Montgomery in Focus Masthead
August 2012

 

We Will Miss You, Rebecca Lord

I am heartbroken at the loss of my friend and staff member Rebecca Lord, who passed away July 15 after a long and extremely courageous battle with cancer. If you had a chance to work with Rebecca, you know she was brilliant. She had a great appreciation for the intersection of public policy and politics, and she was a fabulous advisor.

But more important, Rebecca was the rare person who had found a real balance among family, work and self. She lived her life to the absolute fullest, always prioritizing her husband and two sons. She also carved out time for her own goals--friends, travel and personal enrichment as well as her commitment to helping women and her community.

Rebecca will be particularly remembered for inspiring others and for her courage in dealing with her protracted illness. I, along with the entire team here, am devastated by her passing, but I feel extremely privileged to have known her.


 

New Requirements for Locating Large Gas Stations

We unanimously approved an amended zoning text amendment that impacts the location of new large gas stations in the County. ZTA 12-07, as amended, will require large gas stations to be located at least 300 feet from schools, parks, playgrounds, day care centers and other outdoor facilities.

The original ZTA would have added standards for County Board of Appeals approval of a new gas station designed to disperse more than 3.6 million gallons of fuel per year by requiring those stations to be located at least 1,000 feet from any public or private school or any park, playground or hospital or other public use. It also would have established that distance as related to any property used for cultural, entertainment or recreational use. A gas station designed to dispense less than 3.6 million gallons a year will not have a minimum distance requirement from other land uses.

The amended ZTA will impact all future large filling stations that seek to locate in the County. Right now there is one application in for such a station--a gas station that Costco sought to locate near its future new store in Wheaton. The approved ZTA means that Costco cannot build its station as currently configured. However, it does not necessarily prohibit a station on a relocated portion of the property or a smaller station.

Before casting my vote in favor of this new proposal, I reviewed a large amount of scientific evidence, examined practices in other counties and guidance from the EPA, listened to hours of testimony, and read correspondence from hundreds of interested citizens.

I ultimately came to the conclusion that this new proposal sets reasonable limits on the placement of large gas stations and will serve to protect public health. At the same time, this revised amendment also alleviates my concerns that the original proposal was overly broad and not supported by the scientific evidence.


 

County's Response to June 29 Storm

tree fallen acros roadDid you know that the June 29 derecho left 261,445 out of 351,971 Montgomery County electricity customers (across three utility companies) without power? About 69 percent of our traffic signals lost power as well as 91 percent of the nursing homes and 93 percent of the large assisted living facilities. That’s in addition to both WSSC water treatment plants losing power. These issues were compounded by the extremely high temperatures that followed. Get more details and an assessment of Montgomery County’s response in the packet from our July 24 briefing from the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. The slideshow starts on page four.


 

Seeking World War II Veterans

Are you a veteran of World War II, or do you know someone who is? Montgomery County will honor these important men and women at an event on September 19 at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Event organizers are currently seeking to contact veterans, so please call 240-777-7929 if you or a friend or family member served in WW II.


 

Feedback Wanted on Zoning Rewrite Draft

Since October 2010, planners at the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission have been revising sections of the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance as drafts for consideration by county officials, residents and members of an advisory panel. The revisions are part of an ambitious effort to rewrite the Zoning Code to modernize antiquated, redundant zoning regulations and create new tools to help achieve goals in community plans.

Now, planners have released a consolidated draft that combines all of those sections and addresses many of the comments received so far. Their goal: to solicit more input before taking a revised draft of the Zoning Rewrite to the Planning Board for consideration in September and throughout the fall.

Download the consolidated draft or review a reference copy at the Park and Planning Headquarters Information Counter, the Silver Spring Regional Center, the Mid-County Regional Center or the following libraries: Marilyn J. Praisner (Fairland), Rockville Memorial, Germantown, and Davis. Feedback is encouraged at the Zoning Rewrite Project’s comment board.

The rewrite effort aims to make the Zoning Code easier to use. Last rewritten in 1977, the current 1,200-page code is viewed as inconsistent and outdated. The revised code--which will be considered by the Planning Board in a number of work sessions before going to the County Council for review early in 2013--is expected to reduce the number of zones, clarify what uses are permitted in each zone, and rethink 1950s-era commercial strips and office parks.

The draft Zoning Code covers what’s permitted in each zone, how one can build, and the process by which development is reviewed and approved. It also reduces or consolidates 123 existing zones into less than 40 proposed zones, working to ensure consistency with current height and density rules as well as recommendations in each community master plan.


 

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair

Mark you calendar for the 64th annual Montgomery County Agricultural Fair August 10-28 at the fairgrounds in Gaithersburg. This year's fair, themed "sew it, grow it, show it," features monster trucks, lawnmower races and NASCAR remote control cars. For animal lovers, there are hermit crab races, duck, pig and goat races and many 4-H shows and contests. That's in addition to the food, carnival rides and so much more.


 

Fast Fact

Nancy FloreenI guarantee once you your child starts playing these games, she will be hooked, and she will be a better citizen to boot.

I was fascinated listening to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor talk last week about her program designed to prepare young Americans to become knowledgeable, engaged 21st century citizens.

In 2009, Justice O'Connor founded iCivics to reverse Americans’ declining civic knowledge and participation. Securing our democracy, she realized, requires teaching the next generation to understand and respect our system of governance. Since then, iCivics has produced 16 educational video games as well as vibrant teaching materials that have been used in classrooms in all 50 states. Today the non-profit offers the nation’s most comprehensive, standards-aligned civics curriculum that is available freely on the Web.

Maybe I'm biased, but I'm partial to the game, Counties Work.


 

Green Tip of the Month

Remember to shop local when you are buying produce. Not only is your purchase good for Montgomery County, local produce is positively delicious. Find a farmers market here.

Montgomery County is committed to sustaining a viable agricultural industry. The Agricultural Reserve, established in 1980 by the Preservation of Agriculture and Rural Open Space Functional Master Plan, provides 93,000 acres for farming.


 

Let's Talk

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting?  Please let me know how I can help. I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process. Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you.  Send your meeting notices to councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.