and eventually Berry Yogurt will offer $6 and $8 lunch specials for those looking for something quicker than nearby sit-down sushi spots such as Hanaro Restaurant & Lounge (7820 Norfolk Ave.) and Satsuma (8003 Norfolk Ave.).
Recycling and trash collections will proceed on normal schedules, same with Ride On buses and waste collection at the Shady Grove transfer station.
The Bethesda Library (7400 Arlington Rd.) and all other county library branches will be closed. Montgomery County Public Libraries traditionally holds its annual Staff Development and Training Day on the date.
People who park in county operated garages and metered spaces will have to pay regular parking fees.
Fewer than a dozen residents came to a Thursday afternoon public hearing on expansion plans for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, prompting some to question why Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) chose to schedule the meeting at that time.
The first of two public hearings was part of Walter Reed’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) process.
NSAB must get resident feedback on issues with the proposed expansion, which are mostly related to traffic and parking, before getting federal approval to build a medical facility, research facility and 500-space underground parking garage on the campus.
A second public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 11, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday’s hearing, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., attracted more NSAB officials and contractors who worked on the study than residents.
“I’m aware you’re having another meeting at a different time another day, but that’s not enough,” said resident Andres Buonanno in recorded testimony.
Earlier, Buonanno said he didn’t think traffic estimates in the study that showed minimal effects from expansion were accurate.
“Why don’t you really make this a public meeting. The danger that you have is you lose credibility,” Buonannon said. “I do feel you have a lack of credibility.”
The four residents who testified all spoke about traffic issues, some loosely related to Walter Reed.
Joe Macri, spokesman for NSAB, said it’s typical in public hearing processes to have a daytime session to capture those who might be available during the day and an evening session for those who work during the day.
A few residents, including Buonannon, complained the public hearings weren’t promoted enough and that there were many more residents who were frustrated with ongoing traffic problems brought on by Walter Reed’s move to the base last year.
NSAB advertised the public hearings through the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center and NSAB Capt. Fritz Kass gave a citizens advisory board the EIS presentation at a meeting in September.
Microsoft Pop-Up Store Opening Oct. 26 — A Microsoft pop-up store is set to open Oct. 26 in Westfield Montgomery Mall, one of 32 opening up nationwide on that day that will feature the company’s Surface tablet. [ComputerWorld]
Toyota Dealers, Nationals Help Raise $50,000 For Children’s Inn — Before the Washington Nationals start the National League Division Series on Sunday, the team and Washington area Toyota dealers presented The Children’s Inn at NIH with a $50,000 donation. For every strikeout by a Nationals’ pitcher this regular season (1,325, good for fourth in the Majors) Toyota dealers pledged $37 toward the Children’s Inn. [The Children’s Inn at NIH]
Bethesda Synagogue Bans “To Catch A Predator” Sex Offender — The board at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation on Persimmon Tree Lane decided a former area rabbi who was caught in a child sex sting on NBC’s “To Catch A Predator” would not be allowed to worship at its synagogue. [Washington Jewish Week]
Flickr photo by gastwa
UPDATED (9:35 a.m.): A Fire and Rescue official said the cleanup is almost complete and the road should be cleared in the next 15 minutes.
UPDATED (8:50 a.m.): Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman assistant chief Scott Graham tweets a worker damaged a 1,000 gallon liquid propane tank. One home has been evacuated and officials are monitoring the area.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue officials have evacuated homeowners near the site of an active propane leak at a home in the 7100 block of Glenbrook Road.
Police have shut down Glenbrook Road just north of Hampden Lane to south of Audobon Road after measuring high amounts of propane in the area.
Authorities have also set up a perimeter around the home.
Exercise Hekla, named after one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, will test the medical center’s ability to set up portable medical facilities in the aftermath of a radiological attack or incident.
Alperson said there might be a noticeable increase in the number of emergency response vehicles outside the WRNMMC fence line.
After the drill, which will involve 70 staffers as mock disaster victims, there will be staff tours of the facility’s 25-bed rapid response shelter, a portable decontamination shelter.
The disaster scenario is slated to begin this morning, with a disturbance at the Uniformed Services University gate on Jones Bridge Road. It will then move to a ball field and test the ability of emergency responders to deal with an explosion resulting in multiple casualties.
Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) will react as first responders. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel will also take part in the drill.
Flickr pool photo by AmyMarieMoore