Each Year It Gets Harder
President’s Letter – by Ginny Barners
Our Master Plan identifies the Potomac Subregion as one of two residential “green wedges” considered environmentally sensitive because of our proximity to the Potomac River and the public water supply. The further we get from the adoption of any master plan, the more difficult it becomes to uphold the fundamentals that guided creation of it. Both the State of Maryland and Montgomery County have used sewer access as a planning tool to protect our local streams. But the agencies we rely on to uphold this policy are suffering from development pressure to sewer the entire County. The County Council, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Planning Commission (MNCPPC) are all turning their backs on limiting the sewer envelope. Development proposals are being considered and even approved in wetlands, within floodplains and on steep slopes; areas once considered off limits. The Piney Branch Special Protection Area (SPA) seems to have been forgotten by the very legislators who created it. Forest Conservation Easements are routinely violated and then adjusted to allow the violation to continue. From proposals for solar farms to country inns, Special Exceptions (Conditional Uses) in areas not suitable are a constant threat to our subregion. Since our founding in 1947, WMCCA has been committed to upholding our Master Plan and the characteristics of Potomac that make us want to live here. But we are all volunteers and can’t do it without residents joining and working with us. Please go to www.wmcca.org, become a member, come to our meetings and work with us so Potomac grows as our Master Plan intended.
Glenstone Foundation Forest Conservation by Susanne Lee:
In a precedent setting decision the Montgomery County Planning Board recently granted approval to the Glenstone Foundation to allow the construction of pedestrian bridges, elevated walkways, art installations, lighting, security cameras, and emergency call boxes in a Category I Forest Conservation easement in the Greenbriar Branch stream valley. Under the County’s Forest Conservation statute Category I conservation easements run with the land and are designed to protect forest and other natural features in perpetuity. No activity – no mowing, other disturbance, or structures, even swing sets, are allowed under the terms of Category I easements – until now. Glenstone’s mega museum site on Glen Road has engulfed over 200 acres of residential and farm land. This Planning Board decision was particularly egregious given that there are at least 150 other acres outside the stream valley conservation easements for museum operations.
WMCCA vigorously, but unsuccessfully, opposed the decision. However, in the course of the hearing we did confirm that there is a longstanding bridle trail easement open to the public for horseback riding and pedestrian hiking on the site even though the museum is currently closed to the public. The trail connects to trail easements on adjacent properties and eventually to the trails planned for the South Serpentine Barrens Conservation Park. Glenstone Foundation representatives stated that if the public wants to use this section of the trail, it can be reached from a spot on the south side of Glen Road just west of where Glen Road crosses over the Greenbriar Branch stream.
Stopping Sewer Sprawl into Rural and Low Density Areas by Susanne Lee:
As reported in prior Newsletters, as part of the update to the Montgomery County Water and Sewer Plan, the County Council is considering measures to extend sewer lines to rural and low density areas throughout the County, including portions of the Potomac Subregion. Not only will the astronomical costs of these lines be borne entirely by homeowners, sewering low density areas that have been designated for septic use leads to much more intense development, increased impervious surfaces, and ultimately dirtier water in our streams and lakes, the source of our drinking water. In a related recent action, Councilmember Stanley Katz proposed immediately putting all of the Glen Hills area within the sewer envelope, notwithstanding the 2016 Council decision that Glen Hills should not be sewered.
WMCCA is a founding and very active member of the Coalition to Stop Sewer Sprawl. This broad-based group is requesting that the Council include 3 key elements in the Water and Sewer Plan:
- Confirmation that septic is preferred over sewer in low density areas;
- Increased outreach and technical assistance for homeowners on septic; and,
- Limiting conversion to sewer to existing or imminent public health problems resulting from failed septic systems that cannot be repaired or replaced.
Time is of the essence since the Council vote will occur in the next several weeks. Please tell the Council that you oppose sewering low density areas by sending an email to the entire Council at County.email@example.com. If you would like additional information and proposed language you can find it on the Montgomery Countryside Alliance website: www.mocoalliance.org/news.
In May, WMCCA members will elect Officers and the Board of Directors for the coming year. The Nominating Committee consists of:
- Jill Phillips – Chair,
- Carol Van Dam,
- Ken Bawer,
- Kathy Petitt,
- Nancy Madden, and
- George Barnes.
DUES REMINDER: If you have not already renewed your membership, please do so today. We count on your dues to cover the cost of our newsletter. Individual $25 / Family $50. We also welcome donations to our Legal Fund. Please share your email address with us so we can send you meeting reminders and action alerts. You can note your email address in your membership renewal, or send an email to Membership@wmcca.org if you would like to have notices in an electronic format.
WMCCA is actively looking for volunteers for:
Website Assistance Needed by Peter Poggi:
WMCCA is looking for someone to help modernize our website.
While the current http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.
Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA. We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve.
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: http://www.wmcca.org
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 (www.wmcca.org).
Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.