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Churches, Purses, Working Wings

This Week in Potomac: April 17

Churches: 'Up, Out and Over'

<bt>Worshippers now put on their "Sunday or Saturday best" all seven days of the week.

"Today, we all know churches are 24-7 institutions. … You have everything from yoga to Alcoholics Anonymous," said Norman Knopf, a zoning and landuse use attorney, who has represented residents and citizens associations throughout Montgomery County.

Knopf spoke on April 10 to the West Montgomery County Citizens Association on ways residents can protect the character of their communities from being changed by institutions in their neighborhoods. Knopf addressed how the county's zoning ordinance does — and does not — apply to religious facilities and private schools.

"Most of the zoning provisions don't apply to churches — they can build up, out and over," said Knopf. "All I can say is sit down and work with representatives of the church and see if you can evoke their conscience. There are very limited rules."

Churches are subject to regulation on storm water management plans and parking lot regulations; Knopf recommends residents focus on these two areas to minimize the impact of institutions on adjacent property and neighborhoods.

"Basically, your hands are tied in most areas. You can nibble around the edges," said Knopf, who also discussed private schools, which can request special exceptions from the Board of Appeals to operate in residential zones.

Although private schools are regulated, regulations are weak, said Knopf.

The County Council recently passed an amendment allowing private schools to operate summer camp facilities on their premises.

"It is a ticking time bomb. It's one thing to have programs that end at three, but another thing to have a string of uses on weeknights and weekends," said Knopf.

Knopf reminded citizens that regulations pertaining to special exceptions can always be changed by a majority vote from the nine-member County Council.

"Mobilize enough forces, get a council member to introduce a text amendment; it could work," said Knopf.

<sh>Affluent Elderly Pick Pocketed

<bt>According to police reports: A series of pick pocketing crimes involving elderly victims have occurred between March 10 and April 8 sporadically throughout the county. It is believed that the suspects are targeting affluent environments, which might be frequented by older citizens. Reportedly, the suspects are polite and calm, so the victim is unaware that a crime has occurred until after the suspects have fled the area.

Between March 10th and April 8th there have been three incidents, each one having occurred in a commercial area.

* On Monday, April 8th, at approximately 10:40 a.m., two suspects interacted with an 84-year-old victim and his wife in a parking garage elevator located in the 10000 block of Connecticut Avenue. One suspect bent over as if to look for something on the ground and grabbed and shook the victim’s pants leg. After exiting the elevator, the victim realized that his wallet was missing.

* On Friday, April 5th, at approximately 11 a.m., two suspects were leaving a pharmaceutical store located in the unit block of Wisconsin Avenue with an 87-year-old victim, when one suspect bent over saying that he dropped his contact lens grabbing the victim's pants leg. The second suspect grabbed the victim from behind stating, “I will not let you fall.” After the encounter, the victim found some of the contents of his pocket on the floor and his money was missing.

* On Sunday, March 10th, at approximately 3:40 p.m., at the Westfield Shopping Town Montgomery in the 7100 block of Democracy Boulevard, one suspect was in the elevator with an 84-year-old victim when he said that he had dropped his watch. The victim felt a bump and bent over to help. He later discovered that his wallet was missing.

Police remind senior citizens and the community of the importance of practicing good personal safety and crime prevention habits.

The suspects are described as one or two adult black males in their 40s, well dressed with medium builds and approximately 5-feet-9 to 6-feet tall.

Call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 to report any suspicious activity. Anyone who has information regarding the identity of the above suspects should contact the Bethesda Investigative Section at 301-657-0112.

<sh>Purse Snatched Near Mall

<bt>On April 5, at 8 p.m., a 64 year-old Silver Spring woman had her purse snatched at the intersection of Democracy Blvd. and Westlake Dr. in Bethesda. A suspect (5-foot-8 to 5-10, 140-150 pounds, wearing black or grey clothing) approached the victim from behind and grabbed her purse. A struggle ensued and the strap broke and the suspect ran eastbound on Democracy Blvd. toward Montgomery Mall with the purse, according to police reports.

<sh>Working Wings Fly for Chamber

<bt>Working Wings, a performance troupe with BAPA's Imagination Stage consisting of actors and actresses with and without disabilities, performed at a Chamber of Commerce event on Tuesday, April 16.

Through drama, humor, music and dance, the actors dramatized the challenges faced by people with disabilities as they enter the workforce. The program, held at the University System of Maryland Shady Grove Center, was designed to give private and public employers an awareness of qualified job applicants with disabilities, and the fears, discrimination, and challenges they may face gaining employment.

The troupe will perform at the American University, Experimental Theater on May 17. Call 301-320-2550.

<sh>Flea Market Itches for Vendors

<bt>Vendors are wanted for the Potomac Community Center's Indoor Flea Market and Community Yard Sale, scheduled for Saturday, June 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the Potomac Community Center 11315 Falls Road.

The cost for a 8-foot by 8-foot booth in the PCC gymnasium is $25.

The Flea Market is sponsored by the Potomac Community Center Advisory Board. All of the proceeds benefit the PCC.

To register, call Linda Barlock at 301-983-4471.

<sh>Earth Day Celebration

<bt>An energy-efficient car and exhibits and demonstrations on recycling, waste reduction, composting and recycled products will be some of the highlights of an Earth Day celebration, scheduled for April 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on the lawn of 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville.

