| The Montgomery County Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, will hold public hearings on 11 of 13 energy and environmental measures that have proposed by Councilmember Roger Berliner. At 1:45 p.m., a joint meeting of the T and E Committee and the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee will continue a series of worksessions on the Clarksburg/Ten Mile Creek Sector Plan.
The evening public hearings will conclude a full day for the Council and its committees, which will begin with the weekly general session at 9:30 a.m. The general session, the afternoon committee meeting and the evening public hearings will all be held in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. All be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcasts also will be streamed through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/ondemand/index.html
The evening public hearings on the energy and environmental measures will address the wide range of efforts to impact climate change. The package of measures includes Bill 11-14, which would create an expedited review process for permits to install electric vehicle charging stations; Bill 10-14, which would implement an expedited review process for permits to install rooftop solar energy systems; Bill 9-14, which would require 50 percent of the County’s electric power be supplied by renewable energy by Fiscal Year 2015 and 100 percent by 2020; and Bill 3-14, which would require certain newly constructed or extensively modified buildings to achieve a silver-level rating in the appropriate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
“These measures are designed to ensure that Montgomery County remains at the sustainability forefront,” said Councilmember Berliner, who chairs the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee. “They focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and government accountability. Climate change is obviously not a hoax and we know what we need to do to address it: we need to use less energy and use cleaner energy."
The Council also is expected during the morning session to take action on the proposed Bethesda Purple Line Station minor master plan amendment. The plan would facilitate construction of an improved Bethesda Metrorail station that would accommodate the future 14-mile Purple Line public transportation mode that would connect the Bethesda station with the New Carrollton station in Prince George’s County. The plan would maintain a tunnel connection beneath Wisconsin Avenue for the Capital Crescent Trail. This would be done by providing a series of incentives—including higher zoning—to encourage the property owner of the Apex Building at the southwest comer of Wisconsin Avenue and Elm Street to raze the building and to construct a new building over the station and relocated trail.
The Council is expected to take action during the morning session on Spending Affordability Guidelines that will impact formulation of the Fiscal Year 2015 operating budget. The Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee unanimously recommended that the Council approve guidelines that would include setting the ceiling on property tax revenues at the Charter limit; setting the ceiling on the Aggregate Operating Budget (AOB) at 1.80 percent above the FY14 AOB; and setting debt service at $348.6 million.
Also during the morning session, the Council is expected to take action on a resolution sponsored by Council Vice President George Leventhal that would have the County Council urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to go beyond an environmental assessment and to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement for the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas terminal located in Calvert County.
“Construction of this facility will most likely lead to higher demand for gas recovered from ‘fracking,’ particularly from the Marcellus Shale basin that extends into Maryland,” the resolution states. “There are also four other gas basins in Maryland where fracking induced by rising gas prices could occur in the near future . . . The method of extracting basin gas through fracking is considered environmentally suspect. Hydraulic fracturing has been linked to methane gas contamination in ground water and increased methane in air emissions. Through the process of induced seismicity, "fracking" is also suspected of triggering earthquakes after re-injection of drilling fluids into the ground. . . .”
The afternoon joint committee worksession on the Ten Mile Creek Area Limited Amendment will continue to address the many issues involved in approving next steps for the emerging community of Clarksburg in the northern part of the County. On Feb. 4, the Council approved a measure that would allow an outlet mall to be built as part of the Cabin Branch development in Clarksburg on the west side of I-270.
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