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Town of Chevy Chase To Review Tree Ordinance

by BethesdaNow.com | October 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm | 459 views | No Comments

Six years since the Town of Chevy Chase adopted an ordinance to regulate tree removal and some instances of tree trimming, the town will review its procedures in the wake of last summer’s derecho storm.

That storm caused significant tree damage across the region, but especially in Chevy Chase and parts of Bethesda. It was one of the hardest hit areas according to a County Office of Emergency Management official who made a presentation about the department’s response last week at a citizens advisory board meeting.

Town of Chevy Chase Town Manager Todd Hoffman said that damage, which by one estimate took almost a month to clear, spurred enough resident input to merit a Town meeting on the ordinance on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be a very factual presentation. What we do and how the ordinance has been working,” Hoffman said. “Beyond comments based on the derecho, we haven’t gotten any specific concerns outside of that in relation to this meeting.”

The ordinance requires canopy trees (defined as a tree with a trunk at least 24 inches in circumference at four-and-a-half feet above the ground) to go through a strict review process before removal.

Other communities with tree ordinances have faced issues with limbs from weak or rotting trees falling on homes and cars during powerful storms — trees some say should have been removed or at least trimmed back despite hopes to maintain a tree canopy.

The Town of Chevy Chase is recognized as a member of Tree City USA.

The public hearing on the Town’s tree ordinance will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Town Hall (4301 Willow Lane.) Hoffman expects the Town Council to take public comments to a worksession in which the ordinance might be adjusted.

Broad Coalition Sets Hopes For Chevy Chase Lake

by BethesdaNow.com | October 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm | 660 views | No Comments

A broad group of incorporated towns, citizens associations and homeowners embraced suggestions to slow planned development for Chevy Chase Lake at a Planning Board Hearing last week.

The Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee, which includes veteran civic activists and officials from almost the entire spectrum of Chevy Chase communities, told the Planning Board it should not approve additional density for Chevy Chase Lake until a planned Purple Line station for the area is realized.

The Corridor Committee, made up of the Town of Chevy Chase, Chevy Chase Village and 13 other incorporated towns or civic associations, has been working with the Chevy Chase Land Company throughout the process.

The Land Company, which owns the strip shopping centers on both sides of Connecticut Avenue from Chevy Chase  Lake Drive to Manor Road, wants to rebuild the area into a mixed-use residential and commercial development around the planned Purple Line station.

The concern of the Corridor Committee is that the added traffic to an already clogged Connecticut Avenue would make things worse, especially if the currently unfunded Purple Line never comes to fruition.

From the Corridor Committee’s written testimony:

No additional density should be approved for the pre-Purple Line phase of the Sector Plan in excess of current density approvals which cannot meet the traffic test under 2012 conditions.

To guarantee that additional development will not occur prior to the Purple Line, we agree with Staff that there should be two sectional map amendments: the first limited to the location and density currently approved which can proceed prior to the Purple Line; the second applied to the rezoning of the remaining properties that must await the Purple Line.

Now, the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan must be reviewed by the Planning Board. Its recommendations will be forwarded to the County Executive and County Council, which will decide on the final details.

Berliner Issues Mea Culpa Over Neighborhood Parking Meters

by BethesdaNow.com | October 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm | 744 views | 3 Comments

Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner today took some of the blame for the now suspended installation of 28 parking meters on a heavily residential Chevy Chase street.

At his weekly press conference, Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) said he’s pleased the County Department of Transportation agreed to stop the installation of the meters and look into implementing a residential permitting system after complaints flooded into the County Council office last week.

The 28 meters planned for Chevy Chase Drive and Offutt Lane, about a half mile from the Bethesda Parking Lot District (PLD), were in the county’s fiscal year 2013 parking budget.

But a number of residents in the neighborhood of condos and row homes said they were never made aware of the plans, until DOT began installing poles for the meters early last week.

“The meter situation was not handled particularly well,” Berliner said. “I’m not clean in respect to this. Our Council approved this, our staff received this from DOT and our [Transportaton] Committee recommended it. I’m not blameless in this. That’s why I moved aggressively to say, ‘We made a mistake on this one.’ We hit the reset button on this and we’re going to make it right.”

Berliner issued a letter to DOT on Thursday, requesting it look into residential permitting in lieu of meters. By the end of the day, DOT had agreed to halt the meter installation and begin the process of residential permitting, promising to include the residents in discussions.

“I’m hopeful that these parking issues are going to be resolved in a favorable way,” Berliner said.

A similar proposal for meters on Battery Lane, also outside the Bethesda PLD, was taken out of the parking budget per Berliner’s request. A group there began an online petition to stop the meters.

Bethesda Row Arts Festival Photos

by BethesdaNow.com | October 22, 2012 at 11:15 am | 542 views | No Comments

This weekend marked the 15th Annual Bethesda Row Arts Festival, a collection of more than 180 artists who displayed their sculptures, paintings, photography and other works of fine art on the streets of Bethesda Row.

The event attracted artists and vendors from up and down the East Coast and as far as Los Angeles and included 14 judged categories: ceramics, drawing/pastels, fiber, glass, graphics/printmaking, jewelry, metalwork, mixed media 2D, mixed media 3D, oil/acrylic painting, photography/digital art, sculpture, watercolor and wood.

