Large new apartment and retail buildings that residents fear will bring unbearable levels of traffic to Connecticut Avenue have been the focus of much debate surrounding the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan.
On Monday, the County Council’s Planning Committee will examine something that’s perhaps scarier.
Three of the four major intersections in Chevy Chase Lake are forecast to fail the county’s traffic standard even with the completion of an ongoing intersection improvement, even with the planned Purple Line light rail station and even if the area was to undergo no development at all.
That leaves the Committee with a difficult balancing act as it institutes a new master plan for the area of Connecticut Avenue between Jones Bridge Road and Chevy Chase Lake Drive. It also buoys developers who argue projected congestion on the road is predominantly caused by existing thru-traffic, though residents and at least one councilmember question how the new development proposed in the Sector Plan wouldn’t add a significant amount of cars.
According to a Council staff report, the Committee can assume the Purple Line station will entice a much higher amount of people to ditch their cars in favor of mass transit, reduce the amount of proposed development or add more lanes and make other road fixes to increase traffic capacity.
It could also just raise the traffic standards to make the intersections compatible, an idea councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At large) panned in March during the Committee’s first worksession on Chevy Chase Lake.
The most likely scenario is a combination of those options.
Deputy Council Staff Director Glenn Orlin recommended raising the traffic standard slightly with the rationale that the Purple Line station would serve as a reasonable alternative to drivers who choose to continue driving. The recommendation also includes a few adjustments to intersections and a last-ditch option to ease congestion with an additional turn lane at East-West Highway and Connecticut Avenue.
The full description of the potential intersection changes are in pages 5-7 of the Council staff report below.
The Planning Committee is meeting at 2 p.m. on Monday, a meeting that will be televised live on County Cable Montgomery.
A four-studio art incubator space part of a planned downtown condo is coming into focus.
Chevy Chase-based developer Starr Capital will go to the Planning Board next month with a proposal for a 17-story, 72-unit luxury condo at 4990 Fairmont Ave., the site of a shuttered BP gas station.
The project includes ground floor retail and four levels of parking immediately above, so residents can overlook the county’s Lot 11 garage next door. As its public amenity, Starr Capital has proposed dedicating 2,000 square feet of the ground floor space to the county, which would then hand over management of the property to the Bethesda Urban Partnership.
BUP would lease out four art studios with separate entrances to the alley between the condo and Lot 11.
Starr Capital would build an overhang above the first floor studios to expand the alley’s width from five feet to 10 and hopes to project the artists’ work onto the cinder block garage wall across the way.
An art incubator space has been an objective of BUP and some members of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group (an advisory group made up of residents, business reps and developers) since a similar plan for the 8300 Wisconsin development fell through.
Attorney Bob Dalrymple, from Bethesda-based Linowes and Blocher, said Starr Capital will work off of the agreement worked up for the 8300 Wisconsin project. At the Woodmont Triangle Action Group’s meeting on Friday morning, Dalrymple asked for and got the advisory board’s support for the project.
Starr Capital is planning roughly 100 parking spaces for the four levels of above-grade parking, which will be outfitted with glass and other materials to make it look the same as the rest of the building. The 100 spaces is more than the zoning code allows for, so the developer will have to pay into a parking fund, pending the outcome of the zoning code rewrite discussion going on at the County Council.
The developer is looking for suggestions on how to utilize the four columns that must be built to support the building outside of the studios. One WTAG member suggested putting art inside or wrapping it around the columns.
BUP is looking at minimum one-year leases for each of the studios, which could include signage that declares the alley as an Art Walk or something similar.
The stories of a rural villager with eight kids and no clean water to provide them, an American approaching retirement who wants to make meaning of his life and a young Zambian well-digger struggling to provide for his family are normal in many ways.
It’s when the stories intersect, as director Derek Watson shows in his short documentary “This Is Normal,” that positive change happens.
In this case, it’s the introduction of a cheap, but effective manual well-drilling method to a Zambian village that before relied on a freshwater lake for a water supply that was slowly killing its residents. The documentary will be featured during Saturday’s 2nd Annual Reel Water Film Festival at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.
It will screen during the “Afternoon Splash” session of the event, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The festival will feature a number of documentaries dealing with water issues and a host of local environmental groups.
“People are blown away by this,” Watson said. “We just completely take clean water for granted. We just turn on the faucet and don’t think about it. We don’t even fathom that most of the world lives without that. Even 100 years ago, that didn’t exist in America but we’re just so far removed it.”
