Friday, August 31, 2018

Wheaton redevelopment update

Garage level P3 nearing completion at Lot 13
The lowest level of the parking garage at the future Montgomery County government office building in the Wheaton Triangle is now complete. Work is well underway on the next level, P3, which could be completed by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, Pepco is installing a utility vault related to the project under the sidewalk along Grandview Avenue. They are placing a temporary pole to provide power to businesses along the east side of the street, until the new system comes online. At that point, power lines will be buried along the east side of Grandview.

County officials say the project remains on-schedule for delivery in Summer 2020.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Riemer advances zoning scheme that would quadruple MCPS overcrowding

Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer is quietly advancing his long-term scheme to implode zoning in single-family home neighborhoods in the County, when the Council returns from its endless summer of idle vacation. On Tuesday, September 11, 2018, a public hearing will be held on a bill to loosen the approval process of accessory apartments in the County. The proposed changes will weaken protections regarding street parking for existing homeowners, speed the approval process for accessory apartments in residential neighborhoods, and greatly reduce the opportunity for public input and objections to accessory apartments in your neighborhood.

What is Riemer's goal in expanding the number of accessory apartments in established SFH suburban neighborhoods? His plan is to subdivide every existing SFH lot in the County into 4 new housing units. Riemer has been caught on Facebook discussing his plans to allow every SFH lot to be rezoned for duplexes. Each of those duplexes would then be allowed to have an accessory apartment.

Accessory apartments have been sold to the public with the idea of one person living in a rental room, or as "granny pods," for families who apparently can't stand to be inside the same home with Grandma in her declining years. How heartwarming. In reality, the County's accessory apartment code - and the new language - openly acknowledges there could be children in these accessory units.

So each lot could ultimately have two new homes with families, and each of their accessory units could generate additional students for Montgomery County Public Schools. A potential of four families on each site that today can hold only one. Importantly, Riemer's duplex and accessory apartment scheme does not, to this point, provide any new funding to cover the surge in school construction costs it would cause. Kind of like the sector plans Riemer voted to approve, come to think of it.

Like many housing schemes advanced by Riemer, his developer sugar daddies, and his developer-funded Greater Greater Washington fellow travelers, the duplex/accessory apartment gimmick is presented under the banner of "affordable housing." But like all of the other schemes, that promise is false. After two decades of unrestrained development, with a brief Great Recession pause, home prices and rents in Montgomery County have increased, not decreased.
Riemer has made no secret of his
contempt for Montgomery County's
suburban and rural character
The duplexes proposed by Riemer would not be any more affordable than the existing large houses on those suburban lots. If townhomes in those neighborhoods currently sell for over $1,000,000, what do you imagine a larger, new-construction duplex home would go for in 20816? Certainly not for the "affordable" price that Riemer and GGW would ask you to believe.

Embarrassingly, carpetbagger Riemer was unaware that duplexes are already scattered around the County in places like Rockville, Layhill and Glenmont. They are not a new idea at all, but are now non-compliant structures not permitted in SFH neighborhoods, much like high-rises that were built in low-rise areas in the County's past Wild West zoning era. 

Riemer apparently is still closing his ears to his constituents' anger over overcrowded schools and congested roads. Instead of advancing plans to require tighter staging or higher impact taxes, Riemer is finding new ways to increase crowding. This fall, accessory apartments. Next Council term, duplexes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Washington Gas project on Sherwood Forest Drive to begin next week

A major Washington Gas project in the Colesville area may cause some significant inconveniences and noise along Sherwood Forest Drive, starting as soon as September 4, 2018. The utility is describing the project as a system upgrade, which will enhance their ability to inspect the infrastructure along this street. In real terms, there will be construction in and near the street, in the vicinity of 13304 Sherwood Forest Drive.

The project is expected to take five weeks to complete. Work will occur between 7:00 AM and 5:30 PM, Monday through Saturday. Work will be performed around the clock for a three-day period, tentatively scheduled for September 25, 26, and 28, when crews will work 24-hours-a-day to install a new valve. All work is subject to weather disruption, and the schedule may change accordingly.

