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by Aaron Kraut — November 21, 2014 at 11:25 am 387 0

Commercial burglaries at a high-end fashion retailer in Chevy Chase and a not so high-end fast food joint on Rockville Pike lead the most recent Bethesda area crime summary.

Also included is the Nov. 5 carjacking of a teenager in a Bethesda neighborhood. Police have not located the three suspects:

A commercial burglary occurred at the Louis Vuitton located in the 5400 block of Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase on Monday, 11/10 at 8:11 a.m. No forced entry; nothing taken.

A commercial burglary occurred at the Arby’s located at 11710 Rockville Pike in North Bethesda on Saturday, 11/8 between 1:00 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. Forced entry; property taken.

A carjacking occurred in the 7800 block of Hampden Lane in Bethesda on Wednesday, 11/5 at 7:00 p.m. The suspects threatened the victim with a weapon and obtained the vehicle.

Suspects: Black male, 5’11″-6’1″/130-140 lbs., wearing a ski mask; black male; unknown race male

Seven incidents of thefts from vehicles occurred at Virgilia Street and Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase on Monday, 11/10 at approximately 2:30 a.m. No signs of forced entry; arrests were made.

Arrested: Male, age 22, from Washington DC; male, of an unknown age, from Washington DC

An incident of theft occurred in the 4900 block of Cordell Avenue in Bethesda on Friday, 11/7 between 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Property was unknowingly taken from the victim while shopping.

A theft from vehicle occurred at Grosvenor Lane & Fleming Avenue in Bethesda on Friday, 11/7 between 3:30 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. Unknown entry; property taken.

Arrested: Male, age 24, from Germantown

A strong-arm robbery occurred in the 5200 block of Westport Road in Chevy Chase on Friday, 11/7 at approximately 8:00 p.m. The suspects threatened the victim with a weapon and obtained property.

Suspect: Black male, 5’9″/180 lbs., black jacket; black male, 5’9″/170 lbs., black jacket 

Two commercial burglaries occurred at Euro Motorcars, 5206 River Road in Bethesda. The first incident occurred overnight between Tuesday, 11/4 and Wednesday, 11/5. No forced entry; property taken. The second occurred overnight between Thursday, 11/6 and Friday, 11/7. Forced entry; property taken

A strong-arm robbery occurred at Whittier Boulevard & Wilson Lane in Bethesda on Monday, 11/10 at approximately 4:30 p.m. The suspects assaulted the victim and obtained property.

Arrested: Male, age 18, from Bethesda 

A residential burglary occurred in the 9200 block of Fernwood Road in Bethesda on Tuesday, 11/11 between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 9200 block of Beech Hill Drive in Bethesda on Tuesday, 11/11 between 9:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.

by Aaron Kraut — November 21, 2014 at 9:25 am 256 1 Comment

State Highway Administration (file photo)As part of a broader improvement project for Connecticut Avenue, the State Highway Administration is set to temporarily close one ramp connecting to the Beltway on Monday, Dec. 1.

Weather permitting, crews will close the ramp from the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway to northbound Connecticut Avenue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 1. Crews are resurfacing the roadway and putting in new traffic signals on the busy northbound and southbound ramps from the Beltway to Connecticut Avenue.

It’s part of an overall $3.7 million safety and resurfacing project for Connecticut Avenue from Dupont Avenue in Kensington to the Beltway in Chevy Chase. Almost 65,000 drivers use the section of Connecticut Avenue each day.

Work began on the project this summer and the SHA says all phases should be complete by fall 2015.

