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by BethesdaNow.com — October 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm 1,521 0

Montgomery County wants to make sure residents are prepared in case Hurricane Sandy makes impact on the Mid-Atlantic region, as some have predicted.

The county is asking anyone who has not signed up for its Alert Montgomery system to do so for severe weather, traffic and school alerts.

Residents should not call 911 to check on power, phone or cable outages or ask about road conditions, according to a county press release this afternoon.

A hurricane watch will be issued within 24 to 36 hours of the storm affecting a region. A hurricane warning will be issued within 24 hours, which is when the county wants residents to prepare with the following tips, after the jump.

(more…)

by BethesdaNow.com — October 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm 680 0

When it comes to trees, the Town of Chevy Chase is hearing it from both sides.

There are people who feel the Town’s tree protection ordinance isn’t enough to protect its lush tree canopy. Others say the ordinance is too strict, that it discourages the removal or pruning of trees that pose danger in storms such as last June’s derecho.

To make clear the Town’s policies, Town manager Todd Hoffman and arborist Dr. Tolbert Feather on Wednesday presented stats and trends on tree loss and replacement on public right-of-way and private property.

Comments from the roughly 25 residents at the meeting focused mostly on Pepco tree pruning practices around electrical wires.

One said she was much more concerned with three- or four-day power outages and falling trees during storms than protecting a tree canopy that has actually grown, at least on public space, in the Town since 2009.

Mayor Pat Burda said the Town Council will hold a worksession in November or December around input from the meeting.

From 2009 into 2012, the Town removed 139 rotting or damaged large trees from right-of-way and other public spaces and planted 233 trees to replace those. The average annual budget for planting was around $25,000, for maintenance was $170,000 and for additional services was $23,000.

Any private homeowner who wishes to remove a tree more than 24 inches in circumference must apply for a tree removal permit. Since July 2009, the Town received 232 removal applications, which can include multiple trees on the same property.

It approved all but 25. Of those 25, 16 were appealed to a review board and 14 were approved for removal upon review. One was denied. The other appeal was withdrawn.

Hoffman also reported that Feather has conducted 234 free consultations with private homeowners since 2009 as part of a Town program that lets residents know if they have problematic trees on their property.

In the June derecho, the Town lost 14 large canopy trees, five of which were on private property. Five trees, four of them from the public right-of-way, fell on homes in the storm.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm 3,608 1 Comment

A developer wants to build 120 apartments and ground-floor retail at the existing site of the United Bank branch near the Bethesda Metro station.

McLean, Va.-based developer Kettler is preparing an application for a project plan at 7535 Old Georgetown Rd., the stone building at the corner of Old Georgetown and Commerce Lane that houses the bank.

The mixed-use project will be 143 feet tall.

The site is near the Bethesda Metro bus bays and in the shadow of the 7550 Old Georgetown Rd Class C office building currently under construction.

Kettler made a presentation of the plans, which includes 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail directly across the street from restaurant La Madeleine, on Tuesday at the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

Illustrative ground floor plan via Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center

by BethesdaNow.com — October 25, 2012 at 11:55 am 799 2 Comments

Halloween is less than a week away and the Bethesda Central Farm Market hopes market-goers aren’t the only ones bringing costumes.

This coming Sunday, the market is scheduled to hold a Dog Costume contest at 11 a.m., in addition to a more traditional Costume Parade, trick-or-treating at vendor stands, pumpkin painting and make-your-own apple cider from an antique cider press.

The Bethesda Central Farm Market happens every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of Bethesda Elementary School (7600 Arlington Rd.)

The 4th Annual Halloween Extravaganza will begin at 10 a.m this Sunday, Oct. 28.

For more info, visit the event page.

Photo via Central Farm Markets.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 25, 2012 at 10:40 am 878 0

Prominent area swim coach Rick Curl turned himself in this morning, after police formally charged him with child abuse for an alleged relationship he had with an underage swimmer in the 1980′s.

The allegation that Curl, founder of the former Curl-Burke swim club and a former U.S. National Team coach, had a sexual relationship with an underage swimmer then paid her family to keep quiet surfaced this summer.

Detectives from MCPD’s Family Crimes Division interviewed the accuser, Kelly Davies Currin, now 43 and living in Texas, in August about alleged sexual abuse that occurred in Montgomery County.

