Newsletter – November 2013

November 2013

Why Do We Care?

President’s Letter – by Ginny Barnes

For over 60 years WMCCA has worked to protect the environment and monitored development in our community. Our Board of Directors reviews development plans, zoning changes, proposed legislation and compliance with zoning regulations, and then brings them to our monthly General meetings, featuring issues relevant to our membership. We meet with politicians and government agencies. When necessary, WMCCA testifies before government bodies and by doing so helps shape the Potomac we all love. Every large community needs a collective voice for their residents. WMCCA is that voice. Also, when issues are so far reaching they cause impacts touching the entire subregion or create precedents leading to harm in neighborhoods in other parts of the County, we are there.

Such was the case with the Brickyard school site, where the County Executive facilitated a lease for a soccer complex which violated our Master Plan and would have set a precedent allowing the same for every other area Master Plan. He did so without ever asking for our input as a community. The project was withdrawn by the combined effort of WMCCA, Brickyard residents, and other local citizens groups. It took two years of effort and multiple legal actions but we stopped it. By comparison, WMCCA supported Parks acquisition of the 200+ acre Serpentine Barrens and even prevailed in retaining the historical name for this rare geological wonder. In keeping with our belief in a strong central commercial core, we supported the expansion of River Falls Tavern in Potomac Village. Examples of our input are numerous and available in the ‘Archive’ section of our website.

Over the years, WMCCA, on behalf of our citizens has faced a lot of challenges and remained a strong voice in County decision making. We have new issues coming with the revision of the County Zoning code, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) proposal for a mid-river intake at the filtration plant on River Road, potential sewer expansions and Special Exception applications. As available land for development becomes scarce, proposals emerge in awkward and inappropriate places. Such is the case with a residential project called “Lake Potomac” which calls for five lots on 11 acres at the corner of Stoney Creek Road and Stony Creek Way. Steeply wooded land, driveways intruding into the stream buffer, development predicated on sewer while all adjacent residents are on well and septic – this kind of project violates the intent of our regional planning. The Potomac Subregion Master Plan is explicit: “This Master Plan strongly recommends that sustaining the environment be the preeminent policy determinant in a subregion defined by its natural resources.”

We all care about our homes and neighborhoods, but WMCCA tries to look further in order to alert our residents to issues on the horizon as we work diligently to ensure they have a voice in decisions affecting their lives. Our positions on issues are influenced by our membership. We need your insight and your help as we continue to be a voice for Potomac. Please join WMCCA as a member. Our General Meetings are open to everyone: November 13, December 11, 2013 and January 8, February 12, March 12, April 9, and May 14, 2014. You do not need to be a member to attend. Come see for yourself why and how we care.

Updates: Brickyard School Site / Potomac Elementary School – During the feasibility study for PES, an option was explored to relocate the school from the current River Road location to the Brickyard Road school site. After careful consideration of the both site options, the school will remain at the River Road location. However, the project has been delayed by one year to January 2019.

WMCCA Enters the Electronic World by Barbara Hoover 

WMCCA is now encouraging our members and friends to accept electronic newsletters. You will still have access to the same excellent content each month, and now you can share articles of interest with your friends via email. Plus, electronic newsletters save trees and allow WMCCA to put more money in our legal fund to protect our “Green Wedge.” Please email if you are willing to accept our newsletter in an electronic format.

At the same time, WMCCA is happy to announce that we are now accepting PayPal for membership renewals and contributions as an option to checks, stamps, and paper envelopes. Just go to our website and click on Join Us in the left column. PayPal is a secure way to pay with your credit card without sharing your credit card information with us. We believe that both steps will streamline our operations and save trees!

Glen Hills Area Sewer Study Calendar by Susanne Lee The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection has now posted the final Phase I and Phase II reports of the Glen Hills Sewer Study at the following:

Phase 1 Report

Phase 2 Report

Unfortunately, there are essentially no substantive changes from the draft reports that WMCCA and scores of Glen Hills residents have objected to over the last three years. The Phase I Report determined that of the 542 lots in the study area there are only nine current septic failures, but then proceeds to label 197 properties as not being suitable for septic use. It does so based on theoretical, planning level parameters and not on any actual site conditions. Contrary to the Potomac Subregion Master Plan requirements, the Report does not even provide specific information regarding why the nine failures occurred or the possible remedies, such as sewer line extensions, for those properties.

The Phase II report examines possible types of septic uses and sewer extensions for the 157 targeted properties. In fact, the Phase II report now indicates that almost all of the 157 they rejected for septic use because they might not be able to meet one theoretical requirement for deep trench systems, actually could use septic if they adopted other approved systems such as tile, sand mound, and drip systems. Notwithstanding that finding, the Phase II Report recommends 13 new sewer lines to serve all 157 properties using cost estimates that grossly underestimate extension costs to the large lot lines that characterize Glen Hills. In a neighborhood crisscrossed with streams and ponds, the Report also rejects the Master Plan requirement to exclude environmentally sensitive lots and, in fact, now recommends running sewer lines to undeveloped lots that are filled with wetlands and those in stream valleys.

Now that the Reports are final, the stage shifts to County Executive Ike Leggett to make recommendations to the Montgomery County Council. On the basis of these high priced and highly flawed Reports, they will decide the future character of the Glen Hills neighborhood, the burden to be placed on property owners, and ultimately water quality in the Middle Watts Branch and Piney Branch streams. All of this will be occurring smack dab in the middle of what promises to be a very interesting election year in the County. WMCCA looks forward to fulfilling its time honored role of educating our elected officials – those incumbents in power now and the candidates that may replace them next November – concerning the Glen Hills study and its ramifications. This will include working with the Potomac Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a Candidates Forum specially tied to issues of interest to our area. If you would like to participate in any way in the Glen Hills issues, please contact Susanne Lee at 301-956-4535 or

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Ginny Barnes 301 762-6423
Newsletter – Lois Williams

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 (

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

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