Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts

Friday, April 5, 2024

WSSC seeks public comment on proposed new Damascus Town Center Wastewater Pumping Station

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is moving forward with a plan to replace the Damascus Town Center Wastewater Pumping Station, and is receiving public comment on the proposal between now and May 4, 2024. As planned, the existing pumping station would be demolished, and a new one would be constructed about 1500 linear feet north of that location at 26701 Woodfield Road. The existing pumping station is now outmoded, the utility said.

The replacement facility would be a wet well and valve vault-style pumping station. It would include an electrical and control building, paving and fencing with an access gate, landscaping, a gravity sewer, a low-pressure sewer force main, a water main, and associated infrastructure to "pump sewage out of the proposed pump station and into the collection system.

Alas, the project plans are not provided online for the public. Instead, they are available for public review in-person at the WSSC at 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, Maryland 20707 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Public comment is only accepted in written form, and can be mailed to Tanweer Baig, 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, Maryland 20707, or emailed to

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Rockville Giant store to add electric vehicle chargers

The Giant at 9719 Traville Gateway Drive will soon add two electric vehicle charging stations outside the store, which is located at the Traville Village Center in Rockville. Giant began a partnership with Volta Charging to provide EV charging stations at its stores in 2020. The alliance was expected to eventually deliver more than 200 charging stations at the Ahold-owned supermarket chain's locations.  

“Providing our shoppers and communities free electric charging services is part of Giant’s larger sustainability efforts,” Giant Food President Ira Kress said in a statement. “We are excited to offer our customers who opt for electric cars the satisfaction of quick and free charging while they shop. It’s a value for our shoppers that also benefits the environment.”

Friday, September 29, 2023

Montgomery County legalizes tunnel greenhouses on urban, suburban lots to boost small farming production

Montgomery County's Department of Permitting Services has removed a prohibition on the erection of high tunnel greenhouses on urban and suburban lots, in an effort to increase food production by small farmers in those areas. Previously, the structures were only permitted on land zoned as agricultural. Constructed of metal frames and clear plastic coverings, the greenhouses trap heat to extend the growing season, and block access to plants by pests. Interested applicants in urban and suburban areas must submit to the DPS a certificate showing that the high tunnel proposal has been reviewed by the Montgomery Soil Conservation District and the Office of Agriculture, to ensure that it will comply with sediment and erosion control, stormwater management, zoning, and any local HOA requirements. 

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

"Ag growers who are Black, indigenous or people of color often operate on properties with fewer than three acres of land, so this policy change was made to increase racial equity," County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement. "This policy change also is expected to increase local food production, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from long-distance food transport on our roads and increase urban access to healthy and nutritious food. I thank the local grower who advocated for change and the Office of Agriculture and Department of Permitting Services for implementing the new policy."

Monday, August 7, 2023

Biden pushing federal employees back to the office: Does the commercial real estate crisis outweigh the climate crisis?

President Joe Biden will make a more aggressive push for federal workers to return to their offices this fall, Axios reported Friday. It's only the latest decision by the Biden administration that ignores the climate crisis that the President at other times acknowledges is "the existential threat to humanity." The driving force behind demanding that great numbers of federal employees return to in-person work isn't for the public good, but to prop up the falling profits of wealthy private development firms and their Wall Street financial backers. One must ask the question, "Does the commercial real estate crisis outweigh the climate crisis?"

The reduction in downtown leasing and activity is hardly limited to Washington, D.C. But developers here have an advantage office tower owners in other cities don't: The federal government can order all 141,367 of its D.C.-based employees back to in-person work. Yet that singular power is precisely why the Biden administration shouldn't.

A great opportunity to make unprecedented strides toward reducing carbon emissions, pollution and global temperatures emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Government and private employers alike were forced to find out who could do their jobs from home, and who couldn't. But Biden declined to seize the low-hanging fruits of this opportunity. 

Imagine if everyone who successfully performed their job from home during the lockdown just kept doing that. The short-lived environmental and highway capacity benefits would have become permanent. Air quality would have improved, and expensive transportation projects could have been canceled. And while it would have been a hard-fought battle for the federal government to mandate private companies continue to allow their employees to work from home, Uncle Sam would have had no barrier or obstacle to mandate that all federal workers working from home continue doing so indefinitely.

