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Newsletter – December 2021

December 2021


President’s Letter – Opposition to Proposed I-495 Beltway and I-270 Corridor Expansion

President Carol Van Dam Falk

West Montgomery County Citizens Association, together with several other area organizations, has opposed Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s multi-billion-dollar proposal to expand the I-495 Beltway and I-270 corridor for several reasons: it would hurt local ratepayers, severely impact Maryland taxpayers, but most importantly, it would assault our local environment in a way that can never be undone at a time when state government should be most concerned with finding ways to mitigate climate change, not increase it. WMCCA wrote the then-head of the Maryland Highway Department along with several regional and state representatives regarding our strong opposition to the I-495/I-270 expansion project a little more than a year ago and more recently signed on to a coalition letter that includes legal and technical comments on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the 495/270 toll lanes plan.  The comments provide a rigorous legal and technical analysis of why the proposal is flawed and must not move forward.

The DEIS can be found at https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce-authors/u18365/2020-11-09-Comments%20on%20DEIS%2C%204%28f%29%2C%20and%20JPA%20%281%29%20%281%29.pdf

One of the groups spearheading this effort has been the Maryland Sierra Club.  Therefore, we thought it timely to invite Shruti Bhatnagar and Brian Ditzler of the Sierra Club Maryland to describe how the project would increase carbon emissions, damage forests and streams, encourage sprawl, destroy some established neighborhoods, and fail to achieve Hogan’s stated goal of reducing congestion.

The Sierra Club and WMCCA support expansion of public transit options from Shady Grove to Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Clarksburg as well as the Corridor Cities Transitway, which would require state and county funding.  WMCCA and the Sierra Club have long supported adding Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along MD 355 which would far better meet the needs of commuters than adding roads or lanes.


Update – Heritage Gardens Land, LLC at 10701 South Glen Road – Conditional Use Application No. CU202201

Submitted by Susanne Lee

The hearing before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) for this massive townhouse/residential care facility proposed for the 30-acre lot (RE-2 -residential minimum 2 acre)  at the intersection of Norton and South Glen Roads has been postponed from December 13, 2021 to January 28, 2022 at 9:30 am.  The Montgomery County Planning Board is required to review the proposal and provide recommendations to OZAH at least 10 days before the OZAH hearing, but the Planning Board’s hearing date in January has not been published.  According to the Planning Board staff, they provided comments to Heritage Gardens on the initial proposal and in response Heritage Gardens was revising the proposal.  We requested a copy of any written comments but unfortunately the Planning Board staff has not provided them.  When a prior proposal was submitted 2 years ago, it went to the Planning Board’s Development Review Committee and we received copies of their extensive, substantive, written comments.

On November 23rd, Heritage Gardens attorney Patricia Harris indicated that the revised proposal would be submitted within several days, but no new documents have as yet been posted on the Planning Board website.  West Montgomery invited Heritage Gardens to speak at our December General Meeting, but they were not available for that date.  Instead they indicated they will present the proposal at our January 12, 2022 General Meeting via Zoom.  Information regarding OZAH, including information regarding participating in the process, is here:  https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ozah/.

Documents describing the proposal can be found here on the Planning Board site: https://eplans.montgomeryplanning.org/daiclinks/pdoxlinks.aspx?apno=CU202201&projname=10701%20South%20Glen%20Road


Thrive Montgomery 2050 – General Plan Update

Submitted by Ken Bawer

On October 25, the County released the “Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee Draft of Thrive Montgomery 2050,” an update to the County’s General Plan. As stated in this draft, “A general plan is a long-range guide for the development of a community.”  Regarding Corridor-Focused Growth Areas, we are pleased that the PHED Committee’s Draft removes the River Road corridor from the Beltway to Potomac Village as being an inappropriate designation.

Unfortunately, the PHED Committee’s Draft disregards most of the issues raised in our July 7, 2021 comments for the Montgomery County Council Public Hearing for Thrive Montgomery 2050, Planning Board Draft, April 2021 and does not present any information that would alter any of those comments or cause any to be removed from consideration.  Our comments from the Council Public Hearing for Thrive Montgomery 2050, Planning Board Draft, April 2021 on the Planning Board Draft therefore remain valid, and both they and the comments below on the PHED Committee’s Draft must be satisfactorily addressed.  The mantra expressed in this plan is growth, growth, growth (whether economic, business, or population) – it is mentioned over 120 times in the PHED Committee Draft.  Instead of focusing on “compact growth”, this plan should be designed around the mantra of “sustainable growth”.  That is, how can we grow our quality of life in a sustainable manner within the physical limits of our environment?  Compact growth may not be sustainable – for example, how is stormwater kept out of streams when impervious surface density increases?

