Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Action Group requests new Bethesda plan

Below is the text of the January 15, 2013 letter from the Woodmont Triangle Action Group to the Montgomery County Planning Board concerning the status of the Bethesda Central Business District Sector Plan.

The Honorable Françoise M. Carrier, Chair

Montgomery County Planning Board

Re: Request for Bethesda Sector Plan Update

Dear Ms. Carrier:

The Woodmont Triangle Action Group (WTAG) is writing to request acceleration of the timing for the Bethesda Central Business District (CBD) Sector Plan update. As you know, the 1994 Sector Plan is now 19 years old and during these years development in and close to the CBD has been tremendous. While the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment to the Sector Plan provided the community an opportunity to articulate a vision of future development in Woodmont Triangle, the update was limited to only one part of the CBD.

Due to recent improvement in the economy, there are now a large number of projects in the CBD in various stages of the development process. Those outside Woodmont Triangle are being reviewed and approved based on conditions and assumptions that are almost two decades old. This must create difficulties for the Planning Board and staff to review of development plans in light of current and future conditions and needs.

The past two decades have also seen dramatic changes in areas adjacent to the CBD. Changes to our neighbors at the National Institutes of Health, Naval Surface Activity-Bethesda, and Suburban Hospital profoundly impact the Bethesda CBD. Now is the time to recalibrate the balance of jobs, housing and public amenities that will allow the Bethesda area to continue to function as the economic engine for Montgomery County.

Some members of the WTAG believe the cumulative impact of development in the Bethesda CBD on public services, such as schools, libraries, and recreation should be a consideration when updating the Sector Plan. Timely planning for public facilities and services is critically important as thousands of new residents are added over the next five years and beyond. The new plan could serve as a model for linking anticipated development projects in the CBDwith their impact on shared resources and facilities -- including water and sewer infrastructure, roads, transit and school capacity, recreation facilities, among others. Furthermore, these considerations would be best viewed from the perspective of changing demographics, reflecting both increased density and an aging population.

For the reasons stated above, we encourage you to accelerate the sector plan update. The WTAG stands ready to assist in any way possible.

Thank you for the opportunity to make this request and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions.


Sue Knapp, Chair

About the Woodmont Triangle Action Group:

The Action Group coordinates and monitors the progress of development, retail revitalization, and the provision of amenities and facilities in the Woodmont Triangle district of downtown Bethesda. Creation of the Action Group was a recommendation of the 2006 Woodmont Triangle Amendment to the Sector Plan for the Bethesda CBD.

Appointed by the Planning Board, membership includes representatives from the M-NCPPC, the Bethesda Urban Partnership, Civic Associations, Bethesda Transportation Solutions, the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board, and other appropriate groups.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Lot 31 Project Update – January 11, 2013

StonebridgeCarras, the developer of Lot 31, reports the majority of the work continues to be site excavation and sheeting/shoring and support of excavation.

Please note that Lot 31 construction blasting will begin again the week of January 14th. At this point we anticipate that the first blast will likely be Thursday, January 17th. However, that may vary by a day or two based on continued progress with soil removal and weather.

This second round of blasting will be for the next layer of rock in the northeast corner of the site and will last approximately 2 weeks. When the blast subcontractor moves out of the northeast corner they will be moving to other areas of the site.

Individuals near the site may hear or feel the blast or hear the horn notifications of the blasting subcontractor. The horn is predominantly a notification for the construction workers on site; however the horn is loud enough for individuals immediately adjacent to the site to hear. The horn will sound approximately 15 minutes and 5 minutes prior to the blast. In addition, immediately after the blast the horn will sound again.

In the next two weeks the southwest corner will be at the fourth floor depth of the future garage. Once the main excavation in that area is completed the contractor will begin specific excavation for column bases and elevator pits.

It is anticipated that concrete pouring will begin in the next six weeks. For more infromation visit www.bethesda.org/lot31.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

County Executive Leggett to hold budget forums around Montgomery County

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is sponsoring five budget forums during the months of January and February to seek input from residents about fiscal year 2014 operating budget priorities.
Mr. Leggett will hold a budget forum for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Potomac, Rockville, and North Bethesda communities on January 28, 7pm at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Service Center, 4805 Edgemoor La., Bethesda.

