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."

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Hans Riemer endorses Will Jawando in Maryland U.S. Senate race

Former Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer has endorsed current Councilmember Will Jawando in the Maryland U.S. Senate race for the seat of retiring Senator Ben Cardin (D). Jawando and Riemer served together on the Council from 2018 to 2022; Jawando is now in his second Council term. "In my many years of knowing Will Jawando, going back to our work together supporting President Obama, and my four years serving side-by-side with him on the Montgomery County Council, I have always been impressed by his devotion to public service and dedication to meeting the needs of his most vulnerable constituents," Riemer said in a statement this afternoon.

"I am honored to receive the endorsement of my friend and former colleague @HansRiemer," Jawando tweeted in announcing Riemer's support. "Hans has spent his career fighting for so many of the same priorities my campaign is centered upon. I look forward to working with him on delivering for the state of Maryland."

Photo courtesy Will Jawando for U.S. Senate

Maryland AG rules Montgomery County cannot ban police from making traffic stops

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown has ruled that the Montgomery County Council does not have the legal authority to pass a law that would prevent police from making traffic stops for minor offenses. Council President Evan Glass sought an opinion from Brown in regards to legality of the proposed STEP Act (Council Bill 12-23). Introduced by Councilmember Will Jawando, and co-sponsored by Councilmember Kristin Mink, the bill would ban police from making traffic stops for offenses such as a defective headlight or tinted windows. 

Brown's finding, issued in a September 15, 2023 memo to Glass, is that Maryland vehicle law preempts any County law regarding traffic stops. However, Brown advised Glass that another STEP Act provision, which would ban police from seeking consent to search a vehicle unless there is "reasonable suspicion" that a crime has been committed, would be permissible because Maryland vehicle law "does not address the subject of searches during traffic stops."

The STEP Act is one of several criminal justice reforms introduced or steered to passage by Jawando in his two terms on the Council. Those initiatives have been highlighted during his current campaign for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of Ben Cardin (D), who is retiring after his term ends. In advocating for the STEP Act, Jawando argued that change was necessary to reduce the outsize impact of traffic stops on drivers of color. 

One group that advocated for both of the STEP Act provisions in question, the Decriminalize Montgomery County Coalition, said in a statement that its members are "disappointed" in Brown's ruling on the traffic stop question. It urges the Council to move forward on passage of the provision on consent searches of vehicles, and the Maryland General Assembly to update the state's vehicle law to allow localities to ban traffic stops for minor offenses.

"The Decriminalize Montgomery County coalition is deeply concerned that [Brown's] opinion poses an obstruction to racial justice," the organization said. "The STEP Act was introduced to reduce racial disparities in traffic stops. In fact, the opinion correctly acknowledges that police disproportionately stop Black and brown drivers compared to other drivers. Drivers of color are frequently stopped for minor offenses, such as a broken taillight or an expired registration, even though these violations do not threaten public safety. These stops often end up turning into consent searches so that police can search vehicles for drugs, and can escalate into emotional and physical harm. They are fundamental problems that still need to be addressed. Stopping consent searches is a step towards that end, but the best way to reduce police harm is to ensure that the stop does not happen at all." 

Organizations that are part of the DMC coalition supporting the STEP Act include Young People for Progress (YPP), the Silver Spring Justice Coalition (SSJC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland, and Jews United for Justice (JUFJ).

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Milk & Honey to replace Willie T's Seafood Shack and Be Right Burger in Silver Spring

Willie T's Seafood Shack and Be Right Burger have closed at 9326 Georgia Avenue in the Montgomery Hills area of Silver Spring. Coming soon in their place will be "southern inspired kitchen" Milk & Honey, from the same restaurant ownership group. Milk & Honey has an existing location at The Wharf in Washington, D.C. Eater DC has some excellent photos and a copy of the Wharf menu.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood endorses Will Jawando for Maryland U.S. Senate seat

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando's latest endorsement for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of Ben Cardin (D) comes from a federal lawmaker already on Capitol Hill. Illinois Congresswoman Lauren Underwood announced this morning that she is backing Jawando over his leading opponents in the Democratic primary, Congressman David Trone and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. "I am excited to announce my support of Will Jawando for the United States Senate," Underwood said in a statement. "For nearly two decades, Will has been a mentor and friend. He's a tremendous leader who cares deeply about the lives and well-being of all Maryland residents. Will is an effective, disciplined, and inspiring legislator who is prepared for the challenges ahead. I am proud to endorse him."

A registered nurse, Underwood gained national attention by winning a Republican seat once held by Congressman Randy Hultgren and the disgraced former House speaker, convicted child molester Dennis Hastert. Underwood has the 16th-most-liberal voting record in the U.S. House according to VoteView, likely a winning data point with Jawando, who is positioning himself as the true progressive in the Senate race.

