Working with the county and state

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by David Humpton, EVP
As EVP, part of my responsibility is to represent MVF and the community before various government bodies, and the Montgomery County Council, in particular, has legislation that affects our community. On the state front, I think residents will be pleased with efforts to improve travel time on I-270 through the use of innovative congestion management techniques. These will take time to design and implement, but should make some improvements in commute times. Still, a long-term plan that dovetails better with Virginia’s roadway improvements is vitally needed. These are a few of the hot button items that are of interest:

County Council
•    County council resolution on M-83 - for the last 6 months or longer, the planning board and county council have been discussing what to do with land use plans in the upper county, given the stagnation of the Midcounty Highway extension, M-83. The council finally decided that the best course of action was to direct the planning board via a resolution not to take into account the assumption that M-83 would be built when calculating transportation capacity for projects in the upper county area for development applications. The council introduced the resolution on September 19 and will hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the council office building.

•    Bill 22-17, Homeowner’s Associations – Repeal of Roadway Maintenance Reimbursement – Back in June, the county council introduced legislation that would repeal the county law that provides for reimbursement to Montgomery Village homeowners associations that helps fund the maintenance of private streets. The rationale behind this bill was that no appropriation of funds had been made since FY 2011 for this program, and that is was unlikely that future county council budgets would include such funding. It was also reported that a number of council members believe that the law can be reinstated if additional funds could be earmarked in the future.

MVF sent a letter to the council objecting to this bill, arguing that it would be very difficult to reinstate such legislation and that a greater effort needed to be made to fund this program. A public hearing by the Transportation Infrastructure Energy and Environment Committee was held on September 14, and during the meeting, the committee voted not to support the bill.

It should be noted that Montgomery Village homeowners associations receive some funding from the state Highway User Revenue Fund pursuant to state law. However, since 2010, the amount of reimbursement has been much less, based on overall state funding for highway maintenance.

•    Bill ZTA 17-03, Short-term Rentals – MVF Board President Pete Young testified at the September 12 public hearing before the county council on a zoning text amendment (ZTA) that would allow short-term rentals (such as Airbnb) in most zones as long as they met certain standards that would be outlined in the zoning code. President Young thanked the council for its efforts to balance varying priorities in addressing this important issue, while moving the county forward into our evolving shared economy, but at the same time maintaining the quality of life for neighborhoods.

The ZTA establishes various limitations on short-term rentals, including: maximum duration of rentals in calendar year of 90 days, counting only when the owner is absent; one off-street parking space must be provided for each rental contract; the total number of adult overnight guests is limited to six, with the additional limitation of two per bedroom; and the requirement to notify neighbors of the use and provide them with an emergency contact person if the owner is not present during the rental. The Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee will be holding a work session to further refine the legislation before it goes back to the full council for further action in late fall.

I-270 Innovative Congestion Management
During the September Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board meeting, Jeff Folden, Chief, Innovative Contracting Division, Office of Highway Development, State Highway Administration (SHA), gave a briefing on solutions to move the most traffic the furthest and fastest on I-270 from Frederick County to the I-495.

SHA has completed a competitive procurement to design and construct various roadway improvements, technology and techniques along the roadway. The roadway improvements include extending acceleration lane at MD 109; reconfiguring exit lanes to I-370; creating auxiliary lane in local lanes south of Shady Grove Road and between MD 28 and MD 189; and maintaining three lanes from I-270 and dropping right lane on I-495 at I-270/495 merge (the split).

Innovative technologies and techniques include intelligent traffic signals, which will control the rate at which vehicles enter I-270 from on-ramps; message signs to alert drivers to changing traffic conditions; and electronic speed limit signs, which will change depending on traffic conditions. Design work has already commenced and actual improvements will begin in 2018 and be completed by the end of 2019.

The complete presentation can be found online at www.montgomeryvillage.com under “Development & Projects.”