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
After months of studying potential options for a free shuttle service, the Town of Chevy Chase has presented residents hoping to avoid downtown Bethesda traffic with two options ahead of a public hearing on June 12.
Chevy Chase At Home, a senior village operating in the Town, first presented the idea of a mid-day shuttle service for senior residents last year. The idea was to help people avoid construction, traffic and parking areas when heading to shops and the Metro station in Bethesda.
But after the idea was first publicized, Town residents from different age groups and with different needs expressed interest in it. Some would like to use the shuttle to commute to and from the Town in rush hour. Some would like it for evening hours to avoid the parking crush at Bethesda Row.
Town Councilmember Al Lang and the Town’s Public Service Committee have suggested the service run from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to also include commuters, but that proposal is not currently on the table.
The two options under consideration are a four-hour (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) shuttle that would run either once-an-hour or twice-an-hour and a taxi reimbursement program that assume 50 monthly users reimbursed at a maximum of $30 per month.
Cost is a big factor. The shuttle (proposed route map provided by the Town above) would cost $10,000 for signs, benches and printing and $132,000 for the operation of a bus every 30 minutes. The once-an-hour shuttle option would cost $66,000.
The taxi reimbursement program would run the Town $18,000 a year.
As a comparison, the 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. shuttle option was projected to cost $215,000 a year to operate for one bus an hour and $428,000 for two buses an hour.
The Town Council hopes the public hearing provides some direction on the matter.
“The Council would like to come away from the public hearing with a clear sense of which, if any, alternative service residents would support,” wrote Town Councilmember David Lublin in an email to residents.
Map via Town of Chevy Chase
Central Farm Markets Combining Markets This Weekend — Central Farm Markets will combine its White Flint and Bethesda farmers markets into Saturday’s Pike Central Market at Mid-Pike Plaza (11810 Rockville Pike). Bethesda Central Market will be closed on Sunday due to a Bethesda Elementary School PTA fundraiser. [Central Farm Market]
B-CC Jazz Band To Perform At Bethesda Blues and Jazz — The Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Jazz Band will take the show around the block when it performs at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club (7719 Wisconsin Ave.) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 23. Tickets are $10. [Bethesda Blues and Jazz]
Leggett In Annapolis As O’Malley Signs Transportation Bill — County Executive Isiah Leggett was in Annapolis on Thursday as Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signed the recently passed transportation bill and gas tax increase that will send state revenue toward county transportation projects including the Purple Line light rail. O’Malley called Leggett “a consistently strong advocate,” for the measure. Leggett first proposed raising the state’s gas tax in 2006, at a time when he says the position was particularly unpopular. [Montgomery County]
Town Of Chevy Chase Looking For Help With New Website — The Town of Chevy Chase is redesigning its website and wants help finding photos that will make it more attractive, interactive and user friendly. The photos would go in a photo gallery featuring pictures of town events, landscapes architecture and other sites. Email digital photos to Eric Glidden at firstname.lastname@example.org or on a CD or flash drive to the Town Office.
Flickr photo by ehpien
John Bickerman, who characterized the Town of Chevy Chase’s attempt to stop the Purple Line as not forceful enough, beat out incumbent Linna Barnes to win a spot on the Town Council in the Town’s election on Tuesday.
Bickerman, a mediator who has lived in the area for 20 years, beat out Barnes by 11 votes, 324-313, according to the Town. Mayor Pat Burda, the other incumbent running, won reelection with 384 votes.
At a candidate forum on April 25, Bickerman said the current Town Council hasn’t done enough to stop the Purple Line or curb development at Chevy Chase Lake and along Bethesda’s Wisconsin Avenue corridor. Part of the 16-mile light rail project would run behind homes in the Town of Chevy Chase, one of the few remaining entities that still seems opposed to the transit system.
“If you want to get it done, you have to organize. You have to tell them, if you don’t support us, we’re going to find a way to defeat you,” Bickerman said, referring to developers and county and state officials in favor of the Purple Line. “I think we can do better because I think we can exercise our political power more effectively, not testifying in front of a board, not paying for a study to show us something we already know. I know how to do it.”
Bickerman suggested using some of the Town’s estimated $9 million surplus to lobby the Federal Transit Administration against matching the state’s contribution to the $2.2 billion project. The Maryland Transit Administration expects to present its plan to federal officials early next year.
Burda, who said she believes in the tenets of smart growth, took a softer tone. Burda said hiring a consultant to lobby against the Purple Line would be a waste of resources and the Town must do its best to mitigate its effects. Burda helped create the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee, which is currently arguing for limited density in the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan before the County Council.