Curl, 63, was Currin’s swim coach from the time she was nine until she was 18, police said. Police said inappropriate touching began when Currin was 13 and from age 15 to 18, the abuse progressed into an inappropriate sexual relationship.

The abuse occurred in the swimming facilities at Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, as well as Curl’s former homes in Rockville and Darnestown, police said.

Police issued an arrest warrant for Curl, now living in Vienna, Va., on Tuesday and he turned himself in this morning.

Curl received a lifetime ban from USA Swimming in September because of the allegations and the Curl-Burke swim club relaunched itself as the Nation’s Capital Swim Club. Curl was named the 1994 American Swimming Coaches Association Coach of the Year and coached Tom Dolan to three medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 25, 2012 at 9:34 am 1,137 0

Town of Chevy Chase councilmembers will keep a wary eye on a meeting today that will determine whether they are exempt from stringent ethics rules that have forced the resignation of officials nearby.

The rules, which require elected town and municipal officials to make detailed disclosures of financial holdings, properties and a spouse’s stocks and bonds, caused two Chevy Chase Village Board members to step down last week after the state denied the Village an exemption.

Village Board members Peter Kilborn and Thomas Jackson left their part-time volunteer positions in protest of the requirements, which they said are too stringent for a town that’s half a square mile and has about 2,000 residents.

Today the State Ethics Commission will meet to discuss the Town’s request for an exemption. Town manager Todd Hoffman told Chevy Chase Patch he is not optimistic the Town will receive it.

That could leave the five volunteer members of the Town Council with their own decisions to make.

In Chevy Chase Village, the seven-person Board that makes decisions on a small police force, trash pick-up service and other services is down to five. Board Chairwoman Pat Baptiste told The Gazette that others are considering resignations, but she’s hopeful at least four will stay on to form a quorom.

Town of Chevy Chase Mayor Pat Burda said she will stay on and fulfill the ethics requirements, passed in 2010, if the Town does not receive an exemption.

But she said she understands why Jackson and Kilborn left their posts in neighboring Chevy Chase Village. She’s also concerned the rules would discourage council candidates, as they would also be required to fill out paper work that would reveal previously private financial details.

Town of Chevy Chase Vice Mayor David Lublin, a government professor at American University, said he hasn’t decided if he will run for re-election but he does not anticipate the new ethics rules will cause him to quit.

“Nobody likes filling out forms. Nobody likes doing taxes either,” Lublin said. “But we’ve got to have an ethical government.”

Town of Chevy Chase Councilwoman Kathy Strom, a Washington regulatory lawyer, said she’s not sure she would stay on the Council with the new rules.

“It’s not serving a really important public need,” Strom said.

One Chevy Chase Village resident told Bethesda Now she supports Jackson and Kilborn’s resignations, and “people are entitled to decline to serve if they find the requirements of the position to onerous.”

A portion of the regular taxes Chevy Chase Village residents pay go to Village government services.

Another resident said she has been satisfied with those services and the Village’s management structure. She had no opinion on the resignations.

by BethesdaNow.com — October 25, 2012 at 8:30 am 913 0

Walter Reed Hit-And-Run Suspect Released From Psyc Ward 4 Days Before Incident — Angela Cobbold, the Virginia woman who on Tuesday was observed eating a bar of soap before ramming into a Walter Reed security car and drawing gunfire from an officer, was released from a psychiatric ward four days before the incident. During a bond hearing yesterday, prosecutors said she did not appear to have been taking her medication. [The Gazette]

County Attorney Tells State Prosecutor to Back Off — In the escalating fight over Montgomery County’s police effects bargaining referendum, county attorney Marc Hansen told state prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt his investigation of county officials is misguided. The police union has objected to county officials using tax dollars to campaign against effects bargaining. [Maryland Juice]

FOP Rep Calls for County Spokesman to Resign — Also on effects bargaining, FOP consultant and Washington lobbyist Lanny Davis yesterday called for County spokesman Patrick Lacefield to resign. Lacefield has spearheaded the county’s campaign to uphold a law that gets rid of effects bargaining, which Police Chief Thomas Manger says hurts department efficiency. [The Gazette]

Meteorologists Tracking Rare Late-October Hurricane — A rare, East Coast-threatening late-October hurricane could cause trouble early next week. Some are concerned the combination of Hurricane Sandy and a western cold front could cause an unusual hybrid of hurricane and winter storm that would produce snow, wind and rain that would hit the Mid-Atlantic hard. [NBC4]

Flickr photo by IamJomo

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