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by Aaron Kraut — November 21, 2014 at 8:55 am 291 0

Photo via rzultarzaba

Transit Advocates Pressing For Council To Pass Urban Road Code – The County Council is set to vote on a bill that would mean narrower roads, slower speed limits and more pedestrian bumpouts and bicycle lanes on newly designed county roads in urban areas of the county such as White Flint and Bethesda. [Action Committee For Transit]

MoCo Democratic Chairman Offers To Resign – Kevin Walling, the Bethesda resident who took over as the chairman of the county’s Democratic Party organization four months ago, offered his resignation Sunday. Walling was facing criticism over the Central Committee’s sample ballots, many of which included misprinted information to the detriment of both Republican and Democratic candidates in this month’s election. [Bethesda Magazine]

Better Than Black Friday? – URBNMarket, the market of vintage and handmade crafts from local vendors, will return for its holiday market on Sunday, Dec. 7 at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad (5020 Battery Lane) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. [URBNMarket]

More Than 1.1 Million Projected To Travel For Thanksgiving – Thanks to low gas prices, AAA is projecting more D.C. area residents will hit the road this Thanksgiving travel period than in any year since 2007. There’s also new data from the region’s Transportation Planning Board that suggests the Tuesday before Thanksgiving — not the Wednesday before — might now be the region’s most congested pre-Thanksgiving travel day. [Washington Post]

Free Lobster Rolls – To celebrate its grand opening, new Westfield Montgomery mall fast casual eatery Lobster ME is offering free lobster rolls from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday. [Lobster ME via Facebook]

Photo via rzultarzaba

by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm 4,485 13 Comments

Clyde's Tower Oaks Lodge restaurant, via Facebook

The highest volume restaurant in Montgomery County was fined a total of $9,000 by the county on Thursday two weeks after admitting to a slew of alcohol violations related to a half-price wine special.

The county’s Board of License Commissioners agreed to fine Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge $5,000, plus $2,000 for the restaurant’s alcohol sales to minors and $2,000 for failing to make certain records available on the night of Aug. 11.

On that night, a group of Montgomery County Police officers and Department of Liquor Control officials went into the restaurant (2 Preserve Parkway) to investigate reports from the community of overservice and service to underage patrons.

Police said they had received the reports of fights in the parking lot in relation to the restaurant’s Monday night half-price wine special. The restaurant’s manager said two weeks ago that he saw an increasing amount of issues on Monday nights over the summer.

Two officers in street clothes and a DLC inspector witnessed numerous customers who appeared underage with alcohol. One DLC inspector took photos of a patron roaming around the restaurant with a pitcher of beer and of an off-duty employee, who cops said blew a .231 on a portable breathalyzer test.

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by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm 571 12 Comments

Blair Lee IV, photo via The GazetteSome Montgomery County Democrats aren’t too happy with Governor-elect Larry Hogan’s selection of an outspoken local conservative to be part of his transition team.

The Montgomery County Young Democrats on Wednesday called on Hogan to remove Blair Lee IV — the Silver Spring developer and The Gazette columnist — from his newly-minted position.

Lee IV is the son of Blair Lee III, a former secretary of state, lieutenant governor and acting governor of Maryland. The Lee family played a major role in the founding of Montgomery County. Two of the family’s ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence.

Lee IV is chairman of the board of the Lee Development Group and often shares his political musings on WBAL Radio.

The Young Democrats say he’s also “firmly embedded in right-wing policy and corporate politics,” and has expressed “extreme homophobic views that do not view all Marylanders as equal.”

The group based that assertion on Lee’s opposition of the state’s 2012 same-sex marriage referendum. In an interview with the Washington Blade this week, Lee said he still holds the opinion that gay sex is a sin.

“Governor-elect Hogan is packing his transition team with consultants, legislators, and policy makers who are against the progress that Maryland has made over the past four years,” read a press release from the Young Democrats. “In fact, voters affirmed much of this progress at the polls when the civil right to marriage equality and sensible, compassionate policies toward immigrant children in our state passed in 2012. His appointments set a disturbing tone for the future of our state in the next four years.”

The group also went after Lee and Hogan’s other transition team members for supporting the elimination of the state’s corporate tax and their opposition to repealing the death penalty and raising the minimum wage.

Photo via The Gazette

by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 9:00 am 341 1 Comment

New White Flint Post Office location on Nicholson Lane

The relocated White Flint Post Office that was supposed to open in July is set to finally open Monday, according to the Postal Service.

D.C. area spokesperson Laura Dvorak said the new location (5056-B Nicholson Lane) will open at 9 a.m. on Monday.

