Monday, October 31, 2022

Rodman's burglarized in Rockville, suspect photos released

Montgomery County police are investigating a burglary at the Rodman's Discount Store at White Flint Plaza in Rockville. On October 16, 2022 at 11:03 AM, a male suspect allegedly kicked the glass in the entrance door until it broke away. Inside, the suspect stole property from a cigarette cabinet.

Police describe the suspect as a white male with a red and gray beard and mustache. He was wearing a white bicycle helmet, blue plaid shirt, blue jeans, black sneakers and a black and red backpack.  

Anyone with information regarding this suspect or this crime is asked to call the 4th District Investigative Section at (240)773-5530 or 240-773-TIPS, or contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).  A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect. Callers can remain anonymous. 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Purse-snatching in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of a purse-snatching in a parking lot yesterday afternoon, October 29, 2022. The robbery was reported in a commercial parking lot in the 800 block of Hungerford Drive (MD 355) at 5:44 PM. According to police radio communications, the purse was taken by force, not stolen while left unobserved.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Car stolen from parking lot in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of a stolen vehicle at a parking lot early this past Thursday morning, October 27, 2022. The vehicle was reported stolen from a commercial parking lot in the 300 block of Hungerford Drive at 3:50 AM.

Assembly of ice rink underway at Rockville Town Square (Photos)

Ice skating season is nearly upon us. That's driven home by the team of workers now busy assembling the ice rink at Rockville Town Square. The annual attraction in the town square has become so popular, it's even earned a listing on the Virginia tourism website under "Northern Virginia." Maybe we'll see a red fleece vested-Gov. Glenn Youngkin testing the ice for a White House run here this winter.

Peeping Tom spotted in Rockville

A Peeping Tom was reported to Montgomery County police in Rockville early yesterday morning, October 28, 2022. The sex offense incident was reported at an apartment building in the 13000 block of Twinbrook Parkway at 3:10 AM Friday. That is in the vicinity of the Halpine View apartments.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Man arrested in alleged sexual assaults at L.A. Fitness in Rockville

Montgomery County police have arrested a man who allegedly sexually assaulted two women showering in the women's locker room at L.A. Fitness at 11416-A Rockville Pike last Friday, October 21, 2022. Samba Dieng, 18, of Silver Spring has been charged with Second-Degree Rape, Fourth-Degree Sex Offense, and two counts of Second-Degree Assault. He was taken into custody Wednesday at his home without incident. 

Detectives discovered that Dieng had been to multiple L.A. Fitness locations in Montgomery and Prince George's County. They are concerned that there may be other victims. Anyone with information regarding this suspect or additional victims is asked to call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5050.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Armed carjacking in Rockville

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed carjacking in Rockville Tuesday night, October 25, 2022. The carjacking was reported in the 15200 block of Shady Grove Road at 10:42 PM Tuesday.

Lovisa to open boutique at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

is opening a boutique at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The fast-fashion jewelry brand was founded in Sydney, Australia by billionaire Brett Blundy in 2010. Since then, Lovisa has grown to a chain of over 400 stores worldwide. Lovisa will be on Level 1, next to Journeys, and is now hiring (use the QR code in the picture at bottom to apply).

Wendy's closes for major renovations in Derwood (Photos)

at 15807 Frederick Road in Derwood has temporarily closed for major renovations. This isn't just a cosmetic makeover. The entire interior of the fast food restaurant has been gutted and will be rebuilt. 

An increased focus on takeout and drive-thru orders, and on mobile ordering, is at the heart of what the hamburger chain calls its Global Next Gen restaurant design. The new interior layout will also streamline operations, company CCO Kurt Kane said in August. It will also feature a new generation of technology throughout the ordering and cooking processes, including a new grill, and the ability to handle more mobile orders. Annual energy costs will be reduced by 6%.

Vera Bradley closes at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Vera Bradley
has closed at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Their space has been cleared out. Vera Bradley opened here in June 2012. That's an impressive run, but apparently not enough to survive the moribund Montgomery County economy that has claimed so many victims in recent years. 

