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Council debates B-CC expansion plan

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – While the proposed Downtown Bethesda Sector Plan would expand density in Bethesda, one thing it could also expand is Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

On Monday the County Council Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee discussed buying or leasing property next to B-CC as way to find more space for the school’s increasing demands.

The council discussed several options from buying the office building located on 4401-4421 East West Highway next to B-CC in order to expand the school’s athletic fields and to leasing room from nearby office buildings to compensate for overcrowding.

“B-CC High School is the single hardest issue to for us to tackle in this,” said Council President Roger Berliner (D-1), who represents Bethesda. “Everything else seems to have a plausible answer, we don’t know what precisely what the answer is but B-CC High School – it’s a problem.”

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Strathmore Music Center gets $10 million tune up

xStrathmore renovation rendering 2Artist's conception for the renovation at Strathmore. COURTESY PHOTO  

The Music Center at Strathmore will undergo a $10 million renovation that will enable concertgoers to enjoy dinner at the Bethesda venue but will not change at all the concert hall. 

When the Center celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2020, the Montgomery County venue that features concerts by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic, the Washington Performing Arts and many popular musicians will be 5,000 square feet larger.

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Residents unhappy in Bethesda

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Last week, local residents criticized the Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan while developers praised it.

The County Council listened as about 100 people testified at three separate two-hour evening hearings, as they gave their thoughts on the newly proposed plan to allow for more development and growth in downtown Bethesda, expanding its economic activity, affordable housing and density.

Some residents critical of the proposed plan said allowing Bethesda to expand will put further strain on schools and roads that can barely fit to accommodate heavy traffic and building heights that would transform parts of Bethesda from suburban to urban.

“We want to have a livable community where you can take your kid to soccer practice without being stuck in gridlock traffic, where it's safe to walk to school, where there are green spaces enjoy, where towering buildings aren’t casting long shadows on neighboring residents,” said Alison MacFarlane, who asked the council to reject the plan.

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Novavax expansion nets 850 new local jobs

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Novavax logo

Novavax, a Montgomery County-based clinical vaccine company, will add up to 850 jobs as a part of its expansion plan announced June 8.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said the jobs will be located in the County.

Founded in 1987, Novavax works to develop vaccines for infectious diseases, such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the Ebola virus, which resulted in the death of 11,325 people in West Africa from December of 2013 to May of 2016. Novavax has conducted more than 20 clinical trials focusing on these illnesses.

“The biotech industry is a priority industry that we want to support,” County Council President Nancy Floreen (D) said in a press conference Monday. “Of course at the end of the day, we’re looking towards jobs for our residents, expanding our tax pay, and that’s equally important. Those things have both come together in this regard.”

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Rockville nixes building heights

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ROCKVILLE – The mayor and City Council removed limits on minimum and maximum building heights in certain parts of the Rockville’s Pike Neighborhood Plan while also voting for a compromise regarding the width of the Pike.

The compromise would allow the construction of access lanes along the Pike but would also allow developers whose projects meet certain criteria to negotiate with the mayor and council for more development space in lieu of the access lanes.

“I think it’ll be hugely effective and primarily because it allows both the mayor and council to be much more flexible in what they go forth with and give more space on the ground to build more housing or to have more open space,” said Pierzchala. “In terms of smart growth, it’s hugely advantageous for the city.”

During the Monday night meeting, the mayor and council unanimously backed a motion to eliminate part of the Pike Plan in which Planning Commissions recommended a minimum building height of two stories in most of the plan area and three stories in the South Pike Core.

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Local residents protest Derwood plan

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DERWOOD – A planned expansion to the Taiwan Culture Center stirred the ire of some nearby residents.

The cultural center located on 7509 Needwood Road is a hub for the Taiwanese community in the Washington metropolitan area.

The center’s chairman Tai Huang said his organization is planning to expand it in order to accommodate more people for aerobic, tai chi and kung fu classes.

During the last decade, the center angered some of neighbors of the residential Derwood neighborhood, who said the center frequently ignores zoning laws regulating traffic and parking causing major traffic issues on the intersection of Needwood Road and Redland Road.

They contend the building is commercial and does not belong in a residential neighborhood.

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Rockville nixes Fleet Street expansion plan

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ROCKVILLE -- A controversial recommendation to extend Fleet Street will not be a part of the final version of the Rockville's Pike Neighborhood Plan.

The mayor and City Council voted 4-1 against including a recommendation by the Planning Commission to extend the road from Mt. Vernon Place to Ritchie Parkway.

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