It will be the first time the White Flint Post Office has been open since April, when the USPS closed its location in White Flint Mall earlier than it had previously announced.

The Postal Service’s lease at the Mall was up in May and with redevelopment of the mall planned, it started looking for a new nearby location last year.

The Kensington Post Office temporarily took over the White Flint location’s P.O. box service.

by Aaron Kraut — November 20, 2014 at 8:00 am 1,003 2 Comments

Bradley Shopping Center, via rzultarzaba

Giant Pharmacist Accused Of Stealing Painkillers From Own Pharmacy – Parvin Ossareh, 51, of Bethesda has been charged with the theft of more than 7,300 tablets of the painkiller Hydrocodone from the Giant Food pharmacy he worked in. Police say Ossareh first started stealing the pills in July 2013 from the Giant Food at Georgetown Square Shopping Center. It continued until June 2014, when management confronted Ossareh about fraudulent transactions in the pharmacy’s records. [ABC7]

Upscale Bethesda Restaurant Switching To Barbecue – Newton’s Table (4917 Elm St.) is switching from pricey white tablecloth to barbecue starting in 2015. Newton’s Table owner Dennis Friedman will change the name of the restaurant to Bethesda Barbeque Company and work with a high school friend who started a barbecue company in North Carolina. [Bethesda Magazine]

MCPS Posts Part-Time Athletic Trainers At Each High School – For the first time, MCPS has put part-time athletic trainers at each of the system’s 25 high schools, allowing the professionals to diagnose injuries and offer advice to prevent injuries across all sports. Last year, just seven schools were assigned a full-time trainer and two additional trainers split time between 11 other schools. [The Gazette]

Deadline For Bus Rapid Transit Committees Is Friday – Friday is the deadline for nominations to the county’s new Rapid Transit System Corridor Advisory Committees. Self nominations can be sent in by email, but be sure to read up on the way the county hopes to structure each committee. There will be an Advisory Committee to help with the planning of the 355 South Corridor, which would run from south of the Rockville Metro station all the way to the Bethesda Metro station. [Montgomery County]

Photo via rzultarzaba

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 4:15 pm 241 0

A traffic stop in Bethesda (file photo)

Montgomery County Police will begin their Alcohol Holiday Task Force on Wednesday night, an effort that will include sobriety checkpoints and surveillance of stores that sell alcohol.

Officers from the county’s Alcohol Initiatives Section will be leading the task force, which will run until Jan. 10 and include five focus areas:

  • •Enforcement of traffic laws in areas known for a high number of alcohol-related tragedies with the goal of getting drunk or drug-impaired drivers off the road.
  • Compliance checks of businesses who hold alcohol licenses by using underage volunteers to attempt to purchase alcohol at establishments (ensuring that shopkeepers are careful not to sell alcohol to minors).
  • Surveillance by officers in plain clothes of local businesses who sell alcohol  (ensuring that shopkeepers are not selling alcohol to minors and also ensuring that minors are not using false identification or using other means to buy alcohol).
  • Responding to calls for underage drinking parties.  All attendees are screened for alcohol usage, and those who are under age 21 are issued citations. Every person is then ensured a safe ride home.  Parents of juveniles are notified to come and get them. Any parent or other adult who hosts can also be held liable and can be issued a citation.
  • Sobriety checkpoints: The location of the checkpoints is based on accident and traffic data focusing on areas drivers are most at risk for encountering impaired drivers.

County police will team up with officers from the Park Police Department, Maryland State Police and departments in Gaithersburg City and Takoma Park.

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm 190 2 Comments

The "Monster Plow Truck," via State Highway Administration

While this week’s January-like temperatures haven’t brought any snow, the Maryland State Highway Administration wants people to know it’s ready for wintry weather at any time.

The SHA on Wednesday showed off nine new “Monster Plow Trucks.” At nearly one-and-a-half times the size of a regular plow truck, the SHA says the quad axle truck can carry 10 more cubic yards of salt and hold 40 more gallons of fuel than the typical vehicle in its fleet.

That means drivers of the monster plows will be able to stay on their snow plowing routes longer before having to reload and refuel.

