Newsletter – February 2004

February 2004

President’s Letter – George Barnes

There have been times in the past few years when the Chair of the T&E Committee has controlled decisions which have had major impacts on the Potomac community. Sewer Category change requests are the first and frequently the defining decision in the early stages of proposals for new development in our community within the framework of the Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Plan. All development which is not built on septic systems must be granted inclusion into a category, S6, which allows connection to an existing sewer line or the construction of a new line if one is not already present. Simply having such an S6 classification is enough for WSSC to construct a new line even if it is extremely expensive to build. The sewer line constructed along Falls Rd built to serve the new houses at the corner of Falls and MacArthur Blvd is a case in point. Frequently, the change request is the first indication we have that a new development or a new house on an existing lot is in the works. Projects which fit within the Sewer System plan are frequently granted a change through an administrative process which if we are not eternally vigilant will occur without any input from the community at all. Sometimes these requests turn on interpretation of environmental regulations or existing environmental features where the role of the T&E committee is vital as it is this committee which will recommend approval or disapproval to the full Council. Roads issues are often decided this way as well. New roads or major intersection improvements can create significant change in a neighborhood. Bear in mind that individual subdivision projects are handled at the Planning Board level and the Council’s input is through the adoption of Master Plans, changes in the subdivision regulations via zoning text amendments or the various budgets.

There are a number of areas of concern which we may discuss with Nancy. Affordable housing comes up in two areas of community concern. The School Board is considering declaring surplus two school sites which it owns, one on Brickyard Rd. and one on Kendale Rd. Should the School Board declare them surplus, they would be available for other uses within the County government systems or even sale to developers. PTA’s in our community are very concerned over the loss of potential building sites for new schools to relieve crowding in our existing schools. Neighbors are concerned about impacts on their communities from various types of housing which might occur there. The county’s MPDU buyout policy and the use of TDR’s has come under question in a development proposal on the Stoneyhurst Quarry site. A contentious plan to improve Quince Orchard over the objections of the community, and a plan to restructure the Fire and Rescue companies have parts of our community in an uproar. So, please be with us on February 11, it will certainly be an interesting evening.

Planning and Zoning: The WMCCA Board met with representatives of the Bullis School who presented their plan for a special exception modification to incorporate a new master plan for the school which would be implemented over the next 10 years or more. The new plan would raise the number of students from 600 to 900 and calls for the construction of two new classroom buildings and the renovation of one existing building as well as the replacement of the tennis bubble with a permanent structure and the addition of a new indoor pool, a new indoor practice facility, a rebuilt grandstand (same size and location) and general parking, traffic flow and stormwater management facilities upgrade. The plan would be funded through gifts and donations and the timing of those will determine the timing of the construction and to some extent it’s order, although some of the order will be driven by logistical concerns. The plan is ambitious but seems to have been carefully thought out and the school continues to be extremely concerned about the concerns of it’s neighbors. The school has over 70 acres of land and the new facilities will have only a very slight impact on their forest cover which they are eager to protect. We would be happy to hear from any of our members who have concerns about this project. It will be presented to the Board of Appeals in May or June.

Stoneyhurst Quarry: A preliminary plan for a development of five large apartment buildings with approximately 90 units has been proposed for the quarry site on River Road. This is the plan which has raised the issue of an MPDU buyout. These are projected to be very expensive units. Parking will be underground for the most part.

Environment: Greenbriar Local Park. A new public meeting has been scheduled for this park due to an error in notification. Some 300 notices were not mailed by Park and Planning and they will hold another meeting on March 24 at 7:00 PM at Travilah Elem. School. Snow date will be March 31. Some changes to the plan have been already incorporated as a result of the last meeting.

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President, George Barnes

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