UPDATED: Police Investigate Possible Sexual Assault on Trail

by BethesdaNow.com | October 22, 2012 at 10:25 am | 1,378 views | 1 Comment

(Updated at 10:25 a.m.): Montgomery County Police have confirmed a woman was sexually assaulted while jogging Sunday night on the Capital Crescent Trail.

According to a police press release this morning, the 21-year-old woman remains in the hospital with a head injury and is in serious but stable condition.

She has been able to talk to police and described her attacker as a white male in his 20′s who was wearing dark clothing. The woman was able to walk back to the trail after regaining consciousness, where she called for help. A 40-year-old male jogger assisted her to a home in the 4900 block of Brookeway Drive where the homeowner called police at about 7:13 p.m, according to police.

Police said the attack occurred around 7 p.m. on the section of the trail between Massachusetts Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.

Earlier: A 21-year-old woman jogging on the Capital Crescent Trail on Sunday evening was knocked unconscious and dragged into nearby woods, Montgomery County Police said.

Capt. Paul Starks, MCPD spokesman, said police are investigating the incident as a possible sexual assault. The woman went to the hospital for treatment of a head wound, according to a report from NBC4.

The incident occurred just after sunset about a half-mile south of Massachusetts Avenue, according to police. The woman said she stopped to watch a group of deer cross the trail, when she was struck from behind. She regained consciousness in the woods off the trail, Starks said, before a male jogger passing by helped her to a house in the 4900 block of Brookeway Drive.

Police were called to the house at about 7:13 p.m. A forensic team was on the scene late Sunday night. Police taped off an area in front of the house, at the end of the cul-de-sac that backs up to a trail entry point.

Bethesda Named ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’

by BethesdaNow.com | October 22, 2012 at 9:30 am | 709 views | No Comments

Last week ended with some good news on bicycling for Montgomery County, which next year hopes to install 11 Capital Bikeshare stations in Bethesda.

The League of American Bicyclists on Friday named Bethesda as one of 28 new “Bicycle Friendly Communities,” a distinction for areas “that actively support bicycling” by providing infrastructure for safe biking and the encouragement to do it for transportation and recreation.

The announcement came a few days after a number of Bethesda residents raised safety concerns about the Capital Bikeshare program. Some said they were worried more bikes would mean more bikers on sidewalks, which could interfere with pedestrians.

A local bike advocate said there are a number of Bethesda streets, including the main thoroughfares of Wisconsin Avenue, Woodmont Avenue and Arlington Road, that could use the addition of dedicated bike lanes or marker adjustments to keep bikers safe.

Bethesda earned bronze status on the Bicycle Friendly Community list. The area has already seen a significant increase in the number of employees who bike to work regularly, according to the county’s Annual Commuter Survey. The county cited its location between the Capital Crescent Trail and Bethesda Trolley Trail as part of the reason for that.

“Bethesda is a terrific example of the kind of bicycle-friendly environment that makes places more livable and more attractive for new residents and businesses,” Council President and Transportation Committee Chair Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) said in a prepared release. “As we prepare for the expansion of Capital Bikeshare to Montgomery County, we need to continue to build on this success to ensure we have more bike-friendly places in the county.”

An August report by CountyStat showed eight reported bicycle collisions in 2011 in downtown Bethesda, most involving crossing vehicles at crosswalks.

The Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) and Bethesda Transportation Solutions division of BUP nominated Bethesda for the designation. It is now one of 242 such communities in the country. The City of Rockville also earned bronze status as a new city on the list.

“It is wonderful to see how far Bethesda has come in bike friendliness, and some of the biggest opportunities for bike-friendliness still lie ahead. As advocates for a bike-friendly region, we are proud to see the Bethesda joining the list of Bicycle-Friendly Communities,” said Washington Area Bicyclist Association Executive Director Shane Farthing in the county’s prepared release.  “We look forward to seeing that bronze ranking go even higher under leadership that understands the value of bicycling as a transportation solution.”

Councilmember Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park, recently asked state transportation officials to include bike lane and marking improvements in all current county road projects ahead of the introduction of Bikeshare.

“This designation is a terrific affirmation of our commitment not only to providing a variety of transportation options but also to ensuring a safe environment for bicyclists,” Floreen said. “This recognition is just the beginning, and we will continue to strive for excellence when it comes to bicycle connectivity and safety.”

Morning Notes

by BethesdaNow.com | October 22, 2012 at 8:30 am | 369 views | No Comments

Citing New Ethics Rules, Chevy Chase Village Board Member Steps Down — Peter Kilborn, on the Board of Managers for Chevy Chase Village, recently stepped down from his post because of stringent ethics disclosure rules some say will force many small town council members like him to do the same. Kilborn said a change in the state law made too much work for him and would have forced him to disclose his wife’s financial information. [The Gazette]

Walter Johnson Boys, B-CC Girls Win County Cross Country Titles —  The Walter Johnson High School boys and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School girls took home county cross country titles over the weekend in Gaithersburg. Walter Johnson had five runners finish between eighth and 18th place. B-CC repeated as county champs with the top two finishers. [MoCoRunning]

Cardin Likely to Stroll, Potomac Independent Making Waves — A new Washington Post poll has U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) easily winning his second term, thanks in small part to Potomac independent Rob Sobhani, who has spent more than $4.6 million of his own money to split the anti-Cardin vote. [Washington Post]

Flickr photo by ehpien

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