As we begin the winter season, I would like to wish everyone very happy holidays and a healthy new year!
During the next few months, the Council will be busy with many things, including preparation for our budget deliberations, discussions about health care issues, developing gang prevention strategies and considering various land use issues. My staff and I are here to answer questions about these and other topics.
As my third year on the Montgomery County Council comes to a close, it is overwhelming and gratifying to think about all that we have accomplished. Along with my colleagues, I worked hard to ensure that our seniors have options to help them “age in place.” I sponsored a bill to allow visitors to our county to have more flexibility when it comes to swimming in hotel pools, and I was pleased to be part of the unanimous vote to gradually implement an increased minimum wage in Montgomery County.
As always, thanks for reading. It is my pleasure to serve as your Councilmember.
Sidney A. Katz
Councilmember, District 3
About District 3
Located in central Montgomery County, District 3 includes Gaithersburg, Rockville, Washington Grove, Leisure World and parts of Aspen Hill, Derwood, North Potomac and Potomac.
Bus Depot Update
The County Executive and MCPS are continuing to explore a systematic countywide resolution for the school bus depot issue. We want to assure everyone once again that the Carver and Westmore sites will not be considered. We also continue to be firmly opposed to the Avery Road site. We continue to monitor the issue closely and will provide updates as more information becomes available to us.
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Connect with Councilmember Katz
If you or a friend would like to sign up for Katz Corner, please visit http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Katz/ and click on the “Sign Up to Receive My Newsletter” button at the bottom of the page.
Swimming Pool Bill
Expedited Bill 16-17, Swimming Pools – Lifeguards – Amendments
The County Council recently passed Expedited Bill 16-17, Swimming Pools – Lifeguards – Amendments. This bill, which I sponsored, removes a burden for our hospitality industry that is not faced by our jurisdictional neighbors while maintaining the safety of hotel guests.
The legislation allows hotels to open their pools without a lifeguard on duty if the hotel has a staff member on the premises who is certified in CPR. Hotels are required to have a lifeguard on duty during busy weekend hours and to meet additional safety requirements.
Minimum Wage Bill
Bill 28-17, Human Rights and Civil Liberties – County Minimum Wage – Amount – Annual Adjustment
In November, my colleagues and I enacted a $15 minimum wage bill that benefits the most and burdens the least. This legislation strikes a balance; where wages move toward livability while not exceeding what businesses can absorb. I am proud to be a part of a body that was able to collaborate effectively and come to a resolution that will benefit our community.
Accessory Residential Uses, Short-Term Rental Bill
ZTA 17-03 Accessory Residential Uses – Short-Term Rental
After hearing from numerous concerned constituents all over the county, the Council passed legislation to add restrictions on how many people can stay in a rental, how many days an owner can rent a home and which homes can be rented for short periods.
Now, only primary residents of a home can rent it out. Property owners must apply for a license to use their homes as short-term rentals. Property owners must notify their neighbors and homeowner associations if applicable. If the property owner is absent, the residence can be rented out for a maximum of 120 days. The total adult overnight guests per short-term rental is six and the maximum number of guests per room is two.
With these regulations, we will be able to help curb abuse and still embrace change.
Spending Affordability Guidelines
This fall the County Council established spending affordability guidelines (SAG) for the FY 2019-2024 Capital Improvements Program (CIP). I received correspondence from many constituents concerned about the potential effect on funding for public school capital projects.
I remain extremely committed to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The County Council approved $2.52 billion in FY18 expenditures for MCPS —100 percent of the Board of Education request. This investment, which represents more than half of the total County budget, allows for additional staffing and programming to address the opportunity gap and reduce class size and the elimination of extracurricular fees for middle and high school students.
I am also dedicated to fiscal responsibility and the establishment of guidelines that represent how much the County can afford. Spending Affordability Guidelines determine what bonds the county can financially accommodate to pay for long-term capital projects. The county has borrowed at unsustainable rates over the last decade. The repayment of debt obligation is approaching nine percent of the operating budget. To put this in perspective, if debt service were a county department, it would be the third largest. These obligations directly affect how much money is available for direct services and capital projects.
