Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus, November edition

Vote on November 4

Dog wearing red, white and blue bandana.

Remember to vote on November 4. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. While there is no presidential election this time around, you still have the opportunity to have your say for offices that affect you more directly, including the governor, the county executive, Congress, the state legislature, the school board, and yes, all nine slots on the County Council.


If you already voted, thank you. The system works best when we all participate. Voting is your right and your responsibility. If you want more information, visit the Board of Elections.

Zoning Code for the 21st Century

computer screen with the zoning code on it

Confused about zoning in Montgomery County? You’re not alone. Up until now, only a select few understood the nuances of our 1,200-page zoning ordinance. But now, thanks to the newly overhauled code, zoning information in Montgomery County will be clearer, more accessible and available online. That means residents will be able to participate more effectively in key land use decisions and that small businesses will be able to locate and expand in the county without having to untangle a complicated web of archaic rules. The updated version took effect today.

The new code encourages community engagement. Who has time to sift through ten pounds of paper to find the relevant footnote? An exclusive club of land use attorneys, maybe, but certainly not the average resident. Soon, everyone will be able to access comprehensive information about every property in the county as the new code becomes available in an interactive, online format. Add to this the soon-to-be-launched electronic plans, which will allow residents to access project plans with the click of a mouse, and the mysteries unravel almost entirely.

The County Council, Planning Board and staff at both agencies spent about five years reviewing and streamlining more than 400 land use categories and 123 zones that were originally established in 1977 and augmented piecemeal over the following decades. The new zoning code does away with the traditional approach of land use planning by specific use and employs more flexible zones designed to spur economic development in our communities.

Some folks have expressed concerns that the new code will lead to more development, but I say the new code will lead to better development. With more predictability in the system, businesses will be able to act more nimbly and be more responsive to community concerns. That’s good news in a county that has long been criticized for failing to support job creation.

The modernized zoning code does not change our fundamental commitment to the master plan process. It just simplifies and clarifies the rules for achieving these plans, which increasingly focus development near transit and encourage urban hubs there while preserving agricultural lands and existing communities.

In Montgomery County we are always striving toward efficiency, transparency and openness. The new zoning code goes a long way toward achieving all these goals. What’s more, it fosters innovation, small business and community involvement. I’d call that a win all the way around.

Apply for Two Task Forces on Procurement

Nancy Floreen standing in front of an office building.

Apply now for positions on two recently established task forces to study potential reforms of the County procurement system. The task forces the Council established are the Minority Owned and Local Small Business Task Force and the Procurement Policies and Regulations Task Force.

Get your letter and resume in by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 3, and make sure you indicate which task force you are interested in or whether you would be willing to serve on either one. 

Each task force will consist of nine members (at least seven on each must be County residents) appointed by the Council. The Council will designate one member of each group as its respective chair. The task forces will solicit suggestions for potential reforms of the County procurement system from elected officials, County residents, business and community leaders, County and agency employees and other stakeholders. They will submit final reports to the County Council by September 15, 2015.

The Minority Owned and Local Small Business Task Force was established to provide options for reform of the County programs for minority owned businesses and local, small businesses to ensure that the procurement process is open to all vendors without regard to race, gender, national origin, disability or size of organization. The County’s Minority/Female/Disabled and Local Small Business Reserve programs are designed to eliminate the effects of discrimination in the marketplace on the award of County procurement contracts.

The Procurement Policies and Regulations Task Force was established to provide options for the reform of the County procurement system. Simplifying the procurement process would increase the number of vendors who seek to do business with the County, resulting in better value and lower prices. Learn more.

Phyllis Campbell Newsome Award

I’m honored to be selected by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement for the Phyllis Campbell Newsome Public Policy Leadership Award. Not only am I pleased to be recognized by such a venerable organization as the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, but I’m also proud to be associated with our many outstanding nonprofits that make Montgomery County such a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Most of all, I’m humbled to receive an award that honors my friend and outstanding activist, Phyllis Campbell Newsome. She enriched countless lives in Montgomery County and throughout the region, and she inspired so many of us to try to make our community a better place. 

The Phyllis Campbell Newsome Public Policy Leadership Award recognizes the work of elected and non-elected officials who work to build a stronger nonprofit sector and a more vibrant community. Each year the Center recognizes four public officials for the award, one for each of the jurisdictions it supports. I will receive the Montgomery County award, and awards also will be given one honoree each from the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and Prince George’s County.

The Center for Nonprofit Advancement is celebrating its 35th year of service. Its mission is to strengthen, promote and represent nonprofit organizations in the metropolitan Washington area in order to help them better meet the diverse needs of their communities. The Center for Nonprofit Advancement, founded in 1979 and originally called the Washington Council of Agencies, currently serves nearly 1,000 organizational members.

The Phyllis Campbell Newsome Public Policy Leadership Award was named in honor of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s former director of advocacy and community relations after her untimely passing in 2002 at age 40.

Council Appoints Planning Board Member

I'm looking forward to working with our new Planning Board member, Natali Fani-Gonzalez, who was appointed in a unanimous decision by the County Council. She's a great communicator, and she has a real sense of Montgomery County, so she will make a terrific addition to the team. Ms. Fani-Gonzalez, a Kensington resident, was one of 25 applicants for the position. She will serve a four-year term. Ms. Fani-Gonzalez is the founder and principal of The Matea Group, a strategic public relations firm based in Montgomery County. Learn more.

Green Tip of the Month

I get a lot of questions about deer in Montgomery County, so I want to let you know here's your chance to learn more. We recently had a worksession on the County deer management program. The briefing included an overview of the program along with a discussion of challenges associated with increasing management efforts. It also included an update on the impact of deer in the agricultural community and information on restrictions related to the discharge of weapons related to the program.

This is the 20th year of the County’s deer management program. Nearly 30,000 acres of publicly owned land is now being managed for deer.

On average, deer populations have been reduced by more than 59 percent where management is occurring. The average number of deer-vehicle collisions within one-quarter of a mile of parkland is 10.9 for parks with no deer management compared to 3.4 for parks where management is being conducted.

Watch the briefing on demand here by selecting the October 7 Council session. The deer briefing is the last agenda item. 

Fast Fact


Visit Montgomery County  recently launched a new Web site with updated features like a county-wide calendar of events, interactive map and a trip builder. You can subscribe to an event-specific feed, such as “family fun” or “outdoor adventures” and have the events automatically appear on your Outlook, iCal or Gmail calendar.

Visit Montgomery County encourages local organizations to post their events on the new online calendar of events free of charge. To be eligible, events must occur in Montgomery County and must be of interest to tourists or residents. The goal is to be a one-stop shop for all events in Montgomery County.

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 or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.

November 2014

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