Council pushes to make County wine capital

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Bottle of wine poured into glassROCKVILLE — A proposed County Council zoning change could make it easier for Montgomery County to become the winery capital of the East Coast – at least that what some council members hope.

On Tuesday farmers and small grape growers spoke in support of Zoning Text Amendment 18-03, which would loosen regulations in the County’s agricultural reserve in hopes to facilitate the expansion of wineries, breweries and distilleries.

ZTA 18-03, which Council members Hans Riemer (D-at large) and Craig Rice (D-3) are lead co-sponsors on, would amend the County’s current zoning regulations to allow for distilleries, breweries and cideries. While wineries are currently allowed under current County zoning laws in the agricultural reserve, other alcohol production facilities are not.

“The proposed ZTA is important to our success because it brings clarity to what is currently a confusing and burdening zoning code,” said Poolesville farmer Robert Butz.


County finds a way to let beer pour freely

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ROCKVILLE — The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a zoning text amendment to clarify an ambiguous regulation governing the operation of breweries in the County.

Zoning Text Amendment 17-07 changes County zoning laws to allow licensed brewers to make manufacturing beer their primary business in urban districts as opposed to the way current law required brewing beer to be an accessory business for a restaurant. 


Cell tower exemptions being considered

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ROCKVILLE -- The Montgomery County Council Planning, Housing and Economic Development committee discussed Monday a proposed bill to allow telecommunication companies to install cell phone antennas on towers without a public hearing.

Under zoning law, all telephone towers must undergo a public appeal process.

However, Council President Nancy Floreen (D-At large) proposed in Zoning Text Amendment 16-05 to exempt telecommunication poles 30 feet or lower from public hearings.

At the meeting, the PHED committee decided not to vote or provide a recommendation for the proposed bill.


Signs beneficial to the community


A special thanks to the Montgomery County Council whose proposed ordinance amendment will undoubtedly help local real estate agents.  Last week’s testimony about a zoning text amendment relating to signs and their location illuminated their place in the community as well as reminded us they are a form of free speech.

Of course the unintended consequences of a blanket ban of signs in the right of way is yet to be determined.  However, it would certainly make it more difficult for county residents to sell their home by owner (without an agent), as well as home buyers wanting to go it alone without an agent.  The resulting lack of information that is currently provided by these signs would certainly compel consumers to hire a local Realtor®. Thank you.


Council considers removing cell tower restrictions

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ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Council introduced a bill this week that would allow cellphone towers to be installed without a public hearing.

Representatives from telecommunications companies said the bill will expedite the process of upgrading their data and other mobile services to cell phones users.

“I don’t even know what a Pokémon Go is, but I know it’s placing tremendous demands on the wireless networks,” said Edward Donohue, a lawyer representing telecommunications company Crown Castle. 


Residents fight more county cell phone towers

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A bill to allow telecommunication companies to extend cell phone coverage is angering some local residents who want a public hearing.

Zoning Text Amendment 16-05, sponsored by Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen (D-At large) would change the zoning laws.

Telecommunication companies would be allowed to install small antennas on utility improve cell phone coverage.

County residents objected to the bill because it would allow the telecommunication companies to install the antennas without a public hearing.

 “It undercuts the participation of interested members of the public in a dialogue on where the thing ought to go or shouldn't go,” said Derwood resident Jeff Reznick.

Though a hearing for the bill is scheduled for July 19, if passed, the telecommunication companies could install the antennas without input from the public.


Zoning change passes after Costco flap

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ROCKVILLE-- The Montgomery County Council passed a zoning text amendment Tuesday to require large gas stations to be placed father from areas with sensitive populations with an 8-1 vote after a clash between Costco and a civic association.

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