Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus, September edition

Apply Now to the Planning Board

Row of townhouses

Now that sitting Planning Board member Casey Anderson has been selected as chair, we are looking to fill the vacancy he leaves. Get your resume in by September 3.

The Planning Board serves as the Council’s principal adviser on land use planning and community planning. Planning Board members also serve as commissioners of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

The Planning Board’s responsibilities with regard to planning include preparation and amendment of the County General Plan; preparation and amendment of master plans and functional plans; formulation of subdivision regulations; preparation of recommendations on text amendments to the County Zoning Code; implementation of the subdivision process by reviewing and approving all preliminary plans, site plans and other plans for development; advice on the planning implications of capital facilities and programs of the County government, Montgomery College, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Montgomery County Public Schools; commenting, under its mandatory referral authority, on plans for public facilities of local, state and federal agencies; and approval of the work program and the annual operating budget for the Planning Department and the Commission’s bi-county offices.

The Planning Board sits as the Park Commission and approves the annual Parks Department operating budget and Capital Improvements Program (CIP); land acquisition contracts and major development contracts for parks; development plans for individual park facilities; policies for park operations; and park user fees. Learn more.

Tips on Testifying

When the Council returns in September, we will take up some important topics ranging from budgeting to land use to our local economy. We have public hearings on a variety of issues scheduled nearly every week, and we want to know your views. For newcomers as well as seasoned veterans, here are a few tips to make the most of your testimony:

•  Keep it simple. Put your request or main point at the beginning of your testimony. Use plain language and put technical points at the end.

•  Keep it short. The Council adheres to the three-minute limit, so make sure your points come across in that time frame. You don't have to use the entire allotted time, though. Sometimes good things come in small packages.

•  Bring 15 copies of your testimony with your name, contact information and main points clearly identified.

•  Let your personality shine through. Levity or a personal anecdote can help you stand out in the crowd.

•  Relax. Don't be afraid of the formal setting or the television cameras. Just be yourself.

I understand public speaking isn't for everyone, so you can also call or e-mail. To have your written correspondence included in the public record, send it to or Council President, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20850. To sign up to speak at a public hearing, call 240-777-7803.

Labor Day Activities

Nancy Floreen with her dog in a convertible.

Opportunities abound this Labor Day, according to Visit Montgomery. Here are their highlights. Also, check my blog for Montgomery County's holiday schedule.

Town of Brookeville
U.S. Capital for a Day
August 30, 10:00-7:00
Sunday, August 31, 12:00-6:00

Join the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 as Brookeville commemorates U.S. Capital for a Day. The Town of Brookeville will recreate the life and spirit of August 1814 with living historians playing the roles of local scientists, engineers, teachers, tradesmen and craftspeople. Costumed volunteers and horses will re-enact the extraordinary events, including the arrival of President Madison guarded by 20 mounted militiamen.

Labor Day Art Show at Glen Echo Park
August 30-September 1, 12:00-6:00

Visit the Labor Day Art Show in the Spanish Ballroom Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The exhibition will feature the work of more than 250 artists from the mid-Atlantic region. The show will include works in a wide range of artistic media, such as sculpture, painting and drawing, ceramics, glass, jewelry, fiber arts, photography, furniture and works on paper. Also check out the Irish Music and Dance Showcase in the Bumper Car Pavilion Saturday, August 30 through Monday, September 1 from 1:00 to 5:00 each day.

Gaithersburg Labor Day Parade
September 1, 1:00

The City of Gaithersburg celebrates the unofficial end of summer with its annual Labor Day Parade. Participants in this year's parade include an assortment of fire engines, high school marching bands, giant balloons, horses, clowns and more. This year's parade is dedicated to the law enforcement community in honor and celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Gaithersburg Police Department.

Kensington Labor Day Parade
September 1, 10:00-3:00

Celebrate Labor Day with a parade and festival. The Kensington Parade begins at St. Paul's St. and Plyers Mill. The festival is located along Howard and Armory Avenues. Enjoy a day of family entertainment with a parade, live music, arts and crafts, food and kids activities.

School Bus Cameras Now Onboard

school bus

Everyone knows you have to stop behind a school bus with its lights flashing. But do you have to stop if you approach the bus from the front? What if there is a median strip? And what's the fine for those who fail to stop?

This past January, Montgomery County began implementation of an automated school bus camera enforcement program. Every driver should know that when approaching a stopped school bus with activated stop sign and flashing red lights, Maryland law requires that all traffic from both directions must stop and remain stopped until the stop sign and lights are de-activated. That includes when driving on a two-lane roadway, a two-lane roadway with a center turning lane and a four-lane roadway without a median separation. The only exception is for a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation. The lanes of traffic separated by the median and going in the opposite direction from the bus do not have to stop. Traffic going in the same direction of the bus, does of course, have to stop.

The automated school bus camera enforcement program continues to expand and is designed to allow the cameras to be moved throughout the county as needed. These violations are reviewed by the police department’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit (ATEU) and citations are mailed to the registered owner. The fine from the automated enforcement is $125.00. No points are associated with a citation issued through this program. If a driver is stopped by a police officer for passing a stopped school bus with flashing lights, the fine is $570 and 3 points.

Green Tip of the Month

Do you have a stormwater management practice on your property? A dry well, rain garden, green roof or another design practice that helps reduce stormwater pollution in the County? If so, you may be eligible for a credit of up to 80 percent toward your Water Quality Protection Charge. Both residential and commercial properties are eligible for a credit. Apply by October 31 for the 2015 property tax bill. Learn more and get the applilcation.

Fast Fact

German shepherd dog reading a book entitled How to Catch a Thief.

Since 1961, more than 100 dogs have served in the Montgomery County Police Department's K9 Unit. The squad is made up of 20 officers and 29 dogs representing a variety of breeds including German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, malinois and bloodhounds. The dogs live with their handlers and are a part of the handler’s family. Once the dogs are retired, they stay on as pets with their handlers.

Note to Newsletter Editors

Did you find something useful in this e-letter? Some people have asked me if they can use the material from my newsletter in their own civic association or HOA newsletters. The answer is yes. I provide this information to help residents find what they need and participate in the legislative process, so feel free to use it.

September 2014

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