Looking Back 10 and Forward 10 – with Gratitude and Increased Resolve
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.
Having a decade roll over seems to prompt more than the usual New Year’s introspection. Looking back over the last 10 years prompts us to express our deep gratitude to community members who have joined with WMCCA to help preserve the environmental green wedge and the quality of life in the Potomac Subregion. Individuals throughout the Subregion took time away from other responsibilities and dedicated hours and hours of their time and their creativity, financial, and other resources in these efforts. Here are just some of the groups of neighbors that have done so much in the past 10 years: Brickyard Coalition and River Falls and other abutting neighbors (Brickyard organic farm, soccerplex and solar installation, Old Angler’s Inn events venue); East Gate (monopole); Potomac Tennis Club site Lockland Rd. neighbors (Brandywine Senior Living); Carderock (Artis Senior Living); Gary Road (WSSC and forest conservation); Glenstone neighbors (sewer extension, water table, and stream conservation); Query Mill Road (Potter Glen Subdivision); Glen Hills (County sewer policy); Oaklyn Drive (Potomac Swim and Tennis Club); Cutters Lane (Glen Mill Road Subdivision); Fire Station 30 neighbors (monopole); and, Woodrock (Rockwood Manor).
Countless other neighbors have worked with us to preserve or improve specific environmental conditions, especially by stopping the destruction of forest stands and stream buffers throughout the Subregion. And then there is the ongoing work done by our Board members in coordination with others regarding artificial turf playing fields, cell towers, and preservation of the C&O Canal and the Agricultural Reserve. But what about the next 10 years? Certainly WMCCA will be engaged in similar issues. We begin the new decade by joining with the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association to oppose the massive Heritage Gardens townhouse development. The Spectrum Senior Living proposal for the Potomac Petals and Plants garden center site on River Road will likely be filed soon. But perhaps it is time for all of us, as individuals and in concert with others, to step up our game.
Think about the enormous impact overdevelopment throughout the Metropolitan Region in the past 10 years is already having on the quality of life for all of us and on the natural environment – from clogged roads and impaired water and air quality to likely declining songbird populations. Yet County policies encourage even more development. With the rollback of the EPA’s air, water and toxics regulations and the failure of the Planning Board to enforce State and County environmental protections, we as individuals and organizations have to be even more proactive to ensure human health and safety. Most importantly, even here in our area away from the coast, EPA predicts rising temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns are likely to increase the intensity of storms as well as both floods and droughts. We are already experiencing extreme weather events – cars floating on Canal Road, historic flooding along Kendale Road. In these next critical 10 years, our focus must be on solutions that don’t involve more pavement and beltway expansion. It must instead be on whatever we can do to address the wider issues – reducing carbon in the atmosphere and slowing climate change.
Winter Salt Usage Submitted by Ken Bawer
As stated in a December 10, 2019 article in WUSA9, “Montgomery County is taking an active approach to protect the environment and preserve road infrastructure this winter.” The County’s DOT wants to better manage how it uses salt on local roadways. “The goal is to use less,” MCDOT Director Chris Conklin said. “Conklin explained that salt used to de-ice roadways can often end up in local waterways. On top of that, he added that the usage of salt can be corrosive on asphalt and concrete roads.”
Salt run-off also kills plants and is harmful to aquatic organisms. A Wisconsin State Journal article (11/11/18) states that a myriad of problems arise from over-salting. The salt that is spread on pavement inevitably ends up in nearby soil – altering its composition and slowing plant growth – or washing into area waterways and polluting the water. One teaspoon of salt that washes into lakes, rivers, or streams can pollute five gallons of water to a toxic level. Salt causes seasonal chloride spikes that endanger the freshwater animal and plant life, and the salt does not break down once it is in the waterways.
This winter, consider using less salt for icy conditions around your home. As alternatives, consider using sand or non-clumpting kitty-litter to provide traction (although neither will melt the ice). But be sure to sweep it up later so that it doesn’t gets washed into our streams and cause sediment problems.
Heritage Gardens Townhouse Development Submitted by Susanne Lee
Heritage Gardens LLC (HG) seeks to build 51 separately owned townhouses on individual lots on 30 acres zoned RE-2 (2 acre minimum detached houses). In order to build these townhouses in an RE-2 acre zone, the applicant seeks approval for them as a conditional use under the guise of Group Living, and in particular as an independent living facility for seniors. HG’s conditional use application is currently pending before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH). WMCCA filed a Motion to Dismiss the application because, on its face, the supporting documentation establishes that the intended project does not constitute an “independent living facility for seniors” as that conditional use is defined in §126.96.36.199.C.1. of the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance. Briefing has been concluded and the OZAH Hearing Examiner has requested that the County’s Department of Permitting Services provide her with their totally advisory interpretation of the provision by January 8th. A hearing on the Motion is scheduled before the Hearing Examiner on January 13, 2020. If she grants the Motion, the application will be dismissed. If she does not, the hearing on the application is set to begin on February 10, 2020.
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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, email@example.com.
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.