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MoCo Revokes Permit For WSSC Contractor, Contractor Remains On Site Anyway

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 10:15 am | 260 views | 2 Comments

Montgomery County has revoked a key permit from a WSSC contractor involved in a number of Bethesda sewer and water projects.

But as of Wednesday, the contractor hadn’t moved from its staging area on Elm Street, incurring 15 citations with fines for as much as $750 each from the county’s Department of Permitting Services.

It’s the latest controversy surrounding Metra Industries, the New Jersey-based sewer and water main contractor chosen by WSSC to lead its Bradley Boulevard pipe replacement project. Due to multiple leaks in the replacement pipe, Metra has had to re-excavate large portions of the road, leaving Bradley Boulevard a jumbled mess of uneven pavement and steel plates and pushing the project past its scheduled completion date.

On April 18, after a series of complaints from the neighboring Edgemoor community, the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services revoked Metra’s right-of-way permit to use the pedestrian-only area of Elm Street.

“We were finding that we weren’t satisfied with the way they were maintaining the site,” said Diane Schwartz-Jones, director of Permitting Services. “We weren’t satisfied with the way they responded to our directions about dirt being tracked on to the right-of-way, the way their use of the right-of-way had expanded to include moving some other staging activities there. We just hit a point where enough was enough.”

Judy Gilbert Levey, president of the Edgemoor Citizens Association, said Metra has been using the area as a staging ground for at least a year. The neighborhood’s concerns with how contractors were treating the formerly grassy patch goes back almost as far.

The Elm Street pedestrian-only path is a connector for Edgemoor residents to downtown Bethesda. It stretches from Glenbrook Road to Exfair Road. Metra’s heaviest excavation machinery, some pipes and a porta-potty are in a fenced-in area on Glenbrook Road.

“The place looks terrible. They put a dumpster there and it was piling up trash. Some neighbors have observed rodents scurrying in and out of there,” Levey said. “We understood the work done in our neighborhood was necessarily going to be messy and inconvenient. But this was not consistent with what the permit allows.”

The citizens association also raised concerns that Metra was using the staging area for other projects around Bethesda, not just pipe replacements done in the Edgemoor neighborhood.

In October, WSSC representatives met with the group and pledged to find a solution within 60 days, Levey said.

“WSSC reps came to our citizens association and said we’re going to get them out of there,” Levey said.

WSSC spokesperson Jerry Irvine said the utility was well aware of problems with Metra. He referred back to comments made last week about the contractor’s performance on the Bradley Boulevard project.

In those comments, WSSC director of communications Jim Neustadt acknowledged that Metra hadn’t met its contractual requirements and that picking Metra because of its lowest bid status might not have been the best approach.

“We are aware of the issues with this contractor and we’re working with them,” Irvine said.

A Metra employee who answered a phone call to the contractor’s New Jersey corporate headquarters said the company doesn’t make comments to the press.

The revoking of the right-of-way permit required the contractor to leave the site and restore the site to its pre-existing condition. That has led to multiple citations on each day this week and thousands of dollars in fines from the Department of Permitting Services.

The citations will go to the Office of the County Attorney, which will attempt to enforce the penalties in District Court, Schwartz-Jones said. If the contractor hasn’t moved and restored the staging area, the county will also ask the court for an abatement order.

If Metra fails to move at that point, Schwartz-Jones said the county can go to the court for a show cause order. Beyond that, the county could pull the bond that secured the restoration of the Elm Street right-of-way.

Schwartz-Jones said she doesn’t anticipate getting to that stage. A permit has been issued by Montgomery Parks for Metra to stage in a parking near Little Falls Parkway.

“We think they’ll be moving soon.”

