May 2006



President's Letter - Looking Back
Ginny Barnes


This is my last letter as current President of WMCCA, and I'm struck with how numerous, complex and recurring are the issues we have faced this year. Most obvious has been the sad continuing loss of trees - our vital green infrastructure and the essential foundation for our designation as a residential "green wedge." Everywhere we look, properties are being subdivided and stripped of trees or single lots are being redeveloped with the same loss of tree cover. We have reported numerous cases, yet county officials seem to have no legal means to stem the tide of tree destruction. We have reported site after site to Park and Planning, but the Forest Conservation Law has proved inadequate. It desperately needs revision. More importantly, we need a Tree Ordinance.

Elsewhere, the rampant development trend is forcing additional building to go up as well as spread out. We are facing increased building heights on Fortune Parc, two twenty-story tower residences approved behind Walter Johnson High School, and increased density wherever and whenever it can be obtained. All in order to grow. We see new pressures on our two-lane road system in Potomac and the Rustic Road program throughout the County - and a strong push to break open the Agricultural Reserve that we buffer and protect. Stewardship of our invaluable parkland and open spaces is lacking. Even the statutes and regulations we have are not being enforced. Our water quality is declining, and the WSSC is proposing to spend $15 million to construct a mid-river intake at their plant on River Road rather than clean up the silt-ridden Watts Branch stream that is the primary contaminant of the existing intake.

All this speaks not just to our growth obsession but to accountability on the part of our local governing bodies. From the Planning Board, County Executive, and County Council, and from the failure over Clarksburg to the School Board's arrogance and bully tactics over the Kendale site, the public has been forced not only to keep close watch on these agencies, but often to do their jobs. This is not acceptable. We pay high taxes to live here. We have a right to expect more.

We don't have road capacity or adequate clean water - yet we keep growing. WMCCA has spent more time this year in public hearings, meetings, strategy sessions and in writing letters and testimony than I can ever remember. Our leadership is stretched to the limit. We need to reinvigorate the Association. We need new members, willing to participate in the democracy we value so highly. Most of the calls we receive for help come too late, usually when the bulldozers roll or the trees are being cut down.

When I served on the Water Quality Advisory Committee there was an old time conservationist and outdoorsman who told me his daddy used to say, "Don't ask which way the boat is going if your paddle isn't wet." Same goes here. We urge citizens of the community to join WMCCA. We have a website, WMCCA.org, and from October to May we have monthly General Meetings on issues vital to you and your family.

Environmental Report: Rustic Roads Update

After Rustic roads through the Glen and near the Greenbriar Branch on Glen Road were severely cut by maintenance crews from the Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) we sent a letter to Director Holmes. His reply was far from encouraging, but Council President Leventhal responded by referring the problem to the Rustic Roads Advisory Board. They devoted a portion of their meeting in April to excessive trimming problems, and will take it up again at the May meeting. According to Chair Laura Van Etten, the guidelines now in place are vague. The result is that DPWT maintenance depots send out crews with little guidance on the parameters of trimming along Rural and Rustic Roads. The extent of cutting largely depends on each individual crew. The Rustic Roads Advisory Board is looking to make legislative changes that clarify what can and cannot be cut and possibly require the group be notified before any cutting occurs along a Rural or Rustic Road. We plan to attend their May meeting.

Planning and Zoning - George Barnes

Bedfordshire: A three-lot subdivision is proposed for property next to the firehouse at 11420 Falls Road in the R-200 zone. The three houses would be built utilizing a common drive off Falls Road that would also provide additional access to the fire station.

Western Breeze Subdivision: Located on River Road opposite Luvie Lane. The proposal is for eleven lots on 27.9 acres to be developed on well and septic. The property is in the Watts Branch watershed.

Special Exception - Accessory Apartment: An application for a special exception to permit an existing accessory apartment has been filed for the property at 12009 Piney Meetinghouse Road. A hearing is scheduled for Monday, July 24, 2006.

Tennis Bubble: The WMCCA Board met with representatives of the Potomac Swim and Tennis Club on Oaklyn Drive that is contemplating the construction of a tennis bubble and a new court on the Oaklyn Drive side of the property. Some modification and improvement to the existing pool building is also planned. It has not yet been determined how the business structure of the new bubble would operate - that is, whether it would be for members only, or whether court time would be for sale as a commercial venture. The proposal is still in the early stages and we will have further discussions with the club management. A modification to the existing special exception for a community pool would be necessary.

Election of Officers and Directors

The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of Officers and Directors. As usual the President Elect and Vice President move up in the chain of Officers.



West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter

P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President - Ginny Barnes, 301 762-6423
Newsletter - Lois Williams

The Newsletter is published monthly, and the Board of Directors meets each month. We welcome any suggestions for upcoming meeting topics and ways to further utilize our web site (www.wmcca.org).

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.