In an update this afternoon from 2nd District Police Commander Capt. David Falcinelli were year-to-date stats comparing crime numbers to last year.
Despite 784 reported thefts from autos (211 fewer than at this time last year) Falcinelli said property crime was down in all categories entering the holiday season, when criminals are notorious for stealing holiday gifts from mall parking lots or after delivery companies drop off packages at doorsteps.
“While the property crime numbers have improved since last year, there is no reason to get comfortable with your efforts or ours. Recently, there have been a number of residential burglaries occurring across the district. Some are a result of transient criminals utilizing a false story to gain entry to a home (i.e. “We are here to check the water meters and then they distract the homeowner and steal” or “I lost my dog and when you decide to help, another suspect enters the unlocked home”),” Falcinelli wrote. “Some are occurring when residents leave their home for a short period during the day and the burglars force entry or enter through unlocked doors and windows. In these cases, it is most likely a stranger in the neighborhood watching for movement in and out of homes so it is critically important that you call us ASAP anytime you encounter a suspicious situation or person. Have your neighbors perform regular checks on your home if you will be away. Consider adding extra lighting at night, or using motion sensor lights.”
Falcinelli said the 47 reported robberies, an increase of nine from this time last year, is due in large part to a spike earlier in the year. He said many of those cases have been closed.
Falcinelli also said the Special Assignment Team was responsible for arresting Byron Govan, the suspect in an Oct. 31 armed carjacking near White Flint and a carjacking a few days earlier in Congressional Plaza farther north on Rockville Pike.
Falcinelli attributed the spike in aggravated assaults, a more than 100 percent increase from this time last year, to a number of domestic situations and bar fights in which the victims knew the assailant.
The concept is at the forefront of most planning and development discussions and is an especially popular topic in the Bethesda area, where Montgomery County hopes entire new urban destinations sprout up around Metro stations without the cars and traffic of suburbs or exurbs.
Bethesda itself, which includes downtown, Bethesda Row and Woodmont Triangle, got a “Walk Score” of 97 and was labeled as a “walker’s paradise,” for its easy access to restaurants, shops, entertainment, office and residential areas.
The White Flint Metro station neighborhood got a score of 89, good for a “very walkable” rating ahead of the massive mixed-use development underway and planned up and down Rockville pike.
Medical Center didn’t fare as well, garnering a score of 57, or a “somewhat walkable” rating. The station serves employees and visitors of NIH and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, two of the county’s largest employers.
The area around the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station was rated as one of the least walkable neighborhoods in the Washington area. It was slapped with a walk score of 48, qualifying it as a “car-dependent” community.
(UPDATE at 3:55) Montgomery County Board of Elections spokeswoman Marjorie Roher says Timmerman’s request has been forwarded to the county attorney, per standard procedure. Upon conclusion of the provisional and absentee ballot counts, a response will be prepared within the 30 days required by law of all Public Information Act requests.
The defeated Republican candidate for Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s congressional seat yesterday questioned the accuracy of Montgomery County polling results, filing a Public Information Act request to obtain electronic voting machine records for last week’s election.
Ken Timmerman, the Kensington man who ran against Van Hollen, got 43,729 votes and lost by more than 115,000 votes, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections
In a letter to the Board dated Nov. 13, he questioned the security of voting machines, software and operating policies. He claimed voters in Montgomery County contacted him with “anecdotal evidence of irregularities during early voting and the Nov. 6 general election at various polling stations in Montgomery and Carroll Counties, many of which were brought to the attention of election judges on duty at the time.”
He also claimed there were voting machines in the district without a single Republican vote.
At Bethesda Elementary School, one of the most popular Bethesda voting precincts, Van Hollen got 77 percent of the vote. Timmerman got nearly 19 percent, slightly off from the split between presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, and generally consistent throughout all Bethesda precincts.
Timmerman claims he asked to see voting machine print-outs detailing results from each machine, but was told they were discarded on election night. He said the state must enforce a 2007 law that established the replacement of touch-screen machines with optical scanner voting machines.
“It won’t change the outcome of this year’s elections,” Timmerman wrote. “But it could mean there will be less cheating in 2014.”
During the campaign, Timmerman had a number of testy exchanges with Van Hollen, a high-ranking member of the Democratic party. Timmerman espoused his belief in cutting government services and attacked Van Hollen’s leadership on the House Budget Committee.
Van Hollen, also a Kensington resident, said it was the worst case of “gutter politics” he had ever seen in the community.
The team is a club sport, meaning it gets no funding from MCPS and must find its own money for coaches salaries, equipment, race fees and other costs.
The holiday wreath event is its main fundraiser. All other funding comes from team dues and parent donations.
The team was established 16 years ago and has grown into one of the most consistent high school programs in the Washington area. It now has a fall and spring schedule and races in such high profile events as the Stotesbury Cup in Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River, regarded as one of the country’s most prestigious.
Wreaths are either $21 or $30 and crew members will deliver them to buyers in the first week of December. For more information on B-CC crew, the fundraiser and how to purchase a wreath, go to the team’s website.
Photo courtesy B-CC Crew
County officials hope a nine-story, 220,000-square-foot Class A office building under construction in downtown Bethesda is the sign of an economic turnaround and a move back toward development other than apartment or residential.
