Our C&O Canal’s Beauty, History, & Preservation
President’s Letter by Barbara Brown
The C&O Canal gives the Potomac river a secluded privacy, and a feeling of history. Stretching from DC to Cumberland, traveling the canal can take you away from modern times to a different, quieter, simpler era. Only parts of the canal are still watered, but in Washington, DC, the canal is not only a beautiful walk, but also provides for boat travel.
Two years of repairs are planned from November 22, 2022 through November 24, 2024. These repairs will be extensive and time consuming, but will add quality to the towpath. There will be a public meeting within the next month. The main intent is to renew the Stop Lock (Guard Lock) at the bottom of the Feeder Canal (Lock 5). Next there are plans to rehabilitate the prism between Great Falls (Lock 20) and Violettes Lock (Lock 23). Plans to rehabilitate Georgetown Level 4, Gates 1 and 2 being finalized.
Heritage Gardens Land, LLC’s Townhouse/Senior Care Community at 10701 South Glen Road – Conditional Use Application No. CU202201
Submitted by Susanne Lee
Much to our dismay, but as expected, on September 6, 2022, Hearing Examiner (HE) Lynn Robeson Hannon approved the Conditional Use application for the construction of a massive townhouse and lodge complex on this 30 acre low density RE-2 residential site at the intersection of Norton and South Glen Road. The decision reflects an abject failure of multiple agencies of Montgomery County government to conform to and perform the essential elements of good governance in a manner consistent with the basic tenets of administrative, zoning, planning, and environmental laws and regulations. This included actions and inactions by the County Council, the Forest Conservation and Planning Staff, and the Planning Board in addition to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH). The HE Hannon approval decision is provided here:
Click to access CU%2022-01%2C%20Heritage%20Land%20LLC%2C%20Report%20and%20Decision%20(Robeson)_Final(1).pdf
In contrast, the one bright shining example of what should have happened throughout was captured in the decision by the previous HE Derek J Baumgardner to require a traffic study. He was at the time relatively new to OZAH, but with prior substantial zoning law experience as head of the Baltimore Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals. His decision rejected the Planning Board’s long-standing practice not to require a study in order-in their words-to make it easier for the development community. The HE decision rejected this typical Planning Board approach and relied instead on basic tenets of administrative law and especially the plain language of the requirements. Given his demonstrated independence and adherence to administrative law principles and rules of statutory interpretation, he may well have ruled differently than HE Hannon. However, with no notice or explanation, he was gone from OZAH almost immediately after he issued his decision on February 11, 2022, and was replaced with HE Hannon. His decision is provided here:
Click to access CU%2022-01%20Order%20Remanding%20Case%20to%20Planning%20Staff%20(002).pdf
Given that the parties are not likely to appeal and the uncertainty surrounding the developer’s plans, it is unclear what will happen at the site and when. WMCCA thanks the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association leadership, members, and contributors for their incredible efforts. They have worked tirelessly for years to try to ensure positive development of the site. Development that, in contrast to this plan, would maintain and enhance the character of the neighborhood, preserve the natural environment, and decrease the traffic and pedestrian hazards on South Glen Road.
Going forward we at WMCCA, along with other concerned citizen organizations, continue to consider what can be done regarding what we believe is a County government structure that has lost all ability to administer effectively essential Federal, state, and local zoning, environmental and planning requirements. In the meantime, to follow some of these issues, check out the website at http://www.theseventhstate.com.
And keep an eye out for what the OIG at the Planning Board is finding:
Update on Thrive 2050
Submitted by Ginny Barnes
For the past several years, amidst COVID lock down, inadequate public participation, endless controversy and scandal at the highest levels, the Planning Commission has delivered to the County Council what is intended to be an update of the Montgomery County General Plan. It isn’t an update at all. It will alter forever how we develop our county and destroy the ‘wedges and corridors’ vision of our successful growth pattern for the last 60 years. That vision has provided an environmental basis for development and made possible our 93,000+ acres of Agricultural Reserve, 2 low density semi-rural areas called ‘green wedges’ and guided the creation of over 33,000 acres of parkland. The Potomac Subregion is the western ‘wedge’. We play a major role in protecting the public water supply and the narrow, linear C&O Canal National Historic Park that hugs the Potomac River from Georgetown to Cumberland.
Purported to address inequities in housing, Thrive 2050 seeks to compact development, open the entire county to upzoning, and create what are called complete communities. It does not provide actions to address our greatest threat: Climate change. One which does not discriminate. One which requires a focus on our environment as a public health issue. We all need increased tree canopy, local and sustainable food security, provision of clean energy and water quality protection. The singular focus of Thrive on more housing distribution will only increase sprawl. It will not decrease poverty. It will cause more problems and solve nothing. The pandemic has helped make a distance between the public and policy makers, but the Planning Commission turned a deaf ear to proper and even legal citizen inclusion. Now a deeply flawed document sits at the County Council poised for approval.
Coalitions have been formed to fight back this disaster. One of the most recent and diverse sent a letter signed by 36 organizations (including WMCCA) and 209 residents requesting the County Council hit the pause button on Thrive Montgomery 2050. But they are not listening. We’ve received no reply. Our collective letter is not even included in staff packets at Council work sessions. Our letter is still open for signatures. Go to https://tinyurl.com/PauseThriveSignOn. The Council did not create this disaster but is responsible for enacting it. Please help pause the process and open it to the wider community it has failed to reach – do so now, before it is too late.
REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2022-2023!
Please renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Go to our website http://www.wmcca.org to download a membership form or join using PayPal: Individual: $25 / Family: $50. We encourage donations to our Legal Fund. While we strive for positive results without litigation, sometimes it is unavoidable and highly effective. Contributions from members enabled us to join efforts to successfully address several 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. If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA. We appreciate the input from our neighbors. Thank you for your support !! Our Membership year runs from October 1st to September 30th.
Mark Your Calendars for October 22, 2022 – Visit our WMCCA Booth #51 at POTOMAC DAY!
Our Speaker for the November 9, 2022 General Meeting with be Paul Tukey,
Chief Sustainability Officer for the Glenstone Museum in Potomac
and author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual.
VIRTUAL WMCCA Meeting October 12, 2022 – 7:30 p.m.
West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P.O. Box 59335, Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Barbara Brown: President@WMCCA.org
Website: WMCCA.org – Thomas Fahey, Newsletter Editor – Nancy Madden