MOVING ON FROM 2014 TO 2015 APPLAUSE, LAMENTATIONS, AND THE WORK AHEAD
President’s Letter – by Susanne Lee
On the personnel side, we greatly lament Callum Murrays departure from the Planning Board Staff. But we are encouraged that Lisa Feldt, the new Director of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, is an experienced Federal environmental protection professional who in accepting this County position indicated she wants to give back to the community work directly with communities. Governor-Elect Hogans choice of Ben Grumbles, a thoughtful, dedicated, environmental expert in water issues, to lead the Maryland Department of Environment is likewise very encouraging. Both are fellow US EPA alums who hopefully will champion effective local environmental protection.
On the work ahead, as always, WMCCA will be actively engaged in a variety of issues, but two will likely overshadow all others this year:
1. Glen Hills Sewer Study Without major redirection and revision, this fatally flawed study and its aftermath will result not only in violations of the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and the County Water and Sewer Plan, but it also raises the spectre of misuse of appropriated funds, further degradation of the Watts Branch and Piney Branch streams, unjustified constraints on private property use, and adverse impacts on property valuation.
2. WSSC Mid-River Intake Rather than cleaning up the Watts Branch stream pollution adversely impacting the water flowing into its infiltration plant on River Road, WSSC is proceeding with a plan to move its intake pipe into the middle of the Potomac River. The construction of this project will have massive adverse impacts on the C&O Canal National Park near the plant and a forested island in the river, without addressing the underlying problem of stream pollution.
We look forward to working with you on these and other issues in 2015 and welcome your help and support.
NEW CITIZENS GROUP FORMED TO SAVE TREES Submitted by Alison Mrohs:
A newly formed citizens group named STOP: Save Trees Oppose PEPCO! had its inaugural meeting at the Potomac Community Center on December 21st. There were about 30 people attending, mainly from Falls Reach (majority), Potomac Crest, Inverness, Glen Park, Betteker, and Glen Hills, although the issue impacts neighbors throughout the Potomac Subregion.
The groups mission statement from their Facebook page is: Pepco has been aggressively clear cutting thousands of trees in Potomac. We understand the need for Pepco to maintain their power-lines so they can deliver reliable power. However, Pepco is now cutting thousands of trees which, in many cases, do not present any danger to their power-lines. Pepco has been given carte blanche discretion to trim and cut trees. Instead of being a good neighbor and adopting a balanced approach to tree management, Pepco is severely damaging our environment and negatively impacting the quality of our lives.
The group created a list of action items. If you were not able to attend the meeting, but would like to join them to help and protect your trees, please look on their Facebook page as this is their main mode of communication: STOP:Save Trees, Oppose Pepco!
In addition Pepco and Exelon Corporation have announced a proposed merger and the public has an opportunity to comment on the proposed merger and other Pepco related issues at an upcoming public hearing. In addition to the issue of tree cutting, Pepco will be considering public, shared-use pathways for non-vehicular recreation in their power line corridor right-of-ways. This would allow access and use by walkers, runners, hikers, bicyclists, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers. Public comment on these issues and others related to the proposed merger between Exelon and Pepco can be shared at a public hearing before Maryland’s Public Service Commission at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, January 13th at the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. You may also send written comments by February 17th to David J. Collins, Executive Secretary, Maryland Public Service Commission, William Donald Schaefer Tower, 6 St. Paul St., 16th Fl., Baltimore, MD 21202, and reference Case No. 9361 Public Comment. Written comments must be mailed or hand-delivered to be put on the PSC’s official docket.
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.