Monday, May 22, 2017
Friday, May 19, 2017
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Of the public feedback on the proposal received by the city, 22 of 24 written comments supported the ban. However, one of the two negative submissions is a petition opposing the ban, signed by 189 people who oppose it. City staff has been unable to confirm how many of the 189 are Rockville residents, but then again, not everyone dining in Rockville is necessarily a Rockville resident.
Residents, businesses and patrons of Rockville establishments will have the opportunity to address the Mayor and Council on this issue during Community Forum, which is earlier in the meeting. The meeting begins at 7:00 PM this Monday, May 22, 2017, following an executive session that is closed to the public.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Although the area is historic for being one of the first subdivisions in Montgomery County available for purchase by African-Americans, the home itself is on a parcel that was created in 1976, 313 1/2 Frederick Avenue. Staff liaison Sheila Bashiri is recommending against historic designation.
For my part, having attended a number of events and meetings at the community center, I can attest that additional parking spaces are desperately needed at this facility.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
The case of Halpine View and the taking up of the Veirs Mill Corridor sector plan by the Montgomery County Planning Board looks very much like a case of the tail wagging the dog. But for being one of the few actual growth sites in the plan area, the venerable garden apartment complex's ownership had few details to put on the table at a public meeting last night at Newport Mill Middle School.
Attorney Bob Dalrymple, representing the original family that still owns the complex, started off by noting that he grew up in Aspen Hill, and therefore feels personally invested in the area. He acknowledged Halpine View has been sector plan-shopping for several years, and are glad to have found a home in the Veirs Mill plan.
Nothing is imminent for the property, however. Dalrymple said the owners need the rezoning via the new sector plan in order to move forward. That means it's unlikely anything would happen for 2 years.
When it does happen, a representative of Grady Management said, Halpine View residents will get a year's notice of demolition. Surprisingly, in a county supposedly in an affordable housing crisis, he said Halpine View is experiencing a lack of interest from the market, and has vacant units.
Given that Halpine View is among the rapidly shrinking number of naturally occurring affordable apartment opportunities in MoCo, it's hard to believe they have habitable units sitting vacant. The Grady rep said renovation is not an option on the table.
The loss of 550 affordable apartments would be quite a blow. Unless the ultimate plan has that many MPDUs, it would mean a major net loss of affordable units. Dalrymple said affordable units will be "part of the discussion,' but the applicant isn't committing to anything beyond the minimum 12.5% of units required by the County at this juncture.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Police say Lievano turned himself in late last night, and was transported to the Central Processing Unit. He is being held on a $10,000 bond.
Lievano is the second MCPS security employee in a month to be charged with having sex with a minor girl at the school he was assigned to. In the first case, at Richard Montgomery High School, it was revealed that MCPS had failed to do a background check on that employee, who had faced charges in a strip club gun incident easily found through a Google search.
Detectives say Lievano and the girl at Lee MS started "dating" on March 29, after an exchange of text messages. They did not say how the suspect obtained the girl's cell phone number. "Inappropriate sexual contact" took place between the two at his home, and her home.
Police ask anyone who believes that his/her child may have been victimized by Lievano in a similar way to call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400.
Friday, May 12, 2017
|Foulger-Pratt SVP Dick Knapp|
introduces the project team
at VisArts last night
|The existing site of the|
future apartment building,
looking northwest from
E. Middle Lane
"We got a lot of excellent feedback from those three," Knapp said of those elected officials. In direct response to their input, he said, new elements were added to the project that fill needs for the city. Knapp said that Foulger-Pratt has agreed to Newton's request for family-size, 3-bedroom units. As a result, 11% of the MPDUs in the building will be 3-bedroom units, a longtime housing priority for the mayor.
Those 3-bedroom MPDUs will rent for only $1400-a-month, Knapp said. 1-bedroom MPDUs will run as low as $1000, and 2-bedrooms for $1335-a-month. He predicted market-rate units in the building would be similar to The Upton across the street. Studios would likely start at $1500-a-month, 2-bedrooms at $2300, and 2-bedrooms with dens at $2500.
|This existing vehicle|
access to nearby buildings
will be preserved under the
|Aerial view of the site,|
with future building at
center in white
(click to enlarge)
|Tree-lined path pointing|
NW at right is the
|The interior bike station|
accessible from E. Middle Lane
|Vehicle and bicycle access|
from E. Middle Lane
|Courtyard with pool|
|View from E. Middle Lane|
That support is still nearly five years away, however. "It's going to take awhile," Knapp acknowledged of the timetable. He said groundbreaking is two years away, and that it will take about two years to construct the building. Sears predicted the project's Pre-Application Submittal would likely be filed "toward the end of the month." Next up, will be informal presentations to the Planning Commission and Mayor and Council, followed by the formal approval process and public hearings before both bodies.