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | April 24, 2014 at 9:10 am | 497 views | 1 Comment

Flickr photo by Ehpien

Parents Sue School Because Son Got Bad Grades – Bethesda’s Robert and Valerie Bramson sued the prestigious Bullis School in Potomac for “breach of contract” after their son, Erol Maximilian Bramson, earned final grades of 70 and 69 in honors functions and honors biology, respectively. The Bramsons, who paid between $24,000 and $30,000 a year in tuition, said the school didn’t tell them their son was having trouble academically until the grades came. Last week, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge threw out the lawsuit. [The Gazette]

Bethesda Blues and Jazz Struggled In Its First Year – The live music club in the historic Bethesda Theatre generated a lot of excitement when it opened in February 2013. But despite more than $800,000 in ticket sales in its first year, the club didn’t break even. Owner Rick Brown said he considered changing the name to reflect the larger variety of acts the venue attracts. He’s sticking with the name, though he does anticipate hosting more private and corporate events. [Bethesda Beat]

Study: MoCo’s Population Growth Didn’t Mean A Spike In Driving – Montgomery County has grown by roughly 100,000 residents in the past decade, but according to a Planning Department mobility study, the amount of driving in the county has remained steady. The report also showed that the busiest intersections for cyclists in the county were in Bethesda, with the intersection of Woodmont Avenue and Montgomery Lane No. 1 at 163 bikes during the morning and evening rush hours. [Greater Greater Washington]

County Starts Street Sweeping Program – Check the numbered map to find out when county street sweepers will clean your neighborhood streets, weather permitting. [MCDOT]

Flickr photo by Ehpien

Emergency Bridge Repair Work Means Multiple Beltway Lanes Closed Overnight

by Aaron Kraut | April 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm | 134 views | No Comments

Three lanes of the Beltway inner loop between Connecticut Avenue and Georgia Avenue will be closed Wednesday and Thursday nights for emergency bridge repair work, via TrafficLand.comThe State Highway Administration said emergency bridge repair work means it will close the three left lanes of the Beltway inner loop between Connecticut Avenue and Georgia Avenue overnight on Wednesday and Thursday.

In a news release, the SHA said the lanes would close at 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and open no later than 5 a.m. the next morning.

Crews must do emergency repairs on the Beltway bridge over Kensington Avenue, just east of Connecticut Avenue, according to SHA.

The work requires cutting out a large section of concrete and pouring new concrete, which takes a few hours to set.

In the news release, the SHA advised drivers traveling at that time to use East-West Highway as an alternate route.

Photo via TrafficLand.com

Police Crack Down On Group Dealing Marijuana In Downtown Bethesda Plaza

by Aaron Kraut | April 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm | 1,834 views | 13 Comments

The public plaza at 7600 Old Georgetown RoadThe plaza area at Old Georgetown Road and Edgemoor Lane in downtown Bethesda is a popular hangout spot for teenagers and a popular spot to munch on a burrito.

But last fall, county officials started to notice some “unsavory characters” hanging out in the area, which sits between a Chipotle and the county’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

Ken Hartman, director of the Regional Services Center, said he coordinated with police to bring some extra attention to the plaza. A 2nd District Police investigation resulted in three people being charged for dealing marijuana near the prominent corner.

This month, those three have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty, according to court records. For two of the three charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, their jail sentences included probation terms that require them to stay away from the area of 7600 Old Georgetown Rd.

Andrew Wooten, 28, of Silver Spring was found guilty of of distribution and conspiracy to distribute marijuana on March 6 and sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised probation earlier this month.

Bethesda police district commander Capt. David Falcinelli said an investigation found Wooten was a “higher tier street-level dealer.”

Vincent Cromer, 24, was his underling, Faclinelli said. Cromer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana on April 15 and was sentenced to a year in prison with 18 months of probation.

David Cook, 29, of Silver Spring was also convicted on April 15 when he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He will be sentenced on June 12, though the Montgomery County Circuit Court has indicated it will sentence Cook to 90 days in prison.

Because the area is so popular among teenagers and because it’s home to an apartment complex, businesses and the Regional Services Center, Hartman provided a victim impact statement to the state’s attorney during Wooten’s sentencing.

“For parents who let their kids wander around after school, there are a lot of issues that go on and it doesn’t matter where you are in the county or what community you’re in,” Hartman said. “Even in downtown Bethesda, there are people, sometimes older people, who will be up to unsavory activity.”

Faclinelli said his 2nd District officers will continue to keep an eye on the area.