Watson, an Oklahoma-based documentary filmmaker, spent two weeks in an island village on Lake Bangweulu in northern Zambia to chronicle how a lack of clean water is normal there.
Somewhere around Bethesda are 25 black cards that say “Max Was Here.” If you find one, the Max Brenner chocolate bar coming to Bethesda Row will reward you with a special gift.
It’s part of the chocolate chain’s promotional push leading up to its June 22 opening on Bethesda Row at 7263 Woodmont Ave.
The Bethesda location won’t provide the full brunch and dinner menus its other U.S. restaurants do, but it will offer hot chocolate, chocolate pizza, crepes, waffles, other items and a retail section with different chocolate products.
Max Brenner staffers hid the 25 cards in different locations around town “in places where ‘Max’ would go,” according to a company spokesperson.
Those who find one can tweet the location where they found the card with #mmmchocolate for a gift.
Photo via Max Brenner
Powerful Storm Tears Through Rockville, Center Of County — Yesterday’s powerful afternoon thunderstorm largely spared Bethesda, causing the vast majority of its damage in Rockville, Olney and Aspen Hill. A tornado reportedly formed near Georgia Avenue and Route 28. The bulk of the county’s power outages and downed trees happened in Rockville and extended east toward the P.G. County line. No major injuries were reported. [Montgomery County]
Town of Chevy Chase Nixes Shuttle Plan — The Town of Chevy Chase won’t create a shuttle service for residents who want to access downtown Bethesda after a Wednesday Council meeting. Some weren’t convinced a shuttle service or a subsidized taxi program would be worth the money. [The Gazette]
Pair of Community Meetings On Monday — Bethesda will host a pair of community meetings on Monday, starting with the second meeting of the county’s new Nighttime Economy Task Force, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Bethesda Library (7400 Arlington Rd.). At 7 p.m., the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board will meet to get a crime report from 2nd District Commander Capt. David Falcinelli and to discuss Bus Rapid Transit. That meeting will take place at its regular location, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane). [Nighttime Economy Task Force] [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center]
Flickr photo by ehpien
UPDATED 4:40 p.m. The National Weather Service has dropped the Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Montgomery County as the storm system that rolled through around 4 p.m. moves east.
There were about 1,400 Pepco customers without power in Bethesda, according to the utility company’s outage map. Most of the outages are in the 20814 zip code, apparently along Old Georgetown Road near NIH.
A downed tree on Linden Avenue near Pooks Hill Road has that road closed.
The storm appears to have hit central Montgomery County, including Rockville, the hardest. There are 7,650 customers without power in Rockville’s 20850 zip code. The National Weather Service reported a tornado did touch down in the Olney/Colesville area.
A Flash Flood Warning remains in effect until 7 p.m.
...A FLASH FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 700 PM EDT FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY... AT 425 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED VERY HEAVY RAIN CAPABLE OF PRODUCING FLASH FLOODING. RADAR ESTIMATES THAT OVER 1 INCH OF RAIN HAS ALREADY FALLEN FROM POOLESVILLE TO GERMANTOWN TO LAYTONSVILLE. NO ADDITIONAL RAIN IS EXPECTED...BUT THE TORRENTIAL RAIN IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME IS LIKELY TO CAUSE FLASH FLOODING. LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO ASPEN HILL... BETHESDA...BOYDS...CHEVY CHASE...COLESVILLE...DAMASCUS...FAIRLAND... GAITHERSBURG...GERMANTOWN...MONTGOMERY VILLAGE...NORTH POTOMAC... OLNEY...POOLESVILLE...POTOMAC...ROCKVILLE AND WHITE OAK. TO REPORT FLASH FLOODING...HAVE THE NEAREST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY RELAY YOUR REPORT TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA.
The Chevy Chase Land Company thinks it has found a compromise with nearby residents by lowering the building height of a controversial apartment proposal along Connecticut Avenue.
The developer initially argued the 150-foot height was necessary to make a future apartment — with underground parking and an adjacent public green space — economically feasible for the parcel of land east of Connecticut Avenue and immediately north of a future Purple Line station. The Land Company also said the height of the building will determine the amount of land that can be dedicated to the public green space.
The Connecticut Avenue Corridor Coalition (CACC), a group of local residents, civic associations and town leaders, said the 150-foot height would contribute to more traffic on the already clogged road. CACC leaders are looking for a 120-foot height limit. Some residents are still hoping for a 90-foot height limit, as proposed in early plans from Planning Department staff.