With the announcement of a Japanese steakhouse as the future ground-floor tenant at Rockville Metro II next door, the entire block between MD 355 and Maryland Avenue could be fully-activated at street level by 2021 or 2022.
There is currently a Kabu Japanese Steakhouse in Laurel. The menu is centered around hibachi grill cuisine with a theatrical presentation, as well as sushi, sashimi, and a full bar with signature cocktails. Located at One Choice Hotels Circle, diagonally across the street from the Rockville Metro station, the building is anchored by the international headquarters of Choice Hotels.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Monday, May 8, 2017
Mark Christopher Yantsos was arrested Friday after a County judge revoked his bond. Police allege Yantsos defied orders to stay away from the student. Instead, they allege, he met with her several times since he was charged, and had sex with her once again.
Yantsos made headlines after it was revealed MCPS had hired him without doing a background check, which was proven by the fact that his previous run-in with the law - brandishing a revolver toward a woman he was trying to pick up at a topless bar - is easily called up in a simple Google search. Yet he was hired by MCPS to run security at Richard Montgomery. You can't make this stuff up, folks.
Friday, May 5, 2017
Earlier this morning, the Washington Post reported that rape charges against the second suspect, Henry Sanchez, would also be dropped. The Post reported that he, too, would face child pornography charges, for having images of the alleged rape victim that were forwarded to him by Montano.
What we are not hearing, are the specifics regarding why prosecutors dropped the charges. Whatever evidence they are working with has obviously not been made public. Dropping the charges means the public is essentially being told a violent sexual encounter between a 14-year-old girl and two men in a school bathroom was a consensual and legal act. That is hard to believe, as Sanchez's defense attorney acknowledged to the Post. The public has a right to know what is going on here, in regard to the justification for dropping charges.
Equally important: If Montano is indeed being released, will he be arrested by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE)? ICE has declined to comment publicly on Montano, citing his age. But both Montano and Sanchez were detained by the Border Patrol after illegally entering the U.S. last year, and set free to family members under the Obama administration's "Catch and Release" policy. ICE did place a detainer on Sanchez. Will the County alert ICE to Montano's release, and Sanchez's release, should it occur?
Should the charge be dropped, it would raise serious questions about the prosecution of this case. As defense attorneys engaged in victim shaming, prosecutors seemed to suggest that Sanchez's alleged role in the attack was the more egregious. Even if a consensual encounter in a school bathroom had been planned between the victim and alleged rapist Jose Montano (and no evidence has been made public to support that contention), that did not mean the victim had agreed Sanchez could participate, prosecutors argued.
If their case against Sanchez falls apart today, then, where does that leave the victim and the case against Montano? As for Sanchez, the Post reports prosecutors will pursue a child pornography case against him, for possessing photos of the victim that were forwarded to him by Montano.
Regardless of the outcome of the case, Sanchez faces immediate deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), unless Montgomery County politicians help him escape by not honoring the ICE detainer. Both Sanchez and Montano are in the country illegally.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
The only constant in Rockville's town center for the last 60 years has been change. Newcomers may find it hard to believe, but Rockville once had a charming, historic town center like those still found in Frederick and Hagerstown. But in the 1960s, city leaders decided to demolish it, and pursue "urban renewal."
Redevelopment brought with it brutalist office buildings, the Americana Centre, and the modern Rockville Mall, anchored by a Lansburgh's department store. Only a year later, Lansburgh's was gone, an ominous sign of what was to come. Urban renewal had more businesses checking the Yellow Pages for movers in Rockville, MD, than adding up profits. What was seen as the jewel in the crown of Rockville's urban renewal was ultimately considered an albatross around the city's neck - particularly by developers eager to replace it.
The arrival of the Metro subway in the early 1980s, and the much-later construction of "Regal Row" along E. Montgomery Avenue, failed to change perceptions. Over the next two decades, city leaders sought to start over again.
A new plan sought to recapture some of what had been lost in the misguided downtown demolition mania. Centered around a Federal Realty mixed-use project called Rockville Town Square, the new design would be one to emphasize public space. At its 2007 opening, that was primarily embodied in the namesake town square. Well-programmed with events, there's always something going on in the town square, providing an energy not found in wealthier downtown Bethesda.
|Cambria Suites guest room|
|The Metropolitan at|
Rockville Town Center under
construction in January
There are big changes still to come. The city is now studying a plan that would place MD 355 underground through the town center, opening up the land above for redevelopment, and the creation of a large park. That park could allow the annual Hometown Holidays event to again include large concerts, which were the main draw for the late-May celebration.
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