Other forums around the County are scheduled around the County on the following dates:

• January 10, 7pm, Mid-County Community Recreation Center, 2004 Queensguard Rd., Silver Spring;
• January 24, 7pm, BlackRock Center for the Arts, 12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown;
• January 29, 7pm, Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring;
• February 4, 7pm, Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Rd. Silver Spring.

Mr. Leggett is encouraging residents to attend the forums to provide input in light of budget shortfalls predicted in the coming fiscal year. The County Executive will announce his recommended fiscal year 2014 operating budget on March 15. The County Council approves the operating budget at the end of May.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Weekend Service Crew makes a big difference in White Flint

The White Flint weekend service crew continues to have a positive impact on the apprearance of downtown White Flint. Below are before and after pictures of Rockville Pike, near Tuckerman Lane. Last Saturday, the crew collected 175 bags of trash and leaves from the sidewalk along Rockville Pike between Tuckerman to Hillery Lane.

The weekend service crew is a collaboration between the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center and the County Department of Corrections. Crew members are individuals serving Court-ordered community service. The crew began operating in May 2012 and is modeled after a successful program in Silver Spring.


Crime Report - Looking back at 2012

Dear Residents of the 2nd District*:
As everyone recovers from the holidays, I wanted to take a minute to share some crime and traffic statistics from last year. The officers of the Bethesda District are committed to reducing crime and traffic problems, and their efforts are supported by these stats. Equally as important, many of you are beginning to understand the importance of partnership and the concept of being the eyes and ears of the police, as many of our arrests last year were a direct result of your observation and reporting of crimes and/or suspicious situations. We need to continue to work together to reduce crime in our neighborhoods.
The 2nd District experienced double-digit reductions in every major category of property crimes in 2012 – residential burglaries down 40% (357 to 214), commercial burglaries down 17% (103 to 85), theft from autos down 23% (1175 to 901) and stolen vehicles down 40% (172 to 102). These decreases are especially significant as property crimes are the majority of the crimes that occur here. Just yesterday, residential burglary arrests were made in the Bethesda District because of an alert homeowner that called police after suspecting that a knock at the door was a ruse to see if someone was at home. In this case, the suspects knocked at the front door and then made up a name when the homeowner answered, pretending to be at the wrong house. These suspects ultimately did commit a burglary nearby and were quickly arrested with property still in their possession. This technique is a common ploy used by burglars, who will break into the home if there is no answer at the door.  Our last three arrests for thefts from autos were a result of phone calls by alert residents that observed suspicious subjects in their neighborhoods in the very late hours and called the police immediately instead of waiting until the next morning. Again – you are our eyes and ears – we cannot be everywhere at once. You do your part and it makes it a lot easier for us to do ours. Trust your instincts. Know your neighbors. Report suspicious persons and vehicles immediately!
Although property crime was down, the same cannot be said for crimes against persons. The number of robberies (street combined with commercial) increased from 42 to 57 for the year for an increase of 35%. These crimes always receive our utmost attention and resources to hopefully deter future events and hold suspects accountable for their actions.  Our detectives have worked all robbery cases diligently and made arrests in several cases last year.
Our Traffic Unit, along with our patrol officers, continues to aggressively enforce traffic violations and respond to neighborhood complaints. In 2012, 2nd District officers issued over 20,000 traffic citations. We are employing tag reader technology, which is allowing officers to identify suspended/revoked drivers and remove them from the road, in addition to recovering stolen vehicles/tags.
We continue to work with our neighboring jurisdictions and share information and resources as necessary. Just last week we were able to employ Project Lifesaver Tracking Equipment to assist DC in locating an elderly gentleman with Alzheimer’s. On Monday, my staff will be meeting with the top law enforcement officials from the National Institutes of Health, the Walter Reed NationalMedical Center and the Rockville Barracks of the MD State Police simply to exchange cards, information and ideas.
As commander of the 2nd District, I appreciate your support for our police department. Should you have any concerns, compliments or questions, please feel free to call me at 301-652-9200 so we can discuss them.
Captain David Falcinelli
2nd District (Bethesda-North Bethesda-Potomac)
Montgomery County Police
*The 2nd District will expand in February to include the Potomac and Randolph Hills communities.