Montgomery County Council Meets Today to Discuss Updated COVID-19 Guidelines, Expanded 5G Infrastructure, Establishing a Silver Spring Business Improvement District, and More

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Per Montgomery County:

For Immediate Release: Monday, July 26, 2021

Also on July 27: Council to receive an update on appropriations and expenditures from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and hold public hearings and vote on special appropriations for the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 and to assist newly arriving migrant and asylum-seeking children and families

The Council will meet virtually on Tuesday, July 27 at 9 a.m. The meeting will begin with a proclamation remembering those lost due to COVID-19 to be presented by the full Council and a proclamation recognizing Fibroid Awareness Month presented by Council President Hucker and Councilmember Navarro.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and County Public Health Planning

Update: Sitting as the Board of Health, the Council will receive an update on the County’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its recovery and vaccination efforts. Those expected to provide information include Dr. Travis Gayles, health officer and chief of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Public Health Services; Dr. Earl Stoddard, director, Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security; and Dr. Raymond Crowel, director, DHHS. Join the conversation with #COVID-19

Update on the Coronavirus Relief Fund

Update: The Council will receive an update on appropriations and expenditures from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The County received $183.3 million in CRF funds from the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to cover necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

On July 21, Chief Administrative Officer Richard Madaleno sent an update to the Council on the CRF, which stated that the Executive Branch had determined that the County is unlikely to receive FEMA reimbursement for the COVID-19 pay differential, and that Executive staff planned to book hazard pay differential costs of up to $70 million to the CRF as part of the fiscal year 2021 financial close out process.

Previously, in the Nov. 2020 CRF update, the Executive Branch estimated booking up to $53.9 million in pay differential to the CRF.  The revised $70 million figure is an increase of $16.1 million. Chief Administrative Officer Madaleno, Office of the County Executive, is expected to attend and provide information.

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 21-05 – Rural Village Center (RVC) Overlay Zone – Vehicle Repair

Introduction: The Council will introduce ZTA 21-05, which allow both minor and major vehicle repair services as conditional uses in the Rural Village Center (RVC) Overlay zone, where the underlying zone on the property is Commercial Residential Neighborhood (CRN). The lead sponsor of this ZTA is Councilmember Glass. A public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 14 at 1:30 p.m.

Subdivision Regulation Amendment (SRA) 21-01, Exemptions – Alcohol Production and Agritourism

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on SRA 21-01, which would exempt agricultural land used for farm alcohol production or agritourism from the requirement to record a plat before a building permit is issued.

Under current regulations, when property owners add an agritourism accessory use they may need to obtain a commercial building permit for the building that will house that use. The building must be on a lot shown on a record plat or be on property that is exempt from the subdivision process before the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) can issue the commercial building permit.

According to the Office of Agriculture, the subdivision process is cost-prohibitive for most agritourism businesses that are looking to diversify their operations. The exemption to platting allowed by SRA 21-01 would further support agritourism uses by removing these prohibitive costs.

Efforts to support agriculture and agritourism promote the County’s economy and provide opportunities for venues designed to encourage residents of Montgomery County to experience the Agricultural Reserve and connect with the County’s agricultural community.

The lead sponsor of SRA 21-01 is Council President Hucker, at the request of the County Executive.

ZTA 21-01, Sign Ordinance – Bus Shelter Advertising

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on ZTA 21-01, which would exempt bus shelter advertising that is licensed under the County’s sign ordinance. Until 2019, the County was a party to a franchise agreement with a private firm that provided bus shelter advertising as well as bus shelter maintenance in exchange for a share of the advertising revenue. The previous franchise agreement lapsed, and the County Executive now recommends entering a licensing agreement for advertising and separately contracting out bus shelter maintenance.

The lead sponsor is Council President Hucker, at the request of the County Executive.

ZTA 19-07, Telecommunications Towers – Limited Use

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on ZTA 19-07, which would facilitate the deployment of next-generation wireless infrastructure. The new wireless antennas on utility and light poles would offer faster speeds, enhanced reliability and greater capacity.