Sherwood Forest Drive will be partially closed with concrete barriers throughout the five weeks of work. Residents will still have access to their homes at all times. Stock up on earplugs now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Silver Spring refugee assistance nonprofit burglarized

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in identifying the burglars who hit HIAS at 1300 Spring Street on Sunday, August 5 around 5:19 PM. The nonprofit assists refugees, and staff reported the break-in the next day. Two suspects were caught on surveillance cameras.

Anyone who recognizes these suspects or has information about this burglary is asked to contact the 3rd District Investigative Section at 240-773-6870.  To be eligible for a reward, tipsters 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 and/or indictment of the suspects.  Tipsters will remain anonymous.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Police seek suspect in White Oak shooting

Another shooting in East County left a 39-year-old man with serious injuries Friday. He was shot in a home in the 11500 block of Lockwood Drive in White Oak around 5:33 PM.

Montgomery County police detectives say they believe the shooter was known to the victim. Seth Greenidge, also known as Seth Greenridge, 33, has been charged via a Montgomery County arrest warrant with attempted first-degree murder, but remains at large. He is thought to be a homeless man who frequents the White Oak area, and also Washington, D.C.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Greenidge is asked to immediately call the Montgomery County Police Department’s non-emergency line at 301-279-8000. Callers may remain anonymous.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Frosh loses police endorsement to Republican Wolf in AG race

Republican attorney general
candidate Craig Wolf
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has lost the endorsement of the Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police he had in 2014. Maryland's police instead chose to endorse Republican Craig Wolf of Howard County in the attorney general race, Wolf announced Thursday.
MD Attorney General Brian Frosh (D)
Craig has been a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, and Assistant State's Attorney in Allegheny County. He has also been President & CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America for more than a decade. Craig enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 40 after the 9/11 attacks, and counts the Meritorious Service Medal and Bronze Star Medal among his commendations, after serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.

It's unusual for a sitting Attorney General to lose the support of law enforcement officials. Wolf suggests the reason may be that Frosh is "more focused on partisan politics in Washington than he is on the public safety issues in our state." Frosh has attempted to take a leading role in the "resistance" to President Trump since 2016, joining or filing multiple legal actions against Trump and his administration.

Cal Ripken to appear at Burtonsville Roy Rogers August 28

Roy Rogers restaurants are celebrating 50 years in business this year, and Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken, Jr. has been a big part of it, making personal appearances at a number of Roys locations around the region in recent months. On Tuesday, August 28, 2018, Ripken will be at the Burtonsvile Roy Rogers from 5:00-6:30 PM.

Ripken will join the Burtonsville staff behind the counter, and then answer questions in a Q&A session. A very limited number of attendees will have the opportunity to meet Cal Ripken, Jr. in person, however. Available tickets will be given out starting at 3:30 PM, at the Burtonsville restaurant the day of the event. Guests who are not able to meet Cal Ripken, Jr. will be entered into a raffle to win signed memorabilia given out immediately following the appearance.

The Burtonsville Roy Rogers is located at 15662 Old Columbia Pike.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Purple Line-related parking lot closure in Silver Spring

Purple Line Transit Partners announced yesterday that they will close the middle parking lot at Silver Spring International Middle School at 313 Wayne Avenue for the entire month of September. The closure is to facilitate reconstruction of the configuration of the school's parking lots.

Work will be completed on Saturdays during regular work hours 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. PLTP says pedestrians will still have access to the school throughout the work.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Robin Ficker releases first ad in County Executive campaign

Attorney Robin Ficker has released his first campaign ad in the Montgomery County Executive race, entitled, "This is Our Election." A former state delegate, the Republican has the best chance to win of any GOP candidate for executive in decades. Ficker is the only executive candidate who did not vote for the highly-unpopular Westbard sector plan.