The Planning Board agreed with the developer, recommending a 150-foot height max to the County Council.
The Land Company now says that after a recent review with its consultants, it will be able to construct a 130-foot building.
Montgomery County Police arrested a D.C. man for a home break-in on May 31 in Chevy Chase:
A residential burglary occurred in the 6800 block of Brookville Road in Chevy Chase on Friday, 5/31 at approximately 3:30 a.m.
Arrested: Male, age 35
But two other burglaries and a string of thefts from cars in the same beat remain remain unsolved:
A residential burglary occurred on Tuesday, 5/28 in the 1700 block of East West Highway in Bethesda sometime between midnight and 7:30 a.m. Forced entry; property taken.
A residential burglary occurred in the 3500 block of Cummings Lane in Chevy Chase sometime between 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, 5/30 and 5:30 a.m. on Friday, 5/31. Unknown entry; property taken.
Four thefts from vehicles occurred overnight between Monday, 5/27 and Tuesday, 5/28 in residential driveways in the Village of Chevy Chase; cash and other small valuables were reported taken.
The rest of the most recent 2nd District crime summary is after the jump.
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A Montgomery County arts nonprofit hopes a crowdfunding project will cultivate a new set of donors to local arts organizations.
The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) officially launched its Kickstarter-like power2give.org site on Wednesday at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda.
Individuals can donate any amount of money to any of the 21 projects, which include funding goals for summer camp scholarships at Round House, bus transportation for MCPS students to a performance at Imagination Stage, the repair of a trolley at the National Capital Trolley Museum and a camera to help a local dance company capture its kids’ performances.
The goal is to encourage philanthropy of any size from people who may have never given to arts programs before.
“I think often people feel, ‘If I can’t make a really big donation, I shouldn’t donate at all,” said Ryan Rilette, producing artistic director at Round House. “It’s weird, they think that about the arts but they don’t necessarily think that about their church. This is saying, ‘No, any little bit that you can give will actually make a very clear difference in people’s lives.’”
Round House is looking for $7,142 to help pay for part of 17 summer camp scholarships and after and before care services. Just $15 will provide for one day of before care, $100 will pay for a week of aftercare and $275 will provide for a week of camp.
County Executive Isiah Leggett and his wife Catherine gave $200 in the first post-launch donation to the site. A number of local companies, including Monument Bank and Bethesda Magazine, are making matching or initial donations to the program.
“I think it’s crowdsourcing in a way,” Bethesda Magazine publisher Steve Hull said. “It’s getting more people involved regardless of whether it’s the arts or efforts for people in need.”
Imagination Stage is looking for $6,750 through the website to help fund field trips for 3,000 MCPS third graders at schools that serve low-income communities. Five dollars will fund the bus cost for one student.
Imagination Stage ultimately wants to introduce all MCPS third graders to theater through field trips. It’s hoping to raise a matching amount of $6,750 at its October gala to help fund the program for its spring 2014 production of “Cinderella: the Remix.”
“This is an opportunity for us to find people who really can’t give that much,” said Imagination Stage marketing associate Erin Gifford. “This is a very big thing on social media and we find there’s a lot of younger people on social media who probably don’t have as much accessible income to give us.”
AHCMC is the first organization to employ the power2give.org site in the Washington area.
Someone burglarized the Boloco on Bethesda Row a few weeks ago and the fast casual burrito and smoothie chain is looking for help finding the suspect.
The Boston-based company, known for its creative use of social media, released the above surveillance camera footage of the burglar with annotations.
“Wow…nice guess on that safe code,” reads one. “Sweet hat,” reads another.
The burglary happened at 2:50 a.m. on May 27. Boloco opened last July at 4930 Elm St.
The video shows the burglar crawling under a shelf and moving a small cabinet to open the store’s safe and steal an unspecified amount of cash. The burglar wasn’t as lucky with the drawers in the front of the restaurant. There was no money there.
At 3:15 a.m., almost a half hour after the burglary started, the suspect leaves through the front door on Elm Street.