Montgomery County Public Schools are a priority to me. The County Council approved a more moderate reduction from what the County Executive had suggested that gives us a chance to move in the right direction regarding debt service while still providing a high level of support to our schools.
Thank you for engaging with me in this discussion.
We Want to Hear From You
Public participation is vital to government. The Montgomery County Council regularly holds public hearings on proposed legislation and policy changes. We invite you to be part of that process.
The Council conducts its public hearings in the hearing room on the third floor of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. Anyone wishing to testify may sign up online or if you have questions, please call 240-777-7803.
To see the full calendar of upcoming hearings and to sign up to testify, please visit the Council’s website at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/PHSignUp.html
District 3 History
BRYANT’S MILL, 447 E. Diamond Avenue, Gaithersburg
By Sarah Hedlund, Librarian/Archivist at Montgomery History
Bryant’s mill and train tracks, undated (from Montgomery History photo collection)
Have you ever noticed a historic building on East Diamond Avenue by the tracks that looks a bit like an old feed mill? That’s because it once was—one of many along that road in the early part of the 20th century. Here is the story of Bryant’s Mill.
Receipt for suet feed from 1936 (from Montgomery History special collections)
The mill at 447 East Diamond Avenue, between the road and the railroad tracks, was built in 1924 by Arthur Bryant, who purchased the land from Jesse L. Burns, a store owner, postmaster and farmer in the Gaithersburg area from the 1880s until his death in 1920. Apparently, Burns had contracted to sell the property to Bryant before his death, but Bryant had to sue Burns’s heirs before they would honor the sales agreement.
Bryant operated the building under his father’s name– a company called Herbert Bryant, Inc., which was headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. He operated it as a feed store, supplying local retail outlets with livestock feed. Raw foods such as corn, oats, soy and wheat were loaded off rail cars in the rear and carried by conveyor belt into storage bins. The “raws” were later ground and mixed with molasses or other additives, producing feed for horses, poultry, game birds, hogs and rabbits.
View of H. Bryant, Inc. property from 1949 Sanborn map (from Montgomery History collections)
In addition to the original mill building, the 1930s and 40s saw construction of a coal bin, two warehouses, six grain silos, a few small outbuildings and a house.
By the 1970s, the house and silos had been torn down. The property was sold to a couple who operated a feed and garden supply center called “Williams Feed” through the 1990s. The building and property became a self-storage facility in the early 2000s.
Next time you drive down East Diamond Avenue and smell molasses, you will know that you’re in touch with history!
Spotlight on Comfort Cases
Doing Good in District 3 (and beyond!)
Comfort Cases, a 501(c)(3) headquartered in Rockville, fills backpacks and duffel bags with new items that bring comfort and dignity to youth in the foster care system. Often, children in foster care must pack their belongings in trash bags as they transition to a new living situation. Comfort Cases provides children entering foster care with the pride of having packs and bags of their own and knowing that their community cares about them.
Since 2013, Comfort Cases has distributed more than 30,000 cases to 28 states and Washington, DC. In 2017 alone, the agency has delivered nearly 6,000 cases to youth (newborn to age 21) entering the foster care system.
Comfort Cases was the winner of DSW’s Shoe Lovers Care ‘Leave Your Mark’ contest. Shoe Lovers Care is a philanthropic program that allows DSW employees across the country to nominate nonprofit organizations they feel passionate about supporting. DSW then selects eight finalists from the many submissions. Comfort Cases competed with seven other finalists for the most votes and won a $75,000 donation from DSW. I was proud to join Comfort Cases Founder Rob Scheer, his family and colleagues for the check presentation.
Visit https://www.comfortcases.org/ to learn more and get involved.
Did You Know?
If you need any type of county-provided services, please start by contacting MC311. MC311 Customer Service Center is Montgomery County’s source for non-emergency government information and services. You can reach MC311 by calling 311 from anywhere in the county or 240-777-0311 from anywhere, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Request for Traffic Calming Devices
If you believe that a traffic calming device is needed on your street, please email email@example.com. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will either improve signage or do a study to determine if a traffic calming device is needed. If you have a homeowner association or a neighborhood association, you can ask it to send the request after it determines that a traffic calming device is needed, or you can make the request yourself.
