Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Aldi opening tomorrow, December 1, at Plaza del Mercado in Aspen Hill

The long-awaited return of grocery shopping at the distinctive Plaza del Mercado shopping center in Aspen Hill is here. Aldi will open tomorrow morning, Thursday, December 1, at the Federal Realty-owned retail center, located at the intersection of Bel Pre and Layhill Road. The Aldi is addressed as 2223 Bel Pre Road.

If you are one of the first 100 Aldi customers in line Thursday, you'll get a golden ticket that gives you a chance to win Aldi prizes. Even if you aren't, you'll still have a shot at winning produce for a year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

HOC seeks to reduce number of units, parking spaces at Alexander House redevelopment in Silver Spring

The Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission is seeking to amend its site plan for the Elizabeth Square project at the corner of Apple Avenue and Second Avenue, in downtown Silver Spring. Its proposal asks the Montgomery County Planning Board to reduce the number of units in the redevelopment of the Alexander House from 311 to 305, reduce the amount of retail space, and trim the number of parking spaces in line with the minimums required in urban parking districts. The site plan itself was approved by the Board last year.
This main gate is one of
several public art features
that will be removed
HOC is also asking for permission to remove several public art elements from the existing Alexander House site. These include decorative gates, garden screens, pool railings, and the iconic Watermark sculpture. HOC is proposing to donate the sculpture to a public agency. The Art Review Panel has already signed off on the removals at a July meeting.

Planning staff is recommending approval of the amendment. The Planning Board will take up the amendment at its December 8 meeting.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Grill Kabob to open at Wheaton Plaza

Grill Kabob, the popular local Afghan fast casual chain, is expanding to Wheaton Plaza. The restaurant will be located in the food court. Grill Kabob has two existing locations in Montgomery County, at Westfield Montgomery Mall and at Lakeforest Mall.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Montgomery County police cruiser struck by drunk driver in Burtonsville (Photo)

A Laurel man was arrested and charged with DUI after he struck a Montgomery County police cruiser last Saturday night on Spencerville Road near Burtonsville Drive. Two off-duty County officers were helping with traffic control at a mosque there, when they were approached by an elderly woman whose Pontiac Sunfire had broken down on the eastbound side of Spencerville Road.

While one of the officers assisted to ensure the woman returned safely to her vehicle, the second officer positioned his cruiser behind the Pontiac to provide some protection from oncoming vehicles. The action may have saved her life.

Shortly afterward, a 2006 Kia Sedona smashed into the police cruiser, which had its lights flashing for extra visibility. The driver, Pedro Gaona Vera, 56, of Laurel, drove the police cruiser into the Sunfire. Fortunately, the woman - now in the passenger seat awaiting a tow truck - was not injured by the collision. The Dodge Magnum police cruiser took significant damage from the collision, but neither officer was hurt.

Vera was also uninjured. But he did find himself under arrest, after a Breathalyzer test indicated his blood alcohol level was .11. The legal limit in Maryland is .08.

Photo: Montgomery County Police Department

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Montgomery County seeks to abandon rights-of-way in Olney

Blackened street segments
are the sections MoCo
seeks to abandon in Olney
Montgomery County is proposing to abandon several public rights-of-way in Olney, for the proposed Bradford Landing development. The County seeks to relinquish its rights to portions of Bradford Road, Coolidge Avenue and Norbeck Avenue.

A public hearing on the proposed abandonments will be held on Wednesday, December 7, in the County Executive Office Building's lobby auditorium at 101 Monroe Street in Rockville at 7:00 PM.

The Bradford Landing site abuts forested rights-of-way for the InterCounty Connector and Pepco.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump supporter victim of hate crime in Silver Spring (Photo)

Montgomery County Police are investigating an incident of vandalism in Silver Spring they believe is "bias-based." On Sunday morning, a Donald Trump supporter in the Four Corners neighborhood in Silver Spring awoke to find a swastika had been spray painted on his front storm door, and his American flag had been stolen. Police responded to the home in the 200 block of Williamsburg Drive at 7:22 AM.

A preliminary investigation determined that this was the third time the Trump supporter's home had been targeted. The home was previously vandalized on October 16, police said, and a Trump-Pence sign was stolen from the front yard of the property in late October.

This incident shows the danger of jumping to conclusions, as the Montgomery County Council has, in regard to a handful of hate-based vandalism incidents since the election. With no evidence, and not a single suspect having been arrested and questioned, our County Council has alleged these incidents were inspired by Trump and/or perpetrated by his supporters.