Boloco is asking anyone with information to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chevy Chase Village Could Share Police Force, But Village Board Wants Higher Fee — A proposal to share some of its police department officers with the nearby Village of Martin’s Additions is doable and could serve the greater good, according to Chevy Chase Village’s police chief. But at a meeting on Monday, the Chevy Chase Village Board decided to table the measure, saying the flat $1,250 fee that would be charged to Martin’s Additions is too low. [The Gazette]
Floreen on Leggett vs. Duncan: ‘I Don’t Think There’s Going To Be Much Of A Race’ — Councilmembers George Leventhal likely won’t run for county executive now that Isiah Leggett has announced he’ll run for re-election. Councilmember Marc Elrich won’t. Leventhal and councilmember Nancy Floreen, elected in 2002 on Doug Duncan’s slate, both said Leggett will beat Duncan in a 2014 showdown. Floreen said she thinks Leggett will win easily. [Bethesda Magazine]
County Asks For Input On Alert Montgomery, Zoning Code Rewrite — Montgomery County is asking what types of information (besides the weather alerts and traffic notifications it sends now) should be included in the Alert Montgomery system. It’s also looking for ideas on the zoning code rewrite, which the County Council is now examining. [Engage Montgomery]
Aroma Espresso Putting On Car Show — Aroma Espresso Bar (7101 Democracy Blvd.) will host a weekly informal gathering of car enthusiasts in the parking lot outside its Montgomery Mall location. Gift cards and gear from a local Maserati dealer will be available. The first “Aroma Exotics” event is Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. [Aroma Espresso Bar via Facebook]
Flickr photo by ehpien
Starting Saturday, June 22 and continuing each week through Sunday, Sept. 1, Central Farm Markets and the CompostCrew representatives at its Bethesda and North Bethesda markets will offer treats for each canister of compost a child brings in.
Kids age 5-16 who want to participate will sign up and pick up a canister. Each child will get a card with ten punch-holes and information on what sorts of items to put in the canister each week. Three “punches” will earn participants a free t-shirt. Those who get all 10 punches by Sept. 1 will get a bag of compost for their gardens and a gift card to Staples for school supplies.
The market takes place each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mid-Pike Plaza (11806 Rockville Pike) and each Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bethesda Elementary School (7600 Arlington Rd.)
Montgomery County’s bikeway coordinator said an extension of the Bethesda Trolley Trail in North Bethesda should be complete by September and it will use a street marking unique to many suburban areas.
Patricia Shepherd told the White Flint Implementation Committee on Monday that the county is prepared to begin a .29-mile extension of the trail from the northern terminus of its off-road portion at Edson Lane along Woodglen Drive to Nicholson Lane.
The Bethesda Trolley Trail is a six-mile route meant to connect the Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville with downtown Bethesda through White Flint. The off-road portion of the Trail, which includes bridges over the Beltway and I-270, runs to just south of NIH at Battery Lane.
The development of North Bethesda Market has led to concerns from bikers who use the Trail on Woodglen. A Whole Foods supermarket, parking garage entrances and curbside parking can make navigating the area difficult.
The county’s Department of Transportation hopes shifting a shared-use sidewalk from the Whole Foods side of the street to the west side of the street will help things. The county is waiting for WSSC to finish a project in the area. Then, it will remove the existing five-foot concrete sidewalk on the west side of Woodglen and add an eight-food shared-use path in its place.
In a move Shepherd said could become more common in downtown Bethesda with the introduction of Capital Bikeshare, the county will apply new lane markings to the street called sharrows. The markings mean bikers can use the full lane, just like the driver of a car.
MCDOT will remove six curbside parking spots from the street to help widen the lane, which will make it possible for cars and bikes to travel the roadway side-by-side.
Shepherd said cyclists were concerned that a traditional bike lane to the outside of regular traffic could lead to collisions with car doors that fling open in street parking spaces. She also said its important to connect the Bethesda Trolley Trail to Wall Park, which is just to the northwest of Woodglen Drive.
Seacrets, the bar, restaurant, nightclub and raft party destination, is now selling its Honey Mustard sauce at Bethesda’s Giant Food stores at Georgetown Square Shopping Center, on Arlington Road and in Westbard’s Westwood Shopping Center.
The company says the gluten-free sauce has been a staple on its jerk chicken, salads and french fries for 25 years. Seacrets attracts 800,000 people annually and has turned into a multi-million dollar megabar. It reportedly raked in between $15 million and $25 million in 2011, making it one of the highest grossing nightclub venues in the country.
Owner and CEO Leighton Moore said he created the mustard himself and thought about marketing it large-scale when people started walking off with it.
“I knew we needed to get it on grocery store shelves so our Ocean City customers could enjoy its unique taste right at home no matter the time of year,” Moore said in a press release.
Photo via Seacrets