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This Week in Potomac 6-27-07

An End to MPDU Buy Outs?

Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal (D-At large) on Tuesday, June 26, was scheduled to introduce a bill that would eliminate the ability of developers to "buy out" of the county requirement provisions that require a certain percentage of units in new developments be set aside as Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs). The legislation also would call for certain MPDUs be specially equipped MPDUs to be and set aside for eligible disabled persons.

The bill, which would amend the current MPDU law, is scheduled for a public hearing at the Council Office Building at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 19.

The Montgomery County MPDU law requires that a minimum 12.5 percent of new housing units be set aside for moderate- or low-income potential buyers. In some circumstances, developers have been granted permission to make alternative payments to the county's Housing Initiative Fund in lieu of building MPDUs.

"I believe the time is right to totally the repeal the buy-out provision altogether outright," said Leventhal.

‘Killer Angels’ in the Amphitheater

The Heritage Theatre Company will present "Killer Angels" at the Cabin John Regional Park outdoor amphitheater on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, May 24 -June 30, at 8:30 p.m. "Killer Angels" is the stage adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning Civil War novel about the 3-day battle of Gettysburg in 1863. For tickets call Heritage at 301-770-9080, or visit www.theheritagetheatre.org.

Almanac Photo Galleries

Last week we launched a new feature on the Potomac Almanac Web site — photo galleries. Every week, Almanac and Connection Newspapers photographers and reporters take hundreds of photos at events around Potomac and Northern Virginia. And despite taking dozens of photos at some events, often only one or two photos make it into print.

Now on our Web site, readers can find many more photos from events. It is a work in progress, but already we have posted photos from many events, including high school proms and community events. We will post photos from many high school graduations as well. For example, families and friends can look for 25 photos of the Churchill graduation, 16 photos from Wootton’s graduation and 42 photos of Whitman’s graduation. More is on the way.

The photo galleries offer a chance to see many more photos of these and other events. Readers can e-mail the images to share them, and also have the opportunity to purchase prints, digital images or other items.

See www.PotomacAlmanac.com, and click on "Connection Photo Galleries."

Planning Board Chairman Launches Blog

To exchange ideas with residents and others about Montgomery County park and planning issues, Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson has launched a weblog on the agency’s website.

Residents may visit http://mncppc.typepad.com/chairman/ to offer their views in what Hanson hopes will be an interactive forum for people to have their say about issues of interest to the community.

In the busy summer ahead, the Board will consider amendments to the county’s forest conservation law, put the final touches on development review procedures, review recommendations for a new master plan for the community of Twinbrook, among other tasks.

Hanson kicked off the blog with his thoughts on the Planning Board’s recommended 2007 Growth Policy, which will be considered by the County Council this summer.

Free WiFi Coming to Rockville Town Center

The Mayor and Council of Rockville have approved a set of agreements that will bring free WiFi (wireless Internet) service to the new Town Square development in Town Center. This will make Rockville one of the first communities in the region to have free WiFi in its downtown area. There is no cost to the city for the project contract with Aepco (Advanced Engineering and Planning Corporation, Inc., of Gaithersburg), according to a press release from the City of Rockville. In fact, the City will receive free wireless Internet service for its mobile workforce, such as inspectors.

The free WiFi access will be available to the public in the outdoor areas of Town Square including the public plaza and along the streets within Town Square (Maryland Avenue and Gibbs Street). In some cases, the WiFi signal strength may be powerful enough to provide coverage several hundred feet beyond the Town Square footprint.

Parks Department Offers Summer Programs

The Montgomery County Department of Parks is still accepting registrations for its slate of 2007 summer camps and programs in the parks.

"Week in the Park" is the department's day camp run out of Wheaton Regional Park, 2000 Shorefield Road. Week in the Park runs the entire summer, from the last day of school through the Friday before the first day of school, June 18 through August 24, 2007. Week in the Park provides campers with a sampling of everything the department's parks system has to offer: tennis, ice skating, nature, miniature train rides and more.

The Department of Parks also has other unique options for pre-teens and teens this summer. Including the following:

"Gifts From Nature," "American Girls On The Road," "Rockin' Geology,"

"River Adventures Kayak Camp" are some of the other camps that are offered. For details about the activities, times and registration information times of each camp

log onto www.ParkPASS.org, where you can also view a complete listing of the more than 50 different summer camp and program options available.

Heat Caution to Senior Citizens

The Maryland Department of the Aging has issued a summer weather advisory for senior citizens.

Heat Exhaustion is a warning that the body is getting too hot. The person may get thirsty, giddy, weak, uncoordinated, nauseous, may begin sweating profusely and have skin that becomes cold and clammy.

Heat Stroke is caused by excessive exposure to hot, humid temperatures, and kills an average of 1,700 people in the U.S. each year. The vast majority — 80 percent — of those deaths occur in persons age 50 and older, according to the Department of the Aging. Heat Stroke occurs when a person has a body temperature above 104 degrees. Symptoms may include confusion, combativeness, bizarre behavior, faintness, staggering, strong rapid pulse, dry skin, flushed skin, lack of sweating and even delirium or a coma. Immediate medical attention is essential when problems first begin.

To avoid Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke seniors are urged to drink plenty of fluids, even when they are not thirsty, and to eat fruits with a high water content such as watermelon, grapes, peaches, apples, strawberries and pears. Dress in light-weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and avoiding rigorous activity and midday heat between the hours of noon and 4 p.m. When outdoors, be sure to use sunscreen and wear a hat. Use air conditioners indoors and when going outdoors get accustomed to the heat gradually. Be sure also to avoid cooking and eating hot, heavy meals.

Ready for Reading Road Trip?

Young readers in Montgomery County are invited to take a "Reading Road Trip" by participating in the 2007 Summer Reading Club that began on June 14 in Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL). The annual program, a cooperative project of the Maryland State Department of Education and public libraries in Maryland and the District of Columbia, is designed to encourage reading among young people of all ages.

Children who sign up for the program will receive a "gameboard" to keep track of their reading and a suggested reading list. To fit this year’s travel-related theme, the "gameboard" includes a map of the United States with interesting facts about the states featuring a variety of cultures and landmarks, "Wacky Facts," "Rules of the Road," and fun travel games. During the summer children will be able to receive various prizes and be able to purchase T-shirts with the "Reading Road Trip" imprint for $5, while supplies last.

Volunteers Sought for Purple Line Committee

The Montgomery County Planning Board seeks applicants for a community advisory committee to work with its planners as they craft a plan for the proposed Metro Purple Line, slated to connect Bethesda and New Carrollton. The advisory committee will help planners analyze the transit line’s potential impacts on the community. Called a functional master plan, the resulting product will lay out the Planning Department’s recommendations for the type of transit (light rail or rapid bus), alignment, and station locations in Montgomery County.

Prospective Purple Line advisory committee members will attend frequent meetings through fall 2008. Other tasks will include considering environmental issues and resident concerns and ensuring conformance of the proposed Purple Line with other county master plans. The Planning Department staff plans to hold public outreach activities in concert with the advisory committee.

Representatives from civic groups, businesses, residents, environmental organizations, property owners and the general public are encouraged to apply for representation on the advisory committee by submitting a letter of interest by Friday, July 13, 2007. Applicants can send their letters via e-mail to Thomas.autrey@mncppc-mc.org, fax at 301-495-1302 or mail to Tom Autrey Transportation Planning Division, Montgomery County Planning Department, 8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3760. Visit www.montgomeryplanning.org for more information.