LaserAway to open Rockville location

 is opening a location in Rockville at Pike & Rose. It will be in the former Taylor Gourmet space in the Canopy by Hilton hotel at 926 Rose Avenue, off Rockville Pike. LaserAway is a laser hair removal practice with locations in 24 states and the District of Columbia. They also offer botox treatments, tattoo removal, photofacials, dermal fillers, Thermage skin tightening, Coolsculpting fat removal, Clear + Brilliant laser treatments and other skincare services. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Rockville Wegmans construction update (Photos)

With the excitement for the new Amazon Fresh store on Shady Grove Road now on hold until next year, attention returns to the construction site of the future Wegmans at the corner of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road. Wegmans will be the anchor retail tenant in B.F. Saul's Twinbrook Quarter development, and will be in the ground floor of the Phase 1 building of that massive project. Twinbrook Quarter is the most highly-anticipated real estate project in Rockville since Rockville Town Square, nearly two decades ago, and Wegmans is the jewel in the Twinbrook Quarter crown as far as Rockville residents are concerned.

Concrete pouring continues for the third level slab, and a new covered walkway will protect pedestrians on Halpine Road through the end of construction in late 2023. The Rockville Wegmans opening date will likely be sometime in early 2024 at this point.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Montgomery County Council unanimously passes controversial Thrive 2050 plan

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to pass the controversial Thrive 2050 growth master plan this morning. A carbon copy of a plan being pushed nationwide by developers, Thrive 2050 will allow multifamily housing to be built in neighborhoods that are currently zoned for single-family homes over most of the county. The Council voted to approve the plan despite just having announced it had no confidence in, and demanding the resignations of, the five Planning Board commissioners who formulated and edited the plan.

Zillow home values for Minneapolis 2013-2022;
"Minneapolis 2040" (sound familiar?) was passed by
the Minneapolis City Council in 2018, and you can
see that prices have only surged further upward

Many residents expressed opposition to the plan, which will change the character of existing neighborhoods drastically. Among the concerns raised by residents were increased noise, loss of green space and tree canopy, insufficent street parking, school overcrowding, and gentrification that will force retired and lower-income homeowners out of their neighborhoods. The new housing allowed by Thrive 2050 will be luxury housing, not affordable housing. Rents and home values have only continued to rise in the few jurisdictions that have adopted the radical Thrive model, such as Minneapolis.

The Council was criticized for not only failing to reach out to people of color, but for ignoring their own diversity consulting firm, who had urged the Council not to rush to approve Thrive 2050 at the cost of equity for all residents. It was equally criticized in recent days for ramming the plan through before having an independent investigation of the many scandals surfacing in the planning apparatus that birthed it. On that front, the Council has so far received a free pass from local media, with The Washington Post editorial board going so far as to endorse the rushed passage of Thrive 2050. Surely, the money the Post receives from developers for real estate advertising played no role in that endorsement.

Some on the Council are term-limited. For those seeking office in the future, their vote for Thrive 2050 may come back to haunt them, once the impacts of the plan begin to be felt. A majority of residents are unaware of the plan, and have no idea what is happening. Thrive 2050 was largely rushed through during an international pandemic emergency that has tried the patience and mental health of people around the world. Virtually no one besides the Planning Board, the County Planning Department, the County Council, and their sugar daddies in the development community, was paying attention to land use and zoning issues at a time like this.

Today's vote will likely be looked back upon with regret. But it will also be remembered as the greatest victory of the Montgomery County cartel to date. The machine recognized that once they could beat the Columbia Country Club on the Purple Line, they could beat anybody, and they've certainly taken that realization to heart. They now control every elected office in the County, with the exception of County Executive. They control the local media. All opposition was utterly steamrolled by the Planning Board and County Council. That steamroller is now going to roll into neighborhoods across Montgomery County, demolishing homes, along with the suburban lifestyle our radical elected officials despise so much.

Montgomery County police investigate Sunday night gunfire at Pike & Rose

Montgomery County police responded to a shots-fired report at Pike & Rose Sunday night. The gunfire was reported to 911 at 9:17 PM in the 11500 block of Old Georgetown Road. @CordellTraffic on Twitter reported that officers responding to the scene found evidence outside of Sports & Social Bethesda, and a bullet inside the sports bar. No injuries were reported. 

Police have not yet commented publicly on the motive for the shooting, or on the search for any suspects involved. @CordellTraffic cited a dispute or altercation as the catalyst for the gunshot(s) that followed.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Dick's Warehouse Sale to open Friday in Rockville

Congressional Plaza is replacing one outlet store with another. Dick's Warehouse Sale will open a store at the shopping center at 1675 Rockville Pike this Friday, October 28, 2022, according to Google. The sporting goods store will take the place of Saks Off Fifth, which closed several years ago. 

