Montgomery County Council Meets on Sept. 20 for Briefings About the County’s Vision Zero Action Plan and Thrive Montgomery 2050

by Patrick Herron

For Immediate Release: Sept. 19, 2022
The Council will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 9 a.m. The meeting will begin with two proclamation presentations. The first, presented by Council President Albornoz, Councilmember Jawando and County Executive Elrich, will recognize National Preparedness Month. The second, presented by Councilmember Jawando, will recognize National Sickle Cell Awareness Month.
More detail on each agenda item is provided below.

WMATA General Manager and CEO: Randy Clarke

Introduction: The Council will meet with WMATA General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke. This meeting is an opportunity for Mr. Clarke to introduce himself to the Council and to share his goals and objectives for improving WMATA safety and service. Councilmembers will also discuss their concerns related to WMATA.

In May, the WMATA Board of Directors announced the appointment of Mr. Clarke as the new general manager and CEO, replacing Paul Wiedefeld. Mr. Clarke’s first day serving in the new role was July 25, 2022.

Vision Zero

Briefing: The Council will receive a briefing on the County’s Vision Zero plan, which has the goals of eliminating serious and fatal collisions on County roads and enhancing protections for pedestrians and bicyclists. The briefing will be led by Wade Holland, the County’s Vision Zero coordinator, and representatives from the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Planning Department and the Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Advisory Board. This the first comprehensive briefing on the plan since June 29, 2021.

Legislative Session

Bill 26-22, Landlord-Tenant Relations – Radon Testing and Mitigation – Required

Introduction: Councilmember Craig Rice is expected to introduce Bill 26-22, Landlord-Tenant Relations – Radon Testing and Mitigation – Required, which would require radon testing in rental housing, require disclosure and mitigation of radon hazards above a certain action level and include lease requirements for certain rental units.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is a radioactive gas that is found in soil and rock in all parts of the U.S. It is formed by the decay of uranium, which is a natural process. Radon may be found in all types of homes and buildings. If there is radon gas in the ground, it can seep into a building and become trapped inside the home. The higher the radon level indoors, the greater the amount you breathe. Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. Studies show that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind cigarette smoking.

A public hearing on Bill 26-22 is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 1:30 p.m.

Bill 36-21, Motor Vehicles and Traffic – E-Scooters – Operating Requirement and Registration

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Bill 36-21, Motor Vehicles and Traffic – E-Scooters – Operation Requirements and Registration, which would permit County residents to register an electric, low-speed scooter for personal use. The bill would also require the owner of two or more e-scooters to register and pay a fee for an e-scooter fleet offered for rent in the County. In addition, the bill would also establish operating and parking requirements for e-scooter use. Councilmember Katz is the lead sponsor of Bill 36-21. Council President Albornoz is a cosponsor.

Bill 36-21 is similar to Bill 8-20, Bicycles and E-Scooters – Operating Requirements and Registration, which was introduced on March 3, 2020, and recommended for approval with amendment by the joint committee on June 25, 2020. However, Bill 8-20 was never considered by the full Council before expiring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill 26-22, Landlord-Tenant Relations – Radon Testing and Mitigation – Required

Introduction: Councilmember Craig Rice is expected to introduce Bill 26-22, Landlord-Tenant Relations – Radon Testing and Mitigation – Required, which would require radon testing in rental housing, require disclosure and mitigation of radon hazards above a certain action level and include lease requirements for certain rental units.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, radon is a radioactive gas that is found in soil and rock in all parts of the U.S. It is formed by the decay of uranium, which is a natural process. Radon may be found in all types of homes and buildings. If there is radon gas in the ground, it can seep into a building and become trapped inside the home. The higher the radon level indoors, the greater the amount you breathe. Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. Studies show that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, behind cigarette smoking.

A public hearing on Bill 26-22 is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 1:30 p.m.

Bill 36-21, Motor Vehicles and Traffic – E-Scooters – Operating Requirement and Registration

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Bill 36-21, Motor Vehicles and Traffic – E-Scooters – Operation Requirements and Registration, which would permit County residents to register an electric, low-speed scooter for personal use. The bill would also require the owner of two or more e-scooters to register and pay a fee for an e-scooter fleet offered for rent in the County. In addition, the bill would also establish operating and parking requirements for e-scooter use. Councilmember Katz is the lead sponsor of Bill 36-21. Council President Albornoz is a cosponsor.