“Marijuana is oftentimes a gateway to other drugs like cocaine and heroin, and we have unfortunately all seen the tragedies across the area from untimely deaths of our young people from using these drugs,” Falcinelli said. “Officers from the 2nd District will be giving extra attention to this area to ensure that it remains a place where business owners and residents feel safe.”

Ecodistricts, Amenity Fund Could Be Coming To Downtown Bethesda

by Aaron Kraut | April 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm | 121 views | 2 Comments

A rain garden in an ecodistrict in Malmo, Sweden. Flickr photo via La Citta Vita

Incentives for sustainable design features, district heating and cooling systems and a fund for public amenities could be things coming to downtown Bethesda through the Planning Department’s ongoing master plan for the area.

Planners will likely pitch ecodistricts and a general public amenities fund as two of their preliminary recommendations as part of the Bethesda Downtown Plan, according to county planner Marc DeOcampo.

DeOcampo talked about the recommendations at a Citizens Advisory Board meeting on Monday, ahead of the Planning Department’s next planned workshop on Saturday, May 17.

Ecodistricts are an emerging planning concept that involve reusing water, capturing waste and prioritizing sustainable building design. The idea is that planning more sustainable and more environmentally friendly development at a neighborhood scale — rather than project-by-project — will get better results.

DeOcampo said the Planning Department is pursuing a consultant who worked on the SW D.C. Ecodistrict Plan. In January 2013, the National Capital Planning Commission approved a plan that provides the framework for an ecodistrict in the 15-block area of mostly federal office buildings located just south of the National Mall.

Over a 20-year period, the NCPC hopes the plan will result in most  of the area’s energy, water, and waste being captured, managed, and then reused. Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 51 percent, even with the potential addition of 4 million square feet of development.

Potable water consumption would be reduced by 70 percent, all stormwater will be managed and 80 percent of waste could be diverted from landfills.

Portland, Ore. has five designated ecodistricts that were initially cared for and maintained by a city-created nonprofit, before control was ceded back to the city.

Montgomery County planners have identified social sustainability, economic sustainability and environmental sustainability as the three themes guiding the Bethesda Downtown Plan since almost the beginning of their work on it.

The amenity fund idea has been pitched by a number of downtown residents, including the Board of Directors of the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District.

It’s not yet clear precisely how the Planning Department’s recommendation would look.

But community activists would like to see money from the private developers of downtown Bethesda help finance projects like a semi-permanent sculpture garden along Norfolk Avenue, a community black box theater or a civic green space that’s accessible and visible.

Montgomery County now provides a public amenity option to developers that want increased density, a common occurrence in downtown Bethesda. In an attempt to create a more vibrant urban place, developers can provide open spaces and public art.

But in Bethesda and elsewhere, those amenities are usually restricted to the developer’s property.

Flickr photo via La Citta Vita

Stone Ridge Coping With Surrounding Road Construction

by Aaron Kraut | April 23, 2014 at 9:05 am | 203 views | No Comments

With State Highway construction on the edges of its campus and the summer closure of Cedar Lane nearing, the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart is smack in the middle of some of the most pronounced BRAC-related changes in Bethesda.

It hasn’t been easy for Stone Ridge — a pre-K through grade 12 all-girls Catholic school that has also had to deal with the enrollment decreases that hit most private institutions during the recession.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Implementation Committee, Stone Ridge Board member and Committee representative Rich Vogel said the traffic-clogged state of Rockville Pike and the many road improvement projects did encourage a discussion of moving the school some place else.

But Stone Ridge leadership decided to stay put, doubling down on the school’s location at Rockville Pike and Cedar Lane with a campus improvement plan.

Construction could start on the first major part of that plan — a $6 million, FIFA regulated size turf field — in early May.

“It’s very much our home,” said Eric Osberg, the school’s director of finance and operations.

Osberg on Tuesday explained that the field was crucial to keeping Stone Ridge up to par with other private school facilities in the area. It’s also crucial to a new road and traffic circulation pattern on campus necessary because of SHA projects in the area.