Ordering most federal workers to return to the office would put swarms of cars that currently spend most of their time in driveways of homes back onto area roads. Workers returning by transit will have a significant negative impact on the environment, as well. WMATA only anticipates half of its buses will be zero-emission by 2033, and predicts its entire fleet will be zero-emission by 2045. The vast majority of buses still run on diesel and natural gas. This does not even take into account the coal-fired and natural gas electricity plant emissions needed to operate the Metro subway system.

The world just passed through the hottest month on record in July. Scientists and climate activists began using the term "global boiling" to describe what lies ahead for Planet Earth. The D.C. area is intimately aware of the pollution impacts of wildfires, and the extensive damage wreaked by increasingly-powerful storms. On the present course, global temperatures will likely pass the 1.5C global warming threshold sometime in the next four years.

It was only four years ago that the United Nations informed us that we had "only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change." Yet Biden eagerly approved the Mountain Valley Pipeline, recently endorsed by the U.S. Supreme Court. His Russia-related energy sanctions and policies restarted coal plants in Europe, and will boost American natural gas output for export to Europe for at least the duration of the war, if not for decades to come. Politicians who had called for higher gas prices for decades to reduce driving fell silent when they finally arrived in 2022. Biden has sold 206 million barrels of oil from the country's reserves to date, to artificially lower the price of gasoline since.

These are not the expected actions of a President who recently said, at a press conference with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, that he has witnessed "the highest sea-level rise in more than a century. I’ve seen wildfire devastation across the West, burning more acres to the ground than are square miles in the state of Maryland. That’s how much got burned to the ground and all the — just flying over, just devastating. There’s been historic tornadoes and flooding in the Midwest and the Southeast. And just last week, across the East Coast and Midwest, we saw what you’ve already seen here in California: millions of Americans sheltered indoors, the air not safe to breathe, orange haze covering the sky. It’s incredible."

One cannot take these actions, and then turn around another day and claim we are in an existential climate crisis that threatens American lives and property. If you had found a way for tens of thousands of federal workers to get their job done without hitting the road twice a day, and you were serious about the climate, you wouldn't consider for a minute ordering those employees back to the office.

Developers are being hit in the pocketbook. Wall Street and the bankers who hold the loans on office towers are taking a WFH hit, too. Downtown traffic to businesses isn't what it was prior to March 2020. None of that warrants yet another federal government bailout to the rich, at the expense of all humanity and nature around the globe. President Biden should resist the pressure he's receiving from wealthy interests to force federal workers back to the office. The President who said "the impacts we’re seeing in climate change are only going to get more frequent and more ferocious and more costly" shouldn't add any more to that cost and ferocity.

Photo courtesy U.S. State Department

Monday, June 19, 2023

Tesla touts EV tax credit at Rockville store

is promoting the $7500 electric vehicle tax credit outside its Rockville store at 1300 Rockville Pike. The tax credit provided by President Biden's 2022 Inflation Recovery Act can be challenging to receive if you are not a careful car shopper. A short list of EVs are eligible, if they are made in North America, and if a large-enough portion of their battery components made in the United States. 

New Model 3 and Model Y Teslas are on that list. Interestingly, according to the Associated Press, if you lease instead of buying your EV, you can receive the tax credit on any electric vehicle. An electric vehicle is in your future, whether you like it or not. By 2035, all cars sold in Maryland will have to be electric.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Rockville police report black bear sighting

A black bear was spotted and photographed in a neighborhood off of Falls Road this morning, Rockville City police announced. It was climbing a tree in the Horizon Hill neighborhood, off Sunrise Drive. It is not known if it is the same bear who was captured in Rockville and released upcounty last month, or a new visitor. Officers are again working with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to locate and capture the bear. If you spot the bear, call RCPD at 240-314-8900. Stay calm, and do not approach, feed or attempt to capture the animal.

Photo courtesy RCPD

Friday, May 5, 2023

Rockville bear sightings continue

The black bear wandering around Rockville the last few days likes it here, and it's sticking around. Rockville City police announced this morning that the bear was spotted last night on College Parkway, and in King Farm. Officers are currently searching for the bear with the assistance of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. You are asked to call the RCPD at 240-314-8900 as soon as possible if you see the bear.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Montgomery County now collecting durable medical equipment at Shady Grove Transfer Station

Do you have medical equipment you no longer need, and is just taking up space in your home? Now it can be put to use for less-fortunate residents in need of it. Montgomery County is now collecting durable medical equipment at the Shady Grove Transfer Station at 16101 Frederick Road (MD 355) in Derwood. "Gently-used" wheelchairs, canes, shower chairs, and other commonly-used medical equipment will be accepted, and will be refurbished and donated to residents who need it. The new initiative has been made possible by the Montgomery County Department of the Environment's entry into the Maryland Department of Aging’s Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Re-Use program.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

“There is an ongoing need for medical equipment in our County,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement. “Many of us have medical equipment in our basements, garages or attics that is no longer used, but is too good to throw away. This program helps our County’s efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, while providing critical assistance to those in need. I encourage everyone to donate if they have any equipment that can still be used. This program isn’t just helping our planet—it is also helping our neighbors.”

