Tuesday, October 23, 2012

White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee Created

This morning, the County Council approved the creation of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee. The new committee will advise the County on services in the emerging downtown and coordinate efforts to promote, maintain, and improve the area.

The committee will also make recommendations to the County Council and County Executive on the timing of the creation of a new urban district - Montgomery County's version of a business improvement district. The County currently has urban districts in Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. Services in Bethesda are provided under contract by the Bethesda Urban Partnership.

The new committee will include representation from residents, the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board, the B-CC Chamber of Commerce, property owners, small business, and County government. Members of the committee will be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council. We hope to have these positions advertised within the next few weeks.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Public Safety Update

The following is a message from 2nd District Police Commander David Falcinelli.  The 2nd District covers Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington, and North Bethesda.
Based on some recent activity, I wanted to provide a quick crime update to let you know your 2nd District officers are hard at work making some good arrests.
As you have seen in the news and heard on the list serves, there have been a few assaults/robberies in the tunnel of the Capital Crescent Trail in the last several months. My detectives have been working long hours on these cases and have arrested several juvenile male suspects. At this time, I believe that those responsible for all the events in the tunnel have been charged. Despite the arrests, the 2nd District has partnered with the part-time officers working in the Town of Chevy Chase and the Bethesda Urban Partnership to provide an aggressive evening patrol of the tunnel and the trail, and you have probably already seen them if you have been on the trail at night recently.
Yesterday, many of you in the Sangamore Rd. neighborhoods may have seen a large gathering of police tactical vehicles in the shopping center. Early yesterday morning, we were notified byPrince George’s County police of a non-custodial parent child abduction where the suspect was armed and had ties to an address in our area. Erring on the side of caution, several of our tactical officers were deployed to check the residence. The suspect was not present, but was arrested later in the day in Prince Georges County.
In my last update, I mentioned the importance of calling the police immediately upon observing a suspicious situation. Recently, our officers working the overnight shift received calls on two separate nights from residents that observed suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. In both cases, officers responded and made arrests of suspects that were stealing from cars. These arrests would not have happened if you did not make the call – THANK YOU FOR THE ASSIST!!
Last but not least – the September crime stats look promising. Residential burglaries are down 40% from the same time last year, commercial burglaries are down 32%, theft from autos are down 9% and stolen cars are down 41%. Robberies are still up by 9%, but these cases continue to be a priority and our detectives continue to make arrests and have closed out many of these events.
Thank you for working with the police and your community leaders to keep our streets as safe and crime free as possible.
Captain Dave Falcinelli
Commander – 2nd District

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Advisory Board writes to County Council regarding the accuracy of school enrollment forecasts and the Subdivision Staging Policy.

The following is the text of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board letter to the County Council concerning School Capacity Planning within the Subdivision Staging Policy.


Dear Council President Berliner:

Thank you for this opportunity to provide comments regarding school capacity planning within the Subdivison Staging Policy. Over the past several years, the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board (the “WMCCAB”) has expressed concerns regarding enrollment forecasts by Montgomery County Public Schools (“MCPS”) and the relationship between these forecasts and actual experiences in the schools.

We recognize how difficult it is to accurately forecast enrollment six years in advance, which the capital budget planning process requires. However, we encourage MCPS and the County to continue to improve forecasting methods and to work to make them more transparent to and understandable by the public. Transparency will give members of the community greater confidence in how the County evaluates school enrollment as part of the development review and approval process, and improving forecasting methods will give the development community greater certainty as it plans development projects and other investments in the community.

School enrollment forecasting, and the manner in which this forecasting is applied in the Subdivision Staging Policy, should ensure that there is adequate capacity in schools and that new developments are not approved for school clusters that are already significantly over-capacity. At the same time, the Subdivision Staging Policy should recognize that certain types of development have limited impacts on school enrollment but significantly contribute to the County’s tax base, and should be allowed to proceed even in areas of over-capacity.

At the WMCCAB’s September 11th Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (“M-NCPPC”) staff updated WMCCAB members on their recent analysis of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data, which they used to update their school enrollment forecasting assumptions. Staff indicated that while the results confirmed that many of the basic assumptions the County currently uses to estimate future enrollment are fairly accurate (i.e., estimates of anticipated students per new unit within specific planning areas), the methodology is not sufficiently refined to allow for forecasting distinctions based on unit type. This lack of refinement could be a key limitation in attracting certain forms of development (such as one-bedroom apartments in Metro Station Policy Areas) that build the County tax base without adding additional burdens to school enrollment or education costs. The County should consider options such as allowing these types of development to proceed even when located in areas of school over-capacity or waiving school-related impact fees for such units, provided such units are determined to produce limited impact on school enrollment.

Additionally, the County should continue to study single-family neighborhoods to better understand and predict the turnover in these neighborhoods, which many of us know to occur every 20 to 30 years. Understanding this boom and bust cycle would help the County to anticipate turnover waves and effect on school enrollment when longtime residents move out of a neighborhood and young couples buy their homes and move in.

In summary, we encourage the County and MCPS to continue to evaluate and improve school enrollment forecasting methods, and to strike a balance between addressing capacity issues while allowing developments that produce few students but provide significant contributions to the tax base to move forward more easily, and to refine school capacity planning within the Subdivision Staging Policy based on the improved forecasting and methods.

Thank you again for this opportunity to share our comments on this important policy discussion.





​Heather Dlhopolsky, Chair, Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board