Bickerman also said he would like to see the Town come up with a new strategic plan that would offer some ways to use that surplus. He suggested the idea of burying some power lines, which Burda and Barnes said the Town has determined would be too costly.
In 2009, Barnes was reelected for the Town Council with 357 votes in a four-candidate race for two seats. She served on the Council for 10 years. Burda, who got 363 votes in that election, beat out two other candidates to win her first term.
Metro Station Of The Future Architect Already Pulling Back On Plans — Within weeks of unveiling design ideas for a remodeled Bethesda Metro Station, WMATA architect Ivo Karadimov has received enough concerns from preservationists and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts to pull back on parts of his initial proposal, including replacing concrete sections with glass. [Washington Post]
Town of Chevy Chase To Select New Council Today — The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Town Hall (4301 Willow Lane). Incumbents Linna Barnes and Pat Burda are looking to hold on to their seats against challenger John Bickerman. [Town of Chevy Chase]
Crooks Try To Steal ATM From Potomac Bank of America — A group of three people tried to lift the ATM at the Bank of America around 2 a.m. today near River and Falls Roads in Potomac. The group apparently used a backhoe to try to rip the ATM from the outer wall of the bank. Police believe the steel chain that remained on the ATM this morning was attached to a vehicle to tear it away from its concrete foundation. The group fled when police arrived on the scene. [WTOP]
Montgomery County’s Gun Turn-In Day Is Saturday — On May 11, Montgomery County Police will hold a gun turn-in day at three locations, two in Gaithersburg and one in Silver Spring. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Police will accept unwanted guns or ammo no questions asked. [Montgomery County Police]
Flickr photo by Steve Pulley
The mayor of the Town of Chevy Chase is using the recent Apex Building redevelopment episode as part of her campaign platform before the Town’s election tomorrow.
In early April, Montgomery County Planning Department interim director Rose Krasnow said a nearby developer had proposed a Minor Master Plan Amendment that would examine razing the Apex Building (7272 Wisconsin Ave.) in exchange for more density in properties extending east along Montgomery Avenue.
The razing of the Apex Building would allow the county and the Maryland Transit Administration to build a Bethesda Purple Line station that would include an underground Capital Crescent Trail crossing of Wisconsin Avenue, which had previously been ruled out.
Town Mayor Pat Burda said she received a call from a County Councilmember about the proposal and immediately intervened, an example of how her experience and relationships can help the Town deal with the development of downtown Bethesda.
The Town of Chevy Chase, a half-square mile area of predominantly single family homes, has historically been wary of development that might encroach. At a candidate forum on April 25, all three candidates for two Council seats said they’d prefer if the Purple Line light rail was never built, for fear that it will bring development in surrounding communities.
On April 22, the County Council’s Planning Committee agreed with Council staff, Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier and Krasnow to keep all properties bordering the Town of Chevy Chase out of the Minor Master Plan.
“This seems both illogical and somewhat wrong. I’m getting a phone call from the mayor of the Town next to this, who doesn’t know about your deliberations until I call over there and say, ‘Do you know about this,’” County Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At large) told Krasnow and Carrier at the April 22 hearing. “Which is not the way we do things in Montgomery County, at least I didn’t think we did them that way. But apparently that is the way we do things now.”
In her candidate’s statement, Burda leads by explaining how she lobbied County Councilmembers to exclude properties bordering the Town from the Apex Building Minor Master Plan:
A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from a county councilmember letting me know of a potentially harmful development for our Town: the Planning Board was considering rezoning properties adjacent to the Town along Wisconsin Avenue, Elm Street Park and Montgomery Avenue and wanted to do it on the fast track. Thanks to this heads-up, I immediately set up a meeting with another county councilmember and got on the phone to several others. Through this direct access and quick action, the properties adjacent to the Town are no longer under immediate threat.
This outcome was only possible because of the hard work that I and others on our Council have done over the years to foster strong relationships with our county and state officials. This type of relationship will be particularly critical over the next few years as the County continues to look for ways to increase density in the down-county area. Experience does matter.
Image via Montgomery County Planning Department
The man challenging two Town of Chevy Chase Council incumbents didn’t hold back at a candidate’s forum on Thursday, saying he doesn’t think the Council has done enough to stop the Purple Line or stem surrounding development.
John Bickerman, a professional mediator, said the Town’s current leadership has been ineffective at influencing development at nearby Chevy Chase Lake and in downtown Bethesda. He said he would take a more agressive approach, perhaps by hiring a political consultant to lobby against the Purple Line.
Mayor Pat Burda and treasurer Linna Barnes are seeking reelection on May 7.
“If you want to get it done, you have to organize. You have to tell them, if you don’t support us, we’re going to find a way to defeat you,” Bickerman said, referring to developers and county and state officials in favor of the Purple Line.
