Newsletter – March 2020

March 2020

Staying in Our Lane and Determining What is Our Lane

President’s Letter – by Susanne Lee

It’s easy to identify core issues for WMCCA. Traditionally they are defined by our geographic location – the Potomac Subregion. And within the Subregion, they are most likely issues that will adversely impact our rich environmental resources, violate land use principles, laws and regulations and the Master Plan, or more generally adversely impact quality of life. But increasingly we have been asked to join efforts that in the past we might have considered to be “outside our lane” either in terms of geography or areas of interest or expertise. As we have examined these issues more closely, we have determined some have direct impacts on the Subregion or indirectly through impacts on the Agricultural Reserve. As a result, recently WMCCA has been active in the issues surrounding Beltway expansion, synthetic turf disposal, Thrive Montgomery 2050*, and the expansion of industrial solar installations and rifle use in the Agricultural Reserve. While digital communications make it easy to just click on and sign up, before committing to a position and taking action we still do as we always have done – carefully consider the applicable facts, confer with members, and secure Board approval.

Digital communications and the growth of social media are enormously useful in these efforts. We are continuing to learn what are the most meaningful, effective methods for using them to promote our objectives. It is not just “picking our battles” but ensuring that we are utilizing them to reflect the interests and needs of our members while acknowledging the limits of our collective bandwidths. We welcome your suggestions with regard to these efforts, including if and how you would like to receive additional information, in particular regarding issues that might be considered “outside our lane”.

*Thrive Montgomery 2050: Montgomery County General Plan update:

WMCCA v. Montgomery County Planning Board, COSA No. 2428 Submitted by Susanne Lee

On January 24, 2020, WMCCA filed our opening brief in the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland in our appeal of the Planning Board’s approval of a subdivision in the Piney Branch Special Protection Area (SPA). The lot in question is on the south side of Glen Mill Road between Boswell Lane and Circle Drive. It is heavily wooded with steep slopes and approximately 50% is made up of wetlands and Piney Branch stream buffer. The Planning Board’s approval violated the plain language of County and State requirements for stream and wetland buffers, ignored the SPA Covenant imposed on development on the lot, and failed to follow established Forest Conservation law on tree variances. The Planning Board’s actions were some of the most egregious we have seen and were capped off by a resolution that failed to make even minimal required findings in violation of basic principles of administrative law. WMCCA appealed in great part because the implications of the Planning Board’s action go well beyond this lot. If the Planning Board is not held accountable, it will continue to approve developments that fail to meet basic development requirements, including those for stream buffers and steep slopes that are proving even more critical with increasingly severe wet weather events.

Since the Board’s decision, neighbors have come to us with examples of two other developments proposed on lots with extensive stream buffers and steep slopes. Even if currently you are not threatened with such a development near you, stopping the Planning Board from further violations of basic environmental and administrative law principles is critical to all of us. Although neighbors near the Glen Mill Road site donated enormous amounts of time and were able to provide some financial support, we are incurring additional costs in this the appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. If you can possibly do so, we urge you to donate to WMCCA’s Legal Fund to support this appeal.

Artificial / Synthetic Turf Disposal Submitted by Carol Van Dam Falk

High school athletes and their fans are familiar with artificial (synthetic) turf – the plastic grass they play on that is made from 40,000 to 60,000 pounds of shredded tires – the stuff that gets lodged in their cleats and dragged into our cars and homes. The fields are supposed to have a life span of ten years but many have had to be replaced much sooner than that, including fields in Montgomery County. Maryland Matters reported on Feb. 20th that the Synthetic Turf Council estimated by the end of this decade nearly 750 U.S. turf fields will be removed annually and only one recycling plant is accredited for end-of-life turf – in the Netherlands. That means MCPS and hundreds of other school districts and municipalities like it will have to figure out what to do with tens of thousands of pounds of old, shredded tires and plastic carpets containing numerous carcinogenic materials. HB 1547, a bill sponsored by Del. Mary Lehman (D-Prince George’s County), introduced to the Economic Matters Committee this past week, would require turf manufacturers to properly dispose of used synthetic turf fields. If adopted into law, it would mandate artificial turf suppliers establish a “steward program,” a removal process that is approved by the Maryland Department of the Environment BEFORE a field is ever installed.

Spring Gardening Season Submitted by Ken Bawer

Now that spring is just around the corner, many folks are already thinking about new plants for their gardens or landscaping. Please consider using native plants this year. Birds typically feed only insects, not seeds, to their young – and our insects need native plants to survive. Some folks favor non-native plants since many tend to be insect resistant. While that makes for a nice-looking plant, it does nothing to promote a healthy ecosystem. Even if insects do some damage to plant foliage, that typically is not even visible from several feet away, and certainly not from the road. How about implementing a conservation landscape? As the County RainScapes website states: “Conservation landscaping is able to reduce the negative impacts on the environment associated with conventional lawn management. Many native plant species are deeply rooted, more resistant to…plant disease, and drought. By replacing traditional grass lawns with native plants, you can reduce the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and water.”

Plus, you may then quality for a rebate on your Water Quality Protection Charge:

An informative book on this subject is Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, by Douglas W. Tallamy. He also addresses the problem of non-native invasive plants. Not only do these aggressive invaders (English Ivy and Periwinkle are examples) not provide food for native insects, they displace our native plants, especially when they escape into the woods. Montgomery Parks has an active “Weed Warrior” program which includes free training:

A few of the best places to buy native plants are: 1) spring and fall plant sales at Montgomery Parks Nature Centers including our own Locust Grove Nature Center on Democracy Boulevard; 2) Chesapeake Natives in Upper Malrboro; 3) Earth Sanga in Springfield, Va. All of these organizations specialize in local, native-plant material (“local ecotypes”).

If you need help identifying non-native invasive plants on your property, contact me through WMCCA. Or, contact me if you are interested in removing invasive plants in parkland – I am a Parks volunteer Weed Warrior supervisor. Of course, deer do favor our native plants. I found that the best solution was to install a physical barrier – deer fencing. If you can’t or it is not practical to enclose your entire property, consider fencing some smaller area on your lot.

Please like and follow us at:

We’re looking for interested members to join the WMCCA Board!! Please contact Susanne Lee for more information. We look forward to working with you!

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 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,

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

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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