Children's activities include craft-making and magic shows.

Call 240-777-6400 or visit www.MCRecycles.org, which will post updated information in case of inclement weather.

<sh>Student Member of Education Board

<bt>Alex Sellinger, a junior at Walt Whitman High School, and Mihyar Alnifaidy, a junior at Springbrook High School, are the two final candidates running for the Student Member of the Board of Education.

They were selected by 247 voting delegates of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) middle and high schools. The election will be held on Wednesday, April 24, 2002 at every MCPS middle and high school.

<sh>Co-op Membership Day

<bt>The Bethesda Natural Food Co-op will host a Membership Appreciation Day on Saturday, April 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m, 6500 Seven Locks Road. All co-op members, both new and existing, will receive a free canvas shopping bag full of products. Free food and samples will be available to all shoppers.

The Co-op has been part of the Bethesda, Cabin John, Potomac, Glen Echo, Bannockburn, Carderock, Brookmont and other communities for over 25 years. A new lease was signed recently, keeping the Co-op at its current location for 10 years, with two five-year renewal options. Co-op staff and board members will be on hand to answer questions and provide useful information about natural, organic, and gourmet foods. Call 301-320-2530.

<sh>Online Council Agendas

<bt>Agendas for County Council sessions and Council committee meetings, which include analysts' packets that council members use to make decisions, are now available on the Council's Web site. Packets for individual Council agenda items typically include the text of bills or appropriation requests, analysis by Council staff, and opinions pro and con on the particular items, as well as charts and maps. Materials are generally available two days before the Council session or committee meeting..

Visit www.co.mo.md.us/council, click on "Agendas and Minutes," click on "Current Council or Committee Agenda with background materials."

<sh>Environmental Expedition on Water

<bt>The Potomac Sojourn is a week-long canoeing and kayaking expedition featuring educational programs, riverside camping, restoration projects, meetings with elected officials, and more. Novice and experienced paddlers can enjoy a on-the-water experience aimed to elevate awareness of the Potomac River's importance to the region and to encourage local residents to play an active role in its restoration.

The 2002 Potomac Sojourn begins on Sunday, June 23 in Shepherdstown, W. Va., and continues to Washington, DC with overnight camping stops. Participants can paddle a portion or the entire trip. Non-paddling portions are also offered.

Call Karen Fligger at 301-984-1908, x103 or by e-mail at kfligger@icprb.org.

<sh>Tour the Charity Canal

<bt>Free training programs for the 6th annual Tour de Canal, the country's longest off-road charity ride, will start Saturday, April 20 at Carderock Park, at 7:45 a.m.

The Tour de Canal, a 184.5 charity ride that benefits the programs and services of the Alzheimer's Association, National Capital Area, is scheduled for Sept. 21-22, 2002 along the C&O Canal, from Cumberland to Georgetown.

Participants can join other bikers for trips of increasing lengths, starting at 12-15 miles and ending in late August with rides of 60-80 miles. Training rides will continue every Saturday through June 8 at C&O Canal at Carderock Park, off the Clara Barton Parkway, starting at 7:45 a.m.

Completing a free, 50-mile qualifying ride is mandatory to participate in the 184- and 100-mile rides on Sept. 21-22. Qualifying rides will take place at Carderock Park on Saturdays, June 8, Sunday, July 14 and Saturday, Aug. 10, at 7:45 a.m. Riders can also take part in the 100-mile and 10-mile portions of the race.

For information, e-mail tourdecanal@together.net, visit www.alz-nca.org or call toll-free at 1-866-259-0042.

<sh>Civic Calendar

<cal1>April 11 - May 2

<cal2>Council committee worksessions on aspects of the FY03 Operating Budget. County Council, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. 240-777-7900. Visit www.co.mo.md.us/council for a complete listing of committee times and agendas.

<cal1>Tuesday, April 23, 7 p.m.

<cal2>Public Hearing, Department of Liquor Control Budget. Public hearing on the county executive's FY 2003 Recommended Operating Budget for the Department of Liquor Control. Written testimony on the executive's $24 million proposed budget for DLC may be mailed to Ron Berger, Office of the County Executive, 101 Monroe Street, 2nd floor, Rockville, Md. 20850. Call 240-777-1915.

<cal1>Wednesday, April 24, 9:30 a.m.

<cal2>The Board of Appeals will hear Marriott Senior Living Services' request for a special exception to operate a continuing care retirement community on Burdette Road near River Road. Board of Appeals, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Md. 240-777-6600. See www.co.mo.md.us/council/board.html

<cal1>Thursday, May 2, 7:30 p.m.

<cal2>Public hearing on legislation introduced by councilmember Phil Andrews (D-3) that would establish a permanent commission on domestic violence that reports to the Council. Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. 240-777-7900.

<cal1>May 6-17, 2002

<cal2>Full County Council Budget Worksessions. 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. 240-777-7900. More specific information will be provided by the Council the week of worksessions. Visit www.co.mo.md.us/council.

<cal1>May 23, TBA

<cal2>Council action on CIP, Capital and Operating Budgets. 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. 240-777-7900.

<cal1>May 20, tentative

<cal2>Public meeting — not yet scheduled — to be held by the Western Area Recreational Advisory Board on the issue of age restrictions imposed on use of the roller rink at the Potomac Community Center.