Technicians from Maryland DME Re-Use take the donated equipment to a 56,000-square-foot facility located in Cheltenham in Prince George's County. There, it is sanitized, repaired and stored for future distribution. Equipment that is beyond repair will be broken down for parts that are saved and later used, rather than going into the trash.

To find out more about Maryland DME Re-Use, including collection site locations, acceptable donations or how to apply to receive durable medical equipment, go to, call 240-230-8000 or email

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Nordstrom reducing window displays "to lessen our environmental impact" at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda

at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda says it is increasing its efforts to be more environmentally-sensitive. One step it is now taking "to lessen our environmental impact" is to reduce the number of window displays. At one window inside the mall, trash is now part of the display. "This display was partially sourced from our store's recyclable waste," a sign explains. 

This is apparently such a new development that there has not even been any company-wide announcement or press release about it yet. The window display initiative does not appear on the chain's environmental sustainability webpage. It's certainly an unusual tack for an upscale department store.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Maryland "closely monitoring" air quality after toxic East Palestine, Ohio train derailment

Maryland Department of the Environment
air quality monitoring station

More than a few Maryland residents have been wondering if the toxic chemicals released into waterways and the air from the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment might have any environmental or health impacts here. The Maryland Department of the Environment has been "closely monitoring the situation," MDE spokesperson Jay Apperson said Friday evening. Department officials have been focused on impacts from the air, as Apperson said the runoff into the Ohio River will not affect Maryland waterways.

There has been speculation online that pollution such as airborne particulates or acid rain caused by the derailment, and by the controversial clean-up effort of toxic substances from the train cars, could impact neighboring states. Some satellite images shared on social media depicting a plume cloud from the controlled burn-off of chemicals at the crash site showed it passing over Western Maryland at times. 

But Apperson said the state has so far found nothing of concern within our borders. MDE's air quality monitoring station in Garrett County "shows no effect on levels of gas or particulate matter" as of last night, he reported. "The department will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation," Apperson added.

Photo courtesy MDE

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Montgomery County Council natural gas ban already impacting real estate market

The recent floating of a ban on gas stoves by federal regulators caused an uproar nationwide, but the Montgomery County Council's 2022 actual ban on natural gas energy in future home and building construction is already making waves in the county's real estate market. In recent weeks, some for-sale signs in front of Montgomery County homes have added a new shingle underneath: "Natural Gas AVAILABLE." 

County homeowners fortunate to have a natural gas hookup, and the advantages and alternatives it provides, may now see a bump in their home values. Buyers dreaming of a true "chef's kitchen," showers that don't run cold just because the power is out, or a generator to keep everything on when electric power does go out, will have a static inventory of older properties to choose from.

Montgomery County's natural gas ban was an instructive moment in more ways than one. Of course, it reminds us all of how much the Council enjoys banning things. It's a cheap way to make news, look busy, and not have to spend much money in the process. All the costs fall on businesses and residents. 

Perhaps even more intriguing is the revelation of how County environmental policy often has less to do with actual impact on climate change (though those melting paper straws do add a unique new flavor to our beverages), and more to do with accomplishing hidden or corrupt goals, payoffs, power grabs and other short-term gains. Such is the epic tale of the rise and fall of natural gas in Montgomery County's "green" policy.

It wasn't that long ago that we were told natural gas was "clean energy." This just happened to coincide with fracking mania, which created whole boom towns in often-remote parts of America for a time. Brown drinking water and earthquakes? Merely minor side-effects of "clean energy."

Montgomery County's elected officials and local environmental advocates were all-in on natural gas at that time, as well.

Way back in 1996, Montgomery County purchased its first compressed natural gas Ride On buses. Montgomery County Council staff regularly have referred to these CNG buses as "clean bus technology."

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan touted the purchase of 19 more natural gas-powered Ride On buses in 2000, through a multi-agency agreement that included the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG). "Through this agreement, we're helping to reduce traffic congestion and prevent pollution," Duncan said at the time. "The support of The Clean Alternative program has made it easier for the County to purchase low emission vehicles that reduce air pollution while lowering our fuel and maintenance costs."

