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On December 14, prior to the County Council’s second Listening Session on the Thrive Montgomery 2050 (Thrive) Draft Plan, the Town submitted a letter setting out our comprehensive views about the plan to the County Council. The letter expresses support for many of the principles of the general plan update and its overall objective of encouraging higher density development along transit corridors and activity centers around the County. It also provides comments and recommendations to improve the plan, such as the need for the plan to:
-- Address economic competitiveness and environmental resiliency;
-- Establish use of the master and sector plan processes to implement land-use changes;
-- Promote market-rate affordable housing and amenities in more locations, including suburban areas;
-- Advocate for improved infrastructure when increasing housing density;
-- Include a more imaginative transportation approach; and
-- Schedule an update every five years given that facts and circumstances can change considerably during that time.
The Town’s letter also applauds Thrive’s recognition of the vital contribution made by urban parks to the success of complete communities, citing the Town’s recent authorization of contributing up to $4 million to the creation of two new parks in Bethesda, connected to the redevelopment of the Farm Women’s Market, as an example of an innovative public-private partnership and of the partnership value that municipalities such as the Town could bring to Thrive.
The Town Council extends its appreciation to the Town’s Long Range Planning Committee for its work in developing this letter and identifying and refining the ideas therein.
Last month, a majority of Montgomery County Council members expressed support for Thrive but also called for more discussion before a final vote. It is uncertain when that final vote will occur as County Council work sessions have yet to be scheduled. Residents are encouraged to continue to send comments about the plan to the Town Council at firstname.lastname@example.org and to the County Council at email@example.com.
The County Planning Board is operating under the assumption that the principles of Thrive (i.e., compact growth or urbanism) will be passed by the County Council. Therefore, the County Planning Department is currently preparing a Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) to change the zoning in single-family neighborhoods.
On Thursday, January 27, the Planning Department will review the draft Attainable Housing Strategies report that will go to the County Council for approval. The draft report will be posted on the Planning Board's website on January 20 and the community is invited to submit written comments to the Planning Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thus far, five decisions have been made by the County Planning Board that would impact residential buildings within the Town.
1. Establish "Priority Housing Districts" for larger multi-family housing types. The entire Town would be in a Priority Housing District, defined as an area within 1 mile "as the crow flies" of a Metro or Purple Line station and/or within 500 feet of major roads (which include Connecticut and Wisconsin Avenues).
2. Allow "house-scaled" duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes to be built by-right on all lots in the Town (the County would also reduce parking requirements for quadplexes in Priority Housing Districts)
3. In order to obtain a permit from the County, builders would need to follow a Pattern Book for constructing a duplex, triplex, or quadplex.
4. Create a new optional method of development that would allow townhouses and small apartment buildings (containing up to 19 units) to be built on properties that abut Connecticut Avenue.
5. Maximum density of 13 units per acre under the optional method of development.
While the Town does not have the zoning authority to regulate the types of residential buildings that can be built within the Town or the subdivision of lots, it does have the authority to regulate setbacks (front, rear, and side), building height, mass, lot coverage, impervious surface, parking, water drainage, and tree canopy.
Residents are encouraged to email their questions, concerns, and suggestions about Attainable Housing to email@example.com.
At its December 8 meeting, the Council continued a discussion of Zimmerman Park redevelopment. At this meeting, the Council agreed to advance plans for certain improvements and amenities, including additional vegetative screening along East West Highway; grading and drainage improvements; an occasional off-leash dog exercise area; preservation of green space; and elimination of the bocce court. On December 15, the Council held a work session to discuss possible additional simplification of amenities, the length and materials for walkways, fencing (amount and temporary vs. permanent), seating, and play equipment. At this work session, the Council asked the Town's consultant to prepare two alternative concept plans.
In November and December, the Town held two in-person walking tours for Town residents to understand and discuss the extent and location of the proposed improvements. And on November 29, the Town held a public forum to answer residents’ questions and receive resident feedback about the planned improvements.
Residents are encouraged to continue to submit comments on the plan (see links below) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Zimmerman Park Concept Plan
-- Cost Estimate, Project Timeline, and Conceptual Images
On December 8, the Town Council held a public forum to discuss and hear from residents about a proposal to lower the voting age to 16 for residents who wish to participate in Town elections. At its regular meeting that same evening, the Council voted 4-1 to introduce a resolution to implement this proposed change to Town election laws and to schedule a public hearing at the January 12 Council meeting. Mayor Rush opposed the change, stating his preference to permit voting by residents who turn 18 by the November election date used for state and federal elections.