Councilmember Riemer is the lead sponsor of this ZTA, which would allow certain telecommunications towers as a limited or conditional use in certain residential zones; revise the standards for telecommunications towers allowed as a limited or conditional use; revise the conditional use findings required for the replacement of a pre-existing pole; and amend use requirements to address certain telecommunications towers. Council Vice President Albornoz and Councilmember Rice are cosponsors of this zoning measure.

Those expected to attend and provide information include Ehsan Motazedi, deputy director, Department of Permitting Services (DPS); Victor Salazar, division chief, Zoning, Well & Septic and Code Compliance, DPS Mark Beall, zoning manager, Division of Zoning, Well & Septic and Code Compliance, DPS; Linda Kobylski, chief, Land Development, DPS Casey Anderson, chair, Montgomery County Planning Board; Jason Sartori, chief, Countywide Planning and Policy, Planning Department Benjamin Berbert, planner coordinator, Countywide Planning and Policy, Planning Department; Derek Baumgardner, hearing examiner, Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings; Mitsuko Herrera, program director, Office of Broadband Programs; Debbie Spielberg, special assistant, Office of the County Executive; Meredith Wellington, land use planning policy analyst, Office of the County Executive; Marjorie L. Williams, broadband, cable and franchise division manager, Department of Technology & Enterprise Business Solutions (TEBS); Gail Roper, director, TEBS; Cheryl Bishop, senior executive administrative aide, TEBS; Joseph Webster, chief broadband officer, TEBS; and Dr. Costis Toregas, IT adviser, Montgomery County Council.

Additions to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings’ Comprehensive Fee Schedule

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on an amended fee schedule that adds an application fee for Solar Collection Systems in the AR Zone.

The fee scheduled relates to Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 20-01, Solar Collection System – AR Zone Standards, which was adopted by the Council on February 23, 2021, and became effective on March 15, 2021. The ordinance requires conditional use approval for solar facilities larger than 200 percent of on-site energy use but less than two megawatts (AC) instead of site plan approval.

With conditional use approval now required, the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) fee schedule must be amended to include an application fee for Solar Collection Systems. OZAH worked with the Planning Department to propose a fee that is consistent with the existing application fee for agricultural processing.

Those expected to attend and provide information include Lynn Robeson-Hannan, director and hearing Examiner, Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH); Robert Kronenberg, deputy director, Planning Department; and Christina Sorrento, chief, Intake and Regulatory Coordination (IRC) Division, Planning Department.

Resolution to approve Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s (WSSC Water) June 1, 2021 Debt Refunding Plan

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on a resolution to approve the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s (WSSC Water) June 1, 2021, Debt Refunding Plan. The Code of Maryland requires that WSSC Water get advance approval from both Montgomery County and Prince George’s County for future bond refunds.

Resolution to approve the Office of Legislative Oversight’s (OLO) FY22 Work Program

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on a resolution to approve the Office of Legislative Oversight’s (OLO) FY22 Work Program. County law requires the OLO director to prepare and submit an annual work program to the Council for approval. The FY22 work plan is influenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recovery and the topic of racial equity and social justice. The full list of proposed projects can be viewed on page two of the staff report.

Resolution to approve the FY22 schedule of revenue estimates and appropriations

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on a resolution to approve the FY22 schedule of revenue estimates, which summarizes all FY22 resource estimates and appropriations for the operating budget, including current revenue for the Capital Improvements Program, as of May 27, 2021 – the date the Council approved the FY22 Operating Budget. These estimates are also used by executive staff when preparing the approved operating budget publication and the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

Resolution to designate WorkSource Montgomery as the County’s Workforce Development Organization

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on a resolution to designate WorkSource Montgomery as the County’s Workforce Development Organization.

The County Code authorizes the County Government to designate a single nonprofit organization, a public education institution, or both as the County’s Workforce Development Organization. The proposed resolution designates WorkSource Montgomery, Inc. from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2026.

Resolution to Petition the State for Grants for the Montgomery College FY22 Capital Budget: $3,000,000 for furniture and equipment for the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Math and Science Center Project

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on a resolution to petition the state of Maryland for $3 million in grants for Montgomery College’s FY22 Capital Budget for furniture and equipment for the Takoma Park and Silver Spring Math and Science Center Project.

The Maryland General Assembly and Governor Hogan have approved the funding, but the state’s procedures require each county to file a petition for the grant with the Maryland Higher Education Commission. The commission will then recommend that the Board of Public Works approve the grant.