The campus has three existing entrances, one on Rockville Pike and two on Cedar Lane.

The Rockville Pike entrance will have to be moved south toward Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) to accommodate SHA work on that side of the road — work that has already begun on the edges of Stone Ridge’s campus.

(more…)

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | April 23, 2014 at 8:15 am | 141 views | No Comments

Dalecarlia Tunnel and the Capital Crescent Trail

Chevy Chase Circle Remains A Hotspot Of Collisions – The traffic circle that divides Maryland and D.C. along Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase continues to have a high number of traffic collisions each year. From 2007 to 2011, Chevy Chase Circle averaged about a collision every two weeks — just on the Maryland side of the circle. Chevy Chase Village’s police chief is publicizing a campaign to teach drivers the right-of-way rules. [The Gazette]

Council Passes Package Of Environmental Sustainability Bills – A package of nine bills from Councilmember Roger Berliner (Bethesda-Chevy Chase) were passed on Tuesday to push for more electric vehicle charging stations, make permitting for solar panels easier and require the county to get more of its energy from renewable sources, among other initiatives. Berliner cited a recent U.N. report that discussed the effect climate change was already having in his remarks. [Montgomery County Council]

Kessler Responds To CASA’s Defense Of Sol Gutierrez – On Tuesday, CASA de Maryland defended District 18 Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez over a recent trip to vote in El Salvador’s election that meant she missed two days of the 90-day 2014 General Assembly. The group also criticized Rick Kessler, the candidate for a District 18 delegate seat who questioned Gutierrez’s commitment to the district because of the trip. Kessler’s campaign later responded to CASA on the Seventh State political blog. [Seventh State]

Rapid Transit Presentation Coming To Bethesda Green – A group of bus rapid transit proponents will present and discuss what a Rapid Transit System on Rockville Pike and Wisconsin Avenue would look like. The event is set for 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30 at Bethesda Green’s offices above the Capital One Bank at 4825 Cordell Ave. [Communities for Transit]

‘Welcome to Bethesda’ Sign Could Be Removed

by Aaron Kraut | April 22, 2014 at 2:25 pm | 605 views | 2 Comments

It’s perhaps the first thing drivers and pedestrians see when entering downtown Bethesda and it could soon be history.

The red “Welcome to Bethesda” sign that graces a flower-filled pedestrian refuge at Woodmont Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue on the north side of town could be removed if designs for a State Highway Administration project come to fruition.

SHA wants to reconfigure the high-speed merge area from southbound Wisconsin Avenue to Woodmont Avenue to make the crosswalk easier to navigate for pedestrians.

Bethesda Urban Partnership Executive Director Dave Dabney said early talks with SHA revolved around bumping out the existing pedestrian refuge to take away one of two lanes of the Woodmont Avenue merge area. That would allow pedestrians to cross one lane of merging traffic instead of two.

But a new proposal from SHA involves bumping out the opposite curb, which would have roughly the same effect but take away much of the existing pedestrian refuge.

Dabney and Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman are set to meet with SHA next week to express their concerns. Slimming down the pedestrian refuge would mean losing the sign, taking out the decorative stone wall, getting rid of green space and reducing the space pedestrians have on the island.

“The new proposal caught us by surprise,” Dabney said. “We feel the island is important to creating the sense of place by welcoming constituents to the Bethesda Urban District.”

Drivers often veer off southbound Wisconsin Avenue at high speeds.

Despite the absence of a traffic light for those merging onto southbound Woodmont Avenue, that part of the intersection is a pedestrian crosswalk.

The sign and landscaping is maintained by the Bethesda Urban Partnership, the nonprofit charged by Montgomery County with maintaining and promoting Bethesda’s Central Business District.

Images via Bethesda Urban Partnership

UPDATED: Gas Leak In Downtown Bethesda Leaves Worker In Serious Condition

by Aaron Kraut | April 22, 2014 at 11:06 am | 1,096 views | No Comments

An entire block of Wisconsin Avenue near Miller Avenue and Leland Street was shut down Tuesday Southbound Wisconsin Avenue traffic at a standstill on Tuesday

(Update at 12:10 p.m.) MCFRS says a gas leak that shut down Wisconsin Avenue on Tuesday led to one worker being transported to a hospital. The leak is now under control and the scene is being cleared.