Ficker touts his role in getting term limits on the ballot, which MoCo voters - including a majority of Democrats - overwhelmingly approved in 2016. He also reminds voters that his property tax cap ballot victory years ago was defied by the Council in 2016, when they used the unanimous-vote loophole in the law to pass a record property tax increase that made property taxes a second mortgage for many County residents.

Mostly, Ficker presents himself as a reasonable advocate for good government, tax relief and change, in the mold of the very-successful Gov. Larry Hogan. He also zeroes in on another very weak spot in his opponents' long records - failure to fix I-270, which he correctly notes would help spur economic development in the currently moribund Montgomery County.

Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue tops out in Silver Spring

Washington Property Company's Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue apartment tower has topped out in downtown Silver Spring. The 20-story building will hold 338 units, 15000 SF of retail space, and three levels of underground parking.

5,000 SF of amenity space will include a resort-style rooftop swimming pool and pool deck; cyber café with free wi-fi; private courtyard with grilling areas; a state-of-the-art fitness center; and an expansive residents’ club room. The club room, rentable for private functions, will include a catering kitchen, library, flat-screen TV, indoor-outdoor fireplace, and game room.

“Our latest Solaire apartment community is the culmination of more than a decade of work and planning, involving both the private and public sectors, to create a vibrant new mixed-use neighborhood in Silver Spring’s Ripley District,” WPC Associate VP of Development Janel Kausner said Tuesday. “It also is a milestone for Washington Property Company, with over a thousand apartments on Metro’s Red Line in Montgomery County’s most dynamic communities.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Pedestrian killed by van in Glenmont

A pedestrian was struck crossing Georgia Avenue in Glenmont last night, and later died at an unidentified local hospital. Montgomery County police say the man was crossing Georgia between Glenallen Avenue and Urbana Drive at 8:26 PM, when he was struck by a 2006 Dodge Sprinter van driven by Alberto Hilario of Silver Spring in the southbound lanes.

Hilario remained at the scene and cooperated with police in their investigation to determine who was at fault. Anyone with information is asked to call the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620. Detectives say they are withholding the name of the deceased pedestrian until his family can be notified.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Shots fired into home on Quebec Terrace

Montgomery County police detectives are investigating an August 3 incident in which shots were fired into a residence in the 1000 block of Quebec Terrace in Silver Spring. Occupants of the residence were inside the home at the time of the brazen, broad daylight attack.

Police say a gold or tan SUV approached the front of the residence around 7:24 AM that morning. A passenger in the SUV's front seat fired a gun multiple times into a window at the front of the home. The shooter reloaded his handgun at least once, detectives allege.

Detectives describe the shooter as an African American male, 20-30 years of age, 6’ tall, with a thin build. He had short black hair, a thin black beard, and was last seen wearing a dark blue hooded-sweatshirt, dark pants, and white shoes.
A bullet fragment was recovered from the interior of the residence, and multiple shell casings were found outside and in the street. Another bullet fragment was found nearby on Quebec Street.

Anyone with information regarding this assault, the suspect(s), or the gold or tan-colored SUV is asked to call the 3rd District Investigative Section at 240-773-6870.  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.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Two of three suspects in robbery of Esther's Beauty Supplies caught by police

Curtis Pegues
Montgomery County police detectives have arrested two suspects in the July 27 robbery of Esther's Beauty Supplies at 9309 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. Curtis Pegues, 19, of Saint Mortiz Drive in Temple Hills, has been charged with armed robbery and first-degree assault and is being held without bond.
Pegues in action at Esther's

A second suspect has been identified by police as a 14-year-old male juvenile from Washington, D.C. An additional female suspect remains unidentified. Anyone with information about the third suspect 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).
Unidentified third suspect

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Surveillance video of Silver Spring armed carjacking released

Violent early-evening
attack raises new 
questions about 
public safety

Montgomery County police have released surveillance video of the suspects in an August 9 armed carjacking in downtown Silver Spring, in the hope of identifying the two men. Around 8:42 PM that night, two men brandishing handguns allegedly pepper sprayed and pistol whipped a motorist in the parking garage at the Sheraton Hotel at 8777 Georgia Avenue. Both men are seen striding with a pronounced swagger in front of the hotel, and at the entrance to the hotel garage prior to the brutal attack.

