County Council to Receive Update on Community Engagement Officer Program on Monday, October 23

Per Montgomery County:
Montgomery County Council Committee Meetings on Oct. 23, 2023
Committees to receive a briefing on retail market trends; receive an update on the Community Engagement Officer Program; and review OLO reports, the Fairland and Briggs Chaney Master Plan and an appropriation for hydrogen fuel cell buses

The Economic Development (ECON) Committee will meet on Monday, Oct. 23 at 9:30 a.m. to receive a briefing about retail market trends, review the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) Report 2023-11, 2023 Evaluation of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, Inc., and continue the discussion on the County’s Urban Districts. The members of the ECON Committee include Chair Natali Fani-González, Councilmember Marilyn Balcombe, Council President Evan Glass and Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles.

The joint Education and Culture (EC) and Public Safety (PS) Committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. to discuss OLO Report 2023-6: Addressing Racial Inequity in the School to Prison Pipeline, and receive an update on the Community Engagement Officer Program at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The members of the EC Committee include Chair Will Jawando and Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz and Kristin Mink. The members of the PS Committee include Chair Sidney Katz and Councilmembers Dawn Luedtke and Mink.

The Planning, Housing and Parks (PHP) Committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. to review the Fairland and Briggs Chaney Master Plan. The members of the PHP Committee include Chair Andrew Friedson and Councilmembers Fani-González and Jawando.

The Transportation and Environment (TE) Committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. to review a more than $14.8 million supplemental appropriation to the FY24 Capital Budget and an amendment to the FY23-28 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for hydrogen fuel cell buses and a fueling site. In addition, the committee will review an amendment to the FY23-28 CIP for the Ride On bus fleet to designate the use of currently appropriated funds to match a federal grant to build a hydrogen fuel production and fueling station. The members of the TE Committee include Chair Glass and Councilmembers Balcombe and Kate Stewart.

More detail on each agenda item is provided below.

Retail Market Trends

Briefing: The ECON Committee will receive a briefing from representatives of the Planning Department on the state of the County’s retail real estate market, followed by a presentation from the firm &Access, which developed the April 2021 Retail in Diverse Communities Study. The briefing and presentation will be followed by a discussion.

Nationally, the post-pandemic retail real estate market has proven more robust than the office market. In contrast to national office vacancy rates of roughly 18 percent, overall retail vacancies are at roughly four percent. Retail rents have generally increased across all markets but have increased at a greater rate in suburban markets. While e-commerce remains a significant part of the retail market, there is still demand for physical storefronts for those who prefer to shop in-person and in some cases, consumers research purchases online but pick them up in stores.

Office of Legislative Oversight Report 2023-11: Evaluation of the Bethesda Urban Partnership

Review: The ECON Committee will review OLO Report 2023-11, 2023 Evaluation of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, Inc. OLO is required to provide an evaluation of the Bethesda Urban Partnership before the Council considers reauthorization of the partnership. The evaluation includes feedback from property owners, business owners and residents from in and around the urban district. The organization’s current term ends on Jan. 31, 2024.

An urban district corporation exists for five years after its articles of incorporation are accepted for recording by the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. An urban district corporation can be extended for an unlimited number of additional five-year terms by a resolution adopted by the Council and approved by the County Executive.

Urban Districts Follow-Up

Review: The ECON Committee will continue a discussion from the Council’s FY24 Operating Budget review and a follow-up meeting held on July 27 to review the County’s Urban Districts. The purpose of the meeting is to identify other areas throughout the County that would be suitable for pilot programs that offer similar services and discuss whether the Planning Department would support reinstating maintenance agreements between the County and private property owners for maintenance of public spaces on private property. In addition, the committee will discuss whether the commercial district charge funding mechanism currently in place in the Friendship Heights Urban District could be appropriate to adapt in the other districts, in lieu of the current Urban District tax.

Montgomery County has four Urban Districts: Bethesda, Silver Spring, Wheaton and Friendship Heights. The legislation to create these special taxing districts was passed in 1986 to build a financial and administrative framework to provide funding for additional or enhanced services in these areas. These services included street sweeping, additional public amenities, promotion of residential and commercial interests, and cultural and community activities.

Office of Legislative Oversight Report 2023-6, Addressing Racial Inequity in the School to Prison Pipeline

Review: The joint EC and PS Committee will review OLO Report 2023-6, Addressing Racial Inequity in the School to Prison Pipeline. The report is an update to OLO’s 2016 School to Prison Pipeline report to discern whether the magnitude of the pipeline and racial disparities within it have diminished. The school to prison pipeline refers to the higher risk that students suspended from school face for entering the juvenile justice and adult criminal justice systems.