According to MCFRS Battalion Chief Jim Resnick, first responders found an unconscious construction worker in an excavation hole when they arrived on scene just before 11 a.m.

Resnick said he was in serious but stable condition. The 1.5-inch gas line was accidentally struck near Wisconsin Avenue and Miller Avenue, in the heart of downtown Bethesda.

A firefighter on scene was also being evaluated for injuries, according to MCFRS spokesperson Beth Anne Nesselt.

Police and MCFRS units did evacuations of a few buildings in the area and closed Wisconsin Avenue to traffic. The buildings evacuated were at 4700 Miller Ave., the 7100 block of Wisconsin Avenue and the Crescent Plaza apartment at 7111 Woodmont Ave., according to Nesselt.

Resnick said those buildings would likely be reoccupied by 1 p.m., after fire officials determined conditions were safe.

At noon, MCFRS began to scale back their presence at the scene and began to reopen Wisconsin Avenue.

There were about 30 firefighters on scene at the height of the incident, Nesselt said. The gas leak was controlled at about 11:48 p.m.

Southbound Wisconsin Avenue traffic was diverted at Bethesda Avenue for nearly an hour. Northbound Wisconsin Avenue traffic was diverted at Leland Street. The normally bustling stretch of Bethesda Avenue just west of Wisconsin Avenue was shut down.

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | April 22, 2014 at 9:05 am | 124 views | No Comments

Flickr photo by ehpien

Community Media Celebrates ‘Day in the Life’ – For the second year, Montgomery Community Media is inviting people in Montgomery County to share what a “Day in the Life of Montgomery County” is like through photos. Professional and amateur photographers, as well as videographers are encouraged to take part. [MyMCMedia]

Bethesda Row Restaurant Week Is Right Now – A reminder that Bethesda Row’s official Restaurant Week — featuring 16 eateries — started on Monday and runs through April 27. [Bethesda Row]

Gansler Clarifies Remark About Brown’s Iraq War Service – Attorney General and gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler was in Bethesda on Monday, when he told the Tech Council of Maryland that rival Anthony Brown’s military service in Iraq didn’t amount to leadership experience.

“You know, his ads are about how we was a lawyer in Iraq and that’s all fine and good but this is a real job. We need to have somebody who actually has leadership experience and done budgets,” Gansler said.

That drew rebukes from some veterans groups. Gansler later said the comment was made in response to a question about Brown’s role in the state’s failed healthcare exchange. [Daily Record]

Turnout, Frosh For AG and District 16 – Center Maryland political columnist Josh Kurtz highlights expectations for low voter turnout on June 24, Brian Frosh’s uphill battle against one of his opponents’ famous last name and how the District 16 delegates race might turn out. [Center Maryland]

Flickr photo by ehpien

Bakery Chain, Pottery Barn, Chop’t Announced For Lot 31

by Aaron Kraut | April 22, 2014 at 8:05 am | 743 views | 8 Comments

Lot 31 construction last weekA Paul Bakery, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and Chop’t Creative Salad Company are coming to Lot 31, according to an announcement on Monday from developer StonebridgeCarras.

The developer said the retail space in the two residential buildings part of the project is more than 90 percent leased.

Combined with a luxury dining concept from Silver Diner and upscale seafood restaurant PassionFish, the retailers coming to Lot 31 mirror a few of the successful retailers across Bethesda Avenue in Federal Realty’s Bethesda Row.

That could set up an interesting test of the area’s retail market. Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids will fit into a 17,900-square-foot space in the Lot 31 project, “dramatically impacting the range of shopping available on Bethesda Row,” according to the StonebridgeCarras press release.

Urban Country (7117 Arlington Rd.) might have something to say about that. The homegrown furniture and design shop moved to Bethesda Row in 2008.