“I’ll take a bet with you right now,” Bickerman told Burda.
“You don’t have the [County Council] votes on Chevy Chase Lake,” Bickerman said. “You’re not going to win this issue and it’s because you haven’t been effective.”
Three people are running for two spots, including incumbent Mayor Pat Burda and Treasurer Linna Barnes. The challenger is John Bickerman, who runs a D.C.-based mediation firm.
A candidates’ forum, moderated by Montgomery Municipal Cable’s Charles Duffy, will happen on Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall (4301 Willow Lane). The Town said any questions for the candidates can be submitted to email@example.com by April 24.
Burda has been active in the Town’s talks with the Maryland Transit Administration on the Purple Line, which would run behind many Town of Chevy Chase homes. In February, MTA presented noise mitigation walls to be installed in the Town of Chevy Chase it said was unique to the Town, in large part due to the Town’s advocacy on the issue.
Burda has also been involved in the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee, which has worked with developers part of the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan to manage and in some cases limit density in that proposal. Burda and Chevy Chase Village Board Chair Pat Baptiste have become known as “the two Pats,” through the process.
The Town of Chevy Chase is hoping to take downtown Bethesda traffic-avoiding measures into its own hands with a Town-funded shuttle service, but a requirement that those shuttles be Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant has complicated matters.
The original plan was for the Town to come up with a system of about 10 stops, including stops at the Lawton Community Center, other corners in the Town, in front of the Barnes & Noble on Bethesda Row and near the Bethesda Metro station, for Rockville-based transportation service RMA to service for a four-hour period.
The exact route, time of day the shuttle would run and other details still must be worked out, either before or at a Public Hearing the Town hopes to hold in June.
But in last night’s Council discussion of the project, Town manager Todd Hoffman advised members of a bigger hurdle.
In order to be ADA compliant, the Town must either lease shuttles that can accomodate those in wheelchairs — shuttles that might be bigger than necessary — or effectively purchase the shuttles for their own use at a cost of approximately $300,000 each.
RMA, the same company that provides shuttle service for the Bethesda Urban Partnership’s Bethesda Circulator and for a Friendship Heights shuttle, offered the Town a two-month trial period with the ADA-compliant shuttles. But Hoffman said the Town would then have to enter into a five-year commitment with the vendor to continue the service.
The Council and Hoffman had earlier suggested a four- to six-month pilot program in which the Town could gauge interest. The idea came from Chevy Chase At Home’s Naomi Kaminsky, who originally thought the shuttle would be vital for Town seniors who hoped to get from the area to shopping and the Metro in downtown Bethesda.
Kaminsky said on Wednesday that since proposing the shuttle, Town residents from different age groups and with different needs expressed interest in it. Some would like to use the shuttle to commute to and from the Town in rush hour. Some would like it for evening hours to avoid the parking crush at Bethesda Row.
Whatever the case, Kaminsky said it’s clear many in the Town are tired of dealing with downtown Bethesda traffic.
Al Lang, a councilmember who worked with the Town’s Public Service Committee on the proposal, suggested a route that includes a stop near the CVS and Safeway at Arlington Road and Bradley Boulevard.
Hoffman said the four-hour option from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. would cost $76.50 an hour yearly. Hoffman will research other potential shuttle vendors and options before the Public Hearing. Next month, the Council hopes to finalize two or three routes to present to the public.
Photo via Friendship Heights Village Council
The woman told Montgomery County Police that the man, a black male in his 30s with a purple t-shirt, black jeans and a hat, was on a red bike when he ripped the purse from her and went in an unknown direction of travel around 2 p.m. Monday. She reported the purse contained credit cards and an iPad mini.
Montgomery County Police have not responded to a request for more information on the incident.
Town of Chevy Chase manager Todd Hoffman, who works out of the Town’s offices connected to the recreation center (4301 Willow Lane), said an officer did arrive on Monday to investigate the theft case.
Photo via Google Maps
All are welcome to the event, which this year will feature sweet treats such as puddings, pastries candies and chocolates. Nina Deva, owner of Fraiche Cupcakery in Wildwood Shopping Center (10219 Old Georgetown Rd.), will serve as the judge.
Bakes should bring enough for at least eight servings. The winner will receive a gift card to Fraiche Cupcakery.
All bakers and eaters must RSVP to the Town Office at 301-654-7144 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo via Central Farm Markets
They aren’t happy about it, but Chevy Chase Village officials are moving forward with new state ethics laws that require more extensive financial disclosures than member of the town’s Board say are necessary.
The roughly 0.5-square-mile Village of around 2,000 residents was twice denied an exemption from new state rules requiring elected municipal officials to detail the property they own, stocks they invest in and sources of income.