Special Appropriation to the Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget Montgomery County Government Community Grants Non-Departmental Account (NDA) – Commission of Dominique Dawes Sculpture $197,500 and Amendment to Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget Resolution 19-872 Section G, FY22 Designation of Entities for Non-Competitive Contract Award Status: Hanlon Sculpture Studio LLC

Introduction:  The Council will introduce a $197,500 Special Appropriation to the Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget Montgomery County Government Community Grants NDA and Amendment to Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget to enter into a contract with Hanlon Sculpture Studio LLC to produce a bronze sculpture in the image and likeness of Dominque Dawes, who is a three-time Olympian, the first African-American to win an individual gold medal in gymnastics at the 1996 Olympic Games, a 10-year member of the United States national gymnastics team, and recipient of many other accolades. She is also from Silver Spring, Maryland.

The sculpture is estimated to be approximately seven-feet tall and will include a relief panel containing a description of Ms. Dawes and her background and journey. The location of the sculpture will be in Silver Spring with an exact location is to be determined in the future. The estimated cost of the producing the sculpture $165,000. The addition of storage fees, moving, and installation, will bring total costs to an estimated $197,500. The County seeks to award a non-competitive contract award due to the specialized skills necessary to fulfill the contract.

Sectional Map Amendment (SMA) H-139 to implement the Approved and Adopted Germantown Plan for the Town Sector Zone

Public hearing: The Council will hold a public hearing on Sectional Map Amendment (SMA) H-139 to implement the Approved and Adopted Germantown Plan for the Town Sector Zone. The SMA application covers approximately 1,270 acres under the Town Sector zone in the Germantown plan area, of which all land and water are proposed for a change in zoning classification.

The Council approved the Germantown Plan for the Town Sector Zone on July 21, 2020. The Sector Plan sets forth the specific land use and zoning objectives for the reclassification of land from the Town Sector zone in the Germantown Plan area and was subject to extensive and detailed review by the District Council.

Special Appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget, Department of Health and Human Services DHHS COVID-19 Response: $2,665,260 for Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Neighborhood Revitalization for the Emergency Housing Program

Public hearing and vote: The Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a $2,665,260 special appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget. The funds would support the COVID-19 response at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Neighborhood Revitalization for the Emergency Housing Program.

The purpose of the Special Appropriation is to provide grant funding that was awarded to the County from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Emergency Housing Program. The funding can be used for emergency housing to respond to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Montgomery County will use these funds to support services and operation in emergency shelters, including facility improvements and increased behavioral health services.

Special Appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget COVID-19 Human Services and Community Assistance Non-Departmental Account (NDA) – $2,946,776 for Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar

Public hearing and vote: The Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a $2,946,776 Special Appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget, COVID-19 Human Services and Community Assistance Non-Departmental Account (NDA) for Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar (For Our Health and Wellbeing).

The Latino community continues to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 both in terms disease and the ongoing economic impacts. This seminal program was spearheaded by Councilmember Navarro and Vice President Albornoz to provide a strategic, culturally competent and community focused approach to public health to contain the spread of COVID-19 in areas of the County hardest hit by the virus.

Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar is working to increase vaccinations and offer education about the vaccine to address misconceptions and answer questions. From June 16 to June 30, 2021, Salud y Bienestar administered 1,139 first doses of vaccine and 1,104 second doses. A total of 982 COVID-19 tests were administered at 35 events during this same period.

From May 19 to June 1, 2021, Por Nuestra Salud y Bienestar administered 1,341 first doses of vaccine and 1,709 second doses. A total of 1,025 COVID-19 tests were administered at 36 events during this same period. Moreover, the information/helpline responded to 443 calls during the same reporting period from County residents with 90 percent of callers being primarily Spanish-speakers.

Special Appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget COVID-19 Human Services and Community Assistance Non-Departmental Account (NDA) – $1,701,809 for African American Health Program COVID Response (Source of Funds: General Fund Reserves), and Resolution to Amend the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget Resolution 19-872, Section G, Designation of Entities for Non-Competitive Contract Award Status: The National Center for Children and Families, Inc.