“We’ve had great success over the last few years, despite the recession, on residential property. One of the challenges we’ve had is building office space. To have this space at this location at this time, to have a $100 million investment right here says a great deal about the confidence of the team that you’ve assembled,” County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) told attendees of a groundbreaking ceremony for the building today (Thursday). “It says a great deal about this particular location. But it also says a great deal about this county.”
The office building, developed by Carr Properties and leased out by Transwestern, is at 4500 East-West Highway, the site of the recently shuttered McDonald’s frequented by Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students.
A new McDonald’s is planned to take some of the 13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Developers lauded the project, which will include an expansive rooftop terrace, green roof and bike storage area, as an attractive and environmentally-friendly future landmark in Bethesda.
It will feature views of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center tower to the north, the Washington National Cathedral to the south and downtown Bethesda to the west.
Leggett and County Department of Economic Development Director Steve Silverman also see it as a huge step toward recovering from the recession.
It is the only large scale new office building in the pipeline for Bethesda, which has seen an explosion of apartment and condominium development but is lagging in attracting jobs. (The 7550 Wisconsin Ave. project is a conversion of a Class C office building to Class A.)
Silverman said Montgomery County has lost 7,000 construction jobs in the last five years. He also said his department is working with Transwestern to find tenants for the building.
“This is an absolutely critical building and project for Montgomery County,” Silverman said. “Even though we’re in a better place than other jurisdictions around the country, we still have a long way to go to be able to put people back to work in this county.”
D.C.-based Carr Properties expects construction to be complete in June of 2014.
Montgomery County Police say the man they arrested for an Oct. 31 armed carjacking in North Bethesda was also behind a carjacking a few days earlier on Rockville Pike and a Dunkin’ Donuts robbery in Alexandria, Va.
Byron Deshane Govan, 27, of the 10000 block of Wamsley Court in White Plains, Md., was arrested on Nov. 2 at his residence, according to police, and charged with several counts of auto theft, carjacking and robbery and one county of using a firearm during the commission of a crime.
The North Bethesda carjacking occurred on Halloween, near White Flint Mall. Police say Govan forced a couple from their vehicle using a black handgun. Govan then took their wallets and fled toward Silver Spring. An officer spotted him on the Beltway and pursued him to Colesville Road and Spring Avenue.
Police say Govan then bailed out of the vehicle. Police called for a K-9 unit but Govan eluded them.
Police compared surveillance footage of the suspect to footage from a Sept. 27 carjacking in the Congressional Plaza shopping center, a few miles north of White Flint on Rockville Pike.
They determined Govan was also responsible for taking a female victim’s car and other property in an incident just before 10 p.m. that day.
The victim’s checks were used at various locations around the area, which led police to track down the above video of an Oct. 11 Dunkin’ Donuts robbery in Alexandria, Va., Govan is also accused of.
Police say they did not release news of Govan’s arrest because authorities were still attempting to figure out what crimes he had committed in other jurisdictions.
The quiet, upscale Battery Park neighborhood just off downtown Bethesda has become the site of an argument between property owners that some say has broader ramifications for the way residential land is zoned in the county.
Rina Levy, who rents out the house on the 5000 block of Del Ray Avenue, wants to build a two-level guest house with a garage in the backyard to visit when she comes from her home in Israel.
The Department of Permitting Services approved her request under the Guest House provision, sending neighbors into an uproar.
“This is just a big loophole for accessory apartments,” said Ryan Wallach, an attorney who lives directly behind the guest house location. “It’s pretty common sense that you shouldn’t be able to build a guest house for your own personal use when you come visit if you’re renting out the property.”
Wallach and a number of other neighbors testified in front of the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday in support of a zoning law proposed by Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park that would effectively disallow Levy’s permit. Zoning Text Amendment 12-15 would require the owner of the property to reside at the primary dwelling in order for a guest house to go up.
The case is due before the county Board of Appeals on Dec. 19.
Neighbors say residential property owners should not be allowed to build two essentially separate homes on the same property, especially if they intend to rent out the primary home. They are also worried more than one family will live on the property.
Bethesda Salon Receives $19,000 Pepco Bill — It was wrong, at least according to salon owner Ira Ludwick, who owns the Ira Ludwick Salon at 10400 Old Georgetown Rd. Pepco eventually said it had charged him for the wrong meter based on the way the landlord labeled equipment. [WUSA9]
Chevy Chase Village Having Difficult Time Finding Board Volunteers — After two board members quit because of more stringent state ethics rules, the Village’s seven-member governing body is down to five and finding replacements hasn’t been easy. [The Gazette]
Residents For Better Transit, Unsure of Bus Rapid Transit — Some expressed skepticism of plans for a sizeable Bus Rapid Transit system proposal at a public meeting this week in Silver Spring. At issue: The removal of one lane of traffic in some areas to provide for a BRT-dedicated lane. [Greater Greater Washington]
Civic Association Sues County Over Brickyard Farm — The West Montgomery County Citizens Association on Monday filed suit against the county and School Board for unlawfully conspiring to replace a popular Potomac organic farm with soccer fields. The School Board owns the land. [Washington Post]
Two Jump In To County Executive Race, Others Wait — Councilmembers Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg) and George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park say they are in for the 2014 County Executive race. County Executive Isiah Leggett has repeatedly said he won’t run again, at least as it stands now. Councilmembers Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring), Marc Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park and State Del. Ben Kramer (D-Dist. 19) are also widely expected to run. [The Gazette]
Flickr photo by ehpien