WMCCA Newsletter


WEST MONTGOMERY COUNTY
CITIZENS ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER

An Archive of past newsletters, back to the January 2003 issue, is now available on this website.

October 2008



President's Letter - Challenges We Face Together
Carol Van Dam Falk

Gaithersburg West sounds like it's a million miles away from Potomac but it is right up against us (at the end of Piney Meetinghouse Road) and it’s going to be big – virtually a new city at our doorstep. We need to be part of the Gaithersburg West Master Plan discussions. There will be Community Meetings on November 6 and 12 and December 2 at 16641 Crabbs Branch Way at 7:00 p.m.

The WMCCA Board voted to send a letter to the Park and Planning Board registering its concern over extending the height from 20 feet to 30 feet for the roof of the proposed office building at Potomac Oak Shopping Center at Glen and Travilah Roads (formerly the Glenvillah Shopping Center). Although this building has already received site-plan approval, we are concerned about "mission creep" on this site, considering its location on a rustic road and the owners' ongoing application for sewer service for a site well outside the sewer envelope as outlined in the Potomac Subregion Master Plan.

Planning and Zoning Report – by George Barnes

Tennis Bubble, Oaklyn Drive: The Board has voted to oppose the application for a modification to the Special Exception that governs the Potomac Swim and Tennis Club. Our opposition is based on the impacts to the neighboring properties from an additional tennis court with lighting at night until 10:00 p.m.. During the colder months the bubble would cover the courts but may not contain noise, will require a fan unit to keep it inflated, and create traffic in and out of the club later in the evening. If the club seeks permission from the Board of Appeals to have different classes of membership (for example, tennis only, or limited duration) it would create a significant departure from the current requirements in the Zoning Ordinance for a swim club to operate and would require that the Ordinance be modified, with county-wide repercussions.

PNC Bank, Potomac Village: While not opposed to a new facility, the WMCCA Board is not particularly happy with the proposal made by PNC and the shopping center management to build a two-lane drive through banking facility in the parking lot along the Falls Road side of the lot where the existing ATM kiosk is located. A number of parking spaces would be lost and a complicated set of stop signs at the Falls Road exit would try to regulate traffic attempting to leave the center. We are unconvinced that this proposal will result in anything but confusion and congestion at a point in the parking lot where it should be easier to navigate rather than made more difficult

Environmental Report – by Ginny Barnes

Stormwater Partners Network and Montgomery County's new draft Stormwater Permit:
Water quality in our county is steadily declining. The primary cause is a growing population and development that increases the amount of impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways, parking lots and roads. Our population has climbed from 757,021 in 1990 and will reach a projected 1,024,000 by 2013 – all the while creating more “hard” surfaces and thus more runoff when it rains, and carrying sediments, nutrients, fecal bacteria, toxics and trash to our streams and rivers, the source of our drinking water. These pollutants eventually make their way to the dying Chesapeake Bay.

Our stormwater discharges are supposed to be regulated under the Federal Clean Water Act through the state of Maryland by something called a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES). Our county covers an area of 499 square miles and has 11,000 miles of storm sewer pipes with 900 major outfalls which can range in size from 12 to 36 inches in diameter, many of which discharge directly into a local stream. Our first permit was issued in 1996 and reissued in 2001. Until now, Montgomery County and other jurisdictions have simply been allowed to “do the best you can” under their permits. This approach has led to the need for astronomically expensive restoration efforts ($200,000 to $500,000 per stream mile) and a proposal for a mid-river intake to obtain our drinking water, avoiding the pipe-clogging sediment pollution on the Potomac River shoreline.

The current permit action is in response to a renewal application submitted in 2005. At that time WMCCA joined with other organizations in a group called the Stormwater Partners to lobby for an NPDES permit that, for the first time, actually sets limits on pollution being discharged into our streams. Our collective lobbying effort has resulted in a much-improved draft permit that needs support from every citizen, especially if we expect to have clean water to drink and streams safe enough for wildlife and human recreation. A public hearing is scheduled for November 19 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Office building first floor auditorium.

Forest Conservation Law Amendments: Currently stuck in T&E Committee discussions, increased protections to existing forests are a critical partner to an improved NPDES Permit. A direct correlation exists between the amount of paving and the amount of forest in a watershed. Forests and trees are still the best and least expensive stormwater management available. Failure to protect forest now leads to water resource damages that cost us millions of dollars in attempted restoration

Opposing the ICC – by Diana Conway

At its October 1st meeting, WMCCA members heard about a growing campaign to derail the InterCounty Connector, and approved a contribution of $2,500 to the campaign to stop the ICC. The state's own study says that the ICC will not relieve traffic on 495, 95 or 270, and that many local intersections will get even worse with the ICC. This 18-mile, six-lane toll road is now estimated to cost $3.8 billion. Canceling the road would incur only $80 million, and allow funding to be redirected away from road-centric development and into transit. Transit ridership has been climbing rapidly – people want to get out of their cars.

Sustainability Working Group – by Diana Conway

There is a new coalition working to make Montgomery County a sustainable and responsible community. County Executive Leggett formed the Sustainability Working Group to follow up on legislation passed last spring requiring our county to reduce its carbon footprint by 80 percent by the year 2050, with specific targets along the way. All meetings of the full board or its committees are open to the public, and there is time for public questions and comments at each meeting. In addition, members of the public may join any of its committees – Renewable energy, Transportation, Forestry & agriculture, Energy efficiency for commercial/multi-family residences, Energy efficiency for single-family residences, Long-term sustainability, and Education and outreach. For more on this timely group, go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/deptmpl.asp?url=/content/dep/Sustainability/home.asp.


 


West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter


P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President - Carol Van Dam Falk, 301 963-6779
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.