Montgomery in Focus Masthead
January 2012

 

What's In and What's Out for 2012

Nancy FloreenIN -- Business:  The Montgomery Business Development Corporation, which is made up of key people from some of the County's most significant business enterprises, delivered its first report to the Council in October and is poised to offer us meaningful advice on how we can better send out the word that we are open for business. 

OUT -- Red Tape:  The new family of commercial/residential (CR) zones strip away much of the red tape that has hindered business for decades.  Old zones are replaced by clearer, more predictable and more accessible standards.  CR zones encourage business to develop in ways that benefit neighborhoods and focus density near transit.  They are designed to create interactive streetscapes where people can live, work, shop and play--all within one neighborhood.

IN -- Wheaton:  The new Wheaton Sector Plan establishes a vision for future private sector redevelopment of this vibrant and diverse community.  We rezoned large portions of the area to encourage mixed use development, including retail, office and residential, while protecting surrounding residential neighborhoods.

OUT -- Disposable Bags:  Although I thought there were better ways to approach environmental protection, the Council approved a five-cent charge on paper and plastic bags which will take effect January 1, so bring your reusable bag.

IN -- The ICC:  You can now drive from Sam Eig Highway in Gaithersburg all the way to I-95 in Prince George's County on the Intercounty Connector.  BWI Airport, here I come.

OUT -- Maintenance of Effort:  After years of doing more than required under the State's Maintenance of Effort law for school funding, we decided not to meet the requirement in 2011, deciding instead that we must create a stable, sustainable future for our schools and all County agencies.

IN -- Collaboration:  At the urging of Councilmember Hans Riemer and me, Montgomery County and the District of Columbia will explore the possibility of extending the District's planned streetcar system to the Silver Spring Metro Station/Transit Center.

OUT -- Power Failures:  Montgomery County has been aggressive in pursuing better reliability from Pepco after learning that that the power company's service ranked in the lowest quartile nationwide.  Improvements, including tree trimming, are underway.

IN -- Clarksburg Grocery Store:  We approved a limited amendment to the Clarksburg Master Plan that could lead to quicker establishment of a grocery store in Clarksburg, easing longstanding frustration among residents there.

OUT -- Curfew:  The Council tabled a bill which would have imposed a curfew on minors.  Although this means in effect that the bill does not pass, I would have preferred to take an up or down vote.  Unless we decide to reconsider the bill, there will be no curfew.

IN -- Higher Property Values:  While housing prices nationwide fell to their lowest level since 2002, median home values in Montgomery County rose 5 percent from $460,000 in 2009 to $483,000 in 2010.

OUT -- Empty Nests:  More of Montgomery County's young adults are living with their parents.  According to Census data, the number of adult children living at home grew 36 percent in the last decade.

IN -- Marriage Equality:  We passed a Resolution in support of Maryland's Religious Freedom and Civil Protection Act, which would have allowed same-sex couples in Maryland to marry.  Although the measure failed in 2011, there is reason for optimism in the new year.

IN -- Economic Recovery:  The forecast of County revenues is up $79.2 million in FY12 and $36.4 million in FY13.  We aren't out of the woods, but this modest improvement is encouraging.


 

Montgomery to Meet with DC on Streetcar Possibilities

County Executive Ike Leggett advised Councilmember Hans Riemer and me that the Department of Transportation will work with the District of Columbia to explore the possibility of expanding the District's proposed streetcar system to Silver Spring. This is in response to the request we sent on November 16. Here is the full text of the letter:

December 9, 2011

To: Nancy Floreen, Councilmember
Hans Riemer, Councilmember
Montgomery County Council

From: Isiah Leggett, County Executive

Subject: District of Columbia (DC) Transit Future System Plan

Thank you for your memorandum dated November 16, 2011, concerning coordination between the Departments of Transportation from the DC and Montgomery County for possible modifications to the "DC's Transit Future System Plan". I have asked Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) Director, Arthur Holmes, Jr., to follow up with his counterpart at the DC Department of Transportation to initiate the process by setting up a meeting the explore the possibility of a rerouting of the Takoma Metrorail Corridor to have its end of the line station at the Silver Spring Metro Rail Station.

MCDOT's Director will coordinate the first meeting and will invite representatives of the agencies suggested in your memorandum to the meeting. Thank you for your interest in the promotion of transit alternatives and coordination between the two governmental bodies and appropriate transit agencies in the area.


 

Richard Montgomery Finally Gets his Due

unveiling of markerCheck out the new historical marker honoring our County's namesake, Richard Montgomery. The aluminum-cast sign was installed in a landscaped area next to the Old Brick Courthouse at the 100 block of E. Jefferson Street in Rockville.

Most people have forgotten--or never knew--who Montgomery was: a recent immigrant from England who joined the American cause of freedom at the start of the Revolution. Having been a career officer in the British Army, he had fought in numerous battles during the French and Indian War. In fact, Montgomery was the most experienced general in the young American forces at the start of the Revolution. Commander-in-Chief George Washington put him in charge of the western army that marched into Canada, trying to help the colonists there to throw off the British crown and join our cause.

Montgomery succeeded in capturing several forts and Montreal, but was killed in the attack on Quebec on December 31, 1775, making him the first general to die in the American Revolution. His death was a national tragedy.

When the Maryland Constitutional Convention voted in 1776 to split the huge Frederick County into three parts, the large eastern third was named "Montgomery" while the smallest third in the mountains was named "Washington." That shows the relative esteem that Richard Montgomery was held in at the time.

My hat is off to Stuart Grosvenor, who as a ninth grader got this project going with his application to the Maryland Historical Trust, the organization that provided the marker.


 

Fast Fact

Congratulations to Councilmember Roger Berliner who we elected unanimously as our new Council president. Roger, who is also chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, has demonstrated himself to be a dedicated and effective public servant, and I'm sure he will make a great president this year. Roger said in his acceptance that we have every reason to be confident about the future, and I agree.

We also elected Nancy Navarro to serve as our vice president. Nancy has proved her mettle as the chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, and I look forward to her leadership. Roger and Nancy will serve one-year terms as officers. Congratulations to both.


 

Green Tip of the Month

Managers of buildings and properties in Montgomery County or building staff who reside in the County are encouraged to sign up for an energy management training program that will help them reduce the operating costs of the facilities they oversee.  The training program is offered by Montgomery County and is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  Reducing energy use in buildings and properties is a key objective of the County's goals to promote more sustainable practices and reduce County-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. 


 

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.