Police say the men took the driver's car keys and fled in his vehicle. Such a brazen and violent crime so early in the evening has raised new questions about public safety in downtown Silver Spring, just weeks after a devastating report of spikes in murders, rapes and violent gang crimes was submitted to the County Council. The soft-on-crime Council has proven unable to counter the crime wave of the last 20 months.

Anyone who has information about these two suspects or this carjacking is asked to call Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5100. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County 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 and/or indictment for this crime.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: Thayer & Spring (Photos)

Here's another quick update on the Thayer & Spring apartment project at 915 Thayer Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. The main reason I'm posting it, is because they are starting to add the facade elements that will break up the Soviet-apartment-bloc appearance it currently has, and I had just mentioned that design feature in my last report. A teal frame design is the first to go on, and there eventually will be four colored frames llke this, which - on paper, at least - make the structure appear to be four separate buildings, instead of a big wall.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Nighttime work on Georgia Avenue in Montgomery Hills

A natural gas line along Georgia Avenue is being replaced this week in the Montgomery Hills area of Silver Spring. The work area covers several blocks immediately south of the Beltway, and the replacement is being done at night to avoid impacts on commuters.

Work is scheduled to take place between 7:00 PM and 5:00 AM between Locust Grove Road and Corwin Drive. The project is scheduled to be completed by this weekend.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Pedestrian dies after being struck in Wheaton

A man crossing Georgia Avenue in the heart of Wheaton was killed late Saturday night, when he was struck by a southbound 2016 Nissan Rogue around 11:30 PM. The man was crossing the street in the vicinity of Veirs Mill Road, but detectives with the Montgomery County police say he was not in a crosswalk at the time.

Declared dead at the scene, the victim will not be identified until police can contact his relatives. The driver involved in the collision, Ramon Sanches, 49, of Silver Spring, remained at the scene and was fully-cooperative with police.

Police continue their collision investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Long Branch Purple Line blasting postponed

Residents around Plymouth Street are getting a temporary reprieve from rock blasting that had been planned to start yesterday. Purple Line Transit Partners said yesterday that contractors encountered unexpected rock conditions, and have postponed blasting until Monday, August 13. That blasting will occur between 5:00 AM and 9:00 PM. Residents will be given 24 hours notice of the blasts.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Silver Spring construction update: Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue (Photos)

The Solaire 8250 Georgia Avenue apartment building project  hasn't made all that much noticeable progress since my update last month. Mostly, there is more Tyvek around the lower and middle floors. There's also more definition of the ground floor level of the Washington Property Company development. Perhaps the recent weeks of heavy rains have impacted the pace of the construction.
With a height of 20 stories, the Solaire 8250 will hold 338 apartments and 15000 SF of retail space, including outdoor seating for dining. Parking will be located in a three-level underground garage. Amenities will include a resort-style rooftop swimming pool and deck, cyber cafe, private courtyard, fitness center, and a club room complete with kitchen, library, flatscreen TV, fireplace and game room. Apartments will be a mix of studios and 1-and-2 bedroom units.
Lendlease is the contractor for the project, Design Collective of Baltimore is the architecture firm, and leasing of the street-level retail and restaurant space will be handled by Streetsense. Delivery is expected in Spring 2019.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Purple Line noise ahead in Lyttonsville, Silver Spring, Long Branch

Blasting for the Plymouth Street tunnel is now scheduled to begin tomorrow, according to Purple Line Transit Partners. Dynamiting of rock underground will continue sporadically on weekdays throughout August, between the hours of 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

A different Purple Line-related loud noise will be coming from pile driving at the Lyttonsville Place Bridge. That work will begin "on or about" August 13, and continue through September 7. Pile driving will occur between the hours of 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM.