Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Montgomery County Council unanimously approves Veirs Mill sector plan

Pro-developer plan will increase
commuting time, destroy affordable 
housing, demolish homes & businesses

The "new" members of the "new" 2018 Montgomery County Council faced their first test of loyalties Tuesday, as they voted on the controversial and unpopular Veirs Mill sector plan. Well, as I warned everyone during last year's election, the "new" Council proved to be just like the old Council, but worse. Without Marc Elrich on the body, all nine councilmembers voted for the pro-developer plan.

Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass, Will Jawando and Hans Riemer all received thousands of dollars in developer contribution in 2018. And their "Yes!" votes yesterday were a thank-you to their developer sugar daddies for the hefty election help.

The plan will allow demolition of single-family homes and businesses along the Veirs Mill corridor between Wheaton and Rockville. Changes to the layout of Veirs Mill Road, reduced speed limits, reduction of left-turn lanes, and longer stoplights are estimated to extend travel times for commuters up to 35 additional minutes on the already-congested road. Single-family home and public recreation properties are rezoned for mixed-use, "town-center" urban-style development in the plan.
The developer-driven plan will allow
clearcutting of this wonderful green space...

...and demolition of several homes behind it on
Robindale Drive, Adrian Street and Weiss Street,
replacing them with a steel-and-concrete urban
town center development
A fake "no net loss" program devised by Riemer's staff will allow demolition of naturally-occurring affordable housing such as Halpine View. While it purports to create just as many new MPDUs, most people who will lose their homes in Halpine View and other properties make too much in salary to qualify for MPDUs, creating a net-loss in affordable housing in the plan area. And even the MPDUs soon expire and revert to market-rate housing permanently.

This is the same thing the Council is allowing to happen on Battery Lane and Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda, where many people who can't afford market-rate single-family homes and newer apartments - but who make too much to qualify for MPDUs - currently live. They've already done it in Glenmont, where many residents of apartments like the wonderful Privacy World were forced out never to return to Glenmont.
The Council-approved plan allows this
tree-lined green Montgomery County-owned
property at 4010 Randolph Road to be redeveloped
as a steel-and-concrete urban town center - and
you can bet the Council will sell it to one of their
developer sugar daddies at a sweetheart price!
Halpine View, Rock Creek Woods, Halpine Hamlet, Parkway Woods and other apartment complexes are now rezoned to encourage demolition, and replacement with urban-style, luxury apartment "town centers."

Even while failing to defend the interests of current homeowners, business owners and commuters who are paying record high taxes, the Council bizarrely found time to add a racially-charged political diatribe to the plan. To score political points, and create division among residents, the Council added a section that falsely claims racial covenants ensured the communities around Veirs Mill Road were white-only. In fact, enforcement of such covenants was banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948.

The Veirs Mill sector plan as passed will displace thousands of residents, greatly increase traffic congestion, and radically transform the existing green, suburban character of Veirs Mill Road to a stifling corridor of vehicle exhaust and boxy steel-and-concrete Soviet apartment blocs. It was hard to believe that even some civic groups were fooled that the "new" Council would bring back residents' role in planning decisions, and not vote for this kind of pro-developer sector plan. Now it's just plan laughable.

You got steamrolled again.

You can't say I didn't warn you. And while media outlets like the Washington Post colluded with the Montgomery County cartel to prevent candidates like me from getting our message out, I certainly did notice the sheepish smiles of some "woke" voters who knew it was morally wrong to vote for Albornoz, Glass, Jawando and Riemer, who clearly did not represent the change they were claiming to seek in the planning process. Voting simply to ensure a sweep of all nine Council seats by one monopoly party was a really bad idea, now with tragic results for yet another Montgomery County community with this sector plan.

Next up: Aspen Hill. Fasten your seatbelts, folks.

Montgomery Village rape suspect sketch released

Montgomery County police have released a sketch of the Montgomery Village rape suspect, the latest incident made public as reports of rape continue to surge in the County. Detectives report that the white male suspect followed a woman after she got off a Ride On bus in the 19300 block of Watkins Mill Road Saturday night, April 20, around 10:15 PM. Realizing the man was following her, the victim began to run. The suspect then knocked the woman down, dragged her into a grassy area by the nearby woods, raped her, and fled.