Maryland Transportation Secretary John Porcari said that the purchase of these natural gas Ride On buses would "improve air quality and enhance the quality of life" of residents. Then-MWCOG Executive Director Michael Rogers said CNG Ride On buses were an "emerging strategy for improving air quality."

Sue Edwards of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission wrote that the CNG Ride On buses used natural gas as a "clean burning fuel." CNG was "a mechanism to meet air quality objectives," she stated. 

The most interesting endorsement of natural gas-powered Ride On buses came from Elliott Negin of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Montgomery County is showing the way for our region," Negin was quoted as saying in the press release announcing the natural gas bus purchase.

Two years later, Negin and the NRDC were even more enthused about natural gas. WMATA had announced the purchase of 250 new natural gas CNG buses for the Metrobus fleet.  "This is a great Earth Day present for the nation's capital, Maryland and Virginia," Negin said in a joint press release with the Sierra Club(!!). "Expanding Metro's natural gas program and retiring its polluting diesel buses is clearly the best choice for our public health and environment. It also is the best choice for strengthening U.S. energy security, since we get nearly all of our natural gas from North America, and more than half of the oil we consume is imported."

After reading that, you might wonder if Negin's article in Greater Greater Washington last month was written by an imposter. 

"WMATA’s fleet is currently made up of diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, which essentially run on methane, a potent global warming gas," Negin and co-authors Steve Banashek and Timothy Oberleiton wrote on December 7, 2022. "Diesel tailpipe emissions have been linked to cancer and heart disease, as well as premature death. CNG bus emissions have been linked to cardiovascular and neurological diseases." Well, so much for enhancing the quality of life!

"Emissions from both fuels cause smog, which exacerbates allergies and such lung conditions as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, a major problem in the District," Negin, et al continued. "Both types of fuel also pose a threat to the climate. In the greater Washington region, cars, trucks, buses, and other mobile sources account for a whopping 40% of annual global warming pollution. [CNG buses] spew toxic pollution. Their lifecycle global warming emissions, meanwhile, are on average only 6.4 percent lower than that of a diesel bus and, in many circumstances, are nearly the same due to widespread methane leaks and relatively poor fuel economy."

What a difference 20 years makes! Yet all of the properties of natural gas were known to scientists 20 years ago, when Negin, Montgomery County officials and countless other once-ardent promoters of natural gas were demanding Americans switch to that "clean energy" alternative. What's going on here?

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka attempted to backpedal on his gas stove ban musings last month, after everyone from annoyed chefs to political opponents of the Biden administration ran wild with the issue. Days later, Trumka quietly doubled down on his personal opposition to gas stoves in the back pages of The Washington Post

Looking at Montgomery County environmental "policy" this century, we have to ask, what will his position be twenty years from now?

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Rockville seeks permission to remove failed dam from historic property

The City of Rockville is seeking permission to remove a failed dam from the historic Glenview Farm property at 603 Edmonston Drive, which is home to Glenview Mansion and the Rockville Civic Center park. While the dam is no longer functioning properly, and cannot be replaced under today's federal and state environmental rules, it is considered a contributing resource to a historic site. For this reason, the Rockville Historic District Commission must determine if historic preservation of the dam structure is warranted.

Sitting across Croydon Creek, the dam was constructed in the 1920s when the site was a functioning farm. It created a reservoir that was used as a water source for cattle, and for the irrigation of crops. The original farmhouse is now part of Glenview Mansion. Rockville's Environmental Management Division would now like to execute a stream restoration project at the site, and it will require removal of the dam. Today, the dam is breached in two locations, and small chunks of it have been pushed by the currents of Croydon Creek downstream.

The design phase of the stream restoration project received funding from the Maryland State Highway Administration. That design process is now 90% complete. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has allocated $2,000,000 from its Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund for the actual construction of the project.

HDC commissioners will review the dam to determine if it can be removed or not at its October 20, 2022 meeting. City staff are recommending commissioners approve removal of the dam.

Photo/map courtesy City of Rockville

Friday, March 25, 2022

Rivian truck spotted at Rockville Rivian facility (Photos)

The parking lot at the new Rivian facility on Rockville Pike is usually empty, save for the flatbed trucks used to deliver the new electric pickup trucks to their owners. Trucks are picked up for delivery as quickly as they arrive here. But one of the fast-moving EV pickups was finally caught on-site yesterday. 

