Endings and Beginnings
President’s Letter – by Ginny Barnes
WMCCA is an all-volunteer 60+ year old civic association, and with Brickyard so all-consuming, we’ve come late to the zoning code rewrite. We have been embroiled in another potential Master Plan precedent; the Glen Hills Sewer Study is about to be finalized by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and sent to the County Council. What the Council does with results of this study could have a major impact on water quality in Watts Branch our largest watershed and a drinking water source for 40 percent of the Washington region. In early August, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) held a joint scoping meeting with the National Park Service at Potomac Elementary School to announce and elicit public comments on their proposal to seek a mid-river intake to reach cleaner water for the filtration plant on River Road. Sediment loading in Watts Branch, which enters the Potomac River at the current intake, overwhelms filtration capacity, particularly in peak flow storms.
WMCCA has major concerns about the damage to the C&O National Historical Park. We must also question what happens next as the regional demand for drinking water increases and the powers-that-be have put the last straw in the river to reach cleaner water while doing nothing to help the Watts Branch recover from long-standing development impacts?
Lastly, we bid a sad goodbye to our excellent Secretary, Mike Denker, who passed away in late May. Mike was a good man gone too soon. In the last year we lost a beloved former Treasurer and long time WMCCA member, Meredith Williams. His daughter, Nancy Madden, was recently elected our Newsletter Editor so nice to have a family tradition of service to the community continue. Please join us at the October 9th meeting and consider what skills you might bring to the association that guards our residential green wedge and has done so since 1947.
Glen Hills Sewer Study – the Slumbering Beast is About to Rear Its Ugly Head
by Susanne Lee – Recall that in the prior draft of the Phase 1 report, DEP declared, based totally on flawed, hypothetical factors, that over 240 homes were not sustainable on septic, even though there are only nine septic failures among the 500 houses within the study area. Based on this data, the Phase 2 draft report proposed 13 new sewer lines be constructed, with their enormous costs borne totally by the abutting property owners. Now DEP is using these reports to prepare recommendations that will be submitted to County Executive Leggett for submission to the County Council. DEP plans to meet with Leggett in mid-October and anticipates that his transmittal and recommendations will be before the Council before their end-of-year break. The DEP spokesperson states that its unclear what the County Council will do with the study and the recommendations, including the public process, if any, they will utilize in determining the fate of the Glen Hills neighborhood.
At its last meeting on June 3, 2013, the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), of which WMCCA is a member, demanded that it be allowed to review the revised Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports before their final publication and, most importantly, that they be allowed to see and comment on the recommendations before they are submitted to Leggett and the County Council. Given the extensive comments that have been made on the prior drafts, the CAC also asked that all comments from the CAC and the public be included in the package that is submitted to Leggett and the Council. To date, DEP has refused all these requests.
Barring a miracle, we presume that the same flawed, damaging, property value-lowering data and conclusions will be included in the final report and recommendations. It is outrageous that the CAC members, some of whom even support limited extensions, are barred from seeing and commenting on whatever final product comes from DEP. This is particularly egregious in light of the critical role the Master Plan mandates for citizen representatives and the hours of effort and expertise CAC members have already dedicated to the study.
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.