October 24: This Week in Potomac

October 24: This Week in Potomac

Falls and MacArthur, Again

<bt>Farid Srour, owner of property on the west side of the intersection of Falls Road and MacArthur Boulevard across from the entrance to Great Falls Park, has again applied to the Planning Board, this time to create six single family residential lots. The property is currently subdivided into four residential lots.

Other proposals for the property have included an office building, dozens of townhouses including affordable housing and an assisted living facility.

The Planning Board is scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposal on Thursday, Oct. 24 and Planning staff is recommending opposition to the plan.

The current four residential lots on the property range in size from 40,000 to 67,500 square feet. The application for resubdivision would create six lots ranging in size from 24,100 to 34,100 square feet.

The proposal would create four lots on Falls Road and two lots with access at the MacArthur and Fawsett Road intersection. Access to four of the lots would be provided by a common driveway easement to Falls Road while the other two lots would access Fawsett Road.

Planning staff write that it is concerned that the lots would be "considerably smaller than the lots found in the defined neighborhood." Staff writes that it is "also concerned with the development pattern that will result from the resubdivision, especially along MacArthur Boulevard and Fawsett Road."

Placement of homes along Fawsett Road are set back in excess of 140 feet from the roadway. The applicant's proposal places homes as close as 75 feet from MacArthur and 80 feet from Fawsett Road.

<sh>Murder Trial Delayed

<bt>The trial of Dr. Zakaria Oweiss, a Potomac resident accused of the murder of his wife Marianne Oweiss, was continued today, Tuesday, Oct. 23.

The parties will reconvene on Thursday to set a new trial date. The trial was scheduled to begin this week, already more than 14 months after police initially charged him. Jury selection was due to take place on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 22-23 but was unsuccessful in part because prospective jurors were unable to reach the courthouse in the midst of the sniper dragnet.

Marianne Oweiss, a Potomac real estate agent and mother of Omar and Amin Oweiss, was found on Aug. 15, 2001 "in a pool of blood" at the bottom of the staircase leading from the family home to Oweiss' private obstetrics office on the bottom floor. She was 49 years old.

<sh>Limits for Bethesda Quarry

<bt>Usually the “zoning text amendments” that formalize changes approved in a new master plan are just that — formalities.

But when Potomac’s County councilmember, Howie Denis (R-1) saw the proposed changes for the rules governing a stone quarry operating next to Carderock Springs and West Bradley neighborhoods, he was concerned the language would allow the quarry to expand its building supply business.

Roger Titus, representing the West Bradley Citizens Association suggested that the current language could allow the expansion of the building supply business to Home Depot proportions.

The new zoning was intended to allow the quarry to maintain its current business, Denis said, but to preclude expansion in ways that could be incompatible with the surrounding neighborhoods. The quarry predates the residential development in the area.

"It makes a bad bill a little better," said Denis. "I do think the Zoning Text Amendment before us is a travesty. It turns community planning on its head.”

Callum Murray, lead planner for the Potomac Master Plan, said the new zoning was intended to allow a building smaller than some Potomac houses.

“The scale of the building is 7,500 square feet, that's an area three times the size of this chamber within nine soccer fields,” Murray said. “You'll actually find that many houses in Potomac are larger than this building.”

Council will revisit the issue next Tuesday, Oct. 29.

<sh>Hunting Postponed

<bt>All scheduled managed deer hunts, including one at Blockhouse Point Conservation Park, have been postponed due to the ongoing multi-agency investigation of the sniper attacks throughout the region and the anxiety among area residents.

Montgomery County Department of Park and Planning had authorized a managed deer hunt at Blockhouse Point Conservation Park, off River Road, in Potomac for Dec. 9-13 to help protect the parks' natural ecosystem and reduce deer impacts.

At the request of county executives in four Maryland jurisdictions, Maryland governor Parris N. Glendening issued an executive order banning the discharge of firearms for recreational purposes, including hunting, in Montgomery, Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Howard counties, according to the Office of the Governor.

Maryland State Police and local law enforcement officials say such action will help limit public reports of the discharge of firearms that can distract police personnel and equipment as those reports are investigated.

The ban will remain in effect while the investigation into the sniper attacks continues. It does not extend to approved shooting ranges in the above jurisdictions.

See www.mc-mncppc.org/environment/deer

<sh>Private School Loophole?

<bt>On Tuesday, Oct. 22, Montgomery County Council approved a zoning text amendment, sponsored by Councilmember Howard Denis (R-1), closing a possible loophole pertaining to private schools on land owned or leased by a religious institution.

Under current law, private educational institutions and parochial schools located on land owned or leased by a religious institution are not required to obtain a special exception to operate in a residential area.

The change will eliminate this exemption for a private educational school that received special exception approval to operate on a site that was not owned or leased by a religious institution when the special exception was granted.

The practical effect would be to close a loophole by not allowing a private school to exempt itself from the special exception requirements by selling and leasing back the land from a religious institution.

It will not invalidate an exemption claimed from the special exception process for any private school that exists on church-owned property as of the effective date of the ZTA.

<sh>Potomac Woman Robbed

<bt>According to police reports:

A 43-year-old Potomac woman was returning to her car in the 7300 block of Westlake Terrace in Bethesda when she was approached by a suspect on Oct. 11 at 5:45 p.m.

The suspect grabbed her purse and fled the scene on foot towards Magruders Discovery Apartments. The suspect is reported being a black male, 17-25 years old, and 5-foot-8. He was reported to be wearing a black jacket, black knit hat, black pants and had a thin mustache.

