Thursday, March 29, 2012

April 16 Zoning Code rewrite open house

Drop by the BCC Center on April 16, 5-8pm, to learn more about the Zoning Code rewrite and see how it applies to your community. At the open house, attendees can view graphics and other materials that explain what’s being considered - such as potentially reducing the number of zones - and how new zones might apply in communities. Other open houses have been scheduled around the County in April and May.

Local master plans addressed on April 16 include: Bethesda-Chevy Chase Master Plan (Bethesda Central Business District, Friendship Heights Central Business District, Westbard); North Bethesda/Garrett Park Master Plan (White Flint, Twinbrook), and the Potomac Subregion Master Plan.
In 2007, the Montgomery County Council directed the Planning Department to undertake a comprehensive Zoning Code rewrite. Last rewritten in 1977, the 1,200-page code is considered hard to use, inconsistent and outdated. Planners are working with Code Studio, a team of nationally recognized consultants; a citizen panel, the Zoning Advisory Panel (ZAP); and other county agencies on this project.

Planners have released several draft sections of the proposed Zoning Code, covering what’s permitted in each zone, how you can build, and the process by which development is reviewed and approved. In addition, planners have analyzed how to reduce or consolidate 123 existing zones into 30, working to ensure consistency with existing height and density rules as well as recommendations in each community master plan. Throughout the revised sections, planners have strived to make the code easier to use by adding diagrams and clearer text.

The new Zoning Code drafts will continue to undergo review and revision as people provide input through the Planning's outreach efforts and as more details are discussed by the ZAP. Planners will release the preliminary draft of a complete, consolidated zoning ordinance this summer. Residents can comment now, over the summer, when the consolidated release goes to the Planning Board next fall, and when the County Council holds hearings and worksessions in 2013.

For an interactive map indicating Master Plan area and zoning see:
For the Zoning Rewrite website go to:
For Fact sheets on various zones or issues, please see:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 19 Advisory Board agenda includes County budget, Wal-Mart

County Budget Director Jennifer Hughes will discuss the County Executive's recommended FY2013 Operating Budget at Monday's meeting of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board. The County Executive's $4.56B operating budget focuses on fully funding education, increasing strategic investments in public safety and the safety net for the most vulnerable, and restoring some hours for libraries and services for recreation centers.

Also on the Advisory Board's Agenda is a presentation by representatives of JBG Rosenfeld on the proposed Pike Center re-development. Located on Rockville Pike near the Twinbrook Metro Station, the Pike Center project will include new housing and a Wal-Mart supermarket.

As always, Advisory Board meetings are open to the public. Monday's meeting will be held at the BCC Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, from 7-9PM. All are welcome to attend and participate.

County Executive Leggett releases recommended FY2013 budget

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today recommended a $4.56B operating budget for fiscal year (FY) 2013 that begins July 1. Leggett’s budget strategically restores some of the most critical and important services that were cut back dramatically over the past five years as the County faced unprecedented budget challenges.

The budget focuses on fully funding education, increasing strategic investments in public safety and the safety net for the most vulnerable, and restoring some hours for libraries and services for recreation centers.

The Department of Police budget increases by 6.9 percent, funding 43 additional officers. The budget adds a second new recruit class of 30 officers; and moves the County to a unified 911 call center to improve efficiency and response times in emergencies.

The Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service (MCFRS) would see a 9.2 percent increase under this budget to fill critically needed posts, increase the size of each of the two MCFRS recruit classes from 30 to 55 and provide additional funding to ensure minimum staffing requirements are met with reduced overtime.

Leggett’s budget increases library spending by nearly 10 percent and restores 15 positions. It increases materials acquisitions, expands hours at libraries open on Sundays to five hours, adds two additional Sundays to those branches for a total of 47 Sundays a year, and restores longer hours (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) at the Rockville, Quince Orchard, Wheaton, Bethesda and Germantown libraries.

For more information, click here to see the news release, the “Budget in Brief (pdf)” and/or the full budget. County Budget Director Jennifer Hughes will brief the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board on the recommended FY 2013 budget at their meeting Monday in Bethesda. That meeting starts at 7pm at the BCC Regional Services Center located at 4805 Edgemoor Lane.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

White Flint Update

By Dan Hoffman

The promise of White Flint is becoming more of a reality every day, and the past several weeks are no exception. Two site plans have been approved for White Flint and both demonstrate the vision outlined in the White Flint Sector Plan. We continue to monitor progress in White Flint and ensure that property owners and the County alike adhere to the vision of the sector plan. 