The victim went home, and then to a local hospital, where the police were called. She identified the suspect to detectives as a white male in his late 20s, with brown hair. She said he is approximately 6-feet-tall, and weighs about 180 pounds. The suspect also has a tattoo behind his left ear, and was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. Based on the sketch, the sweatshirt has a hood.

Detectives are asking anyone who recognizes the suspect or who may have information about this rape to call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5050.  Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to their line that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this crime.

Reports of rape skyrocketed by 53% in mid-2018, according to an official police department memo submitted to the County Council. Police recently reported that rapes had spiked 28% by the end of 2018. The County Council has been silent on the surge in rapes in Montgomery County, and their allies in the local press colluded to silence the topic during the 2018 Council election. I was outspoken on the importance of the issue during the campaign, and my words have been vindicated by the continued increase in reports of rape.

Wake up, folks! Public indifference, and the propagandizing Pravda-style media coverage of County government, are perhaps the biggest challenges we face. The people of Montgomery County need to avail themselves of the information being provided by this Suburban News Network website, start asking why the Council has failed to take action, and begin intelligently voting for councilmembers who will actually take the problem of violence against women seriously.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Proposed Rockville sign regulations update before Planning Commission Wednesday

Businesses getting the attention of potential customers driving through Rockville might become even more challenging under changes proposed for the city's sign regulations. Those changes will be considered for final recommendations to the Mayor and Council by the Planning Commission Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 7:00 PM at City Hall.

City staff have suggested outlawing pole signs in favor of ground-level "monument signs." Staff has also suggested the Commission declare existing pole signs as "nonconforming," and require them to be removed in eight years. You may notice that without such signs out at the property edge on Rockville Pike, for example, it's very hard to notice businesses set back from the road while driving.

The proposed changes would also eliminate the Sign Review Board, and have its primary functions reassigned to the Board of Appeals. To see changes that might affect your business or neighborhood sales and activities, review the staff report online before tomorrow night's meeting.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Dream Aero Flight Simulator coming to Westfield Montgomery Mall in 2020

Westfield Montgomery Mall patrons will take to the skies next year without leaving the Bethesda mall. Dream Aero, a flight simulator similar to those used to train actual pilots, will arrive at a location on Level 3. Level 3? Could this be replacing the long-delayed Japanese steakhouse outside the ArcLight Cinemas? That's the only space available on Level 3.

Dream Aero is currently available in malls in places like Dubai and Moscow, where it provides an accurate simulation of flying a Boeing 737. It's an authentic closed-cockpit, moving simulator just like professional pilots use. Sessions are priced by length of time, with VIPs getting 120 minutes behind the controls. Westfield says more details about the specifics of their flight simulator operation will be available in the future. But for now, this sounds like a great innovation to add to Montgomery Mall as another entertainment option.

Also coming sooner to the mall are Eyebobs and Windsor. To be located on Level 2 in the Macy's wing, Eyebobs is an "irreverent" eyewear retailer opening this summer. Windsor is a women's apparel and accessories boutique, and will open this fall on Level 1 in the Old Navy wing.

Photos courtesy Westfield

Addition proposed for Collingswood nursing home in Rockville

The owners of Collingswood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center at 299 Hurley Avenue in Rockville have proposed a new addition to the building. In a submission to planning staff, the applicant says the addition will not increase the footprint of the nursing home.

Instead, the plan is to convert the existing Family Dining and Activities Room with several adjacent rooms, and the porch above the entrance into a new Physical and Occupational Therapy space. That will change the exterior appearance of the building, by replacing the classic balcony with an enclosure. The applicant calls the change "a contemporary look." Not mentioned in the application is what provision will be made for families, and for patients who were able to enjoy fresh air on the porch, after the addition is completed.

The lobby will also expand into current office space, and the existing Therapy room will become a Conference Room under the proposal. If approved, construction could begin this fall.

No site plan is currently available. Collingswood was acquired from the original owners by a private-equity firm two months ago.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

More "signs" of Barnes & Noble moving to Congressional Plaza in Rockville

Barnes & Noble won't be moving from Montrose Crossing to Congressional Plaza for more than another year. But their first "Coming Soon" signage has already gone up at their future space. Barnes & Noble is currently scheduled to downsize into this new format store in the summer of 2020.

Sports Nation moves at Montgomery Mall

Sporting goods retailer Sports Nation has moved upstairs to Level 2 at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Their new location is across from the future 7-Eleven store.