There was an intriguing sign on the dashboard, which instructs delivery drivers in capital letters to unbuckle the truck's seatbelt after loading. I can't find any explanation online for that, but it clearly must be important, and it would be interesting to know why. It's too early for Guardian Mode on this Rivian. 

The tonneau cover was closed over the pickup bed. I think this truck is in Launch Green. Has anyone seen a Limestone yet? I'm partial to Rivian Blue myself.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Tower Companies activates largest solar grid in Rockville

The largest solar energy grid in the City of Rockville is now active. Real estate development firm The Tower Companies flipped the switch on its half megawatt solar PV canopy system at The Tower Building at 1101 Wootton Parkway yesterday. It will provide the same annual carbon offset value as 600 acres of forest, a positive in a county where forest and tree canopy are being clearcut at an aggressive pace.

The new parking lot grid will also supply a full fifth of the Tower Building's energy needs each year. In addition to the Prospect Solar-installed canopy, four electric vehicle charging stations were added. By June 2022, Tower will be generating almost 2 million kWh of on-site solar energy across its entire real estate portfolio, using approximately 4,000 solar panels.

The Tower Building in Rockville

"This is a great, innovative project that shows how Rockville businesses are contributing to clean, local renewable energy generation and helping our community meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals," Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said in a statement yesterday. "We are proud that our city is home to companies like Tower that share the values of our community and are taking proactive approaches to help us meet Rockville's climate action goals." She said the project aligns with the Mayor and Council's efforts on a Climate Action Plan for the city.

Tower Companies CEO Eric Posner on Tuesday touted the grid as not only good for the environment, but also a potential draw for climate-conscious tenants that other office building owners could emulate. "Tower is proud to continue our long-standing commitment to sustainability and contribute to local, state, and national climate action goals that will improve the lives of generations to come," Posner said. "We view this project as a smart investment that not only benefits the environment, but is also a real value-add for our office building tenants."

Photos courtesy The Tower Companies, Prospect Solar

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Rockville Town Square underground maintenance work explained!

I've received some more information from the City of Rockville about the mysterious underground work going on under the square at Rockville Town Square. It is related to the underground stormwater management system at the property. There is a sand filter located underneath the square.

Stormwater runoff from hard surfaces, parking lots and buildings at and nearby the Town Square is routed through pipes into that underground sand filter - water from nearly 10 acres of surfaces. The filter removes sediment and debris, and then discharges the treated water into Maryvale Park and Rock Creek.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Montgomery County-based JBG Smith announces it has achieved portfolio-wide carbon neutrality

4747 Bethesda Avenue lobby

JBG Smith
, a real estate development firm headquartered at 4747 Bethesda Avenue, announced this morning that it has achieved carbon neutrality across its entire operating portfolio of properties, which include several in Rockville. It accomplished this by purchasing verified carbon offsets for scope-one carbon emissions, and renewable energy credits (RECs) for scope-two electrical consumption.

Galvan development in Rockville

In order to maintain carbon neutral status in the coming years, the company said it will have to take further actions. Those actions will include:

1.       Driving down energy consumption across its existing portfolio

2.       Reducing anticipated energy consumption and embodied carbon for its development pipeline

3.       Deploying onsite solar where most impactful

4.       Exploring offsite solar opportunities and bringing additional renewables to the national electrical grid 

5.       Addressing the remainder of carbon emissions with verified carbon offsets and renewable energy credits (RECs)

7200 Wisconsin in Bethesda

“Achieving carbon neutrality across our operating portfolio provides JBG Smith with a strong and compelling competitive advantage," JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said in a statement. "Our office, residential, and retail customers increasingly demand this from their real estate space and service partners and our investors expect that we are doing all that we can to address this looming and critical threat, Our collective actions over the next decade are essential in offsetting the current carbon emission trajectory and, through sustainable best practices, JBG Smith remains committed to positively impacting the communities we serve at every level.”

Terano in Rockville

JBG Smith has developed, owns or manages many properties in Montgomery County, including the Trader Joe's-anchored 8001 Woodmont and 7200 Wisconsin in Bethesda, the Rock Grove shopping center in Shady Grove, and the Galvan and Terano in Rockville. Its most prominent venture is the Amazon HQ2 National Landing project in Arlington County, Virginia.