We completely reject the premise that the County must and will inevitably become more urban.  Certainly, the County will become more urban if this plan is implemented as written.  However, the authors’ present this outcome not only as a fait accompli, but as the desired outcome based upon their personal preference (and developer interests) for a more urban county.  We reject that a more urban county is an outcome that we should strive towards.  This draft Plan’s promotion of “stream restorations” is in direct contradiction of our Climate Action Plan’s vision to retain forests (p. xvii).  “Stream restorations” are highly destructive construction projects which actually destroy forested areas in their footprints.


Two-and-a-Half Years Later the Derelict House on Chapel Road Still Stands 

Submitted by Barbara Hoover

On November 15th, 2021 WMCCA wrote to Councilmember Andrew Friedson and requested his assistance and support to navigate Montgomery County Government, to finally have the dangerous burned-out house on Chapel Road demolished.  After two and a half years of hearings, COVID delays and many inquiries and concerns, the property still remains a problem.  Recently, Judge Rand Gelber, who presided over the last court hearing, granted the request for a ‘clean and lien’ to demolish the remaining structure.  Unfortunately, when we contacted Montgomery County Supervisor Dan McHugh about proceeding with the demolition, we were told that there was no budget to do this, and that Montgomery County was not in the business of demolishing private property. 

In March, 2019 WMCCA was approached by concerned neighbors about a derelict burned down house at 10100 Chapel Road.  In case you missed this, it was a spectacular fire at night on Feb 1st and 60 firefighters fought it, and it was widely covered in the local news: http://www.fox5dc.com/news/local-news/massive-overnight-fire-leaves-home-badly-damaged-in-potomac.  The neighbors had been concerned about this house for a while before the fire, as the owners had moved out and the house was deserted and the grounds unkempt.  Now, the shell of the home is an unsightly nuisance and an “attractive” hazard for any kids likely to examine the property.  Neighbors who live in close proximity to this property are concerned about the negative impact that the burned shell and unkempt grounds will have on their home values.  The neighbors remain very concerned about this property, and are upset that we have put all this effort into two years of hearings to arrive at a supportive court ruling, only to be told that there is no budget.


REMINDERIT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2021-2022!

Your support is vital to our continued work.  As a member you will receive our monthly newsletter and notices of our monthly meetings (October thru May), and we’ll alert you to issues that may impact you and fight with you to protect our “Green Wedge”.


Add the January 12th WMCCA General Meeting to Your Calendar

A representative from the contract purchaser of the South Glen Properties (site of the former Fourth Presbyterian School property on South Glen Road at Norton Road), Ken Wormald/The Wormald Companies, will present their proposed plans for their Heritage Gardens development.  We encourage the neighbors affected by these plans to become involved in the process now and in January attend this meeting to present their questions and concerns.


VIRTUAL WMCCA Meeting December 8, 2021 – 7:30 p.m.


West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Carol Van Dam Falk – resident@WMCCA.org
Website – WMCCA.org – Peter Poggi, Newsletter Editor – Nancy Madden

Newsletter – April 2008

April 2008


President’s Letter – Unintended Consequences?

Ginny Barnes

It Seems There Is No End To Vigilance Needed To Protect A Way Of Life That Makes Our Community So Refreshingly Different From Other Areas Of Montgomery County.  Some Of Our Elected Officials Enjoy Typecasting Potomac As A Rich Enclave Where Houses Are Too Big, Lawyers Too Plentiful, And Work Force Housing In Too Little Evidence.  That Might Serve As A Superficial Impression, But It Is Hardly Fair.  Our Environmental Underpinnings And Low-Density Zoning Are Planning Mainstays Of A Region Intended To Buffer Agricultural Lands To The North And Protect The Public Water Supply.  Because Of This And Our Position Hugging The Western Edge Of The County, We Have Staved Off Efforts To Widen River Road And Decimate The Rural And Rustic Roads That, Along With Our Many Stream Valleys Leading To The Potomac River, Help Define This Region.  Last Week Brought A New And Troubling Issue With Far-Reaching Implications.