The SHA showed off its collection of plow trucks, dual wing plows, tow plows and “state-of-the-art snow blowers,” at its maintenance facility in Silver Spring.

Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation holds a similar event before each winter. The agencies work together when it comes to salting and plowing roads — though the SHA is responsible for clearing highways and major state routes such as Wisconsin Avenue, Old Georgetown Road and Connecticut Avenue.

The SHA says it tries to use less salt on the road each year and will again pre-wet salt with brine or magnesium chloride before it’s dispersed. That allows the salt to stick to the road better, instead of being bounced off by passing traffic.

There are 940 lane miles of road categorized as primary, arterial or emergency throughout the county. Montgomery County and its contractors are responsible for plowing 4,210 residential lane miles — those roads predominantly in neighborhoods.

Last year’s frequent snow events meant a total snow plowing price tag north of $25 million. The county had budgeted just $9 million.

Photo via SHA

by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm 2,415 64 Comments

(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Montgomery County planners could recommend 75-foot high mixed-use apartment buildings along River Road, a new Little Falls Library in a civic square and a new development of 50- and 80-foot tall buildings on what’s now a shopping center parking lot in the Westbard section of Bethesda.

Planners working on a revision of the Westbard Sector Plan presented their Concept Framework Plan to residents on Tuesday night at Westland Middle School.

The presentation included renderings of how development spurred by the yet-to-be approved Sector Plan might look along River Road and Westbard Avenue.

Planners also projected the Concept Framework would allow for triple the amount of housing units in the area today, with an additional 1,685-1,927 units allowed on top of the existing 1,104.

The renderings and housing projection elicited gasps and laughs from some of the roughly 250 residents packing the school’s cafeteria, many who have expressed opposition to more density since major property owner Equity One first met with them in January.

In a question and answer session that followed, the vast majority of the residents who spoke said they were against the proposed density because of concerns about traffic, school overcrowding or the potential loss of gas stations and auto repair shops that dot the dead-end alleys off River Road.

Some lambasted county planners. One man didn’t leave the microphone until planners attempted three different responses to his assertion — guised in the form of a question — that the plan was a “giveaway” to developers.

Others chose not to wait for their turn at the microphone, frequently yelling out while planners were attempting to respond to questions and concerns.

“All you’re doing by adding density is building a wasteland,” said one.

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by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 10:00 am 240 1 Comment

The Georgetown Branch extension of the Capital Crescent Trail at Jones Mill Road on Jan. 30, 2014

Montgomery Parks on Wednesday said it will plow its section of the Capital Crescent Trail this winter, after complaints last winter from Trail users who encountered icy conditions for days and weeks after snowy weather.

The pilot plowing program was approved as part of this year’s county budget, with up to $75,000 being set aside for the operation.

Parks staff will clear snow on its 3.5 miles of the trail running from Bethesda Avenue to the Montgomery County-D.C. line. Parks will also clear snow along 12 feeder trails. In an announcement on Wednesday, Parks said staff will begin clearing the trail within 24 hours after snow stops falling.

The money in the budget allows for the purchase of special trail clearing equipment as well as money to cover extra staff time.

“We recognize that many people rely on the Capital Crescent Trail for commuting and appreciate the county’s support of this pilot program enabling us to respond to the needs of residents,” Parks Director Mike Riley said in a prepared release.

In the past, Montgomery Parks has argued the idea of plowing the Capital Crescent Trail would mean having to remove snow on all of its trails in the county, a financially arduous task.

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by Aaron Kraut — November 19, 2014 at 9:00 am 4,441 3 Comments

Montgomery County police carThe police commander for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area says a number of recent daytime home burglaries could be the work of groups of transient criminals.

2nd District Police Capt. David Falcinelli penned a letter sent out to neighborhood groups across the area on Monday warning homeowners of thieves posing in WSSC uniforms, entire families sitting in cars casing neighborhoods and women showing up and asking to use the phone as a distraction.

Falcinelli said those scams are typical of “transient criminals,” some who stay in a local hotel for a few weeks before heading out of town.