Public hearing and vote: The Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a $1,701,809 Special Appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget for African American Health Program COVID Response and a resolution to amend the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget Resolution 19-872, Section G, Designation of Entities for Non-Competitive Contract Award Status for The National Center for Children and Families, Inc.

The African American Health Program has undertaken a culturally appropriate, comprehensive strategy to address the way in which COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Nationally and locally, the African American and Black population has experienced higher death rates than other demographic groups.

This funding will continue providing this targeted response to these disparities. Components of the program include communication and education, COVID testing and vaccination, coordination of a Black Physician Partnership, clinical follow-up, financial help with copays and medications, and support to address food insecurity. The County will pursue FEMA reimbursement for all costs to the extent that those costs are eligible for reimbursement. Councilmembers Rice and Jawando were instrumental in establishing these efforts.

Special Appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget, Department of Health and Human Service – $1,150,000 for Asian American Health Initiative COVID Response

Public hearing and vote: The Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a $1,150,000 special appropriation for the Department of Health and Human Services for the Asian American Health Initiative’s COVID-19 response.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways including barriers to testing and vaccinations, impacts on mental health from the stress and isolation of the pandemic and the unique impact of significant increases in hate incidents and violence including physical assaults. The Asian American Health Initiative has proposed and implemented strategies to address these impacts and disparities. The Council appropriated initial planning funds in May and this appropriation will provide the funds needed to implement the program.

Resolution to Amend FY22 Operating Budget Resolution 19-872, Section G, Fiscal Year 2022 Designation of Entities for NonCompetitive Contract Award Status: Primary Care Coalition (for Asian American Health Initiative)

Introduction and vote: The Council is expected to introduce and vote on a resolution to Amend the FY22 Operating Budget for the Montgomery County Government to allow DHHS to establish a contract with The Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland, Inc. in the amount of $1,150,000. The purpose of the award is to provide support for the Asian American Health Initiative (AAHI) response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) residents in the County face barriers to accessing language and culturally appropriate health services regarding COVID-19. In addition, there has been a significant increase in attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. AAHI has developed a response program to address these problems that will include support for non-governmental organizations that serve the diverse AAPI community. The Primary Care Coalition will serve as the fiscal agent for implementation with the AAHI Steering Committee.

Special Appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget, Department of Health and Human Services – $3,183,185; Department of Recreation – $300,000; Community Engagement Cluster – $330,000; and Montgomery County Public Schools – $1,585,633 for Newcomers Enhancements and Assistance

Public hearing and vote: The Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a $5,398,818 special appropriation to the FY22 Operating Budget to provide funds for the proposed framework for supporting newly arriving migrant and asylum-seeking children and families. The special appropriation would provide $3,183,185 for DHHS, $300,000 for the Department of Recreation, $330,000 for the Community Engagement Cluster and $1,585,633 to MCPS for newcomers enhancements and assistance.

The funding for MCPS will create a new position to serve as a transition coordinator for newcomers, provide eight ESOL transition counselors and six elementary SLIFE (Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education) coaches and allow for professional learning for central office and school teams.

The funding for DHHS will create a new position to serve as a newcomer coordinator. The special appropriation would also increase capacity for monitoring and evaluation, case management support and increase access to mental and behavioral health, medical, legal and family reunification support. This also includes an additional $280,013 in funds for four positions and two vans for the Street Outreach Network, which was recommended by the Joint Health and Human Services and Education and Culture Committee on July 22, 2021.

The funding for the Office of Community Partnerships will provide additional legal services needed for children and families or sponsors.

The funding for the Department of Recreation will create one new position to serve as an administrator and increase funding for therapeutic recreation with coaches trained in trauma-informed approaches and allow for additional targeted recreational events. This special appropriation also shifts $93,000 for the Department of Recreation from operating expense to personnel cost to allow the new position to be a merit, rather than contract, position.

Special Appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget, Department of Health and Human Services – $816,067 for Community Services Block Grant (CARES)

Public hearing and vote: The Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a $816,067 Special Appropriation for the Department of Health and Human Services, Community Action Agency. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development awarded this funding to the County to reduce negative impacts of COVID-19 for households most affected by the crisis. The funding is based on a community needs assessment approved by the Community Action Board and will address rising poverty and social, health, and economic challenges experienced by residents with low-incomes in areas most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This funding will be used to support a team of multilingual and minority contract navigators serving East County, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Long Branch and Wheaton who will assist residents in accessing basic and emergency needs, rental assistance and provide an opportunity coach and mental health counselor.