The Village has argued it isn’t big enough to be subject to the much larger set of new disclosure requirements. Two members of the seven-member Board, which acts as the Village’s elected governing body, resigned last year in protest of the new requirements.
That’s left the situation complicated ahead of this spring’s annual meeting (April 15) and election scheduled for May 4. It’s unknown exactly how many candidates there will be for the six open seats on the Board and if incumbent members will want to stay on.
On Wednesday, Michael Denger, the lone member of the Board who is not up for re-election, led potential candidates through the new disclosure requirements that must be submitted to the Village’s Ethics Commission by April 26.
The Village had previously said it would consider shrinking the size of the Board from seven people to five if it appeared there would not be enough candidates. At the meeting on Wednesday, there were at least four, including current Board Chair Pat Baptiste, who said they were contemplating running. Denger and Baptiste said they knew of a few people interested who were not at the meeting.
The old requirement consisted of a one-page financial disclosure statement that asked for a list of gifts from people doing business with the Village.
The new financial disclosure statement, prepared by the Village’s Ethics Commission and distributed at the meeting, is much more significant. It must be filed by each Board member annually and include the location and ownership status of any property, name of any mortgage holders, the seller and the amount paid.
All stock and mutual fund holdings must be listed, regardless of if the entity did business with the Village. Salary amounts aren’t required, but the source of the salary or employment for all members and members of their families are required.
Two Town of Chevy Chase Council members also attended the meeting. The Town will also likely have to abide by the more stringent disclosure procedures, despite its request for an exemption from the Maryland Ethics Commission.
Those who fill out the new form do have the option of being notified whenever someone pulls copies of them.
And because of the media coverage that followed the Village’s attempts at an exemption, Denger offered any prospective candidates some practical advice.
“There is no way this information won’t be out there,” Denger said. “Just telling you that so everybody has a heads up.”
Average Property Owner Would Pay $80 More In Taxes With Proposed Budget — County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommended FY 14 budget would include a property tax increase from 99.1 cents per $100 of assessed value to to a little more than $1 per $100 of assessed value. [The Gazette]
Food, Wine & Co. Owners Bringing Taqueria To Cabin John — The owners of downtown Bethesda favorite Food, Wine & Co. (7272 Wisconsin Ave.) are bringing their Fish Taco casual seafood eatery to 7945 MacArthur Blvd. near Carderock Springs. [Bethesda Magazine]
Town of Chevy Chase Green Home Tour Set For Sunday — The second Town of Chevy Chase Green Home Tour is set for this Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and will let participants see how some residents have incorporated geothermal power, solar panels and other green strategies into their homes. Sign up with the Town Office by emailing email@example.com.
Jaleo Takes “Martini Madness” Prize — Jaleo’s “Clouds over the Cosmo” martini was voted as the best in a competition of Bethesda Row restaurants. [Bethesda Row via Facebook]
Flickr photo by ehpien
Some Say Private Donations To Schools Lead To Inequality — There’s no proposed legislation, but the County Council’s Education Committee recently sent a letter to the Board of Education citing concerns about public schools that get private donations from boosters to pay for new scoreboards, gardens, electronic signs and in-classroom equipment such as promethean boards. [Washington Examiner]
Town of Chevy Chase Budget Worksession Tonight — The Town of Chevy Chase Council takes a look at its FY 14 Budget starting at 7 p.m. at Town Hall (4301 Willow Lane). [Town of Chevy Chase]
Local Officials To Help Groundbreaking For New Scotland Rec. Center — The new Scotland Neighborhood Recreation Center in Potomac is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014. County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Nancy Floreen will be on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony this morning. The Scotland neighborhood is one of the earliest black settlements in the county.
Whitman Girls Hoops Coach Named Coach of the Year — Longtime Whitman High School girls basketball coach Pete Kenah was named Montgomery County Coach of the Year by The Gazette. Whitman knocked off two-time defending state champ Gaithersburg on the way to the Class 4A state semifinal. [The Gazette]
Flickr photo by im_apatel
Montgomery County Police tonight used K-9 units and a helicopter to track down and apprehend a man thought to be a suicide risk, according to the Town of Chevy Chase and police scanner traffic.
The search began around 8 p.m. as police called in a helicopter unit to help find the man, who was believed to be in the area of Connecticut Avenue and East-West Highway. The man was found on the front porch of a home in the area after 8:30 p.m., according to scanner traffic.
The man was not taken into custody until 10:04 p.m. A police alert at 10:09 p.m. from the Town of Chevy Chase confirmed the man was put into custody and police were taking him to a nearby hospital.