He also went into detail about what the criminals look like, writing that they “are often mistaken as Hispanics:”

The appearance of a transient criminal can generally be described as medium to dark complexioned Caucasian, who are often mistaken as Hispanics. Dark hair and dark eyes are common characteristics. The number of suspects involved can be between two and six. At times, American transient criminal women and children will accompany a male suspect, or two women will work as a team. A look out is often used and usually sits in the vehicle and may sound the car horn if the police are spotted. You should note that transient criminals are experts at false identification and will use a variation of family names and birth dates

Falcinelli didn’t explain how police have connected several recent daytime burglaries to transient criminal activity, but did mention that residents have reported seeing unfamiliar people sitting in a car in their neighborhood around the time of a burglary.

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by BethesdaNow.com — November 19, 2014 at 8:00 am 352 0

This biweekly column is written by Suzanne Lawter, Director of Community Outreach for Mutts Matter Rescue, a local nonprofit, all-volunteer dog rescue. Mutts Matter is a network of volunteers who love animals and want to make a difference by helping forgotten and discarded dogs find loving families. Since our founding in 2010, we have successfully rescued and placed more than 1,400 dogs in the local Washington Metropolitan area.

Casey is an adorable 2.5-year-old terrier mix who weighs about 17 pounds. He’s a puppy mill survivor who is still very timid and adjusting to the world around him. He takes time to warm up to new people and trust new situations, but he finally knows what it’s like to be loved by a family and is embracing all the pleasures of home life, like treats, belly rubs, and snuggling with his foster family in bed.

Mutts Matter Rescue bannerCasey was one of 35 dogs that Mutts Matter took in from a large puppy mill bust in Virginia this year, and he was one of more traumatized dogs we rescued. He spent the entire first two years of his life locked up in a tiny, crowded cage, never having access to the outdoors or freedom to explore his environment. He was malnourished, his coat was severely matted to the point it limited his mobility, and he suffered from neglect and abuse at the hands of humans.

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by Aaron Kraut — November 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm 974 10 Comments

A major part of Rockville Pike’s “strip mall on steroids” layout is halfway to becoming one of its first attempts at urban living.

Developer Federal Realty, County Councilmembers, Montgomery County staff and Planning Department figures gathered at Pike & Rose on Tuesday to celebrate the official ribbon cutting ceremony for Phase I of the project that has transformed the former Mid-Pike Plaza Shopping Center at Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road.

Pike & Rose, situated around the newly built Grand Park Avenue, features 80,000 square feet of new Class A office space in the building that houses the luxury iPic movie theater and AMP, the 250-seat music venue to be operated by Strathmore and opening in March.

It also includes about 500 residential units spread over two buildings — the already opened PerSei apartment complex and the almost finished Pallas, the residential tower that will include higher-end apartment units and condos.

“We often hear, ‘Really, is Montgomery County open for business? Does Montgomery County welcome business?’” said Councilmember Roger Berliner, who used the “strip mall on steroids” phrase to describe what the area around the White Flint Metro station still largely resembles.

“This is proof positive that if you give our community a vision to get excited about, a vision where everybody has bought into it, we collectively can make something wonderful happen,” Berliner said.

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by Aaron Kraut — November 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm 3,068 13 Comments

The Bethesda Library

Bethesda is once again at the top of a list — this time for an honor that has been bestowed upon the area in one way or the other a few times before.

NerdWallet, a website that rates services including credit cards, insurance plans and shopping deals, named Bethesda as the “Most Educated Place in America.”

The website also ranked Potomac as the No. 2 most educated place in America and North Bethesda as the No. 10 most educated place in America.

It’s not the first time Bethesda has earned a top ranking on a most educated list and not the first time the area has been ranked near the top in an attempt to name the smartest places.

NerdWallet used Census numbers for almost 2,000 Census Designated Places in the country. Forty percent of the overall score for each place depended on the percentage of the population with at least a high school diploma or associate’s degree. Thirty percent of the overall score was based on the percentage of the population with at least a bachelor’s degree.

Ten percent each was assigned to the percentage of people with a master’s degree, the percentage with a doctorate degree and the percentage with a professional degree.

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