President’s Letter – Challenges We Face Together
Carol Van Dam Falk
I Look Forward To Serving Our Community As WMCCAS President This Year. It’s Not Easy To Follow In The Footsteps Of An Environmental Icon Such As Ginny Barnes, But I Will Give This Job My Best Shot With The Help Of A Truly Dedicated Board, And Input From Caring Citizens Like You! The West Montgomery County Citizens Association Is The Oldest Citizen’s Organization In The Potomac Area, Representing Thousands Of Residents As We Work To Protect The Natural Environment That Buffers And Supports Our Beautiful Community And To Preserve And Protect The Potomac Master Plan As Our Community Is Developed And Changed Over Time.
Sometimes Change In Our Community Is Most Welcome And In Other Instances, It Is Not. This Year, Particularly, We Have Faced A Number Of Seemingly Local Changes That Touch On Issues Important To The County As A Whole. County Officials Rulings On Potomac Issues Can Set Precedents For All Of Montgomery County. Examples Of Current Precedent-Changing Issues Include:
- A Loop-Hole In The Countys Zoning Ordinance That Permitted A Small Group Home On Each Of Three Adjacent Lots At The Corner Of Burbank Drive And Falls Road Allowed A Quasi-Institution That Evaded The Countys Special Exception Process.
- The Country Inn Zone Was Created At The Time Of The 2002 Master Plan For The Potomac Subregion, But The Zone Has Not Yet Been Applied To A New Facility In The County. The Size Of A Potential Country Inn On River Road In Relation To Its Residentially-Zoned Neighborhood And The Proportion Of Allowable Commercial Space Will Essentially Define The Zoning Category For The County As A Whole.
- The Potomac Swim Club Is The First Of The Countys Swim Clubs To Seek A Special Exception Modification For A Tennis Bubble For Winter Use, Which Could Be Intrusive In A Residential Neighborhood.
- The Potomac Oaks Sewer Category Change Request Opens The Possibility Of Private Sewer Hook-Ups To Others In Areas Outside The Countys Sewer Envelope. In Potomac And Darnestown, And Especially In The Agricultural Reserve, The Restriction Of Sewer Service Is What Holds Back Rampant Development.
Planning And Zoning Report by George Barnes
Potomac Swim Club: The Club Has Filed An Application For A Modification To Its Existing Special Exception To Permit The Addition Of A Third Tennis Court Next To The Two Courts Along Oaklyn Drive And Cover All Three Courts With A Seasonal Cover, Commonly Known As A Tennis Bubble. This Cover Would Be Forest Green, Opaque, 154 Feet Wide By 118 Feet Deep And 36 Feet High. There Will Be A Generator, Fan And Heating Unit At The Rear Of The Court. A Single Story Building Would Be Constructed Next To The Lower Courts And Adjoining The Existing Bath-House, With Office Space, Storage, And Shower And Changing Rooms For Members. In Addition, Lighting For The Oaklyn Drive Courts Would Be Provided Until 10:00 P.M. Between May 1 And September 30.
Wellness Center: The Proposal For A Wellness Center On The Former Furman Property Next To The Giant Has Been Withdrawn. Dr. Yousif Was Kind Enough To Let Us Know That His Plans Have Changed And, At Least For The Present, He Will Not Go Forward With His Project.
Cabin John Fire Station On Falls Road: Fire House Neighbors Have Been, Once Again, Forced To Deal With The Fire Department’s Seeming Willingness To Permit Almost Anything To Be Built On Their Property If It Will Raise Money, Without The Slightest Regard For The Concerns Of Their Neighbors. First, A Building To House Switching Equipment For Nextel Cellular Phone Service Along Falls Road Was Begun Without A Required Special Exception (As Per County Law). Quite Recently, A Large Trailer Was Placed On The Property To Serve As A Construction Office For The Highway Department During Work On The Clara Barton Parkway. This Seems To Be A Permitted Use Of The Property. The Good News Is That The Road Construction Should Be Completed In 60 Days.
Environmental Report By Ginny Barnes
Forest Conservation Law Amendments: Since It Began To Meet In April Of This Year, The Forest Conservation Advisory Committee (FCAC) Has Been Tasked By The County Council With Review And Analysis Of Bill 37-07 (The Park And Planning Proposal For Amendments To The Existing Forest Conservation Law) As Well As Councilmember Marc Elrichs Amendment Proposals That Would Preserve More Existing Forest, Rather Than Replace Forest Lost Through Development (Reforestation). The FCAC Met All Summer, And, After Much Heated Debate, Submitted Its Report To The County Council On September 12. Since The FCAC Is Heavily Weighted With Development Interests, The Report Is Uneven When It Comes To Addressing Protection Of Forest Resources And Raises Far Too Many Concerns About The Loss Of Housing Units And Building Lots. Faced With A Global Climate Change Crisis And Knowing That Overwhelming Worldwide Loss Of Forests Is A Major Reason For It Defending Every Available Building Lot Over Preserving Forest Resources Is Fatuous. While The Report Has Some Useful Recommendations, It Does Not Support The Stronger Elrich Amendments. Montgomery Countys Water Quality Advisory Group And Air Quality Advisory Group Have Issued Reports Of Their Own On Bill 37-07, Supporting Amendments Stronger Than Any Now Under Consideration, As Well As Recognizing Our Climate Crisis And The Essential Links To Air And Water Quality That Only Trees And Forest Provide.
Sewer Category Change: The County Council Has Issued The Current Packet Of Category Change Requests. Staff Has Indicated The Potomac Oaks Center (WSCCR 07A-TRV-10) Applicant Is Not Ready To Come Back Before The Council After Requesting Deferral In March Of This Year. Sewer Service To This Property Will Require A 5000 Foot-Long Low-Pressure Extension. The Property Is Well Outside The Sewer Envelope, And Sewer Access Is Not Consistent With The 2002 Potomac Master Plan. Given The High Profile When It Initially Appeared, Council Staff Has Indicated The Application Will Be Officially Re-Noticed When It Does Return For Consideration.
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