Friday, March 30, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: United Therapeutics' Unisphere (Photos)

A cloud of gloom has hung over downtown Silver Spring business owners since January, when Knoxville, Tennessee managed to hand our incompetent Montgomery County Council their [briefcases], by stealing Discovery Communications' headquarters. While our County Council was debating a ban on circus animals, Knoxville was aggressively going after good jobs for its residents.
Among the relentless bad news about Montgomery County's moribund private sector economy, one of the few bright spots has been the expansion of the United Therapeutics campus, that will be called the Unisphere. Even the construction workers are excited about the project, as you can see here.

In the later phases of construction, those workers are tackling curtainwall and window installation, attachment of metal panels and louvers, exterior sheathing and waterproofing, and utilities like water and electrical hookups.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Reedie Dr. to close today in Wheaton

What's left of the Midcounty Regional
Services Center at Lot 13
Reedie Drive will be closed today between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM. A special hydraulic crane is being brought in to lift a drill rig out of the Lot 13 excavation that exceeds the weight the tower crane onsite can handle.

Meanwhile, the demolition of the Midcounty Regional Services Center at the site is nearing completion. Full demolition should be completed in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: Thayer & Spring apartments (Photos)

Thayer & Spring is one massive project. From certain spots, you almost think you're looking at two different construction sites, until you realize that's just another part of Thayer & Spring in the distance. I don't think I've seen anything like it in Montgomery County so far, in terms of the horizontal length.

Summer 2018 delivery date? Fuggetaboutit. No way. But when finished, the Fairfield Residential project will feature 415 units, 15% of which will be affordable. It will also boast 10,500 SF of retail, and 35100 SF of public space, including a green plaza, a through-block walkway, and public art displays.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Moribund MoCo: More office space to disappear in Silver Spring

View of the proposed development
looming over single-family homes next door
The trend toward Montgomery County becoming the bedroom community for burgeoning job centers elsewhere in our region continues. Yet another office building is poised to be replaced with residential development, just two months after our impotent County Council let Discovery Communications slip out of their fingers, while they were busy debating a ban on circus animals. Developer Moonlight, Inc. is proposing replacing an office building at 850 Sligo Avenue with an 85-unit residential building, to include 6912 SF of commercial space.
The property is bordered by
Sligo Avenue, Fenton Street and
Gist Avenue
A sketch plan submitted to the County shows the 99' tall existing building being converted to housing, while additional structures around it will range from 35-60'. The development will include a raised internal courtyard, and one level of underground parking.

The Montgomery County Planning Board will consider the sketch plan at its April 5, 2018 meeting. Planning staff, not surprisingly, is recommending approval of the plan with conditions. One nearby resident who wrote to planners opposing the project included an obituary of former Council president Kathryn E. Diggs, who presided over some of the zoning decisions that allowed such non-compliant buildings as this office tower to pop up in low-density areas across the county.

Not only do our developer-controlled Board and Council keep the Diggs residents-be-damned spirit alive, but they are running the County economy into the ground, by surrendering jobs to our competitors in the region. Heckuva job, Brownie!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Wheaton-Claridge Local Park to reopen April 14

Here's a good way to relax at the income tax deadline this year. Wheaton-Claridge Local Park will be reopening to the public on Saturday, April 14, 2018, at 11:00 AM. A two-hour celebration will include a ribbon-cutting, and family-friendly activities. Wheaton-Claridge Local Park is located at 11901 Claridge Road in Wheaton, off of Veirs Mill Road. Enjoy the kind of expansive park the Montgomery County Council and their developer sugar daddies have decided County residents don't deserve anymore. Our future is green postage stamps, dog parks and hardscaped, dystopian "active urban parks."

Police searching for suspect in Gaithersburg rape (Photo)

Montgomery County police detectives are seeking the public's help in identifying and apprehending the suspect in a Gaithersburg rape. On March 16, just after 1:00 AM, Montgomery County and Gaithersburg police responded to the report of a rape in the 100 block of Park Avenue.

A 27-year-old woman told police she was surprised by a hoodie-wearing Latino man as she entered her home. The man allegedly raped her inside the home, and then fled on foot.

Detectives say the man's hoodie was black with a white fleece lining. He was also wearing dark jeans, and had a thin mustache. The suspect was approximately 5'9", and police have released a composite image of the alleged rapist.

Detectives are asking anyone who recognizes the suspect or who may have information about this rape to call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5050.  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 their line that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this crime.

Friday, March 23, 2018

MoCo Council again tries to sabotage Montrose Parkway East

This week's so-called "compromise" on the Montrose Parkway East project is actually another attempt by the Montgomery County Council to either sabotage, or altogether cancel, the long-delayed highway. Amidst the political pablum of County Executive Ike Leggett's press release, clearly written under duress, was a sentence that did not receive sufficient analysis.

Leggett, who correctly did not want to delay construction of the road at all initially, stated that the one-year delay of the highway would be used to make design changes related to bicycles and pedestrians. He did not specify what those were, or who would approve those changes, and under what public oversight.

What we do know is that developers have wanted to kill the road outright, because it only benefits residents and commuters. It does not help developers, because it is a relief valve, rather than a road that lets developers build more "stuff." Developers want the money from the Montrose Parkway East to go to projects across the County that will allow them to build more stuff, the taxpayers who forked over the highway money be damned.