At its December 8 meeting, following a public hearing, the Council approved a speed hump on Maple Avenue between Aspen Street and Blackthorn Street. The Council also discussed removing the entry restriction on northbound Maple Avenue at Aspen Street and agreed to hold a public hearing on this proposed signage change at its January 12 meeting. The signage change would allow traffic to exit onto East West Highway via Maple Avenue instead of via Aspen Street, Chatham Road and Meadow Lane from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday thru Friday. Removal of this entry restriction is recommended in the Town-wide traffic study because Maple Avenue has fewer confronting homes, has additional width (i.e., approximately 28’ versus an average of 22’), and offers better sight lines than the other routes used during afternoon rush hour. A recent traffic speed and volume study showed that approximately 50 to 60 cars per hour do not heed the posted entry restriction and travel through the intersection. Approximately 90 cars per hour make the legal right turn onto Aspen Street during the two-hour restriction.
At its December 8 meeting, the Council discussed the new pedestrian crosswalk on East West Highway near Maple Avenue and whether it adequately provides for safe pedestrian passage across East West Highway. The Council would like to ask residents to weigh in on this matter. We encourage you to use this crosswalk (with all due caution) and let us know your thoughts on both its safety and usability. Please send your observations and comments to email@example.com.
We would like to remind residents that the Council recently simplified the process for requesting traffic calming devices, including radar speed signs and speed humps.
A radar speed sign can be approved following a petition and public hearing, with no traffic analysis required. We have seen a substantial reduction in speeds on East Avenue since the Town installed its first radar speed sign there.
The Town's revised speed hump policy simplifies the petition process for new speed hump requests, reduces the speed threshold to support installation of new speed humps, and streamlines the engineering standards to be reviewed in evaluating requests for new speed humps. The Town's revised policies for speed humps and radar speed signs are available for review on the Town website.
The Town offers curbside pickup of Christmas trees. All wire, ornaments and tinsel must be removed. Please place the tree at the curb by 7 a.m. on Monday for regular yard waste collection.
Please help the men, women and children who depend on Interfaith Works Clothing Center to keep them warm. They provide free clothing to 13,000 income-qualified residents each year, including nearly 6,000 children. Please donate clean, gently used or never used warm coats, gloves, mittens, scarves, hats, sweaters, pants, and socks to those in need. Also needed is waterproof warm winter wear for those who are outside in the cold rain or snow. Since the town hall is still open only part time, the clothing box will be located on the front porch of Marjorie Shaw and Barney Rush, at 6917 Maple Avenue (between Stanford and Pine Place). This project is sponsored by the Community Relations Committee.
Whether 5 years old or 95 years old, the pandemic has affected us all in big and small ways. If you (or your child) created or wishes to create a painting, poem, sculpture, musical composition, or other artistic expression that reflects how you have shown resiliency or faced the pandemic, the Community Relations Committee would be interested in learning more about your creation. Depending on the interest, the Town may hold an exhibition. Please describe your creation or take a photo and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Navigating Life's Journey: Independent Living Options -- Friday, January 7, 2022, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Registration is required - No Fee)This will be the second event of our new "Navigating Life's Journey" series, in which you will learn how to navigate your options for each stage of aging. In this session, representatives from local independent living facilities will discuss the different models of independent living and how to choose the place that is right for you. Hosted by Chevy Chase At Home in partnership with Charles E. Smith Life Communities and Ingleside. A Zoom event.
Arts of the Islamic World -- Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. (Registration is required - No Fee)The arts of the Islamic world encompass a great diversity of traditions far-ranging in geography and historical period—from North Africa to India and since the advent of Islam in the late seventh century. Explore selections from the museum’s more than 2,200 Islamic art objects in an interactive online tour with one of the docents from the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art. Hosted by Chevy Chase At Home. A Zoom event.
CC@H Guest Speaker: Peter Ross Range, Author of "The Unfathomable Ascent: How Hitler Came to Power" -- Friday, January 28, 2022, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. (Registration is required - No Fee)CC@H member Peter Ross Range will speak on his book, "The Unfathomable Ascent: How Hitler Came to Power." Range is a journalist who has covered war, politics, and international affairs. A specialist in Germany, he has written for Time, the New York Times, National Geographic, the London Sunday Times Magazine, Playboy, and U.S. News & World Report, where he was a White House correspondent.