"I am honored to receive the endorsement of Congresswoman Lauren Underwood," Jawando said in a statement. "She is in the top echelon of our nation’s public servants and tirelessly fights for her constituents. I have had the honor of knowing the Congresswoman for many years and know her to be a tireless leader for Illinois."

Monday, September 25, 2023

Tree, power lines fall on Dale Drive in Silver Spring

A large tree has fallen on Dale Drive near Grace Church Road in Silver Spring. Dale Drive is temporarily closed between Crosby Road and Woodland Drive. Power lines were brought down by the tree, resulting in a power outage in the Montgomery Hills/Forest Glen area that also impacted the Forest Glen Metro station. Several commuters stuck in an elevator at the station have been rescued without injury, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Pete Piringer.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Tropical Storm Ophelia makes landfall, already impacting Maryland/Washington, D.C. area

Tropical Storm Ophelia has made landfall near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, but the outer rain bands of the storm had already entered the Washington, D.C. area overnight. What will the impacts of Ophelia on the eastern Montgomery County area be? The National Weather Service predicts rainfall amounts from 2-4" in the Montgomery County/Washington, D.C. area. High winds with gusts up to 45-55 MPH are also anticipated.

Montgomery County and Washington D.C. are under a National Weather Service-issued Wind Advisory from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM today. The NWS forecasts northeast winds of 20 to 30 MPH, with gusts up to 55 MPH expected. Gusts up to 50 mph are possible along the immediate shore of the Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Potomac. Ocean City, Maryland is experiencing street flooding and wind gusts up to 50 MPH.Secure any outdoor furniture or objects light enough to blow away, or bring them indoors.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has
declared a State of Emergency

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has declared a State of Emergency. "If you can avoid driving or being out during the storm, please do so," Moore said. "We are expecting an extended period of strong winds, heavy rainfall, and elevated tides." Flooding, falling limbs, downed trees and power outages are expected.

Ophelia is currently located 25 miles WNW of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Its sustained winds measured at Cape Lookout are currently 61 MPH, with gusts up to 73 MPH. The storm is moving NNW at 9 MPH, and will affect the D.C. region through Sunday.

Heavy rainfall and sustained wind gusts will combine for conditions that favor trees falling, causing damage and power outages. Charge cellphones and make sure you have batteries for flashlights and radios.

WMATA reports Metrobus routes D33 Westbound and E4 Westbound are temporarily detouring at Military Road and 14th Street NW, and resuming their routes at Military Road and 16th Street NW, due to weather conditions. Pepco is reporting a few, small power outages in Gaithersburg at this hour.

Tracking map courtesy National Hurricane Center

Friday, September 22, 2023

MyEyeDr. to make short move at Downtown Silver Spring

will make a very short move next year at Downtown Silver Spring. The eyewear store will move over one space into the former New York & Company spot. That will more than double the size of the shop. Their existing location, which fronts Georgia Avenue, is now being marketed for lease by property owner Peterson Cos. with a 2024 availability.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Will Jawando endorsed by Baltimore, Prince George's officials in Maryland U.S. Senate race

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando picked up the endorsements of four more Maryland elected officials in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat of Ben Cardin (D), who will retire in January 2025. Baltimore City Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett, Prince George’s County Councilmembers Krystal Oriadha and Wala Blegay, and Riverdale Park Town Councilmember Karen Mejia all put their support behind Jawando, who is positioning himself as the true progressive in the highly-competitive Democratic primary. Jawando's leading primary opponents are Total Wine founder and Congressman David Trone (D - MD 6th District), and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

Convincing three more Prince George's officials to support him over their own county executive is a coup for Jawando, as Alsobrooks is facing questions about her newfound support for criminal justice reform, relative to her own prosecutorial record and statements during her service as Prince George's County State's Attorney. Jawando is seeking to follow the insurgent path of new Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, who stunned many by blowing past moderate establishment figures like Comptroller Peter Franchot to capture Government House in November 2022. 

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of these four fantastic public servants," Jawando said in a statement Wednesday. "This campaign is based upon the belief that we can build a shared prosperity for all Marylanders, and with their support, achieving this dream is increasingly possible. They represent the next generation of leaders in our state who are stepping up and doing their part to build a better future where no one has to be worse off for their neighbor to do better."

"Over the coming weeks and months, my campaign will continue to expand into both Prince George’s and Baltimore city and county. The race is early, and anyone who tells you they know how things will shake out is mistaken. I have gained a sense from speaking with residents across our state that there is a deep frustration with the status quo, and they are looking for a U.S. Senator who can deliver for their communities. This is what I have done in Montgomery County, and it’s why I am running for the Senate."

