Are you in a leadership role in your homeowners association, your condo owners organization or a management company? If so, join me for an informational forum designed just for you and the unique way you help your community. This is your chance to ask questions and share your ideas on a variety of subjects including:
- How can you make sure your voice is heard by the Montgomery County Council?
- How does the Zoning Code Rewrite affect your neighborhood?
- Which transportation projects will ease congestion in your community?
- Who do you call to fix local problems?
- How can you weigh in on development and other issues in your community?
I want to know what matters most to you, so come prepared for a lively, informal discussion. Bring your most vexing questions and your best ideas for improvement. Representatives from the Planning Board, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Consumer Protection and other Montgomery County departments will be on hand to hear your views.
Wednesday, October 23
Reception at 7:00 in the 2nd Floor Cafeteria
Forum at 7:30 in the 3rd Floor Hearing Room
Council Office Building
100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville
Parking is available in the garage behind the building. RSVP to email@example.com or 240-777-7959. I look forward to seeing you on the 23rd.
The County Council will hold a second public hearing on proposed changes to the County's Zoning Ordinance starting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, and continuing at the same time on Thursday, November 14. The hearing will address proposed changes to the recommendations of the Planning Board by the Council's Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee and how the revisions will be applied. This hearing gives you a further opportunity to comment on changes proposed since the first public hearing in June on Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 13-04 and District Map Amendment (DMA) G-956.
The Council introduced the Planning Board’s recommendations on May 2 following years of the Planning Board’s extensive work and discussion with community groups and other stakeholders. The Council heard from more than 50 speakers at a public hearing on the Planning Board’s recommendations in January and has received extensive email and other correspondence from County residents as the committee continues to do its work.
The Zoning Ordinance has not been comprehensively updated since 1977 and has grown to more than 1,200 pages over the last 30 years. The goal of the Rewrite is to reorganize and simplify the Zoning Code. Rewriting the code in plain language and reorganizing it into rational sections will enable residents to more easily participate in key land use decisions, and courts and agencies will have clearer rules to apply.
Although the County Charter calls for only one public hearing, the Council decided to hold a second public hearing because we recognize the significance of the proposed text and map revisions. Changes are possible for non-residentially zoned properties. ZTA 13-04 would implement the text changes to the Zoning Law, and DMA G-956 would update the zoning for each property to apply a new zone. The proposed rezoning in DMA G-956 is designed to mirror each property's current zoning as much as possible.
You can see the proposed Zoning Rewrite, along with the tentative changes being considered by the PHED committee, at www.zoningmontgomery.org. You also will find an interactive map where you can determine the existing and proposed zoning for every property in the County. Clicking on a particular property will display the development standards (density, height limits and setbacks) for the existing and proposed zone.
To sign up to testify, call 240-777-7803 by 5 p.m. on Monday, November 11. Sign-ups will begin on Thursday, Oct. 3. Spaces are limited. You can also send your written testimony to County Council, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, Maryland, 20850 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year we will hold the always-popular Town Hall Meeting for Students on Wednesday, October 9, at the Council Office Building in Rockville. The meeting will be held in the Council’s Third Floor Hearing Room beginning at 7 p.m. A pre-meeting reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the building’s second-floor cafeteria. RSVP by calling 240-777-7931.
The October meeting is open to high school, middle school and local college students. The meeting will allow the participants to let Councilmembers know how they feel about specific issues and also will provide the opportunity to ask questions of us in an organized, but informal, setting.
The event will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and rebroadcast at various times in the weeks following the meeting. Susan Kenedy, a producer for the County station, will moderate the meeting.
Let us know what you think about Bus Rapid Transit and other elements proposed in the Planning Board Draft of the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. This plan recommends ten transit corridors that would operate in the median, in a dedicated lane or in mixed traffic, depending on the route. Proposed corridors include Georgia Avenue, MD 355, New Hampshire Avenue, University Boulevard, US 29, Veirs Mill Road and others.
We held the public hearing last week, but it’s not too late to weigh in. I value your input, so please send your comments to email@example.com.
The Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee will hold worksessions on the plan on October 11, 14, 18 and 21. These meetings are open to the public. They are also broadcast live and on demand on County Cable Montgomery. The full Council is scheduled to begin taking up the plan on October 29.
Apply by October 30 to the Right to Vote Task Force or the Merit System Protection Board.
The new citizens’ Right to Vote Task Force will study state and local laws and practices that may affect the right to vote. The task force will develop plans and take action to promote early voting and same-day registration, develop plans for a comprehensive voter registration program and make recommendations for changes in state and local laws, regulations and practices. Learn more.
There is one vacancy on the Merit System Protection Board. Generally, the board is expected to oversee the Merit System and to protect employee and applicant rights guaranteed under it. Learn more.
The Unseen Montgomery, a television program highlighting the hidden poverty in Montgomery County, has been named the winner of a Savvy Award by the City-County Communications and Marketing Association.
The Unseen Montgomery won first prize in the national contest in the category of TV and Video—One-Time Special Programming (for jurisdictions with population: 100,000 and up). We came up with the idea for the show because we wanted to portray a side of the County that is often overlooked: residents who did not appear to need the help of available services, but through circumstances, could not financially keep up with their individual and family needs.
The show was produced and hosted by Susan Kenedy of County Cable Montgomery. The videographer was Mike Springirth. The show was edited by Loren Olson and was coordinated by Delphine Harriston.
Montgomery County is known for its prosperity, so it is easy to forget that we have many residents who do not have enough money to pay for even their basic needs. Some of those living in poverty lost their jobs in the recession while others find themselves trapped in low-wage jobs that don’t pay enough to cover the rent. These families live right here, and they need help—but they are not always easy to identify. Susan Kenedy and her outstanding team did a great job of looking past the affluence and giving us a chance to see a growing part of life right here in Montgomery County. The Unseen Montgomery tells a very important story in a way that’s meaningful and thought-provoking. The team at CCM definitely deserves this award.
The independent judging panel said of the show: “A great way to focus on the issue. The video helped to cast a light on the new poor in our country. An interesting topic that kept the judging team engaged.”
In addition to airing on CCM, the show has been viewed more than a thousand times on various Internet outlets. See it on YouTube.
Montgomery County’s Aging and Disability Services at the Department of Health and Human Services has undertaken a project to better understand the transportation patterns and needs of older adults and individuals with disabilities, and your responses to this survey will be very helpful. If you, a member of your family or a friend have transportation issues or concerns, please take the survey by October 18.
You can now recycle bulk rigid plastic items such as laundry baskets, dish drainers, toys, lawn furniture, waste baskets, clothes hangers, tote boxes, crates, large buckets, pet carriers and garbage cans, at the Montgomery County Transfer Station. Just make sure the items are empty and free of loose dirt, soil, etc.
You still cannot recycle garden hoses, vinyl fencing/siding, motor oil containers, plastics containing or contaminated by chemicals or hazardous substances, and pesticide/herbicide containers.
The Solid Waste Processing Facility and Transfer Station is located at 16101 Frederick Rd. (MD Rt. 355), Derwood. You may drop off materials using the car entrance off Rt. 355. Follow signs to the Recycling Unloading Area. Hours of operation are: Monday - Friday: 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.; and Sunday: 9a.m.-5 p.m.
For a complete list of both acceptable and unacceptable items, as well as a downloadable flyer, visit the Division of Solid Waste Services’ Web site.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.