The Council has now been wrong twice in the last week; the only physical hate violence in the County so far has been directed against a Trump supporter, during a student protest last Wednesday in Rockville. And now in Four Corners, the only case where we have a clear motive, all evidence again points to anti-Trump forces.

Fortunately, the police are not taking a political approach, and are examining all cases objectively in their investigations. In a statement, detectives said they believe the homeowner's support for Trump is the motivation for the thefts and vandalism in the Four Corners case.

Anyone with information about these thefts or the vandalism incidents is asked to contact the 3rd District Investigative Section at 240-773-6870.  For those who wish to remain anonymous, Crime Solvers of Montgomery County is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for any information that leads to the arrest of the suspect(s).  Tipsters can call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Photo courtesy Montgomery County Police

Monday, November 21, 2016

First look: New rooftop at Society Lounge in Silver Spring (Photo)

Here's a sneak peek at what the future rooftop space at Society Lounge will look like. The roof area was closed by Montgomery County recently, after an inspector declared the covered roof space to be unsafe.

A first set of renderings of the new rooftop has been posted by the architecture firm for the project, Steven J. Karr, AIA, Inc. The new rooftop space is expected to open as soon as January.

Rendering courtesy Steven J. Karr, AIA, Inc.
All rights reserved

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sneak preview: Dave and Buster's at Ellsworth Place in Silver Spring (Video+photos)

Dave and Buster's, opening Monday, November 21 at Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring, is making a grand return to Montgomery County. The popular restaurant and entertainment center closed just a few years ago at White Flint Mall, which has since been demolished.

The new Silver Spring D&B is larger than the Arundel Mills location, and features multiple private event rooms, and spacious dining areas. There is a large sports-themed space that will feature the biggest sporting events every day and night of the week on multiple screens. And, of course, there is the main attraction - the arcade and prizes.

But sharing the bill at this location is a new emphasis on high-quality casual American food, and a massive list of craft beer and cocktails, many of the latter exclusive to Dave & Buster's.

WATCH: Video tour and review of Dave & Buster's at Ellsworth Place
Luigi's Mansion, one
of several game machines
exclusive to Dave & Buster's

This way to the arcade

Escalators to Dave & Buster's
Private event room

Batman, featuring all of the
Batmobiles from TV and film

Mario is in multiple
games at D&B
Star Trek coin

Scott Bakula as
Captain Archer

Sports area

Dining area with a
variety of seating


Step up to the bar

Triple chocolate cake

Slider with jalapenos

Chicken quesadilla wedge

Pretzel dog

Buffalo wing

3-Cheese grilled cheese stick

Walk the Plank cocktail

For an extra fee,
you can keep the glass

Richard Nixon would
be jealous

This is just one selection
from the Tiki drinks on
the cocktail menu

MoCo holds naming contest for BRT system...and the names are as lame as BRT

The latest gaffe in the unending quest of the Montgomery County political cartel to build a $5 billion bus rapid transit boondoggle is a naming contest for the system. But it turns out your creativity is not needed - they've already chosen three potential names: "Flash," "Rapid" or "Swift."


Flash could help us generate some genuine laughs, as we know the BRT will take 48 minutes to travel only 15 miles. Can you imagine telling someone, "I'm waiting for the Rapid?"

Neither can I.

After the County admitted they were getting consulting advice from the Communist Chinese government on BRT, the implosion of the Independent Transit Authority scam, the realization that BRT will result in the condemnation of thousands of residential and commercial properties countywide, and the revelation that the "futuristic, sleek, train-like vehicles" are actually just going to be old-fashioned diesel buses, these ongoing pratfalls are par for the course for a boondoggle the public opposes - and which could cost taxpayers $500-1000+ a year in additional taxes.

"I am ready to support the infrastructure upgrades [a.k.a. tax increases] that may be necessary in order to provide a higher level of service," County Councilmember and tax-hike specialist Hans Riemer said yesterday.

With Ike Leggett already promising a major tax increase in 2017, which will follow the historic tax hike of 2016 that resulted in the passage of term limits by voters, taxpayers are most definitely not ready to support these"infrastructure upgrades."

Hosting a naming contest in which the public can't even suggest a name? Just more evidence that the cartel swears by Steven Lukes' Power: A Radical View as much as Robert's Rules of Order. Lukes' book fuels most of the ham-fisted government corruption that produces things like the Westbard sector plan and BRT.

In Lukes' concept, when I negotiate with you, the only options on the table for discussion are all acceptable to me. The options that are unacceptable to me are not even up for discussion. Sound familiar?