What we also know, is that several developer tools on the Planning Board have long dreamed of canceling the elevated portion of the parkway over Parklawn, in order to allow developers to build up to the edges of what would be an ordinary urban street. I was able to stop this attempt singlehandedly in 2013, when my testimony changed the votes of several commissioners, who were poised to cancel the grade-separated design for Parklawn at the behest of now-chair Casey Anderson. They also want other sabotage design changes that would similarly increase traffic congestion and lengthen travel time for commuters using the parkway. Such changes would ensure drivers in Rockville, Aspen Hill and other points east of a much-longer trip to and from I-270. Day after day after day.
CLICK HERE to take the first step in
shortening your commute
"Design changes" are right out of the Council playbook, and were previously used by Councilmember Roger Berliner to yet again delay the M-83 Highway. M-83 on the master plan alignment was ready to start construction on an up-or-down vote by the Council, after being recommended by both upcounty residents and MCDOT. Berliner, at the behest of developers, threw the project into an unrequired new approval process that included yet another public hearing. M-83, like MPE, is an old road needed decades ago, and won't by itself allow any development that couldn't go forward today.

It's critical we elect a Council that will cancel any sabotage design changes to the Montrose Parkway East, and will begin construction on that project and M-83 immediately.

Glenmont woman missing

There's a troubling trend of young women going missing in Montgomery County over the last week. The latest to disappear is Morgan Bready, 20, of Epping Court in Glenmont. Bready was last seen on Tuesday, when she was discharged from Adventist HealthCare Behavioral Health & Wellness Services at 14901 Broschart Road in Rockville. Her family has not heard from her since, and they have told detectives Bready functions at a middle-school level.

Bready is described by police as a white female, about 5’6″ tall, and weighing 140 pounds. She has red hair and green eyes. Police and family are concerned for Bready’s physical and emotional welfare.

Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Morgan Bready to call the Montgomery County Police Department’s non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Failed armed robbery in Long Branch has police searching for gun-wielding suspect

A botched armed robbery at the Exxon station at 701 University Boulevard East in Silver Spring last month won't get the gun-wielding suspect off the hook. Police have released a surveillance camera image of the would-be robber. Despite threatening the gas station's cashier at gunpoint at 4:38 AM on Valentine's Day this year, the gunman ultimately fled on foot with no money toward Gilbert Street.

Anyone with information regarding this suspect or this armed robbery is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5100.  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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Olney IHOP looks close to opening (Photos)

The new IHOP in Olney Village Center looks like it is in the final countdown to opening. Build-out and decoration of the interior are completely finished, and the tables and chairs are in place. Can't wait to review this new IHOP. The chain is currently featuring a new line of omelettes, and three limited-time varieties of international dessert pancakes.
Host(ess) stand
Click here to learn more about change
Olney can believe in!


Hogan warns of "treacherous" conditions in springtime snowstorm

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an urgent bulletin from Reisterstown warning Marylanders of "treacherous" conditions on roadways during today's springtime snowstorm. The snow is capping off an unusually-chilly March.

“Snow, sleet, and freezing rain falling this evening and overnight could make road conditions treacherous throughout the state. I strongly urge all Marylanders to use common sense, take extreme caution, and avoid travel if possible,” Hogan said. “Keep a close eye on your local weather forecast, and check on family, friends, and neighbors and make sure they are safe throughout this late-season storm.”

Hogan recommended that those who must travel contact friends and family, and let them know where you are going, and when you expect to arrive there. He suggested being cautious when shoveling this heavy, wet snow, and to take frequent breaks to avoid overexertion. Hogan added that it is important to stay hydrated when shoveling outdoors.

The governor suggested stocking your vehicle with "car chargers," and kitty litter or sand, which he said would supply traction to spinning wheels. Hogan also advised residents to keep gadgets charged, and warned residents to never use generators indoors. He cautioned everyone to be prepared for power outages.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Gulf gas station reopens in downtown Silver Spring

The Gulf gas station at 8600 Georgia Avenue has reopened. It closed over a month ago, and the site is supposed to be redeveloped into a hotel. Apparently groundbreaking for that has been delayed, and the service station is back in business for the time being.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Cloverly ES substitute teacher arrested for inappropriate touching of student

Steven Katz
Montgomery County police have charged a substitute teacher at Cloverly Elementary School with Sexual Abuse of a Minor and 4th Degree Sexual Offense. Detectives say Steven Katz, 59, admitted inappropriately touching a male student at the school during their questioning of him. The student told his parent about the incident after school on that day, March 8. His parent notified the school, and the school called the police, Special Victims Investigation Unit detectives say.

Detectives are concerned that there may be more victims at the school, or elsewhere. They are requesting that parents of juveniles who may have had contact with Steven Katz talk to their children about any interaction with Katz, and contact SVID detectives at 240-773-5400 if they believe their child was victimized.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Mismanaged Montgomery County finances end up in the red again with $200,000,000 budget shortfall

Regular readers of this website know that Montgomery County government is stuck in a structural budget deficit as far out as the projections go. So those folks won't be surprised at all to find out that their incompetent and spendthrift County Council managed to yet again spend more than they took in - way more. The budget shortfall heading into the FY-2019 budget process is a whopping $200,000,000.

County Executive Ike Leggett released his proposed budget yesterday, and it includes not a dime of tax relief for residents now paying the highest taxes in County history. No property tax cut, no energy tax cut - not even a rain tax cut! Property taxes will increase automatically; unless the County Council changes Leggett's proposed tax rate, you will be guaranteed to have a higher property tax bill.

Happy Tax Paying from Montgomery County!