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Police seek 2 suspects in Wheaton Plaza armed robbery

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in identifying and locating two suspects in the August 23, 2023 armed robbery incident at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. A male victim exited the mall after making a purchase around 7:20 PM that evening. He was approached by the two suspects. One suspect physically assaulted him, and the other displayed a handgun, and stole property from him. Both suspects then fled the scene on foot.

Police describe one of the suspects as an Hispanic male, approximately 5-feet, 8-inches in height, with short hair and a medium build. He was wearing glasses, a long grey sleeve shirt, black Adidas pants and black shoes. The other suspect is described as a Hispanic male, 5-feet, 8-inches tall, with dark hair, a mustache and a thin build. He was wearing a white shirt, black pants, dark shoes and dark hair. 

Anyone with information regarding these two suspects or this crime is asked to visit the Crime Solvers of Montgomery County, MD website at and click on the “” link at the top of the page or call 1-866-411-8477. A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspects. Tips may remain anonymous. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando introduces bill to eliminate tipped minimum wage

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D - At-Large) introduced a bill today that would eliminate tipped minimum wages in the county by 2028. Restaurant servers, bartenders and other tipped service workers currently can be paid less than the County's minimum wage, because they theoretically will achieve the minimum wage amount through customer tips. Jawando's bill, which is also supported by Councilmember Kristin Mink (D), would phase out the tipped minimum wage over the next five years, and require restaurant owners to pay all staff the current County minimum wage. His U.S. Senate campaign is touting the bill as the latest example of Jawando's progressive leadership on the Council, at a time when his leading progressive opponent, Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, is under fire from a new Intercept article that raises doubts about her past positions on crime and civil liberties issues.

“Even while running a high-stakes and fast-paced campaign for the U.S. Senate, Will is continuing to fight each and every day for his constituents in Montgomery County and embodying the core message of this campaign: to build a shared prosperity that lifts everybody up, no matter who you are or where you come from," Jawando's campaign communications director Benny Stanislawski said in a statement today. "Today’s bill is a perfect example of this, and his tried and true approach to public service. From successfully passing historic rent stabilization, to a pilot guaranteed income program, and community-informed policing in Montgomery County, Will is without a doubt the most effective legislator in the race. Today’s bill will likely become law and completely reshape the lived experience of countless working-class residents of the county."

Similar bills and laws in other jurisdictions have been highly-controversial and divisive. Restaurant owners fear their already-slim profit margins getting thinner, having to boost the wages they pay employees directly by more than $10 an hour each. Some servers and bartenders, who say they now regularly earn more than minimum wage via tips, have even opposed similar laws elsewhere. Their concern has been that word of the law - and the new service charges that restaurants add to customer tabs in the wake of their passage - will encourage customers to cut back or eliminate tipping altogether. Jawando does not believe this will be the case, but says he is proposing a second bill that would ensure service charges go to restaurant workers, rather than to the restaurant owners.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Indecent exposure in Olney

Montgomery County police responded to a report of indecent exposure in Olney Saturday morning, September 16, 2023. The incident was reported in the 17800 block of Georgia Avenue at 7:51 AM Saturday.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore joins President Biden in announcing adult education funding

Maryland Governor Wes Moore (D) joined President Joe Biden (D) at an event at Prince George's Community College in Largo Thursday, where Moore announced he is directing $17.4 million in funding toward adult education. More than half of the money will come from the federal government, and the remaining $7.9 million will be redirected from the Maryland Department of Labor budget. The recipients of the funds will be all 16 Maryland community colleges, two local K-12 school systems (Somerset and Worcester counties), three community-based organizations, one public library system and the state correctional education system. One of the three community-based organizations is Classroom to Community in Montgomery County.

“Together, we will grow an economy that works for everyone, from the bottom up and the middle out,” Gov. Moore said. “President Biden has been very clear about his vision to empower and educate workers to grow the middle class. It’s a vision I stand by because it’s good for Maryland, good for our people, and good for our economy. Together, we are going to work in partnership to follow the president’s lead, build out our workforce, grow the economy, and win this decade.” 

Moore recently expressed his concern about the state's moribund economy, and the resulting lack of revenue that will limit his ability to fund initiatives he has proposed. That concern was heightened by the announcement this week that Maryland's Transportation Trust Fund is running out of money.

Biden and Moore were also joined by Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer (D) and Maryland's U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D) and Chris Van Hollen (D). The president was introduced by Prince George's County Community College student Sadé Davis.

