Friday, December 14, 2018

5.11 Tactical opens in Rockville

5.11 Tactical is now open at 12212 Rockville Pike. Carrying professional apparel and accessories for law enforcement personnel and preppers, they also cater to the fitness and outdoors market segments. With Montgomery County's crime rate surging, this could be a one stop shop for your Christmas list.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mayor & Council to hold two closed sessions next week

Rockville's Mayor and Council will go into closed session twice next week. On Monday, December 17 at 6:00 PM, they will adjourn into a session closed to the public to "consult with counsel to obtain
legal advice and to consult with staff, consultants, or other individuals about pending or potential litigation."

Then, during a special meeting at 10:30 AM on Thursday, December 20, they will adjourn to a closed session regarding "a matter that concerns the proposal for a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the City."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Rockville gas station robbed

Montgomery County police are searching for a suspect they say robbed a gas station in Rockville on December 5, and have released surveillance footage of the man. Detectives allege the man entered the convenience store at the Exxon station located at 5500 Norbeck Road around 12:10 AM. They say he implied he had a gun, and demanded cash.

The suspect allegedly then took the cash, grabbed some other merchandise, and then fled the scene. Anyone with information regarding the suspect or this robbery is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070. 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 them that leads to an arrest in this case.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Performance Bicycle Shop closing in Rockville

The "Everything Must Go!" and "Nothing held back!" going-out-of-business signs that have become so ubiquitous in moribund Montgomery County have popped up at Congressional Plaza on Rockville Pike. Performance Bicycle Shop is the latest victim. The store is holding a closing sale with prices up to 40% off. Montgomery County has suffered a net loss of more than 2100 retail jobs since 2000, according to the Maryland Retailers Association.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Hot Pot City opening in Rockville

Another hot pot restaurant is coming to Rockville. Hot Pot City will be opening soon at 199 E Montgomery Avenue at Regal Row in Rockville Town Center. The owners are touting the hot pot tradition of the river city Chongqinq in southwest China. It first was popular during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties, they say.

The space was formerly home to Tara Asia, and is very convenient to the busy courthouses and government buildings in Town Center. Here is another notch in Rockville's belt as a leading destination for Asian cuisine in the D.C. region, arguably second only to Annandale, and I feel like we're going to take the top spot any week now.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Rockville biotech firm stock drops despite positive drug trial results

Rockville-based Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. had a good news-bad news Thursday. The company received the key positive results they had hoped for from two trials of their SPN-812 drug, designed to treat ADHD in children. Study results showed that the Supernus formula acts faster and has fewer side effects than the existing generic options.

But industry analysts declared the drug was still not superior enough to the two generics on the market to differentiate itself, and shares in Supernus fell almost 16% yesterday. The company says it remains optimistic that the small number of treatment options available still gives their product a niche in the market. “We believe these data from the two pivotal Phase III studies, which are consistent with the Phase IIb data, demonstrate that SPN-812 is a well-differentiated novel non-stimulant treatment option for many children with ADHD," Supernus CEO Jack Khattar said Thursday.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

With affordable units vacant in Rockville & countywide, does MoCo really have a housing "crisis?"

Ability to lose 162
units, low demand at
Halpine View raise new 
questions about MoCo's 
supposed affordable 
housing "crisis"

How serious is the affordable housing "crisis" in Montgomery County? We've been hearing off-and-on about the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission's development plans for the Ambassador Apartments in Wheaton since 2012. At one point, it was said that a new building would be constructed on another part of the property, allowing current residents of the Ambassador to remain in their homes. But now, the building - a former Best Western hotel at the corner of Veirs Mill Road and University Boulevard - has been shut down and fenced off. Businesses in the ground floor have also been vacated.

Residents have supposedly been relocated by the HOC to other properties around the county. However, the HOC declined to respond to media inquiries made earlier this week by press time. From what I can find in County documents, it appears the building will be demolished at a cost of up to $1.5 million, a cost that will be picked up by County taxpayers. HOC has previously requested the funds from the County Council for that purpose.

Demolition was to have begun this year, and construction of the new development was to break ground in 2019. It appears that would still be possible if demolition occurs soon.

