It has not been a quiet month for the West Montgomery County Citizens Association. At our January General Meeting, we heard Dr. Andrew Lazur, Statewide Water Quality Specialist with the University of Maryland Extension, discuss care and maintenance of wells and septic systems. The County provides no proactive education to new or existing homeowners on how to treat and maintain their wells or septic systems to avoid serious health and environmental impacts, not to mention expensive repairs or irreparable septic system failure. We have requested such education from the County, but none has been forthcoming to date. A replay of January?s General Meeting is available at www.wmcca.org, and Dr. Lazur?s presentation itself is at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IBYHheQ5mJeh2Q2E-pvOBILlXnDCwGSC/view?usp=sharing.
We testified at both the Planning Board and County Council public hearings regarding sewer service category change requests in our area (see details below).
We also filed a Petition for Certiorari in the Maryland Court of Appeals to appeal the County?s decision to allow subdivision of a lot on Glen Mill Road in the Piney Branch Special Protection Area which would let a house be built too close to the Piney Branch stream. And we testified at a County Council hearing opposing Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 20-08 (see details below).
There was an Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearing (OZAH) hearing on January 15th for a conditional use application for the proposed Spectrum Senior Living facility at 9545 River Road (currently Potomac Petals & Plants / formerly Behnke site). We agreed not to object to the development after the builder accommodated neighbors? concerns and agreed to decrease the height from three to two stories. The developer is holding a virtual meeting on Wednesday, February 3rd at 7:00 pm to review their plans and give you an opportunity to provide input and ask questions. To attend, go to https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/995832869 or call in to (517) 317-3122, Access Code 995832869.
We signed on to a letter asking that the proposed Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA 20-01) to allow large solar arrays in the Agricultural Reserve be rejected as written and replaced by a compromise Conditional Use proposal instead. Rather than a blanket ?Permitted Use?, this compromise would allow solar arrays but would require Conditional Use reviews and permitting for each proposed array facility (a process that will afford more care in siting the arrays). The County Council?s straw vote was 6-3 for conditional use. The official vote on this amendment will take place at next week's council session. There was also an official vote (5-4) to protect Class 2 soils (in addition to the Class 1 soils protected in the ZTA as written). We wrote a thank-you note to our Councilmembers Friedson and Katz for the work they did on the issues and the amazing results they achieved.
And, we signed on to two different letters with comments on Montgomery County?s draft Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit to Maryland Department of the Environment. One was from the Choose Clean Water Coalition, the other from Montgomery Stormwater Partners Network of which we are both members. A WMCCA Board member provided input to both of these letters.
We provided written testimony to the Planning Board on the Forest Conservation Plan Amendment: Congressional Country Club: Final Forest Conservation Plan Amendment No. CBA 1206. We stated that the proposed ?stream restoration?, by armor-plating the stream on its property, will result in stormwater being ?fire hosed? along the stream causing damage to downstream neighbors and parkland and that Congressional Country Club should control its stormwater runoff by practices which keep stormwater out of its stream to begin with. We also said that the M-NCPPC determination that ?The granting of this variance is not a special privilege that would be denied to other applicants? makes a mockery of any Forest Conservation easement. This is a problem: if variances like this one are granted to all other applicants, then what is the purpose of a Forest Conservation easement?
As always, we welcome your help since the Board is an all-volunteer group. You don?t have to be a Board member to work with us on a topic of concern or interest to you. Let us know about any issue that is bothering or concerns you: President@WMCCA.org.
WMCCA President Ken Bawer testified on our behalf at two public hearings ? one before the Planning Board and the other before the County Council regarding multiple sewer category change requests: 10400 Boswell Lane, 10401 Boswell Lane, the 12000 block of Piney Meeting House Rd, 9701 Watts Branch Drive, and 13517 Glen Mill Road. We supported the County Executive?s recommendations for approval of the request for 10400 Boswell Lane and disapproval of the remaining requests. The requests will now be considered by the Council?s Transportation and Environment (T&E) Committee beginning with a work session on February 1st. After the T&E Committee deliberations, the whole Council will vote on the requests.
In addition, a sewer category request for public sewer has been filed for the property at 13417 Valley Drive in Glen Hills in order to build a ?single family house and accessory dwelling unit?. This property was clear cut in violation of the County?s Forest Conservation Statute and the State Wetlands statutes. The property owner was fined $1,000 and required to develop a Forest Conservation plan. The property is clearly not eligible for sewer service under the County Water and Sewer Plan. Furthermore, given the extensive wetlands on the site, it appears there is no way a house could be built on the lot even with sewer. WMCCA will oppose the sewer category request.
On January 19, 2021, the County Council conducted a public hearing on this proposed ZTA that would allow increased density in low density zones under the guise of senior housing. WMCCA is working with the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association (GSGNA) to oppose the ZTA, especially given the neighbors? concerns about the use of the ZTA to increase the density allowed on the proposed Heritage Garden site (formerly the 4th Presbyterian School) on South Glen Road. WMCCA submitted written materials and testified in opposition at the hearing as did David Brown, the attorney representing GSGNA. The ZTA will now be the subject of deliberations before the Council?s Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee. Members of the PHED Committee are Andrew Friedson, Hans Riemer, and Will Jawando. The PHED Committee will then forward their recommendations to the full Council for a decision. WMCCA will continue to work with the GSGNA to oppose the ZTA.
Please renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Go to our website www.wmcca.org to download a membership form or join using PayPal: Individual: $25 / Family: $50. We welcome donations to our Legal Fund. While we try mightily to get good results without litigation, sometimes it is unavoidable and highly effective. Contributions from members enabled us to join efforts to successfully fight the Brickyard Road soccerplex, the Old Anglers Inn event complex, and the Heritage Gardens townhouse development on South Glen Road. We also joined with neighbors to oppose the Brandywine Senior Living facility and in the appeal of the Glen Mill Road Piney Branch Stream Valley subdivision currently pending before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA. We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. <
Website Assistance Needed by Peter Poggi:
WMCCA is looking for someone to help modernize our website.
While the current www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, template driven, platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.
Interested candidates should have a background in current website design/development methods, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, email@example.com.
West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President - Susanne Lee
Website – WMCCA.org - Peter Poggi, Newsletter Editor – Nancy Madden
Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.