Outback Steakhouse "coming soon" in downtown Silver Spring

Outback Steakhouse
has posted a "coming soon" banner outside its future restaurant at 8661 Colesville Road at Ellsworth Place mall in downtown Silver Spring. It has been under construction inside for months. Smaller signs at the side of the outdoor patio dining area note that the restaurants is "now hiring." This will be Outback's third Montgomery County location, joining Germantown and Aspen Hill.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Sarku Japan reopens at Wheaton Plaza

Can you really call yourself a mall if you don't have Sarku Japan? Westfield's Wheaton Plaza may have harbored those doubts for a short time, but Sarku Japan has now returned to the mall, opening in a new location near Costco. The scents of the grilled entrees being prepared are as ubiquitous as those of Cinnabon, Panda Express and Auntie Anne's in any respectable American mall. Save $5 by joining the Sarku Club using the QR code on the sign.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Pizza Hut now open in Four Corners

The long-awaited opening of Pizza Hut at 10100-A Colesville Road in the Four Corners neighborhood of Silver Spring has finally come to pass. It is now open for business. If you stop in, they have the limited-time-only Big New Yorker pizza. Pizza Hut has gone back into expansion mode in the past year; they also opened a new Rockville pizzeria in March.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Shape Up opening soon at Wheaton Plaza

Shape Up
, a Colombian shapewear boutique, is opening a store at Westfield's Wheaton Plaza mall. The permanent sign has been installed over the storefront, which is located near the food court. Shape Up carries push-up jeans, waist cinchers, lingerie and underwear. "At Shape Up Stores, our mission is simple: To empower women by giving them the gift of confidence that comes when a woman looks her best," the chain's website says. "With our shapewear, achieving and showing off your perfect figure is easy, and looking hot and feeling confident follows suit easily."

Monday, September 11, 2023

Champions Sports Bar for sale in Silver Spring

Champions Sports Bar
at 9433 Georgia Avenue in the Montgomery Hills area of Silver Spring is available for sale. The asking price is $185,000. All equipment, liquor license and lease will transfer to the new owner, so it is being marketed as a turnkey opportunity to acquire a fully operational sports bar.

Champions opened in October 2020, and is still open for business as it seeks potential buyers. The reason for the sale is that at least one of the owners is relocating, according to the sale listing.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Country Boy Market to close in Glenmont

Sad news from the Glenmont Shopping Center. Country Boy Market announced late last evening that it will close at 2211 Randolph Road "at some point in the near future." A closing timeline will be announced at a later date. The longtime local business says the closure is necessary due to a serious family illness. Country Boy Market has been a fixture in the Glenmont-Wheaton community since its beginning as a produce stand in 1955.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Signage installed at District Bistro/Frank's Burger Place in Wheaton

Permanent signage has been installed at District Bistro/Frank's Burger Place at 11230 Grandview Avenue in the Wheaton Triangle. As of today, that consists of a blue awning, and window graphics promoting the cuisine, logo and operating hours. Progress on the interior is still hidden behind brown paper, however. Until this spot opens, look for Frank's Burger Place still operating in its current location at 11265 Triangle Lane.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

TCBY opening downtown Silver Spring store

The Country's Best Yogurt is making a bid to be Silver Spring's best yogurt. TCBY will be opening a store at 8563 Fenton Street, which was home to Smoothie King until recently. The frozen yogurt chain is 42 years old, after opening its first store in Arkansas and expanding to over 250 locations worldwide. I have fond memories of their Aspen Hill store; the Silver Spring opening will mark their return to Montgomery County.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Shed burglar strikes in Silver Spring

Residents of the Northwest Park neighborhood in Silver Spring who have a backyard shed may want to ensure the doors are locked, and backyards well-lit - - and under video surveillance, if possible. A shed burglar broke into at least three sheds in the 9300 block of Avenel Road between September 3 and 4, 2023. Montgomery County police who responded to the burglaries found signs of forced entry on two of the sheds.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Dog Haus Silver Spring raising funds for Maui victims with September menu items

Dog Haus Biergarten
at 933 Ellsworth Drive at Downtown Silver Spring is providing a way for you to help victims of the Maui wildfires just by eating delicious food. Three limited-time-only menu items are being served through September 30. The Ohana Chicken Sando features a chicken tender topped with chili crisp, garlic teriyaki sauce, spicy mayo, pepper and house slaw on a King's Hawaiian bun. Mighty Moa Wings toss Dog Haus' bone-in wings in teriyaki aioli, and top them with scallions, chili crisp and spicy mayo. And the Aloha Spirit cocktail blends rum with aperol, orange curaçao, lime and pineapple.

$1 from the purchase of each September limited time item is being donated to the Hawai’i Community Foundation in support of the Maui Strong Fund. If you would like to give more, you can donate any amount online

Friday, September 1, 2023

J. Hollinger's extends restaurant week menu through Sept. 10 in Silver Spring

Metropolitan Restaurant Week has been such a success at J. Hollinger's Waterman's Chophouse at 8606 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring, the restaurant has extended its Restaurant Week dinner menu through September 10, 2023. The 3-course tasting dinner menu is $40. Items from the Restaurant Week dinner menu will also be available a la carte during the extension.