* Shotguns were taken from a residence on the 5700 block of Greenlawn Dr. in Bethesda between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Oct. 14. Burglars opened an unlocked front door.

<sh>Indoor Halloween Parade

<bt>The Potomac Community Center will hold its annual Halloween Happening, always an indoor event, on Sunday, Oct. 27. Registration is at 12:30 with the costume parade at 1 p.m. Carnival games will follow the parade.

Call 301-983-4471.

Flu shots will be offered at the community center on Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. - noon, for a $20 fee. A portion of the fee will be contributed to the center. Call 301-983-4471 to sign up in advance.

<sh>Brief Purple Line

<bt>The Maryland Transit Authority will brief the Planning Board on the Purple Line light rail and trail cross sections this Thursday, Oct. 24, at 9:30 a.m. No public testimony will be taken at this time.

Park and Planning is located at 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. Call 301-495-4600.

<sh>Absentee Ballots

<bt>Applications for an absentee ballot to the Nov. 5 General Election are due Tuesday, Oct. 29. The absentee ballot application can be found online at the Board of Elections Website at www.777vote.org.

The elections office, 751 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville, is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for absentee voting. The office will also be open on Saturday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those who wish to pick up an absentee ballot must do so in person.

Call the Absentee Office at 240-777-8550.

<sh>Flea Market

<bt>Potomac Community Center Indoor Flea Market and Community Yard Sale is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The flea market will take place indoors at the Potomac Community Center, 11315 Falls Road.

A few spaces are still open for vendors. Booths are available to vendors for $25 and tables for $5. To register, call Linda Barlock at 301-983-4471.

<sh>Report on User Fees

<bt>The Montgomery County Planning Board will review Enterprise User Fees on Thursday, Oct. 31.

Each year, Park and Planning reviews the user fees charged at Enterprise facilities, including public golf courses such as Falls Road Golf Course.

Planning staff will present user fees for the upcoming year to the Planning Board for public review and comment at this meeting. Citizens who wish to testify before the Planning Board should register in advance at 301-650-2890. Comments in writing — prior to Oct. 30 — can also be addressed to Derick P. Berlage, Chairman, Montgomery County Planning Board, 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20901 or fax them to him at 301-495-1320.

Copies of the proposed Enterprise fees may be obtained at the Department of Park and Planning, Enterprise Office, Parkside Headquarters, 9500 Burnett Ave., Silver Spring.

<sh>Get Recreation in Shape

<bt>There is a critical need to fill six vacancies on the Western Area Recreation Advisory Board, which serves Potomac, Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda/Garrett Park.

The board advises the county executive, County Council, the Department of Recreation and the Planning Board on area recreation and park needs. The board encourages the development of desirable parks and recreational opportunities and makes recommendations on budgets, recreation programs, services and facilities.

Members serve three-year terms without compensation and meetings are usually held the second Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at the Potomac Community Center, 11315 Falls Road.

Interested residents who live in the western area of Montgomery County — Potomac, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, North Bethesda/Garrett Park— should apply by Oct. 25. Send a letter and brief resume, including work and home phone numbers, to County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St., Rockville, MD 20850.

<sh>Access General Plan

<bt>Versions of Montgomery County's General Plan as well as current master plans and sector plans are available to be downloaded at http://www.mc-mncppc.org, the Montgomery County Park and Planning web site.

Montgomery County's General Plan, "On Wedges and Corridors," was recognized as a national model in land use planning when it was adopted in 1964.

The General Plan lays broad goals and objectives for planning in Montgomery County, which are implemented through area-specific master plans and sector plans.

The 2001 Potomac Master Plan was approved by the County Council and Park and Planning Commission. This fall, Council is expected to approved the sector plan that accompanies the Master Plan.

Call 301-495-4600.

<sh>Emancipation Celebration

<bt>Celebrate the 138th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in Maryland with Park and Planning on Saturday, Nov. 2.

From 10-11 a.m., an "Underground Railroad" hike is scheduled on the 1.5 mile Rural Legacy Trail from Woodlawn Manor, 16501 Norwood Road, to Sandy Spring Friends Meeting House, on Meetinghouse Road. Both sites will also be open for tours from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A shuttle bus running from 11 am.-2 p.m. will transport walkers back to Woodlawn.

The Sandy Spring Slave Museum and African Art Gallery, 18524 Brooke Rd., Sandy Spring, will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food and entertainment is available.

Oakley Cabin, 3610 Brookeville Rd. in Brookeville, will be open from noon to 4 p.m. with reenactors from the 54th Massachusetts regiment, living history portrayers, and hot cider and cornbread. Diane Young, a descendant of the Edmundson family, will discuss the attempted escape by some of her ancestors aboard the ship, the Pearl. Free parking is available at Longwood Recreation Center, 19300 Georgia Ave., Brookeville, and a shuttle bus will carry people to the Cabin from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

All of the sites have connections with slavery and freedom in Montgomery County.

Call 301-563-3400 or visit the Website at www.mc-mncppc.org or www.montgomeryparksfnd.org

<sh>Disability Resources

<bt>More than 70 organizations and businesses will be available to share information about programs and services for children and adults with disabilities at the County's annual Disability Resource Fair.

The resource fair will be held on Thursday, Nov. 7 from 12 noon to 6:30 p.m. at the University of Maryland, Shady Grove Center, 9630 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville.

Workshops will be held throughout the day. Admission and parking are free.

Call 240-777-1216.