Chop’t will obviously be competing in the fast casual salad chain market with Bethesda Row’s Sweetgreen (4831 Bethesda Ave.). Paul Bakery, a chain of French bakeries prevalent in D.C., and Le Pain Quotidien (7140 Bethesda Lane) share that characteristic and more than a few others.

It sounds as if StonebridgeCarras thinks there’s plenty of room for both developments to thrive.

“The vision for the project’s retail has been to provide a great mix of merchandise and restaurant retailers, enhancing the existing dynamic and vibrant Bethesda Row area of Bethesda,” StonebridgeCarras founding principal Doug Firstenberg said in a press release.

His company’s project consists of a 940-space underground garage to be operated by Montgomery County that will replace the surface Lot 31. Construction on that is expected to finish later this year, which will allow Woodmont Avenue to reopen south of Bethesda Avenue.

Crews will then finish the 64-unit luxury condominium building The Darcy on one side of Woodmont, with the 162-unit The Flats set for the other side.

Council Members Caution Against Plowing Capital Crescent Trail

by Aaron Kraut | April 21, 2014 at 3:05 pm | 317 views | 6 Comments

The Georgetown Branch extension of the Capital Crescent Trail at Jones Mill Road on Jan. 30A $75,000 pilot program to clear snow from the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda is still alive, though members of a County Council committee had doubts about how practical the project would be.

The Council’s Planning Committee discussed the proposal, provided by Montgomery Parks at the request of Councilmember Roger Berliner, in regards to next year’s county budget.

The Committee agreed to put the program on a reconciliation list to be discussed by the full Council. But Councilmember George Leventhal worried that plowing the trail would actually invite bicyclists into dangerous situations.

“I’m worried we are inviting a dangerous activity,” Leventhal said, in comments to Parks staff at the hearing. “No one ever thinks they’re going to get into an accident. I’m envisioning a lot of bicyclists losing control and having problems on black ice.”

Parks Director Mary Bradford said the pilot is possible because the hard trail surface is the only commuter trail in the county that could sustain the required snow removal machinery. Montgomery Parks operates the 3.8-mile stretch of the Capital Crescent Trail from Bethesda to the D.C. line.

Bradford also pointed to snow removal on the D.C. section of the Trail — provided by the National Park Service — as a reason for why the Capital Crescent Trail was unique.

But the Trail’s distinction among other county trails isn’t the only issue, Councilmember Nancy Floreen said. She wondered why resources should be targeted toward plowing the Trail when the county doesn’t have snow removal plans for much-used sidewalks or other facilities.

The pilot would last for two years and assumes five snow events each winter.

“I think the time is coming where there will be more and more demand for this as Bikeshare stations are going in and more people bike to work,” Bradford said. “I think this is just the beginning of this.”

Parks has been reluctant in the past to commit to plowing specific trails over others. But pressed by Berliner — who was pressed by bicyclists who said the Trail was effectively frozen over for long stretches — Parks provided the $75,000 cost estimate.

The cost includes a new piece of equipment that could be modified to work on other Parks projects, just in case the pilot didn’t last or there were fewer significant snowfalls.

The pilot would also include hand snow removal on 13 feeder trails along the 3.8-mile section.

That led Councilmember Marc Elrich to question how bicyclists would get to the Trail if certain roads or sidewalks aren’t plowed.

“The more we talk about it, the more impractical it seems,” Elrich said.

The Committee did agree to send it to the full Council for more discussion.

“I’m not going to be the bad guy on this,” Leventhal said.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation separately operates the Georgetown Branch Extension of the Trail, much of which is not a hard surface.

Bethesda Named A Top 10 Best City For New College Grads

by Aaron Kraut | April 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm | 1,274 views | 1 Comment

People walking down the sidewalk at Bethesda Row (file photo)A website that ranks medium sized cities and towns on Monday named Bethesda as the No. 4 best city in the country for new college grads in 2014.

Livability.com says the combination of Bethesda’s 25- to 34-year-old population, education levels and the presence of jobs in top-hiring industries make it one of the most livable places for those looking to start a career.

