Newsletter – January 2017

January 2017

Happy New Year

President’s Letter – by Carol Van Dam Falk

Happy New Year to one and all of our members. We hope you experienced the simple joys and blessings of the season with family and friends.Many residents of Potomac, Bethesda, and Cabin John say they have noticed a significant increase in the number of planes departing from the Potomac River and flying directly over their neighborhoods. They are not imagining things. Ken Hartman has confirmed that the flight path out of Reagan National Airport has changed, and now heads straight over parts of Potomac, Bethesda, and Cabin John. Flights heading West and South over the Potomac River now depart directly over Carderock, Avenel, and the Woodrock neighborhoods. East and North-bound flights now turn over Bannockburn. The changes in flight paths were made in 2015 according to the FAA’s NextGen program due in part to noise complaints from other communities. Under this program, aircraft departure procedures transitioned to GPS navigation.Residents, including myself, have noticed that planes heading either from or to Reagan National Airport are so close that we cannot carry on a conversation in our front yards while a plane is flying overhead. They also seem to be flying with more frequency, even every two to three minutes at some points in the afternoons and evenings. Ken says that is in fact the case for arrivals, but not departures. He says that is because of the elimination of the Northern Virginia approach. In fact, arrivals over Montgomery County have increased by as much as 30 percent since late 2015!We will have more information on changed flight paths in and out of Reagan National, as well as plans for altering those flight paths when Ken addresses our January meeting.

255 Year Old Tree Destroyed by Susanne Lee:

A 255 year old White Ash tree at 12925 Circle Drive in Glen Hills was destroyed on December 21st by the new property owner Ryan Mollet. The enormous tree (almost Montgomery County Champion status) was placed in a Category II Conservation Easement in 1998 as part of an exchange for allowing the prior owner to clear cut a large stand of mature trees as part of his subdivision request. The tree was next to the existing house and it was made very clear at the time and over the years and in public hearings that future development of the property would be constrained by the giant ash. During the most recent such public hearing, the then property owner’s arborist declared the tree was in fair to good health for a tree of its age and that it just required some preventive maintenance.However, with absolutely no notice to the public, in a letter dated August 19, 2016 to the prior owner, a Forest Conservation Inspector in the Montgomery County Planning Department stated that the Maryland–National Park and Planning Commission had approved the cutting and removal of the tree. Although the letter contained a summary of the condition of the tree, it provided no clear statement why, at this time, conditions had so changed that the Conservation Easement should be eliminated and the tree destroyed. Of particular importance, although the letter said there were signs of the Emerald Ash Borer, that was not given as the reason for removal. Subsequent examination of the felled tree did not provide evidence that it was in fact in any kind of advanced state of decline because of ash borers. To the contrary, given its age and status it might have been a good candidate for insecticide protection from the borer or may have been an example of a resilient ash specimen. All of these options should have been considered through an open, transparent, fact-based public process. WMCCA members worked for years to protect this amazing tree and we will pursue why and how it was destroyed without such a process.

Maryland Catering Company Banquet / Motel Facility by Susanne Lee: 

The Maryland Catering Company has requested approval for a new conditional use (previously called a special exception) for construction of a free standing banquet and overnight guest facility in a residential zone on MacArthur Boulevard across from the heavily used C&O Canal National Historical Park entrance/parking lot for Widewater. Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings Examiner Lynn Robeson has scheduled a hearing on the request beginning at 9:30am on Friday, February 24, 2017. Prior to the OZAH hearing, the Montgomery County Planning Board is scheduled to consider the request on February 9, 2017. However, as of December 21st, Maryland Catering Company had failed to respond to the Planning Board’s December 5, 2016 staff request for a long list of information essential for their review. WMCCA continues to work closely with the surrounding homeowners and their attorneys in their opposition to this precedent-setting conditional use request under the new Montgomery County zoning code.

One Lane Bridge in the Glen Repaired by Ginny Barnes: 

At our October General Meeting, our speaker Barry Fuss gave a presentation on Rustic Road bridges. Attendees expressed concern about the state of damage to the guard rails on the bridge at the intersection of South Glen, Glen, and Glen Mill Roads. Barry pledged to see that the Department of Transportation (DOT) attended to repairs. In late December the guard rails were replaced. A good example of how citizens make a difference when they speak up. Barry was unaware of the conditions in the Glen until he heard from our members

Mark Your Calendars for our February 8, 2017 General Meeting The Parks Department will give a presentation on the recently approved Countywide Park Trails Plan Amendment and link it to other Parks policy documents currently being updated.

Help support our efforts in defending the Master Plan. Renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Look for your renewal notice in the mail or go to our website to download a membership form or join using PayPal

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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