Special Appropriation to the County Government’s FY22 Operating Budget, Department of Health and Human Services – $970,360 for FY22 American Rescue Plan Funding Increase for Head Start Programs

Public hearing and vote: The Council will hold a public hearing and vote on a $970,360 special appropriation for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start Programs.

This grant funding will support the expansion of Head Start and Early Head Start programming through summer programs or as extensions of the program year. These programs will reach eligible children and their families who did not enroll last year or who did not engage in a full-year program because of the pandemic. Head Start programs are currently serving one-third fewer children than before the pandemic began.

OLO Report 2021-9: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women

Briefing: The Council will receive a presentation on OLO Report 2021-9: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women. The report discusses the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on women including employment, childcare, economic insecurity, healthcare and domestic violence.

The report will be available online at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/olo after the Council votes to release the report on Tuesday, July 27, 2021.

Montgomery County Council Summer Fellows

Briefing: The Council will receive presentations on the research conducted by the Montgomery County Council’s 2021 Summer Fellows Cohort. This is the fifth year the Council has hosted a Summer Fellows program for graduate students between their first and second year of study in a policy-related program. The program has enabled participants to gain real-world experience across multiple fields and work directly with decisionmakers on ongoing projects, policy analyses and self-selected research projects. The Fellows present their research paper to the Council near the conclusion of the summer program.

Those expected to attend and provide information include Eva Acevedo, Council fellow, School of Public Policy at University of Maryland (UMD); Iisis Chestnut, Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice fellow, School of Public Policy at UMD; Madison Hollon, TEBS fellow, School of Public Policy at UMD; Jamie Panarites, TEBS fellow, School of Public and International Affairs at University of Georgia; David Paul, Council fellow, McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University; Jonathan Robison, MCDOT fellow, School of Art Architecture and Planning, Cornell University; Rachel Schafer, Office of Innovation fellow, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at University of Michigan; Andrew Wen, Council fellow, Institute for Public Affairs Cornell University.

Expedited Bill 33-21, Personnel – Employee’s Retirement System – Group E – Amendment

Introduction: The Council is expected to introduce Expedited Bill 33-21, which would move resident supervisors working in the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (DOCR) from Group J of the Retirement Plan to Group E. This would make them eligible for the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) currently available for sworn deputy sheriffs and uniformed correctional officers. The bill would also clarify the application of credited service for employees who move from the Guaranteed Retirement Income Plan (GRIP) to Group E.

The lead sponsor is Council President Hucker at the request of the County Executive.

Swimming Pools – Lifeguard Requirement – Amendments

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Bill 20-21 which would update lifeguard requirements at swimming pools. Lead sponsors Councilmembers Katz and Rice introduced the bill which would define the term health club, exempt certain swimming pools at certain facilities from the requirement to have a lifeguard on duty when the pool is open for use, require posting of certain signage, require certain facilities with a swimming pool to have an emergency alert system and require an employee to regularly inspect the swimming pool area.

Those expected to attend and provide information include Clark Beil, senior administrator, DHHS and Kenneth Welch, environmental health manager, DHHS.

Bill 3-21 – Special Taxing Area Laws – Silver Spring Business Improvement District Established

Vote expected: The Council is expected to vote on Bill 3-21, which would establish a business improvement district in Silver Spring. The bill would establish guidelines for the district, authorize a district corporation and authorize a tax on nonexempt property located in the district to finance the operations of the district corporation. The goal of this bill is to improve public services and facilities in the Silver Spring Urban District.

The lead sponsors are Councilmember Riemer and County President Hucker. Councilmembers Friedson, Katz, Navarro and Rice are cosponsors.

The staff report will be available by Tuesday, July 27.

The Council meeting schedule may change from time to time. The current Council and Committee agendas, Council staff reports and additional information on items scheduled for Council review can be viewed at: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/ondemand/index.html.

The virtual Council and Committee meetings will be streamed live on the Council’s web page via YouTube and on Facebook Live and can be watched on County Cable Montgomery on Xfinity/RCN 6 HD 996/1056, Fios 30, and on the CCM live stream.

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