Report suggests changes to improve Montgomery’s nightlife -- Gazette.Net


Providing more places for bar-going patrons to catch taxis and allowing food trucks to roam certain neighborhoods to serve them late at night are among the options suggested by a task force charged with thinking up ways to spice up Montgomery County’s nightlife.

After a six-month process, the county’s Nighttime Economy Task Force presented its recommendations to County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) on Friday morning.

Montgomery has a strong daytime economy, but in the evening hours the county often loses business to areas such as Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., as people go out in search of entertainment, said Heather Dlhopolsky, chairwoman of the task force that was made up of 19 residents, business owners and others.

Providing more nighttime activity in areas such as Bethesda, Silver Spring, Rockville, Wheaton and Germantown will help the county “fill in missing pieces” to provide a stronger overall economy, according to the group’s report.

The county has worked hard to make its urban areas more walkable to enhance foot traffic, Leggett said.

Many of the changes suggested in the report will appeal mostly to young people, but Montgomery should be a place for people of all ages to live, work and raise a family, he said.

Leggett said he wants to move quickly to implement the task force’s recommendations, and he’ll work with the County Council and the county’s delegation to the General Assembly to put as many as possible into effect.

“This is an action plan,” he said Friday.

Councilman Hans Riemer (D-At large) of Silver Spring said he’s sensed a lot of energy and excitement about the initiative since it was announced.

The recommendations include:

• Simplifying the process for opening an arts and entertainment venue or holding an event.

• Changing the county’s noise ordinance to create “Urban Noise Areas” around locations such as Rockville’s Town Square and Veteran’s Plaza in Silver Spring, increasing the noise levels allowed for certain events and making sure residents who live near those areas would be informed before they move in about the possibility of noise from events.

• Creating a way to provide good customer service, help streamline the planning and permitting process and make it easier for business customers to work with multiple county departments when planning an event.

• Allowing food trucks to operate in certain areas from 10 p.m. until bars close.

• Support more density in urban areas to create a vibrant nighttime economy.

• Increase the number of taxi stands.

• Expand the frequency and range of late-night transit service.

• Have the Alcohol Beverage Advisory Board make recommendations about special orders, product placement and customer service for the Department of Liquor Control.

• Speed up the completion and implementation of a Department of Liquor Control Warehouse Management system to improve selection, ordering and delivery processes.

• Extend the hours of venues that serve alcohol to 2 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday and to 3 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and the Sunday before a federal holiday that falls on a Monday.