Saturday, December 22, 2012

Great News! Friends of White Flint have a new, updated site!

Go to to see the latest in designs, approvals, submissions, and plans for the White Flint/North Bethesda business area. Friends of White Flint is an organization with members including local residents, county employees (planning staff and others), business owners, and developers, all interested in growing a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, consumer and resident-friendly North Bethesda. The site is the most comprehensive compilation of all of the current projects.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Energy Efficiency Mortgages

Energy-efficiency mortgage products are relatively in the financing and conservation world. It is not easy to develop new mortgage products, since they generally have to conform to new FannieMae or FreddieMac underwriting guidelines to be eligible for sale on the secondary mortgage market. Without having special programs like these approved for Fannie/Freddie underwriting, the number of lenders willing to create such loans would be ridiculously small.

These loans have been available for a few years, but are becoming more common. For a property that has energy savings built-in (replacement windows, extra insulation, solar or geothermal systems, etc.), an energy assessor will determine the amount of savings created by the improvements, which allows the borrower to take a larger loan (since the extra money isn't needed for utility bills). It may also be possible to take a larger loan for a property that needs the improvements, giving the borrower extra funds to improve the property.

A better description of this type of loan can be found on the blog of an Envoy Mortgage loan officer, who is specializing in loans tailored for energy efficient properties.

Planning Department Publishes a New Site for N. Bethesda Development Information

Go to this new page to see a map of the White Flint Sector along with the new developments that have been applied for or are under construction. Clicking on a project gives you the approval process status as well as the size of the project. It will not give you the Application Number that you need to find more information about a specific project on the Montgomery County Planning site. You can click on the Locator Wizard from the planning site to find the project and obtain its Application Number, but it's cumbersome. Hopefully, the creator of the new map page will add application numbers in the future.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Groundbreaking for Pike and Rose - July 16, 2012

The ceremony on 7/16 was a happy event, with attendees including Gov. O'Malley, Lt. Gov. Brown, the comptroller, many other state officials, Cty. Exec. Ike Leggett, Council Pres. Roger Berliner, Councilmembers George Leventhal & Hans Reimer, the CEO and other officials of Federal Realty Investment Trust, including Evan Goldman, who has shepharded this project and met with community members many times. Other developers were invited, as well as community members who've been active all along. It was hot, but a beautiful day. The speeches included discussion of the unique public/private financing arrangements that could be models for future development financing, the scale of the economic impact, and the commitment of the gov't and developers to create a transit-oriented community that is a benefit to the county and the surrounding neighborhoods. It was great fun to see the project begin.

Our old Mid-Pike Plaza will be the new Pike & Rose development. Currently 24 acres of asphalt, it will be 8-9 blocks of "green" buildings with ground-level retail, bike and pedestrian pathways, pocket parks, apartments and commercial space.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Here's Help in Figuring out Which Products are Healthy

Many items that we install in our houses can make us sick, from carpeting to paint to our new furniture (and, yes, our new cars). That new car is "off-gassing," which means that some of the chemicals used in the manufacture of the plastics and fabrics are escaping into the air we breathe. If you are interested in checking out  products before you buy them and in evaluating the air quality in your home, take a look at Greenguard's website.

Ice Dams - What to do before it snows

There are several measure that can be taking to prevent ice damming on your roof in times of tremendous ice and snow. Yes, we had a non-winter, but that could be completely different next year.

If you are putting on a new roof, have the installer add a barrier over the felt (and under the shingles, before they are installed) at the edges of the roof near the gutters. The barrier material is about 3 feet wide and comes on a roll. It will prevent any water that is forced under the shingles from leaking into the walls and attic.

For an existing roof, you can buy heater coils of several different types that will prevent ice from forming. One type is placed in the bottom of the gutter and can be plugged into an outlet on the exterior of the house. Another type is more of a serpentine electric coil that lays on the shingles just above the gutter. In this instance, you would want to put the coil on the roof if there is a forecast of an extended snow or blizzard approaching. The most elegant installation would be an electric coil in the gutter plugged into a dedicated exterior outlet near the roofline that is controlled by a switch from inside the house. If the water flows freely through the gutter and drains to the ground without the downspouts and gutters filling with ice, ice damming will not occur. See my post in 2009 regarding the creation of ice dams and how they form.

Planning Begins on White Flint 2 Sector Plan

The planning department has approved a scope of work to begin planning for the business district north of the White Flint Sector Plan approved in 2010 and south of the Twinbrook Sector Plan. This area straddles the boundary between Montgomery County and the City of Rockville, so there will be some lively discussions about the connectivity of Rockville Pike, its design as a "boulevard," and the placement and coordination of potential bus rapid transit (BRT), currently proposed for the center of the boulevard-style median in the White Flint Sector Plan. Information and maps are available at the page for this sector plan,

It has been noted in The Gazette (May 2, 2012) that the plan will require a new elementary school in the Walter Johnson High School district.

If you want to be on the contact list for the planning department with regard to this sector plan, send an email to 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Open House for present/receive comments for Zoning Rewrite 

Don't miss this chance to learn more about the Zoning Rewrite Project and what it will mean for residents in Bethesda-Chevy Chase, North Bethesda-Garrett Park, and Potomac. Drop in any time between 5-8 p.m. Monday, April 16 to speak with planners about this important countywide initiative.
Planners are rewriting the Zoning Code to modernize antiquated, redundant zoning regulations and create new tools to help achieve goals in community plans. 

At the open house meetings, attendees can view graphics and other materials that explain whats being considered, such as potentially reducing the number of zones and how new zones might apply in communities. 
Participants at each open house will see exactly how what's proposed applies to their neighborhood. Each meeting will provide information on six different master plan areas. To see what master plan area applies to your property, go

5-8 p.m. Monday, April 16
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda

Master plans: Bethesda Central Business District, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Friendship Heights Central Business District, North Bethesda/Garrett Park, Potomac Subregion, Westbard, Woodmont Triangle

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Free Shredding Offered with Material Recycled

Office Paper Systems has a facility at 7650 Airpark Road in Gaithersburg (take Shady Grove Road past Muncaster Mill Road, and it becomes Airpark Road) that accepts paper that needs to be shredded. You can bring your materials in boxes, plastic garbage bags, whatever. If you have huge volumes, give them a call first so that they are ready for you.

This is a free service. OPS will recycle the shredded material, so you are securing your identity and recycling paper at the same time! The website is

  • Drop Off Hours

    Monday - Friday
    8:30am - 3:00pm
  • Phone

  • Address

    7650 Airpark Rd,
    Gaithersburg, MD 20874

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection Posts Resource Site

This site, -

1. Search for local, state, and federal utility information for energy programs
2. Create your personal "green" plan
3. Comment on projects and join discussion groups
4. View calendar events
5. Central resource for public information on environmental and energy topics

Source: The Gazette, 1/18/12