Taxpayers' goal now should be to continue stalling the creation of BRT until 2018, when we can finally clean house of the remaining stragglers who weren't covered under the 3-term limit this time. Then we can vote in new leaders who will support transportation projects that will actually reduce congestion, and move the largest number of commuters for the lowest cost. These include a new Potomac River crossing, the M-83 Highway upcounty, extension of the Montrose Parkway to the ICC, the Damascus Bypass, widening East-West Highway, upgrading Beach Drive, and building the Northern Parkway.

Naming contest?

The name most high-information voters would give BRT can't be printed in a family newspaper.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Aspen Hill Civic Association issues statement on turbulent week in MoCo

Responding to events of the past week in Montgomery County, which have included peaceful protests, questions about how changes to federal immigration enforcement may affect undocumented residents, and the beating of a Donald Trump supporter in Rockville yesterday, the executive board of the Aspen Hill Civic Association released the following statement last night:

"Aspen Hill is a dynamic and diverse community, and the AHCA Board wishes to express that we respect and cherish our differences. We affirm the right of all people to hold differences of opinion and to peacefully express those opinions, and we categorically reject intimidation and violence against any person because of who they are or what they believe. It is our mission to work for the betterment of our community, so we will work to make Aspen Hill a safe and welcoming community, free from intolerance and fear."

MCPS super calling for end to walkouts after Trump supporter beaten in MoCo/MCPS-backed student protests

After strong initial support from Montgomery County officials for student protests this week, and the gang-style beating of a Richard Montgomery student at a Tuesday protest, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith is now calling for an end to the walkouts.

Yesterday's attack has "required us to rethink the situation" regarding student walkouts, MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith will tell students this morning in a video message. Smith will tell students who defy the order that they will face disciplinary action, a change from the "bring a note from Mommy" policy MCPS had just 24 hours ago. "I am asking and expecting all students to remain in school," Smith will say.

The Tuesday promise by the Montgomery County Council of "community safety" and "respect" for every resident of the jurisdiction apparently didn't apply to Donald Trump supporters. A 15-year-old Trump supporter was brutally beaten by as many as six students, eyewitnesses said, during an otherwise-peaceful protest by Richard Montgomery High School students yesterday in Rockville.

Wearing a Trump "Make America Great Again" cap, the boy was repeatedly punched, thrown to the ground, and then kicked multiple times by his attackers, according to WTOP, which quoted Rockville City Police Major Michael English as saying the students "jumped him and beat him up pretty bad." The student was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. Media accounts suggest he could have potentially-serious head injuries, describing him as "disoriented" and groggy following the beatdown.

According to the Rockville police, only one of the attackers has been identified, but is not in custody. They say the attack occurred in the 100 block of Maryland Avenue, the location of the County Council building where councilmembers declared peace and respect for all just 24 hours earlier. Police say the identified 17-year-old student will face second-degree assault charges.

To his credit, RM principal Damon Monteleone condemned the attack. Dan McHugh, VP of the Montgomery County Young Republicans, said he was "appalled" by the violence. "We condemn any act of violence, or hate crime of any kind, directed towards any candidate [an] individual supports," he said Tuesday.
Councilmember Hans Riemer
endorses student walkouts on
The violent turn left councilmembers and MCPS officials in a bad spot, after they strongly endorsed the student walkouts earlier this week. Principals have facilitated the walkouts in most cases.

It's certainly a positive to have hundreds of students this engaged in the political arena - hopefully they'll register to vote, and governments will consider lowering the voting age to 16, as Takoma Park has. It's also ironic to have politicians who claim to be concerned about pedestrian safety egging kids on to walk into busy state highways during school hours.

County and MCPS officials could face legal consequences, should these students be injured during the hours we are paying exorbitant dollars to give them a free education. The parents of the beaten student certainly have grounds for a civil suit against MCPS in this case. Guess who would make the payouts in those lawsuits? You, the taxpayer.

It now appears Smith has come to the same realization.

Our other local officials seem to have missed yet another of the messages of the successful passage of term limits last week - residents are asking them to be the adults in the room on this, and so many other serious issues. Facing so many crises from our budget deficit to a failed transportation system to our moribund private sector economy, the last thing we need is Hans Riemer and George Leventhal trying to be the "cool dad."

Perhaps the most immoral crisis of all, is our worsening achievement gap at MCPS. One thing's for sure - that gap didn't get narrowed while students were walking around highways and malls this week.