Dick's Warehouse Sale is aimed at fans of Dick's Sporting Goods who have smaller budgets, a problem afflicting many Americans at this time. The key difference is that merchandise at the Dick's Warehouse Sale can be up to 70% off the regular price. Dick's developed the outlet concept two years ago, as it looked for ways to expand while experiencing strong business growth during the pandemic.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

McRib Farewell Tour finds McDonald's taking a page from Taco Bell's marketing book

McRib Farewell Tour? Signs popping up at local McDonald's restaurants - and nationwide - are warning McRib fans that "this could be your last bite." Only a few years after the fast food chain answered the call of the McRib cult to offer the sandwich at virtually every location again once a year, McDonald's is now threatening to pull the plug on the popular pork sandwich...forever.

McRib fans (like me) are sure to be outraged. It's been hard enough to get a McRib as it is. It wasn't offered in Montgomery County - or even most of Maryland - for about eight years last decade. And just when the BBQ sauce-laden sandwich finally returned in 2019, McDonald's is threatening to yank it away for good.

McDonald's may have taken a marketing page from Taco Bell's book in this latest, if questionable, McRib campaign. Taco Bell has removed several popular items from its menu in recent years, only to tease their return months or years later. Mexican Pizza, anyone? 

Of course, some items like the Beefy Crunch Burrito never returned, despite a well-organized campaign by the Beefy Crunch Movement. Will this be the fate of McRib, as well? 

McRib fans may not be able to control what the corporate boardroom of McDonald's decides, but by ordering as many McRibs as possible while it's available, fans can keep the pressure on the company and franchisees to keep the greatest fast food sandwich ever on the menu. McRib sales, like concert ticket sales, can make sure the McRib Farewell Tour is as final as the Motley Crue farewell tour. 

And if not? Ending the annual McRib Season could backfire bigtime on the Golden Arches, by angering their most loyal customers.

PetWellClinic opens in Rockville

has opened at 11802-D Rockville Pike, at the Pike & Rose development. Look for it in the one-level structure that also houses Chipotle and Kung Fu Tea, at the southeast corner of the Federal Realty-owned property. This is the first of an expected 25 locations for the veterinary clinic chain in the D.C. region. 

The chief veterinarian at the clinic is Dr. Margeaux Malone, and she is assisted by Dr. Leigh Pusateri. PetWellClinic is open Monday-Friday from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and on weekends from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Rockville-Gaithersburg Amazon Fresh store opening postponed until 2023

There's been much anticipation of a grand opening announcement for the Amazon Fresh store on Shady Grove Road, on the border of Rockville and Gaithersburg. But excited grocery shoppers will have to cool their engines for at least three more months. Amazon has postponed the opening until 2023. This is surprising, as the construction has been completed, and all the shelving and display cases have been in place for months now.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Montgomery County Council to defy Maryland law in Planning appointments, as Elrich warns Thrive 2050 is tainted by scandal

Thursday was another explosive day in the Montgomery County Planning Board scandal, as the County Council is poised to defy Maryland state law by illegally appointing 5 temporary board commissioners, without waiting the required three weeks after disclosing the list of candidates. The law is very clear, and is the only codified framework for appointing any individual to the Planning Board, resident Janis Sartucci told ABC 7 News. The list of candidates was made public on Wednesday, October 19, meaning that the appointments cannot legally be made until the next Council takes office after the November 8 election.

Sartucci said she would contact the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh if the Council were to appoint any commissioners before November 9. "We do have an attorney general's opinion that says when there's a vacancy in a public office, the law that's on the books is what controls the replacement process," Sartucci told ABC 7's Kevin Lewis. Several of the applicants for the interim positions are former Planning Board commissioners, meaning they could be under scrutiny themselves if a full investigation into planning scandals were carried out.

Meanwhile, County Executive Marc Elrich warned the Council about another rush job it is undertaking, to pass the controversial Thrive 2050 plan before the Council's term ends in the coming weeks. In a memo, Elrich said the Council cannot separate the Thrive plan from the scandals surrounding the commissioners and employees who drafted, edited and approved it. In addition to the question of who might have participated in ex parte discussions of Thrive over cocktails in Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson's government office as the plan was being drafted, Elrich noted that during the same period, "the Board broke significant rules with respect to the Open Meetings Law, the registration of lobbyists, and the use of the consent calendar. These violations impugn the Board's work product, and raise concerns that the Board, in search of a certain result, might have been willing to bend the rules on other occasions."

In fact, the Board has repeatedly engaged in such rule-breaking over the last decade. And only a handful of lobbyists - primarily development attorneys - have actually registered as lobbyists so far. Many who currently, actively lobby on behalf of the development industry before the Board and Council have yet to register as lobbyists. 