Bill 36-21 is similar to Bill 8-20, Bicycles and E-Scooters – Operating Requirements and Registration, which was introduced on March 3, 2020, and recommended for approval with amendment by the joint committee on June 25, 2020. However, Bill 8-20 was never considered by the full Council before expiring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

District Council Session

Zoning Text Amendment 22-04, Commercial Uses – Light Vehicle Sales and Rental (Indoor)

Review and vote expected: The Council will review and is expected to vote on Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 22-04, Commercial Uses – Light Vehicle Sales and Rental (Indoor). The ZTA would allow indoor light vehicle sales and rentals in the Neighborhood Retail (NR) Zone as a limited use. A limited use was chosen because indoor sales and rentals are a less intensive use than outdoor sales and rentals. Indoor light vehicle sales and rentals in the NR Zone would be subject to the limited use provisions of Section 3.5.12.B.2.a of Montgomery County’s Zoning Ordinance.

Councilmembers Navarro and Riemer and Vice President Glass are the lead sponsors. The Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee recommends approval with amendments.

Zoning Text Amendment 22-05, Signs

Review and vote expected: The Council will review and is expected to vote on ZTA 22-05, Signs, which is a rewrite of the sign provisions of the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance. Changes to the signs provision of the ordinance include: removing certain definitions; removing the prohibition on off-site signs; adding provisions for signs in the public right-of-way; adding provisions for temporary signs; and other revisions meant to streamline this section.

The intent of this rewrite is to streamline regulations related to business development and growth in the County consistent with the Speed-to-Market Initiative; preserve the value of property and strengthen community ambiance and character; and promote the compatibility of signs with the surrounding land uses.

The lead sponsor is the Council President, at the request of the County Executive. The PHED Committee recommends approval with amendments.

Zoning Text Amendment 22-06, Exemptions – Historic Resources – Allowed Uses

Review and vote expected: The Council will review and is expected to vote on ZTA 22-06, Exemptions – Historic Resources – Allowed Uses. On Jan. 18, 2022, this Council passed ZTA 21-06, which allows certain uses on properties limited in development by a density transfer.

ZTA 22-06 will expand ZTA 21-06 by allowing those uses on historic sites or resources that have an arterial or larger roadway. ZTA 22-06 will add eating and drinking establishments to the list of allowed uses. Site plan approval, as well as approval by the Historic Preservation Commission, will still be required.

The lead sponsor is Councilmember Rice. Councilmembers Navarro, Katz and Friedson are cosponsors. The PHED Committee recommends approval with amendments.

Public Hearings

The Council will hold the following public hearings at 1:30 p.m. Residents can visit the Council website to learn about the multiple ways to provide testimony.

Bill 18-22, Noise Control – Leaf Removal – Amendments

Bill 24-22, Streets and Roads

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 22-10, Streets and Roads

Subdivision Regulation Amendment (SRA) 22-01, Streets and Roads

Bill 23-22, Personnel and Human Resources – Amount of Pension – Group G Members

Sectional Map Amendment (SMA) to implement the Approved and Adopted Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan, SMA (H-146)

Special Appropriation to the MCPS’ FY23 Operating Budget – $8,631,072 for the Maryland Leads Grant Program


Thrive Montgomery 2050

Briefing: The Council will continue a briefing that was held on September 13 on the consultant-led racial equity and social justice review of the PHED Committee Draft of Thrive Montgomery 2050. On Sept. 8, 2022, the consultants completed the Thrive 2050 Racial Equity and Social Justice Review with Appendices.

The Council is currently reviewing the Thrive Montgomery 2050 Draft Plan. Following the guidance of the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO), the Council commissioned a comprehensive racial equity and social justice review of the Plan with the support of Nspiregreen and Public Engagement Associates, which is a team of consultants who bring extensive planning and public engagement experience to develop a racial equity and social justice review of the Plan.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 sets a vision for the County and encompasses broad, county-wide policy recommendations for land use, zoning, housing, the economy, equity, transportation, parks and open space, the environment and historic resources. In addition, it contains the text and supporting maps for a comprehensive amendment to the current General Plan for the County.

The Council is expected to review the entire PHED Committee Draft of Thrive Montgomery 2050, including the new chapters on racial equity and social justice, the environment and economic development during Council sessions scheduled on September 20, September 22, October 4, October 11 and October 25.

Proposed Closed Session

The Council is expected to hold a closed session to consult with counsel to obtain legal advice pursuant to Maryland Code, General Provisions Article §3-305(b)(7); and §3-305(b)(8) to consult with staff, consultants, or other individuals about pending or potential litigation. Topic is pending litigation involving the County.

Each item on the Council’s Consent Calendar can be found on the Council agenda for Tuesday, Sept. 20 available on the Council website.

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