Local Volunteers Needed for Errands for SeniorsChevy Chase At Home seeks local volunteers to complete an occasional errand for a local senior. As a volunteer, you will get to choose when you volunteer and which errands you complete. A commitment of just one hour a month can make a difference. Sign up today at www.chevychaseathome.org.
Do You Need A Helping Hands Around the House?Chevy Chase At Home’s dedicated volunteers are here to support our members. If you need assistance with changing a light bulb, setting up a new television, bringing your trash cans to the curb, or other things around the house, membership may be right for you. Please contact us to discuss how we can help at 301.657.3115.
Ch/Art, a Chevy Chase community arts organization, is pleased to present WOW! (Windows on Wisconsin) featuring art by Nancy Arbuthnot, Sara Bardin, Ruth Becker, Judith Goodman, Ronni Jolles, Trinka Roeckelein, and Xiaowei Song.
Exhibit December 9, 2021 – March 10, 2022
WOW! will command the attention of passing pedestrians and cars who will be drawn to 5510 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, Maryland to view this dynamic display of the creativity of neighborhood artists. This novel approach to viewing an exhibit in windows at any time day or night, provides a new way to enjoy art without restrictions.
WOW! brings the work of local artists, who are members of Ch/Art, an arts nonprofit, to the attention of the community. This display will run for a full year through December 2022. The curated shows will present the work of several artists at a time for a three-month period. New shows will be selected for the spring, summer, and fall of 2022.
Ch/Art (chevychaseart.org) was founded in 2018 and has a membership of 110 artists who work in painting, sculpture, glass, photography, jewelry, fiber art, ceramics and other media. It offers the community opportunities to access art and engage in art making through educational and hands-on experiences. WOW! Is curated by Kirsty Little, Ch/Art board chair.
For additional information, please contact Kathleen Zeifang at email@example.com or 703-447-8758.
The Town Council has approved new regulations of gas-powered blowers. The regulations are in response to resident concerns about noise and other impacts of this type of landscaping equipment. Specifically, they 1) expand quiet hours during which the use of gas-powered blowers is prohibited (gas-powered leaf blowers may not be used before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on weekdays and before noon or after 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays) and 2) implement a ban on the use of gas-powered blowers from January 1 through October 14, effective in 2022. The regulations exempt gas-powered snow blowers and sprayers and do not include a total ban of gas-powered blowers. Montgomery County noise regulations also remain in effect in the Town.
The Town offers a rebate program for battery-powered blowers and related equipment that is intended to reduce the noise from landscaping activities. Residents may request a rebate for half the cost of the purchase of a battery-powered blower, batteries, and chargers, up to a maximum rebate of $200 per household. The equipment may be purchased by a resident or by a contractor for use in landscaping activities on the resident’s property. The Council approved $30,000 to fund the program in this fiscal year. More information about the program and an application form can be found here.
Americans’ love of luxury paper products is harming the environment. In the 90 seconds, it will take you to read this message, two football field-sized areas of the Canadian boreal forest will have disappeared. What are boreal forests and why should we care? Boreal forests are full of deciduous trees and conifers and cover vast expanses in Canada, Alaska, and Russia. They’re an important carbon sink which absorbs carbon dioxide -- a main contributor to global warming and climate change and they're home to abundant wildlife.
But these crucial forests are threatened, due in large part to the demand for virgin pulp to make ultra-soft TOILET PAPER, FACIAL TISSUE, PAPER NAPKINS, AND PAPER TOWELS.
Fortunately, there are eco-friendly alternatives:
-- Look for recycled and chlorine-free paper products or products made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified bamboo. These are available in local stores and online. Recycled paper products (don’t worry -- not made from used toilet paper or Kleenex!) are almost as soft and strong as the “luxury brands” -- and without the negative effect on the environment.
-- Use cloth rags, sponges, and dishcloths instead of paper towels whenever possible. Skoy cloths are an example of an effective, washable, and compostable cleaning cloth.
For specific guidance on the best and worst paper products to buy -- from an environmental standpoint -- here’s some helpful information from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Thanks for making climate-friendly choices!
Through the end of the year, staff will be available in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Town office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There may be a staff member to assist you on other days, but please contact the Town office in advance to schedule a visit. Residents can contact the Town office at 301-654-7144 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents are encouraged to connect with the Town through the Town Crier email alert system and with fellow residents through the private Town Neighbors listserv. For information on how to join the Town Neighbors listserv, please email email@example.com. Both resources offer an important way to stay informed and in touch.
Click here to view the Town calendar.