July 17, 2014

Council Names Casey Anderson as Planning Board Chair

The Montgomery County Council has named current Planning Board member Casey Anderson as the new board chair. He follows former Chair Francoise Carrier whose term expired June 14. She did not apply for reappointment.

Anderson was appointed by an 8-1 vote. Council President Craig Rice, Vice President George Leventhal and Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, Cherri Branson, Nancy Floreen, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer voted in favor of his appointment. Councilmember Marc Elrich was opposed.

Anderson is a Silver Spring resident. An attorney and community activist, he was appointed to the Planning Board in June 2011. Previously, he served on the boards of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, the Citizens League of Montgomery County, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Committee for Montgomery.

Read more.

U.S. Census Bureau Conducting Pilot Census Test in Part of County through Mid-September; Residents’ Participation will Help Decide Changes for 2020 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau is now conducting a Census Test in Montgomery County and the District of Columbia that tests a variety of new methods and advanced technologies that are being considered for the next national census in 2020.

The local test, which is a pilot for the nation, is part of the Census Bureau’s commitment to find easier, quicker and safer ways for residents to participate and more economical ways for collecting data in the future.

Local residents who live in the eastern half of the County have been or will be contacted to participate in the test. They are encouraged to fill out a census survey online or on mobile devices to reduce the reliance on paper questionnaires. Respondents should fill out the questionnaire based on information about their household as of July 1, 2014, which was Census Day.

Further information about the census test, including a map showing the area of the County where residents will be tested, is found in the Census Bureau video and fact sheet.

County Earns Second Place in Nation in the 2014 Digital Counties Survey

Montgomery County has ranked second in the country in the 2014 Digital Counties Survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government in conjunction with the National Association of Counties (NACo). The survey assessed factors such as citizen engagement, policy, operations, technology and data, among others.

During the past three years, Montgomery County has initiated several innovative technology solutions that focus on citizen engagement platforms. These include: e-filing permit applications and plans; publishing County data sets online -- such as employee salaries, restaurant inspections, budgets, solicitations and contracts; a redesign of the County’s award-winning web site; a mobile version of the MC311 web site enabling service requests from mobile devices; and an online cybersecurity training system for County employees.

Montgomery is the only county in the nation to be named a Top 10 Digital County each year since the annual ranking began in 2003. The County has been rated the Top Digital County in the nation three times – in 2007, 2010 and 2013. No other county has earned the top ranking as often as Montgomery County.

Summertime Safety Tip: Properly Dispose of Ashes from the Grill

With grilling season underway, the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS) and the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) remind residents about the importance of safely disposing of the ash generated when using outdoor grills and provide the following tips.

Never put out ashes from outdoor barbecues (and fire pits or fireplaces) for collection with the regular household trash unless the ashes have been thoroughly soaked with water or held for at least a week to ensure there are no residual embers.

Cooled ashes may be brought to the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station, for disposal in specifically-designated ash containers. The Transfer Station is located at 16101 Frederick Rd., Derwood (off Rt. 355 at Shady Grove Rd.).

Fire Chief Steve Lohr said, “Improper disposal of ashes or hot coals from fireplaces, grills or mobile fireplaces designed for decks or patios has become a common cause of many recent fires. Embers often concealed in what appears to be cold ashes, can remain hot enough to rekindle a fire for several days,” he explained. “We want residents to enjoy their fireplaces and grills but to always dispose of the ashes wisely.”

The DSWS website has more information on properly disposing of ashes and see additional tips from MCFRS in the news release.

Make Sure Your Kids are Safe at the Pool

If you and your children spend summer days at the local pool – be it a public or private pool or the one in your own backyard – parents/caregivers need to know what to do to keep the kids safe. It is important to know that drowning is one of the two leading causes of death among children ages one to four.

With that in mind, the Recreation Department has produced a one-minute public service announcement (PSA) containing tips for helping make sure your kids have a safe summer at the pool.

Watch the PSA.

The White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan: A Perspective

Historically, as commercial development progressed through various sections of Montgomery County, the eastern portion remained primarily residential. As the population continued to rise and development flourished in other parts of the county, elected officials looked toward ways to bring more jobs to the East County.

While the County had previously concentrated efforts on acquiring Site 2, agreement was never reached regarding purchase of the location owned by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC).

During his first year in office, County Executive Ike Leggett succeeded in purchasing the 155-acre former Site 2 from the WSSC for development as the White Oak Science Gateway to advance life sciences.

The White Oak Science Gateway Master Plan now before the County Council will transform the eastern portion of the County. The plan will focus on leveraging the consolidated headquarters of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a new hospital and a 300-acre public-private partnership into a major mixed-use bio-tech hub – the LifeSci Village.

Although the White Oak plan has been called “one of the most ambitious revitalization undertakings in County history,” it is part of a larger move to bring a record number of new jobs to the County in the foreseeable future.

With this goal in mind, Leggett has taken the lead in working with businesses, the community, the Planning Board and the Council to craft the Great Seneca Science Corridor and White Flint master plans, which will grow life sciences, stimulate good jobs and commerce, and foster walkable communities, connected by transit, where residents can live and work.

These projects, together with the Smart Growth Initiative and the White Oak Science Gateway, are projected to create100,000 new jobs in the County in the coming years – the largest single job boost in County history.

The full Council is scheduled for two critical votes on the master plan: a preliminary vote on July 22 and final vote on July 29.

For more information about the White Oak Science Gateway plan, check out the following links:

See Council’s PHED Committee first worksession packet.

See PHED Committee’s second worksession packet.

See PHED Committee’s third worksession packet.

Read the Planning Board’s revised draft of the plan.

Read the Executive’s letter to Council

County Earns 23 Awards from National Association of Counties

Fifteen County departments were honored for outstanding programs.
  • Consumer Protection – Educational Videos of the Commission on Common Ownership Communities; 
  • Correction and Rehabilitation – Montgomery County Correctional Facility Technology Program; 
  • Office of the County Executive – Dataset Pipeline Strategy; 
  • Environmental Protection – Yard Trim Composting Facility; H20 Summit; 
  • General Services – Energy Modernization Initiative; Saving Water and Sewer Costs at the Strathmore Music Center and Clarksburg Correctional Facility; Smart Growth Initiative; Vegetated Roof for Rain Water Harvesting System; The David F. Bone Equipment Maintenance and Transit Operations Center; 
  • Health and Human Services – FIRM (Financial Reporting and Management); Senior Initiative; 
  • Housing and Community Affairs – Upcounty FNA (Focused Neighborhood Assistance) Program; Rent Supplement Program; 
  • Human Resources – Employment Initiatives for People with Disabilities, Veterans and Veterans with Disabilities; 
  • Libraries – Service Beyond Our Walls: The System-Wide Outreach Model; Express Kiosk @ Olney; 
  • Management and Budget – eBudget (Knowledge Management System); 
  • Permitting Services – ePermits Apply Online Program; 
  • Public Information – "Capsula Informativa"; 
  • Recreation – Recreation Teen Works; 
  • Technology Services – Unique Building Address Processor Program; and 
  • Transportation – Parking Guidance System Program