Bethesda has the lowest unemployment rate (1.3 percent) on the top-10 list and more than 83 percent of the roughly 7,000 people in Bethesda age 25-34 have at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the rankings. It also helped that Bethesda is the home to leading research facilities such as NIH and major companies such as Lockheed Martin and Marriott.

“Businesses relocate for access to a talented workforce. But, increasingly, those young talents are choosing where to move after college based on livability,” Livability.com editor Matt Carmichael said in a press release. “These 10 cities are great places for recent grads, which should put them on the radar of employers looking to expand as well.”

The website said it also factored in the availability of rental units, public transportation and “cities that cater to a younger demographic by offering lots of recreational activities, hot nightlife and a hip vibe.”

“The majority of residents here make more than $130,000 a year,” according to the website. “Although there are fewer rental properties in Bethesda when compared to other cities on our list, young newcomers shouldn’t have a problem finding a trendy, hip apartment loaded with amenities like a pool, workout room and tennis courts.”

Cambridge, Mass., Bellevue, Wash., and Austin, Texas beat out Bethesda on the list. Other cities in the top 10 include Minneapolis, Hoboken, N.J., Ann Arbor, Mich., and Fargo, N.D.

Council Members To Introduce Snow Removal Plan

by Aaron Kraut | April 21, 2014 at 11:20 am | 68 views | No Comments

Snow in Bethesda (file photo)A pair of County Council members will introduce a snow removal plan focused on enforcing Montgomery County’s 24-hour sidewalk snow and ice removal law.

Hans Riemer (D-At large) and Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) are sponsoring a bill that would put more resources toward enforcing the law that requires all private property owners to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of a snowstorm.

In initial discussions of the bill, Riemer said he hoped for a Snow Removal Plan that would put county resources toward removing snow from bus stops, around schools, near Metro stations and other areas that saw lots of pedestrian traffic.

That effort gained little support from others on the Council. The cost of snow removal and storm cleanup on Montgomery County’s 5,200 lane miles this winter was about $25 million before a March 17 snowstorm. The county had budgeted $9 million.

The bill would require plans for county snow removal at bus stops, near schools and along state highways. It would also create a “targeted public education campaign about sidewalk and snow removal for owners of property in the County,” an effort that would include “pedestrian priority routes” for more targeted education and more snow and ice removal enforcement.

The bill would also require the county to create an online map showing who is responsible for clearing snow and ice on each sidewalk in the county.

Montgomery County received 449 complaints about snow-filled sidewalks and walkways by March 19, but none resulted in any consequences for private property owners.

At a March Council meeting, Richard Nelson, director of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, said the department’s normal practice is to send a letter to the owner of the property in question.

Nelson said the department’s typical practice is to send an inspector to sites of complaints when there is a second complaint. This winter, Nelson said the DHCA sent inspectors to 40 sites and in each case, the situation had been resolved.

The bill proposed by Riemer and Navarro would require the county executive to come up with a plan for extended hours for those county employees who receive snow and ice removal complaints during a major snowstorm.

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | April 21, 2014 at 8:15 am | 426 views | No Comments

Flickr photo by fishfoot

Pottery Barn Coming To Lot 31 Project – A two-story, 16,000 square foot Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids is destined for The Darcy, one of two residential projects part of the Lot 31 project from developer StonebridgeCarras. The luxury condo — and the underground public parking garage — is under construction at Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues. [Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row]

Office of Sustainability Would Cost $4.7 million – County staff members have begun to estimate the potential costs of a package of environmental sustainability bills proposed by Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Chevy Chase). One of the bills, the creation of an Office of Sustainability, would require seven new full-time employees and would cost an estimated $4.7 million over six years. Another bill that would require Montgomery County to buy at least half of its energy from renewable energy sources by 2015 would cost an extra $750,000. [The Gazette]

Pike Central Farm Market Will Return To Pike & Rose – The White Flint/North Bethesda farmers market from Central Farm Markets will head to a new site starting Saturday, April 26 for this year only. Developer Federal Realty is building out Phase II of its Pike & Rose project on the former site of Mid-Pike Plaza, making the location change necessary. [Pike Central Farm Market]

Flickr photo by fishfoot

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