Last month, five years after work began, we approved the Kensington Sector Plan which will guide the long-term redevelopment of the Town of Kensington and surrounding area. Because of collaboration among neighbors, planners, and municipal and county elected officials, we have been able to create and approve a plan that will achieve the two goals we all have agreed on--revitalizing the area's commercial core and preserving residential communities.
The plan addresses factors such as land uses, building heights, changes to street patterns, and preservation of the area's historic character. It incorporates infrastructure improvements to reduce traffic congestion, creates new buffers between commercial districts and residential neighborhoods, and protects the unique character of Kensington. While this plan serves as a long-term vision, residents still have opportunities to weigh in on individual projects as they are submitted to the Planning Board.
The plan encourages redevelopment of an area near the downtown train station into a visible center of town life. At the same time, it includes language about the importance of transitions to residential neighborhoods. To facilitate the transitioning, we directed the Planning Board to develop new zones (CRN and CRT) that will create a buffer between commercial and residential areas.
I want to thank all who participated for their advice on the Sector Plan. Together, we were able to craft a plan that will create opportunities for more vibrant shopping, living and dining for the residents of Kensington. Advocacy and collaboration were important parts of this process, and the plan benefitted tremendously from them.
No Boundaries with Sharon Bulova
Check out this episode of County Cable Montgomery's new television show, No Boundaries, where Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova and I talk about how our early community activism and the influence of our families led us to devote our lives to public service; why we share a passion for improving the area’s transportation opportunities; and why our two counties must work together on key issues.
Striving to go beyond the way residents normally hear views of local leaders, No Boundaries aims to show not only the views of local leaders on certain issues, but also what has influenced them to take these positions. I had a great time working with Chair Bulova, and I hope you enjoy the show.
What Do You Think about the Proposed Budget?
On March 15 the County Executive presented us with his recommended operating budget for FY13. Let us know what you think about the proposals by testifying at any of the five scheduled public hearings. They will be held on April 10 at 7:00 p.m., April 11 at 1:30 p.m., April 11 at 7:00 p.m., April 12 at 1:30 p.m. and April 12 at 7:00 p.m. To register to speak, call 240-777-7803.
The hearings will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and also will be available via streaming video through the County Web site.
Over coming weeks, the Council and its six committees will analyze the recommendations, and we will adopt the FY13 budget in late May. The budget will take effect on July 1.
We unanimously approved a bill that authorizes installation of cameras on County school buses to monitor vehicles that illegally pass stopped buses. Given that about 100,000 students ride school buses in Montgomery County, this is a very important safety measure.
The bill authorizes the County's Chief of Police, after consulting with the Board of Education, to install cameras on Montgomery County Public School buses to monitor traffic. Drivers caught on tape illegally passing a stopped school bus would be subject to a maximum civil fine of up to $250. No points would be assessed to an individual's driving record.
A Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) survey released in March 2011 reported that in a single day in February, 7,028 drivers passed stopped buses in Maryland. The report stated 56.9 percent of the violators were oncoming vehicles passing the bus from the opposite direction; 37.9 percent passed from behind on the driver’s side; and 5.2 percent passed on the side of the passenger door. The survey was coordinated by MSDE along with transportation directors in all 24 county school systems. Approximately 65 percent of all bus drivers statewide participated in the survey.
The approximately 1,500 County school bus drivers file an average of 500 reports each about drivers who illegally pass their stopped buses during a school year. Local school bus drivers showed strong support for the measure.
Zoning Rewrite Open Houses
Montgomery County planners have undertaken a comprehensive rewrite of the county’s Zoning Ordinance. In concert with a team of consultants and a public steering committee, planners are simplifying a complex, outdated code to reinforce Montgomery County’s enviable quality of life. The zoning code was last comprehensively rewritten in 1977.
You can help the consultants and staff shape the future direction of the rewrite at one of several spring open houses. At these meetings, you will have the chance to learn what's being considered and how potential zoning changes might apply to your neighborhood. To learn more, visit the M-NCPPC Web site.
Has your Council district changed? New Council districts are now in effect in Montgomery County.
As an at-large Councilmember, I still represent you if you live anywhere in Montgomery County. However, you may have a different district Councilmember.
To find out, visit the updated map on the Council's Web site. Click on "Find your Council District" and type in your address to find out which district you live in.
Green Tip of the Month
Sign up for the Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program newsletter, which is devoted exclusively to greening workplace operations and forging a sustainable economy. It builds on the success and momentum created by the County's Green Business Certification Program, and will provide useful information on green workplace opportunities, resources, tools, webinars and events.
Is your community organization hosting a public meeting? Please let me know how I can help. I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process. Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you. Send your meeting notices to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.