The loss of 162 low-income housing units near Metro - and the apparent ability of the HOC to find that many vacant units for the departing tenants - raises questions about just how serious the affordable housing "crisis" is in Montgomery County. Last year, the owners of Halpine View in Rockville off Veirs Mill Road stated that demand for their affordable apartments was declining, and that they had a substantial number of vacancies.

Beggars cannot be choosers, as they say. A modest, older apartment at Halpine View or the Ambassador would beat being homeless any day of the week. There should not be vacancies at Halpine View, and it should not have been possible to find vacant homes for 162 families before closing the Ambassador. Dogged apartment hunters would surely have found these affordable gems in their desperate housing searches. What is going on here?

County residents are being told we must now throw traditional, common-sense zoning rules out the window to address a housing "crisis," a move that will destroy existing single-family home neighborhoods. It appears further study of just what is going on here is clearly needed before making such irresponsible planning and fiscal decisions, especially with the County facing a structural budget deficit every year as far out at the forecasts go. More transparency is also needed. How many vacant affordable apartments are there countywide as of today? Taxpayers and homeowners deserve to know before accepting the new onerous costs, and reduced quality of life, that would come with adding multifamily urban housing within residential SFH neighborhoods.

Work begins at BurgerFi in Rockville

Construction has begun at the future BurgerFi restaurant at Pike & Rose. The large "coming soon" signage was moved aside to allow access to the construction entrance when I went by this week. I had not seen any activity there previously.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mayor and Council to discuss adequate public facilities standards December 17

It's deja vu all over again, as developers who successfully weakened adequate public facilities standards in Rockville only three years ago return for yet another bite at the apple. This time, there is a mysterious pressure to further reduce adequate public facilities standards to allow more development near the Rockville and Twinbrook Metro stations.

The Mayor and Council have scheduled a discussion on the topic for their December 17, 2018 meeting, which begins at 7:00 PM. Will the standards be weakened again? That answer could turn on whether or not a public hearing and vote on the matter can be taken before January 8, the day that Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr is expected to resign from the City Council to take office as a state delegate from District 17.

A process to replace Palakovich Carr will be discussed at the Mayor & Council's December 10 meeting. Palakovich Carr would provide the deciding third vote to weaken the standards; once she is off the Council, the pro-development Team Rockville faction would no longer be assured of a 3-vote majority. The new councilmember would be the deciding vote, and we don't know the position of that yet-unknown person on APFS matters.

Any change would be a contentious one - a majority of citizens opposed the 2015 change to align Rockville's school capacity standards with Montgomery County's. That opposition never weakened; the issue was only decided in favor of the developers because Team Rockville held a 3-vote majority on the Council.

If any proposed change fails to pass by early 2019, it could become the key issue in next year's City elections. One of the problems in arguing for the change is that proponents promised the 2015 change that allowed several developers to move projects forward would solve school overcrowding in Rockville. With a development moratorium looming as soon as 2020, that was clearly proven to be a false promise.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Assault at Twinbrook Safeway

Montgomery County police detectives have released photos of a man they accuse of shoplifting and assault of an employee at the Twinbrook Safeway store, located at 1800 Rockville Pike, on October 17 around 1:00 PM. Detectives say the suspect stuffed merchandise from the Safeway's shelves into a bookbag, and then attempted to walk out of the store without paying for any of it.

Confronted by a "loss prevention employee" as he left, the suspect allegedly then pulled a knife out of his back pocket, and pointed it at the chest of the employee. The suspect was able to then flee the store, and was last seen boarding a Metro train at the Twinbrook Metro station nearby.

Anyone with information about this theft and first-degree assault and/or the suspect involved is asked to call the 1st District Investigative Section at 240-773-6084.  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 them that leads to an arrest in this case.
The alleged thief making his getaway
at the Twinbrook Metro station

Monday, December 3, 2018

Rockville Historic District Commission to hold emergency meeting December 6

The Historic District Commission has scheduled an emergency meeting for this Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 7:00 PM at City Hall. Commissioners will review an emergency application from the Mayor & Council that seeks to permit the demolition of an underground concrete structure at the Rockville Civic Center. The structure is not yet identified in the meeting agenda, but is stated to be blocking the construction of an already-approved retaining wall at the center.