The 2023 report describes data trends in school discipline and juvenile justice involvement by race and ethnicity, gender and disability status. The report also describes historical and contemporary racial inequities in schooling and policing that likely contribute to the school to prison pipeline and best practices for eliminating racial disparities in the school to prison pipeline based on a review of relevant research.

Montgomery County Public Schools Community Engagement Officer Program Implementation

Update: The joint EC and PS Committee will receive an update on the Community Engagement Officer Program at MCPS. School safety is essential for high-quality instruction and overall student and staff well-being. This program was implemented in the 2021-2022 school year under a revised memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) and MCPS in response to the County Executive’s expressed intent to remove police officers from schools.

In 2018, Maryland enacted the Safe to Learn Act, which established statewide standards for school safety and requires each public school to have a School Resource Officer (SRO) or ensure adequate local law enforcement coverage. According to the 2022 Maryland Center for School Safety annual report, Montgomery County’s safety program currently relies on adequate law enforcement coverage rather than dedicated SROs, and MCPS is in compliance with these state requirements.

Fairland and Briggs Chaney Master Plan

Review: The PHP Committee will continue its review of the Fairland and Briggs Chaney Master Plan. The plan is an update to a portion of the 1997 Fairland Master Plan and would establish a clear vision for an equitable, just and prosperous future for the Fairland community, mirroring the County’s long-term priorities, which includes a vibrant economy, equity for all residents and a healthy environment.

The master plan boundary consists primarily of property and neighborhoods of Fairland and Briggs Chaney along the U.S. 29 Corridor near Paint Branch on the south and toward Greencastle Road on the north. The update will examine and provide policies and recommendations on existing and future land uses and zoning, housing inventory and needs, transportation systems, historic preservation opportunities, area park facilities and the environment.

CIP Amendment and Supplemental Appropriation to the FY24 Capital Budget, DOT, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses and Fueling Site -$14,875,975 and Amendment to the FY23-28 Capital Improvements Program, Montgomery County Government Department of Transportation Ride on Bus Fleet

Review: The TE Committee will review a more than $14.8 million supplemental appropriation to the FY24 Capital Budget and an amendment to the FY23-28 CIP for hydrogen fuel cell buses and a fueling site. In addition, the committee will review an amendment to the FY23-28 CIP for the Ride On bus fleet to designate the use of currently appropriated funds to match a federal grant to build a hydrogen fuel production and fueling station.

This project would implement green hydrogen technology in transit for the first time in Maryland. The new hydrogen fuel production and fueling station would operate at the County’s existing David F. Bone Equipment Maintenance and Transit Operations Center in Gaithersburg. It would power the County’s first 13 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, which will be procured as part of this project.

The more than $14.8 million in federal aid will be provided from a Low or No Emission Grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The County’s matching funds would be provided with funds already programmed and appropriated in the Ride On bus fleet project.

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Movie being filmed in McLean, VA, needs your support

A local community movie is filming in our area in June and needs contributions!

Local actors, teens, teachers, housewives, and retired residences are trying to make this film happen but we need your help.

This is an educational short story about teens learning how to navigate when they don't feel accepted by their friends and what to do to find acceptance. Yet this film isn't just for teens. In your life have you ever felt like you weren't accepted??

Come be a part of the audience for this film! Invite your friends. Be a part of this film being produced right here in our area.

This is a social impact film that will show locally and internationally at film festivals in 2025 and also at colleges.

More information can be found here. DONATE TODAY:

This is a not-for-profit film and donations are tax-deductible.

Free Community Father-Daughter Dance

Fathers and father figures, create unforgettable memories with your daughter at our free community father-daughter dance on June 1st, from 6-8 pm. Hosted outdoors at Olney Baptist Church. This event offers a delightful outdoor experience complete with a DJ spinning tunes, interactive games, a charming photo booth, delicious treats, and exciting raffle prizes. Fathers/father figures and daughters of all ages are warmly welcomed to share in this special evening together. Join us for an evening of joy, laughter, and cherished moments!

In the spirit of giving back to our community, we are partnering with Quest to Feed Montgomery to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those in need. We kindly ask each attendee to bring along a non-perishable food item to donate during the event. Every contribution, no matter how small, will go a long way in supporting families facing food insecurity in our area.


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