Montgomery County News in Numbers

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Miles of suggested pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along MacArthur Boulevard from Old Angler’s Inn to Eggert Drive were presented to the Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday, Sept. 17. The Planning Board made recommendations on the plan, part one of a three-segment overall plan, to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. The plan includes two major alternatives with numerous other specifics and designs. The $8.8 million project, part of Mandatory Referral MR2020024, includes a recommendation that MacArthur Boulevard’s target speed should be 25 miles per hour and proposes barriers to prevent motor vehicles from parking on the bike shoulder from Old Angler’s Inn to Brickyard Road. See future issues of the Almanac for specifics or see https://montgomeryplanningboard.org/.

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Property owners and West Montgomery County Citizens Association requested to postpone the public hearing before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings regarding Spectrum Retirement Communities application to operate a residential care facility on River Road. The new hearing before the Office and Zoning and Administrative Hearings is rescheduled for Monday, Nov. 2 at 9:30 a.m. It was originally scheduled for Sept. 21, 2020. Spectrum proposes a retirement community and memory-care wing at 9545 River Road, where Potomac Petals and Plants (formerly Behnke’s Nursery) now sits. See http://www.potomacalmanac.com/ for the Almanac’s latest story on the application.

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County bill which would ban the intentional release of balloons into the air. Balloons were the most likely marine debris to cause death when ingested by seabirds, sea turtles and other aquatic species that mistake the balloons for food. Birds also become entangled when using the strings from released balloons for nesting material. Montgomery County Council's Transportation and Environmental Committee met Monday, Sept. 14 to finetune the bill. “The Department does not receive many complaints about this issue. Nonetheless, it is consistent with our desire to prevent waste from entering the environment rather than cleaning it up after it does,” according to Adam Ortiz, Montgomery County Director of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Audubon Naturalist Society and the Neighbors of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River, spoke in support of the bill and submitted written testimony.

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Days before the Maryland Department of Transportation believes it will know how to move forward with construction of the Purple Line, pending current litigation between the state and the current contractor. In a briefing before the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 15, the state reported it has asked the court to permit it to take charge of the construction as the appeals process comes to resolution between the two parties. In 30 days, the state should know the resolution of the court process and in four to six months should know how they are proceeding short term, and if new bidding processes will be required to find new contractors. “I hope the public will share that information, specifically what are the options, how much they are going to cost, who is going to pay for them, and when they are going to be delivered,” said Potomac’s Councilmember Andrew Friedson. “This is too important a project, we have too much invested in this project, for the public not to know exactly what the options are.” The Council requested Gov. Larry Hogan to make a statement on what he is going to do.

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Three day average number of new Covid-19 cases, according to Montgomery County data dashboard, on Sunday, Sept. 20. Only two of the last 14 days had declining numbers, according to the website, https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/data/#dashboard. Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles briefed the Council on Sept. 15, 2020. “In the month of September, we’ve seen cases gradually increase,” said Gayles. The positivity rate, which was at 2.4 percent, rose to 3.2 percent, according to the dashboard on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. People had been questioning why Montgomery County has not moved from stage two to stage three, as Gov. Larry Hogan did for the state. County Executive Marc Elrich and Gayles have pledged from the beginning to follow the science and the data to ensure the health and safety of county residents.

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Public hearings were held in August and September on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding Gov. Hogan’s desire to widen the American Legion Bridge and lanes on I-495 and I-270. The public has until Nov. 9, 2020 to provide feedback. See https://495-270-p3.com/.

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