Thursday, April 30, 2015
The meeting will be at 7:00 PM, and you can register online.
This is only one of many alternative energy options out there. Homeowners should examine these programs carefully, and consider the pros and cons - as well as the age of their existing roof - before signing anything or installing solar panels.
Clark Reed, a Rockville Environment Commissioner, says that reverse metering will be available, and that residents who sign up in May will be able to get solar panels installed by September or October.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
Commissioner Charles Littlefield expressed concern that the development, while limited to seniors, would impact the city's most overcrowded school, College Gardens ES, if it somehow ever generated any students. Erica Leatham of Ballard Spahr, LLP, the applicant's attorney, said that the only residents under 62 who could live in the building would be caregivers.
One related question to that was, what if sneaky parents try to use the former hotel's address to enroll their kids at College Gardens? Commissioner Jack Leiderman asked if the city could communicate to Montgomery County Public Schools that anyone applying from the address of 1380 Piccard Drive should be rejected by the school system. Staff Liaison Andrew Gunning affirmed that could be done.
Littlefield asked if the applicant intended to operate the housing once it opens. Leatham said it does for the immediate future, but added that it is impossible to speculate about a future transaction a decade down the road.
Commissioner David Hill questioned the demand for senior housing at that location. Leatham said that her own parents had recently applied to the Ingleside senior residence at King Farm, and were told it would be a 5-6 year wait. "There's clearly a pent-up demand," she said. Commissioner Anne Goodman noted that a friend of hers was accepted at Ingleside in only 7 months. Leatham jokingly said she would have to take that up that apparent discrepancy with Ingleside.
Thoughts on the hotel's current parking lot were mixed. Hill felt the opportunity exists to reduce parking in favor of more green space around the building. But Leiderman said that would not be advisable. It turns out there are only 216 parking spaces for the 203 units. That could easily be filled if only 13 residents had two cars. And that does not begin to include parking for caregivers and visitors. If anything, it appears parking would be at a premium.
"I don’t see a lot of seniors who are going to give up driving to live out by 270," Leiderman said, citing the poor access to rapid transit at the site alongside Interstate 270.
Otherwise, commissioners were in agreement on the main points of the waiver request Wednesday night. They voted unanimously to approve the waiver, which required a supermajority for approval. The motion was made by Commissioner John Tyner, and seconded by Goodman.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Montgomery County Police have arrested and charged a suspect in a February sexual assault in Rockville.
Warren Matthew Giddings, age 23, of the 11900 block of Castle Pines Way in Waldorf, has been charged with three counts of First Degree Sexual Assault, three counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault, 3 counts of Vulnerable Adult Abuse, and Theft under $1,000. He is currently being held on a $150,000 bond.
Giddings is accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman who has cognitive learning disabilities. He met the victim through an online dating website, and the assault took place at the victim's home in Rockville, police allege. They also accuse Giddings of stealing the victim's tablet computer while in the home.
Detectives are asking anyone who believes she may be a victim of inappropriate contact by Giddings (pictured below), or anyone who has additional information about this case, to contact Montgomery County Police-Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5050.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The refinement of legislation that would allow backyard chickens in Rockville led the Mayor and Council through a discussion lasting over two hours Monday night. Many practical details that had not been previously considered came up, including the potential for chickens to get frostbite if future winters resemble the past one. Councilmember Julie Palakovich-Carr, who has led the effort to update the city's code regarding animals and pets, said that a properly-sized coop will utilize the body heat of chickens to protect them from winter temperatures.
Councilmember Beryl Feinberg expressed concern that heating systems could lead to fires. She cited events in other jurisdictions, where such coop fires had caused as much as $500,000 damage to homes they were in the backyards of. Feinberg felt there should be a special exception process to give neighbors a say in whether such chicken operations could be allowed next door to them. Councilmember Tom Moore strongly objected to that potential amendment, saying a resident's decision to have chickens would be no different than his ability to construct a by-right garage on his property.
Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton eventually had to postpone the debate to a future meeting, citing the late hour. Newton said the questions of neighbor notification or special exceptions, among others, were significant enough to merit further discussion. The meeting adjourned at 11:55 PM.
One interesting issue that emerged during the debate was the potential for individual HOAs to ban chickens, if enough residents opposed them, even if the provision passes.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Rendering courtesy Luis Group
Friday, April 17, 2015
In a previous discussion, it was said to be an opportunity for residents to learn about their options for historic preservation or designation for their homes or neighborhood. The meeting will be held at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, April 28, at the Twinbrook Community Recreation Center at 12920 Twinbrook Parkway.
The commission also declined to endorse a proposal to allow construction of a new home with an attached garage at 102 South Van Buren Street last night. Commissioner Rob Achtmeyer expressed concern that approval would set a precedent for how infill development is handled within historic districts. Reynolds agreed, saying it would start the city down a "slippery slope." Achtmeyer said a house with a front-facing attached garage was not appropriate in the historic district the site is located within.
This was a courtesy review, and no formal vote was taken.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Bainum Way, Quality Court, Gatsby Way, or Convergence Avenue
Gatsby Way would seem to have the most logical connection to Rockville. However, city staff is recommending against Gatsby, stating that there is already a street named "Gatsby" in the county. It cites the zoning ordinance forbidding name duplication of streets already existent in the county.
The other most logical name, to my mind, would be Quality Court - named after an earlier Choice Hotel brand, Quality Courts. That is a bit of a relic of the 1970s and earlier, but does have a connection to the company. But that, too, has been rejected by city staff, who argue that the street will not technically be a "court," causing driver confusion.
Staff is recommending Bainum Way or Convergence Avenue. Bainum refers to Choice founder Stewart Bainum, and the staff memo suggests Convergence is symbolic for the "coming together of activities in Town Center."
Renaissance apparently fell out of favor with Choice, as it is a brand associated with a competing chain of hotels.
The matter will be taken up by the Commission at its April 22 meeting at 7:00 PM at City Hall. You may recall the Commission rejected an earlier attempt by Choice to rename part of E. Middle Lane as "Choice Hotels Lane" in 2011.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Monday, April 13, 2015
The meeting will be this Thursday, April 16, at 7:30 PM, in the Mayor and Council chambers at City Hall. It will also be televised on Rockville Channel 11.
Friday, April 10, 2015
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
There are the county's long-delayed master plan highways, such as the Midcounty Highway Extended (M-83), Rockville Freeway and new Potomac River crossing to Northern Virginia, that need to be built. And there are ways to better manage our existing roads and highways, and bus service, through rapidly-advancing technology.
The Montgomery Civic Federation will be hosting an interesting discussion of the latter at its Monday, April 13 meeting, which will be held in the First Floor Auditorium of the County Council Office Building, at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville, at 7:45 PM.
Speakers at the Transportation of the Future seminar will include representatives for the United States Department of Transportation's Beyond Traffic initiative, and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA). In addition, Christof Spieler, a member of the Metro board in Houston, Texas, will join the meeting via conference call.
According to Jim Zepp, MCCF First Vice President, Spieler will discuss how Houston was able to use technology to greatly improve existing bus service in the city - and unlike BRT or the ITA, this was accomplished at no cost to the taxpayer.
The meeting is free, and open to the public.