First, the property we currently call Mid Pike Plaza will soon become Pike & Rose, a mixed use development with retail, new restaurants, a high-end movie theater and an attractive residential building. This site plan for this property, owned by Federal Realty Investment Trust, was approved unanimously by the Planning Board. It will actually ADD trees to the existing site and greatly enhance storm water management with elements like green roofs and LEED certification. The development will also add 215 moderately priced dwelling units and a childcare center. Of course, we also can't ignore the $1.1 billion in net new tax revenue generated by the new development over the life of the plan. You can view a complete presentation on the project here.

Pike & Rose
Pike & Rose

The second plan is on the block north of the new Whole Foods in White Flint. This plan, presented by the JBG corporation, offers us the most exciting design proposal so far in White Flint. In what could become the most iconic building in White Flint, JBG has proposed a residential tower on the northwest corner of the property with a cascading glass facade that is difficult to describe with words. So I encourage you to go to the presentation referenced below for pictures. The property will also include a very attractive plaza, and office building, and a more 'soda and popcorn' oriented theater. This site plan was also unanimously approved by the Planning Board. The presentation for this plan can be found here.

North Bethesda Market II
North Bethesda Market II
In the coming months we will see more plans come up for approved. The sketch plan for the property that is currently home to White Flint Mall will come before the Planning Board soon. Many of you have already seen the presentation of the plan from the Lerner Corporation and the Tower Company. It reflects the growing movement away from the suburban, auto-oriented shopping mall.

One other sketch plan has already been approved but has not yet moved forward into the site plan process. That plan involves the Fitzgerald property on Rockville Pike. There is no estimated time frame for that plan to advance further. We will continue to monitor the progress of all of these plans and any new ones that may arrive.

Dan Hoffman is Vice Chair of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board; Chair of the White Flint Implementation Committee administered by the Planning Department; and President of the Randolph Civic Association.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Advisory Board meetings to include the Purple Line, County Operating Budget, and senior service needs

The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board has the following meetings this month:
Monday March 12
Transportation and Land Use Committee - 7:00pm
BCC Regional Service Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda
  • Briefing by Glenn Orlin, County Council Deputy Staff Director on the Purple Line, Wisconsin Ave. Tunnel, the Capital Crescent Trail, and the Bethesda Metro South Entrance.
Quality of Life and Public Safety Committee - 7:30pm
BCC Regional Service Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda
  • Discussion of Senior Service needs - Leslie Marks, Commission on Aging
  • Crime report - Cmdr. David Falcinelli, Bethesda District
Monday, March 19
Board meeting - 7-9pm
BCC Regional Service Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda
  • Presentation FY 2013 County Operating Budget
  • Presentation & Discussion: Walmart project on Rockville Pike
  • Community Forum
For more information or to suggest future agenda topics, please email

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Update: BRAC-related road construction in Bethesda

A few items of interest concerning BRAC-related road construction in Bethesda:
  • With the Maryland State Highway Administration’s (SHA) Rockville Pike @ Cedar Lane intersection improvement project starting, WSSC will be closing Elmhurst Drive in the Locust Hills neighborhood to replace a water line. The work should start tomorrow, Thursday, March 8th and be completed within two weeks. The closure will occur daily from 8 am to 7 pm. WSCC will notify their customers should any disruption in service occur.
  • Construction is also underway at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road. If you have any concerns or questions about the intersections projects on Rockville Pike or Connecticut Avenue, you can contact SHA directly.

  • SHA has opened a local construction office at 8214 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 103. The telephone number is 301-907-7408.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Advisory Board weighs in on local budget needs

The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board weighed in last week on the FY2013-2018 Capital Improvements Program currently under review by the County Council. In their February 23 letter to Council President Roger Berliner, the Board expressed support for local needs including funding the Bethesda Metro South Entrance; building school capacity projects; and site selection for the North Bethesda Community Recreation Center.

The Board also presented their views on operating budget needs to County Executive Ike Leggett in advance of his March 15 release of the recommended FY2013 operating budget. The County Executive held a January 9, 2012 forum at the BCC Regional Services Center to hear from the WMCCAB and members about local budget priorities.

In their February 23 letter to the County Executive, the Board highlighted school resource officers, libraries, transit, and pedestrian safety among the local priorities requiring additional funding in the coming year.

The Board has scheduled additional discussion of the FY2013 Operating Budget at their March meeting. That needing will take place on March 19, 7pm, at the BCC Regional Services Center.

Illustration of the Bethesda Metro South Entrance