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by BethesdaNow.com — November 27, 2012 at 2:05 pm 686 0

County Council President Roger Berliner today introduced a bill that would require the county to assess whether affordable housing could be attached to any capital project.

Berliner referenced an affordable housing development on top of a new fire station in Alexandria, Va., as an example of the type of project that could result from the legislation.

Montgomery County has made increasing the amount of affordable and workforce housing for an increasing population of working class and elderly residents a policy goal. But some have questioned whether the county is gaining any traction in the effort.

In September, the Council approved a zoning change on Battery Lane that will allow the apartment owner there to rebuild what are widely known as some of the most affordable units in Bethesda into three high-rise buildings with the required 12.5 percent of moderately-priced dwelling units or MPDUs.

The apartments, while significantly cheaper than the average Bethesda rental rate, are more expensive than affordable housing rates. Still, Councilmember George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park, said approving the Battery Lane rezoning and risking an increase in the apartment rates was not consistent with the county’s affordable housing policy.

Berliner hopes his bill, which has broad Council support, would serve as a promotion tool of that policy.

“This is intended to just bring a certain discipline and a certain realness to the situation,” said Berliner. “It doesn’t demand [affordable housing.] It doesn’t require it. But it requires a look at it.”

He encouraged the county to look at building affordable housing for the elderly as part of Library construction or renovation projects, citing the popularity of the county’s libraries with senior residents.

A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Jan. 17.

by BethesdaNow.com — November 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm 767 0

The Music Center at Strathmore’s “Student Concerts,” the annual series of National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra performances for Montgomery County Public School second graders, kicked off today.

One of the center’s main community service initiatives, the series will provide more than 10,000 second graders the opportunity to learn about the orchestra during seven concerts in four days.

The 2,000-seat concert hall opened in North Bethesda (5301 Tuckerman Lane) in 2005 with almost $100 million in funding from Montgomery County and the state of Maryland. The student concerts, which have been held since the opening, represent an investment of $124,000, according to a press release.

The concerts include a video of instruments on a large screen hovering above the orchestra as it performs. The goal is to teach students about the four families of instruments that make up the orchestra. Students also sing along with the orchestra.

Flickr photo by Bill in DC

by BethesdaNow.com — November 27, 2012 at 11:15 am 1,041 0

There’s a scene in filmmaker Francis Abbey’s current project in which a character sings a Christmas carol to raise money for a fictional Bethesda Children’s Hospital.

As Abbey and crew filmed Friday on Bethesda Row, the scene was apparently real enough to encourage some passerby to try to hand the character money.

Abbey chose the particular spot on Bethesda Row, in the posh pedestrian Bethesda Lane section, because of its look and the way the surrounding buildings block out the sun. Filming near the popular Christmas tree caused a stir on Friday, as Black Friday shoppers walked by.

The film, called Chris and Carol, is a short romantic comedy based on a Christmas carol.

Abbey has shot in Bethesda before and has a producer who works in the area. The crew and budget were small, so they didn’t need a permit from the Maryland Film Office.

Curious onlookers and background noise were manageable, Abbey said, despite the rareness of a film crew in Bethesda.

Abbey hopes to release the film online soon.

Photo via Facebook

by BethesdaNow.com — November 27, 2012 at 9:30 am 566 0

Leggett To ‘Think About’ Running Again — After maintaining that this will be his last term as county executive, Isiah Leggett now says he will think about running again in 2014. Councilmembers Phil Andrews and George Leventhal have already announced their intentions to run. Other councilmembers rumored to be interested have said they will wait until Leggett decides. [Washington Examiner]

Businesses Report No Real Boost From ‘Small Business Saturday’ — The marketing event from American Express is a good idea, some Bethesda retailers said, but still lacks the punch of Black Friday. [The Gazette]

Bethesda Tae Kwon Do Master Offers Self Defense Tips — With police asking people to be aware of their surroundings this holiday shopping season, one Tae Kwon Do instructor offered tips for avoiding robbery or theft. [WUSA9]

by BethesdaNow.com — November 27, 2012 at 8:30 am 1,200 2 Comments

Montgomery County officials yesterday ordered an inspection of the county’s fleet of dump trucks used for leaf collection after one truck caught fire just before 10:30 a.m. while traveling on Democracy Boulevard.

Debris from leaf collection clogged the truck’s cabin filter, according to County spokeswoman Esther Bowring, causing the fire that appeared to burn much of the front cab.

There were no injuries from the incident. Police closed down the three westbound lanes of Democracy Boulevard while the fire was put out.

Bowring said the Department of Transportation would inspect the other 24 leaf collection trucks by the end of the day yesterday and that a new procedure has been put in place for drivers to do daily inspections of the cabin filter to ensure the filters have not become clogged with leaf debris.

The truck was a 1998 International dump truck with 91,000 miles. The other 24 trucks in the fleet are the same make, model and year, Bowring said.

The last maintenance on the vehicle that caught fire was Sept. 21 at 90,000 miles and the truck had no previous history of HVAC problems.

The county’s downcounty leaf collection program started Nov. 5. More information on when the county will make pick-ups in specific areas can be found here.

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