If you weren't caught in massive backups on Rockville Pike or I-270 last week, consider yourself lucky. If you were –– heads up –– Montgomery County planners would like to change your usual view of the ubiquitous strip malls on your commute.
It started Wednesday during rush hour when a fire at Marlo Furniture closed the Pike at Wootton Parkway and forced traffic into downtown. Flames were seen shooting through the roof of the giant box full of kindling in the form of mass-produced home furnishings.
Then Thursday, a truck hauling thousands of gallons of Budweiser rolled over and hit a guardrail near the Old Hundred Road exit on I-270. Crews spent nearly seven hours cleaning things up, perhaps while crying over spilt beer.
But What About the Ample Free Parking?
Where would Montgomery County be without strip shopping centers? County planners, who have released their first zoning revision in 35 years, are ready to find out. The revised code will "rethink 1950s-era commercial strips and office parks," according to a department statement. Are you ready for a modern Montgomery? Look at the draft of the project and let planners know.
Speaking of the Face of Montgomery County
A University of Minnesota study cites our county as a top performer in a trend of growing diversity in America's suburbs. "Montgomery County, MD," the study concludes, "provides the best example of pro-integrative policies at the county scale. Thirty years ago, the county—a wealthy suburban area directly northwest of Washington, DC—adopted its Moderately Priced Dweling Unit program," which requires housing developments of 50 or more units to set aside up to 15 percent of the units for lower-income residents. The study goes on to say that Montgomery County schools have set an example in making enormous strides in reducing the educational achievement gap.
Chevy Chase Sticks to Tradition; Big, New Project in Gaithersburg; Shady Grove Border 'War'
In development news:
—Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz reminisced about the building of the Kentlands and Lakelands in describing the 180-acre planned Crown Development along Sam Eig Highway and Fields Road, opposite Washingtonian Center. Envisioned are single-family homes, townhomes, a park, school and expansive shopping, with an eco-friendly bent and, perhaps as importantly, a Harris Teeter.
—Futuristic architecture in Colonial-clad Chevy Chase? Chevy Chase Land Company's architects rethought that idea for the Chevy Chase Lake Sector development spanning Connecticut Avenue between Manor Road and Chevy Chase Lake Drive. County planning staff are recommending that the sector focus on the traditional architecture that "makes Chevy Chase distinctive."
—Can't Gaithersburg and Rockville just get along? One of our commenters drew on his inner protester and got in the spirit of this border dispute, writing, with tongue in cheek: "What do we want? A mutually agreed upon border acknowledged by the county planning division. When do we want it? Now!" Gaithersburg is attempting to annex the property once home to the now-closed Great Indoors home design store. Rockville hopes to annex the road between Gaithersburg's current borders and the same property. A Montgomery County Council vote scheduled for Tuesday should be exciting.
—Is the plan for a Costco gas station at Westfield Wheaton dead? Well, it seems to at least be severely wounded. The Montgomery County Council passed stricter regulations for "mega" gas stations and Costco would have to start from scratch to get its Wheaton gas station approved. Residents nearby spearheaded the fight against the gas station, which they said would lead to pollution at a nearby school and community swim club. Whether the gas station would be beyond a newly imposed 300-foot buffer zone is up in the fumes-free air.
Montgomery County: Aging in Place
If you've ever wondered how the county planning department views its challenges, including the fact that Montgomery County needs to attract more young people, check out its fast-paced video. You'll learn such fun facts as we're expecting a 21 percent increase in population in the next few decades and a 79 percent increase in seniors.
—A 67-year-old White Oak man has been charged in the stabbing of a 58-year-old man who went to the front of the line at the Colesville post office at 13217 New Hampshire Ave. The victim wasn't cutting in line, police say. He had previous business and was called back to the front by a postal worker. Police credit postal workers with helping to save the victim.
—Crime is down in Takoma Park, which is notable because Police Chief Ronald Ricucci is retiring after 42 years of law enforcement service and five years in Takoma Park. "As I leave Takoma Park, I believe it is a safer place as a result of the partnership that was created between the police department and the community," Ricucci said. "The community has been a vital part of our success in reducing crime."
—Sirens, and lots of them it seems, are a daily part of life in densely populated Montgomery County. Ever wonder just how many emergency vehicles generate those responses? Potomac Patch Local Editor Katie Griffith got the answer for Montgomery County Fire Rescue 101, complete with lots of photos of the shiny red trucks that come to our rescue on a daily basis.
One of the advantages to having Discovery Communications in downtown Silver Spring is having our very own mascot for Shark Week. "Chompie," the 446-foot inflatable shark, is back to celebrate 25 years of shark programming on the Discovery television network. “Shark Week” begins Aug. 12 but don't let Chompie scare you away from Silver Spring's Great White Shark Way.
Finally, 24-Hour Cupcakes
In confectionary news:
—If your favorite Olympic sport is carbo-loading while watching others test human limits, leave it to Georgetown Cupcake in Bethesda to raise the competitive stakes. If you'll settle for nothing less than a gold medal, no problem—everyone who buys one of the shop's Olympic-themed confections gets one, made from solid fondant.
—The Washington Post reports that the Sprinkles Cupcakes store in Georgetown could be next in line to offer a cupcake ATM—that's right, cupcakes available anytime you want them. Could Bethesda be far behind?
—But there's no reason to go to the food, if the food will come to you. That Cheesecake Truck, the "Big Blue" purveyor of Sweetz Cheesecake of Gaithersburg, made its first foray into the wilds of Montgomery County last week, parking at Fishers Lane in Rockville, Carole Sugarman reported for Bethesda Magazine. For the week beginning July 30, look for the truck in Silver Spring or Bethesda.
English Bulldog Wins 'Citizen Canine of the Year' Title
The City of Gaithersburg named “Scar” the first ever “Citizen Canine of the Year” and winner of the Citizen Canine photo contest. Despite being the youngest contender, the four month old English Bulldog pup led the way to victory with 241 votes for his photo on the City’s Facebook page. Coming in second with 150 votes was “Bella” the Cocker Spaniel, followed by third-place winner “Murphy,” the Pembrooke Corgi, with 127 votes. For more information and photos of the winner, visit the City of Gaithersburg website.
These Kids Today
When the adults are away, the young will play—and that's old news, even in quiet, staid Chevy Chase. The Ghosts of DC blog recently dug up a Washington Post story from 1929 about local police busting up a "whoopee" party of drunken youngsters at 26 Grafton St., Chevy Chase. The party was so loud that neighbors called the police, and the offenders were hauled into the station, Ghosts of DC reported.
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