A Plan That’s Just Plain Smart!
President’s Letter – By Susanne Lee
As Potomac has evolved from rural and agricultural to a semi-rural and suburban subregion, it has retained much of its green character and environmental qualities. These qualities are under threat. Inexorable population growth continues to foster intense development pressure on the Potomac Subregion. This Master Plan strongly recommends that sustaining the environment be the pre-eminent policy determinant in a subregion so defined by its natural resources. New development and redevelopment must respect and enhance the Subregion’s environmental quality, while helping to build communities and resources that will serve existing and future generations of residents.”
So begins the Potomac Subregion Master Plan. Adopted by the Montgomery County Council and the Planning Board almost ten years ago, its relevance continues to grow. For those of us who live in the Potomac Subregion, paging through the document demonstrates just how much the quality of life in our neighborhoods is a function of the contents of the Master Plan.
It is in many ways an extraordinary document. First, it is grounded in sound science. Extensive initial environmental studies were conducted that documented the urgent need to protect this green wedge in which we live. For example, clear links are shown between potential future intensive development practices and decreased water and air quality. In stark terms, the failure to protect critical watersheds such as the Watts Branch, Muddy Branch and Piney Branch has direct impacts not just on those streams, but also the water quality in the Potomac River including upstream of our drinking water source, and ultimately on the Chesapeake Bay.
Second, it is was developed using intelligent, creative decision making, sound planning principles and common sense. Outstanding public servants such as Callum Murray, our November speaker, and a committed Community-based Advisory Committee crafted a plan that was just plain smart. It focuses on preserving environmentally sensitive areas, as well as ensuring logical decisions concerning commercial development, housing density, recreational facilities and roads. Much of the Master Plan has been implemented successfully. The Subregion’s development and the character of the Potomac areas we know and love are protected through its continued implementation. Unfortunately constant vigilance is required as evidenced by the Brickyard Road soccer proposal, the Glen Hills sewer category changes, and expansions of private institutional facilities such as Glenstone. Join us at the WMCCA Meeting for a Master Plan update.
Potomac Swim and Recreation Association Indoor Tennis Bubble Facilities: On October 21, 2011, WMCCA and six neighbors living near the tennis club requested that the Circuit Court of Montgomery County conduct an evidentiary hearing on their Motion to Intervene and Motion to Vacate Judgment. The Court previously reversed the Montgomery County Board of Appeals’ denial of the request for modification of the Club’s special exception to allow for the construction of a tennis bubble.
Brickyard Road School Site: The Montgomery County Government Circuit Court has scheduled December 15, 2011 to hear the Brickyard Road case of Nick Maravell versus Montgomery County Board of Education. Hopefully at that time the court will decide if the Montgomery County BOE violated the Open Meetings Act in transferring the Brickyard Road lease from Nick’s Organic Farm to the Montgomery County Executive Branch when it voted in March of 2011 to lease the land to develop soccer fields. There is also another case underway. Neighbors of the 20-acre site are appealing the lease transfer to the Maryland State Board of Education. No hearing date has been set, although the State Board met on October 25th; briefs and requests for documents are still being collected from all parties. One of the many concerns about the site is settling the lease issue before January 1, 2012, since that marks the point at which the current lease to Mr. Maravell expires. His stewardship of the land has included fully containing the stormwater runoff, which will be a threat when parking lots and other impervious surfaces associated with a sports complex development are installed.
Forest Conservation/Tree Canopy Bill: After receiving comments through the countys Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Director Hoyt, the County Executive has indicated a willingness to uncouple his tree canopy proposal from the Forest Conservation Law, since the two parts are to be administered by two separate agencies. Forest Conservation is the responsibility of MNCPPC, but the tree canopy portion will come under Department of Permitting Services, using the Sediment Control staff already in place. There is no intent to hire any new staff tree expert such as an arborist, and the review process will be a desktop operation with no staff going out in the field to examine trees on lots less than 40,000 square feet. The proposal still uses a fee for canopy loss (as yet undetermined) as the only deterrent to removing trees from smaller lots. It has taken nearly three years for DEP to bring us this far, and there is still no target date for the bill to be sent to the County Council.
West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Ginny Barnes 301 762-6423
Newsletter – Lois Williams
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