Elrich also advised the Council to halt its current course of "sweeping everything under the rug." He called on the Council to halt the Thrive approval process until an investigation of the planning scandals is completed, so that residents can have confidence the plan wasn't tainted by unethical and illegal actions by those drafting it.

The County Executive listed four major errors the Council has made in its last-minute push to ram through Thrive 2050. 

Error number one, Elrich wrote, was the Council adding three hastily-written chapters to the plan that have never been the subject of a public hearing. While ignoring his own and the public's comments on the plan this fall, Elrich added, the Council only addressed the comments of two representatives of developer-funded organizations that are lobbying for Thrive 2050. Elrich said that, at a minimum, the Council must hold a public hearing on the new last-minute chapters it added. He argued it would be best if the plan were sent back to a new Planning Board after the election.

Error number two, Elrich wrote, was to use an old map in the plan that pretends the County never added the Suburban Communities and Residential Wedge designations to its growth policy. Elrich brought this error to the Planning Board's attention in 2020, but they ignored his communication. He said there needs to be a new public hearing on how those two recognized land uses added in 1993 will be impacted by Thrive 2050. Elrich suggested the public "has a right to know what effect, if any, this change will have on their individual properties and on future growth in their neighborhood."

Of course, Thrive 2050 as currently written, will have massive, tectonic effects on both. Noise, overcrowding, lack of street parking, reduced school capacity, forced eviction of many residents through gentrification, loss of green space and tree canopy, and a complete change in neigborhood character are all built in to the Thrive plan.

The Council's third major error, Elrich wrote, is repeatedly misleading the public by claiming that passing the Thrive 2050 plan will not make zoning changes to their neighborhood. But the text of Thrive 2050 itself clearly states that such zoning changes may be required in order to implement the plan, and this admission was only added this month. He accused the Planning Board and Council of "withholding the information that a massive rezoning to urbanize most of the County could only take place after Thrive was enacted." The public has a right to know this, as well, Elrich said.

Error number 4, Elrich wrote, was removing quotes from the consultant hired by the Council that chastised the Council for not allowing enough time for substantive outreach to the BIPOC community, and for conducting what little outreach there was during the summer vacation season when it was harder to contact people. Elrich wrote that there must be further outreach to residents of color before Thrive 2050 is passed.

The Elrich memo makes the larger argument that the Council cannot simply state it has lost confidence in the Board and appoint a new one; it must disclose to the public the specifics of why it lost confidence, and conduct a full investigation of the many charges, claims and allegations that were made by whistleblowers inside the Planning Department. A complete dismissal of the Board has not cleared the way for passage of Thrive as the Council seems to think, Elrich concluded, but has "cast a shadow over the entirety of the Planning Board's actions."

Elrich's memo is well-written and on-point in every respect. There is no time factor or urgent need to pass Thrive 2050 this month. It is not even a unique or innovative plan. It's a carbon copy of the same "missing middle" plan that developers are attempting to ram through nationwide, including in Arlington County, using the same sham arguments. 

Thrive 2050 is nothing more than a wild, developer profit grab through a policy that would allow high-density, luxury multifamily growth on every acre of land in Montgomery County outside of the agricultural reserve - and that's on the menu next. We've learned since 2002 that all residential growth generates more cost in services than it generates in tax revenue for the County. Imagine what an even-more-unhinged growth policy like Thrive will do to a County budget already in a structural deficit, and carrying a debt so large that, if it were a department, it would be the third-largest department in the County government.

Assault in Montgomery County Council building parking garage in Rockville

Rockville City police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault in the parking garage at the Montgomery County Council Building at 100 Maryland Avenue Tuesday morning, October 18, 2022. The assault was reported at 10:40 AM Tuesday.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Assault reported in parking garage at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Montgomery County police responded to a report of a 2nd-degree assault at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda Tuesday evening, October 18, 2022. The assault was reported in a parking garage at the mall at 6:21 PM. This is the 11th assault reported at the mall since May 18.

Sheepskin Gifts and Alpaca Too opens at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

Sheepskin Gifts and Alpaca Too
has returned to Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda for another winter and holiday shopping season. What is alpaca? According to an explanation on display at the store, "alpaca fiber is warmer, weighs less and is more durable than wool. It is soft like cashmere, but stronger and a highly-natural product. Because alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic, most people [allergic to] wool items can wear alpaca. Alpaca garments...are stain resistant. Precipitation does not readily penetrate an alpaca garment, and they are naturally windproof."

This alpaca apparel from Peru gives a warm feeling, not only against the cold, but also that the holidays are approaching very soon. Look for the alpaca outside their storefront on Level 1, next to Intimissimi.