Rock Grove shopping center


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Hummer EV now available for pre-order at King GMC Buick in Rockville

The highly-anticipated Hummer EV electric truck is now available for pre-order at King GMC Buick, located at 16200 Frederick Road. It features a 300-350 mile range, depending on which model you choose. Advanced features include Ultravision navigation cameras, a power swing gate, and the ability for the truck to drive diagonally like a crab. The pickup model goes 0-60 in three seconds; the SUV version takes a half-second longer. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Montgomery County to rifle through residents' recycling bins with camera crews in tow

Montgomery County is experiencing a violent crime wave, but has defunded 27 police officer positions. The County was chastised last year for leaving 54 positions unfilled at its 911 call center, a failure that was highlighted by a 36 minute response time to a fatal drowning incident. Those are far from the only areas of government understaffed, as witnesses to the collapse of a rusted-out traffic signal pole in Bethesda this week can attest. But the County's Department of Environmental Protection appears to be well-staffed, as it will demonstrate this morning in Bethesda. 

According to a press release, DEP inspectors will go house-to-house in the neighborhood near Walt Whitman High School, and rifle through each resident's recycling bin. "Reporters and camera crews will be able to follow the inspectors" starting at 6:30 AM this morning, in what appears to be a massive violation of residents' privacy. This was clearly the wrong week to toss your unshredded sensitive documents or Playboy collection. Do you read the wrong newspaper, or drink too many boxed alcoholic beverages? We may find out this morning!

The "Oops Tag" program quietly began two months ago, the press release states. Inspectors have had the time and manpower to already sweep through those early-targeted neighborhoods "two to three times." Rummaging through residents' recycling bins, they have left a tag on those which contained items that cannot be recycled, identifying the ineligible items. Such ineligible items cost taxpayers approximately $750,000 in 2020, the press release says.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Rockville deer hunt to close parts of Civic Center Park

A managed deer hunt will temporarily close parts of Rockville's Civic Center Park at times over the next three months. The City of Rockville is launching a pilot archery deer-culling program in response to increased vehicular collisions with deer, and concerns about Lyme disease.

Parts of Civic Center Park and Croydon Creek Nature Center will be closed November 21-29, December 19-27, and January 9-16. The City says a survey showed Rockville parks currently host an average of 130-160 deer per square mile, while a healthy deer population is around 20 deer per square mile. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

America's largest crabapple tree would be relocated for redevelopment of Rockville office building

Tree designated "National Champion"
for its air and water purification
properties, height & circumference

UPDATE - July 21, 2020: The article has been updated to indicate that Montgomery County's assertion that a homeowner has agreed to accept the relocated tree is false; the homeowner has not even been contacted about the matter, much less agreed to accept the tree

A developer has proposed a plan to redevelop a one-story office building at 12500 Ardennes Avenue in the Twinbrook area of Rockville as a residential building. The property is directly adjacent to the City of Rockville, and is indeed partially surrounded by land within the city's jurisdiction, but falls under the planning authority of Montgomery County.

Developer Ardennes Partners, LLC is proposing a 203-unit residential building. It is requesting a 22% density bonus for affordable units it will include, and an additional 10% density bonus for workforce housing units. The project will be 198,718 SF in total, and 100' in height.

A national champion southern crabapple tree currently stands on the property (there are actually several mature trees on the site). It is the largest known southern crabapple tree in America, according to American Forests.

The developer has proposed relocating the tree to a "nearby" site on Vandegrift Avenue. That site is actually about four blocks away on the lawn of a private home, and is not visible from Twinbrook Parkway. However, the owner of the property Montgomery County claims would be accepting the tree tells me she has never given permission for the tree to be planted there, and that she has never even been approached by the developer or Montgomery County about the matter. There is currently a petition to stop relocation of the tree. Montgomery County Planning staff is proposing to require the applicant to be responsible for the survival of the tree at its new location for only five years.
Proposed site plan
A mostly-above-ground parking deck will hold 181 parking spaces. The site is a quarter-mile from the Twinbrook Metro station, and is allowed under Montgomery County rules to provide less than the minimum required parking spaces. An "urban plaza" will be constructed at the corner of Ardennes and Twinbrook Parkway.

It's unclear why the building could not have been configured to instead locate the plaza around the crabapple tree. The developer cites the need to grade the property, the need to construct a new sidewalk along Twinbrook Parkway, and Montgomery County's own demand that it dedicate right-of-way space along the parkway side to the County, as reasons the tree could not remain in place. Staff indicates in their report that the developer will be moving the tree at "considerable expense."

The Montgomery County Planning Board will review the proposed plan at its June 25 meeting. Planning staff is recommending approval of the plan, with conditions.