Just What Planet Are Our State Officials Living On – the American Legion Bridge to River Road Widening Fast-Tracked
President’s Letter – by Susanne Lee
Northern Virginia paved over everything in sight leading to the American Legion Bridge. So it didn’t take a rocket scientist or a transportation expert to predict the giant traffic bottlenecks that are now occurring daily on the Virginia side of the Bridge. Maryland Governor Hogan was already jamming through a massive, financially risky, public-private luxury toll lanes project to widen the Beltway from the American Legion Bridge to I-95 and up I-270. The whole process has been plagued by a lack of transparency, inadequate and conflicting data, failure to conduct the required environmental impact studies and mitigation, and the future degradation of water quality and loss of hundreds of acres of wildlife habitat and parkland. The proposal is so flawed that litigation between the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the Maryland Department of Transportation seems likely.
Now Virginia Governor Northam has joined with Governor Hogan to initiate a rapid rebuilding and widening of the American Legion Bridge and the Beltway from the Bridge to River Road – again luxury toll lanes and private funding with construction starting as early as 2021. This is an immediate threat to all of those who live anywhere near where the new lanes will be built. Use this link to see the impact on individual homeowners and our schools and parkland:
WHAT ARE THESE STATE OFFICIALS THINKING? Have we learned nothing since the Bridge was built and the Beltway opened over 50 years ago? Both became jammed with traffic soon after they were completed. Are they totally clueless regarding the impacts of climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions? Just because the Region has failed miserably in its transportation planning, doesn’t mean we can’t stop the madness now. Yet these proposals have not one – not one – transit option or smart growth action proposal. Nothing in this massively destructive infrastructure project will do anything to solve long term traffic congestion or reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. To the contrary, study after study documents that where new roads are built or old ones expanded, they just encourage more driving and more development, and are soon filled to capacity. The objective of all of these expansion projects is to allow additional space for an increased number of greenhouse gas emitting vehicles when we should be doing everything in our power to decrease those numbers. The climate crisis demands real change – not the same old, same old mistakes.
Heritage Gardens Townhouse Development Submitted by Susanne Lee
On November 20, 2019, WMCCA filed a Motion to Dismiss the developer’s application for a conditional use approval to construct 51 townhouses on the 30 acre former 4th Presbyterian School site on South Glen Road. The property is zoned RE-2 – Single Family Residential on Two Acre Lots. WMCCA requested that the Hearing Examiner reject the application because, on its face, the development fails to meet the definition of an Independent Living Facility for Seniors contained in the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance. If not dismissed, the conditional use hearing before the Hearing Examiner is set for February 10, 2020.
Synthetic Turf Nightmare Submitted by Carol Van Dam Falk
Another push is underway at the state level to end subsidies for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and other county school systems or agencies that install synthetic turf playing fields instead of maintaining natural grass fields, fields which do not off-gas carcinogenic material or whose surface temperatures do not exceed 150 degrees on hot days as do artificial turf fields. Dr. Kathleen Michels, a neuroscientist, parent and member of our coalition Safe Healthy Playing Fields testified recently that it’s no secret that the world is “drowning in plastic and it’s related toxins.” Michels pointed out that “no amount of ‘recycling’ can or will solve the problem. “The answer to an overflowing bathtub is to TURN OFF the TAP. Then mop it up,” said Michels.
To that end, the coalition supports an end to subsidies for plastic synthetic turf sports fields and playgrounds. We also support efforts to regulate their disposal so that hundreds of tons of disintegrating plastic and tire crumb from each one of these fields does not end up dumped in local woodlands or wetlands. Many plastics, including synthetic playing fields, are manufactured with the PFAS class of toxic, “forever chemicals” that now pollute our drinking water and soil. PFAS (Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) are in Vortex jackets, Scotch Guard carpets, and non-stick pans like Teflon. The EPA recently released its delayed Nationwide Per and PFAs action plan, and it falls far short of what is needed to protect communities. Linda Birnbaum, former head of the NIH National Toxicology Program, was banned last month from telling the public PFAs cause multiple health problems.
PEER, (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) recently joined our efforts to ban subsidies for synthetic turf and regulate their disposal. It said tests by the Ecology Center, a nonprofit in Michigan, found a marker chemical that suggests PFAs are present in the blades of fake grass used in artificial turf. “PFAS in synthetic turf should sound alarm bells for parents and for all municipalities with these fields,”- November 2019 PEER Newsletter. Now Wootton High School is being forced to replace its 6 year old synthetic turf field, which was supposed to last 10 years. Walter Johnson High School recently had to replace its synthetic turf field early. Crumb rubber from both fields are leeching into nearby soil and waterways. We need to clean up our mess and make sure that the next generations do not have to deal with this toxic nightmare.
REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2019-2020!
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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.
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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.