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.

April 2009



President's Letter
Carol Van Dam Falk

In the course of my years serving WMCCA, many public institutions and private developers come before the Board as an early step in the approval process for projects proposed in Potomac.  Over the last ten years, the WMCCA Board heard presentations for Norwood School’s expansion of playing fields, a continuing care facility on Democracy Boulevard, Bullis School’s comprehensive master plan for new buildings and increased enrollment, Normandie Farm’s expansion of dining and banquet facilities, TCP at Avenel’s golf course and stream rehabilitation project, Congressional Country Club’s swimming pool and storm water management alterations, changes to the Potomac Oaks shopping center, a second level for Safeway, a Rock Run Wellness Center, a Potomac Inn, the Potomac Swim and Recreation Club’s tennis bubble, and Norwood School’s new buildings.

In our role of monitoring significant changes in the community, the WMCCA Board is interested in an institution's impact on traffic, the environment, and the neighborhood, as well as its adherence to the tenets of the Potomac Subregion Master Plan.  We insist on realistic traffic counts for an institution’s expansion.  We review a proposal’s environmental impact, including impervious surface area, forest conservation plan, and stormwater management plan.  We look at a project in relation to the size of its site.  We discuss our concerns with the institution’s representatives early in their process of applying for county approvals.  And sometimes we testify before the Planning Board and Hearing Examiner against a troubling aspect of a project or against the project as a whole.

Private and public entities looking to build or expand don't want WMCCA’s opposition.  We have always been an effective and formidable opponent – this is a truth and a tribute to WMCCA!  Over the years, we can and have stopped development proposals in their tracks, and we have significantly changed even more of them.  What those looking to build or expand can count on is constructive criticism that always makes their project better if and when it passes through all the layers of review.  This is one of the reasons why WMCCA has been called "the gold standard of citizens groups."
 

Dying Roadside Trees – by Diana Conway

Several board members from WMCCA met on March 9 with Brett Linkletter, Program Manager for Tree Maintenance with the County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation, to review the trees marked for removal from Persimmon Tree Road.  We determined that the marked trees were indeed dead or would be dying.  We also found out that the office responsible for their removal has a significant backlog of one to three years.  And we were informed that we can request a two-to-one replacement ratio, to help preserve the wooded appearance of the road, again with a one- to three-year delay, due to budget and staffing limitations.  We also understand that property owners abutting a public right-of-way can ask the County’s Tree Maintenance group to remove invasive growth from the area.
Planning and Zoning Report – by George Barnes

Potomac Swim and Tennis Club: The Hearing Examiner has sent out a supplemental notice regarding this case because some civic associations that should have received notice of the hearing were inadvertently omitted from the mailing.  The Hearing Examiner will keep the record in the case open for an additional 30 days to allow these associations to express views in writing, which must be received by April 17.

The County Council has sent notice that they are seeking applicants for a vacancy on the Montgomery County Planning Board to fill the seat occupied by John Robinson whose term will expire on June 14.  Full details of the application process are available from the Council offices.

Environmental Report – by Ginny Barnes

Winterset, Lot 46 (600 feet east of Ambleside Drive) – Montgomery County Planning Board Public Hearing originally scheduled for March 5 has been postponed due to inadequate public notice.  The Amendment proposes to remove a Category I easement of 17,569 square feet to build a garage.  The site currently has many non-compliant and/or unapproved uses within the easement, including part of an in-ground swimming pool, decking, a shed, a stone/concrete patio, fencing and part of a driveway.  Curiously, no citations for violation of the easement were issued and staff is recommending approval of the request and offsite mitigation for the loss.  A new hearing will likely be scheduled in early April.

Connelly School of the Holy Child (9025 Bradley Boulevard) – Limited Amendment to remove a substantial Forest Conservation Easement to build an artificial turf playing field.  Park and Planning has discovered the school has already violated the easement by constructing an electronic scoreboard and will not act on the amendment proposal until the Forest Conservation violation goes before the Planning Commission.  No date has yet been set. 

Montgomery County Stormwater Permit – WMCCA is one of an impressive number of organizations that make up the Stormwater Partners Network which successfully worked to craft a ground breaking new stormwater discharge permit under the Federal Clean Water Act.  However, the Waterkeepers Alliance and Earthjustice have recently requested a “Contested Case Hearing” in a letter to the Maryland Department of the Environment, claiming, among other things that the new permit fails to meet compliance with Maryland water quality standards and fails to incorporate required effluent limits.

Montgomery County Stormwater Partners has been selected by the Montgomery County Civic Federation (MCCF) to receive the "Sentinel Award" for contribution to good government at the local level.  The award will be given at the annual Civic Federation banquet May 15.  

The InterCounty Connector
– by Diana Conway

WMCCA joined others in Annapolis on March 16 to meet with our four state legislators on the InterCounty Connector.  This 18-mile, $10-a-day toll road is sucking up funds from our federal highway allotment and our borrowing capacity, and will result in a doubling of tolls on all other Maryland toll roads, bridges and tunnels, in addition to the $2 billion in debt that it will incur.  In an earlier meeting with County Executive Ike Leggett, we were given the bitter news that Montgomery County's share of stimulus dollars is significantly reduced – because "we're getting the ICC."  While some portions of the road are under construction, the biggest and most financially and environmentally costly portion in the center has not been started.

We urged our legislators to consider completing the two ends and linking them to existing roadways, so the expensive center section could be cancelled or at least deferred to free up funds for critical needs like schools, health and safety, and other vital social services being cut in this difficult budget climate.  To date the ICC remains the ONLY fully funded transportation project despite cuts amounting to 30 percent of the $10-plus billion originally slated for transportation, including transit projects like the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway which are proven traffic-relievers, and together cost less than the ICC.
 


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.