The Family Justice Center
The Family Justice Center is located at 600 Jefferson Street, Suite 500, Rockville, MD 20850. FJC is Montgomery County’s one-stop shop for victims of domestic violence. It houses county agencies and private partners who work together to provide services in a family-friendly environment to those affected by domestic violence. Anyone who is experiencing or has experienced domestic violence is eligible to receive free services, regardless of income, background or family situation. The Family Justice Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome and assistance in many languages is available. Please call 240-773-0444 if you have any questions.
Board of Elections Future Vote Program seeking Students 16 years and older to Serve as Paid Election Judges during 2018 Midterm Election
The Montgomery County Board of Elections “Future Vote” Program is seeking high school students to serve as paid election judges at polling places for the 2018 midterm election, which will be held on Tuesday, June 26, 2018.
Maryland Election law allows a minor who is 16 years old to register to vote and be appointed to serve as an election judge if the minor demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the State Board, that he or she meets all qualifications for registration in the State.
Because of the population diversity within Montgomery County, students with bilingual language skills, particularly in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Amharic and French, are encouraged to participate.
The application process requires both an online quiz and completion of hands-on training. All applicants who are selected for these positions will be compensated at rates that vary based on the position. Individuals may earn up to $210 or 25 Student Service Learning (SSL) credits. To apply, visit www.777vote.org, (tap/click) “Election Workers”, (tap/click) “Become an Election Judge”, (tap/click) “Apply Online Now”.
Things to do in District 3
Winter holidays and family gatherings are about to arrive. You might be searching for activities to combat cabin fever. Here are some ideas of places to visit and things to do in District 3 this season.
Celebrate the magic of the holiday season with a drive through the City of Gaithersburg Winter Lights Festival at Seneca Creek State Park, open nightly now through December 31 (closed on December 25). Visit http://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/leisure/winter-lights-festival for additional information.
Take a whirl around the ice rink at Rockville Town Center! The 7,200-square-foot rink is the largest outdoor ice skating rink between Baltimore and Washington D.C. Visit http://rockvilletownsquare.com/at-the-square/ice-rink/ for hours and rates.
Calling all LEGO lovers! Libraries across Montgomery County offer FREE open sessions of imaginative construction with LEGO and Duplo blocks throughout the winter months. Visit the Montgomery County Public Libraries calendar of events and type “LEGO” in the keywords box. http://host.evanced.info/montgomerycountymd/evanced/eventsearch.asp?ln=ALL
Fa La La La La! The Rio Washingtonian will celebrate the winter holidays with special musical performances from December 2 through December 16. Visit http://www.riowashingtonian.com/events/washingtonian-holiday-musical-performances–3 for a list of dates and performers.
Bah humbug! The Arts Barn presents the classic play, “A Christmas Carol.” It runs through December 10, 2017. Visit http://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/calendars/community-calendar/2017/12/christmas-carol for show times and ticket information.
The City of Rockville will spread holiday cheer with two special events: a Holiday Gingerbread House Workshop (December 9) and Cookies with Santa (December 16). Visit the City’s events calendar for additional details. http://www.rockvillemd.gov/Calendar.aspx?NID=1&FID=250
Celebrate Hanukkah! The annual menorah lighting sponsored by the Israeli Chabad Center of Rockville will take place on Tuesday, December 12, at 6 p.m., at the Rockville Town Square Plaza (near IT’SUGAR). All are welcome to enjoy the lighting ceremony, festive snacks and music.
MoCo LGBTQ Youth Forum is pleased to present a New Year’s Eve Pride Party for those 21 and younger. The event is scheduled for Sunday, December 31, 2017, 9 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. at RUC Kaseman Hall, 355 Linthicum Street, Rockville, MD 20851. The cost is $5 per person. There will be music by DJ Wah-Heed, snacks, party favors and a sparkling cider toast at midnight. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/moco-lgbtq-youth-new-years-eve-pride-party-tickets-39822858241?aff=es2