We Were Alerted By Neighbors Of Signs Going Up And Internet Advertising For A Care Facility South Of The Village Utilizing Three Houses Adjacent To One Another On Falls Road And Burbank Drive – Advertised As “Potomac Seniors Village” On Craig’s List.  The Zoning Ordinance Is Clear That Group Homes Of Up To Eight Residents Are A Permitted Use In Residential Zones, And The Ordinance Does Not Put A Limit On How Many Such Homes Can Exist In Any Given Neighborhood.  However, These Three Group Homes Were Advertised As A Single Facility, Making It A Group Home Complex Of Twenty-Four Residents.  Inquiries To Susan Scala-Demby At The Montgomery County Department Of Permitting Services Revealed That DPS Considers It Entirely Legal Because The Houses Are Listed On Tax Records As Owned By Three Different People.  What Makes This Interpretation Puzzling Is That Were Any One Of Those Three Group Homes To House Nine Persons, It Would Require A Special Exception.  This Situation Is Certainly Stretching Compliance With The Law, Especially When The Owners Are Linking The Three Houses With Gravel Drives, Walking Paths And A Common Fence Surrounding All Three Lots.  So Far, County Attorney Malcolm Spicer Agrees With The DPS Interpretation.  We Believe, At The Very Least, That A Special Exception Should Be Required Of What Is Essentially One Facility Of Three Connected Lots.  It Is Utterly Illogical To Permit Three Abutting Group Homes To Have Twenty-Four Adults When Any One Of Them With Nine Requires A Special Exception.

Let’s Extrapolate Using Public Officials’ Interpretation Of The Zoning Ordinance.  In Montgomery County A Double-Wide Mobile Home Is Permitted In Most Single Family Residential Zones Including RE-2.  Applying The Same Reasoning Used In The Burbank Drive Case, It Would Be Legal To Establish A Mobile Home Park As A Matter Of Right.  While That Might Not Be As Likely On Large Lots, It Certainly Is Possible In The R-60 Zone, In An Established Subdivision.  Once Again The DPS Has Failed To Recognize A Situation Where A Business Is Taking Advantage Of Loopholes In The Law, And It Does Not Have The Will To Protect Existing Communities From Opportunistic Individuals Exploiting Poorly Written Regulations.  It Should Be Incumbent On The Business To Prove That They Are Separate, Rather Than The Responsibility Of The Citizens To Prove That They Are, For All Practical Purposes, One Entity.  As One Facility, They May Still Have A Legal Right To Exist On Three Contiguous Lots, But Being Required To Go Through The Special Exception Process Would Determine What Impacts Exist And How They Might Be Mitigated.  

Environmental And Planning And Zoning Report

Forest Conservation Law Amendments The County Council Has Finally Confirmed The Forest Conservation Advisory Committee (FCAC) Mandated By Legislation Passed In Late 2006.  After Two Transportation And Environment Committee (T&E) Work Sessions On Proposed Forest Conservation Law Amendments From Councilmember Elrich And The Planning Commission, The T&E Committee Decided To Turn Both Sets Of Amendments Over To The New FCAC While The Council Takes Up The County Budget.  What Is Missing From The Discussion So Far Is A Measurable Goal For The Law.  Perhaps No Net Loss Is A Good Starting Point.  The Council Is Looking For Recommendations From The FCAC In June, When The Budget Is Completed.  In The Meantime, Council President Mike Knapp Has Reconfigured The T&E Committee To Be Known As Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy And Environment (TIE&E) With Nancy Floreen (Chair), George Leventhal, And Roger Berliner (Replacing Valerie Ervin). Councilmember Berliner Will Be Called “Lead Member For Energy And Environment.”

Pepco Tree Cutting  You May Have Noticed Some Heavy-Handed Pruning Of Trees And Vegetation Along River Road Between The Village And Behnke’s Nursery.  Pepco Is Engaged In Some Roadside Clearing That Has Even Reached Onto The Property Of Homeowners Who Abut The Road, With A Goal Of Increasing The Time Between Regular Pruning To Once Every Five Years.  Claims That They Are Cutting To “Arborist Standards” Are Being Used As An Excuse To Remove Trees Beyond The Right-Of-Way.  In “Pepco Speak” This Translates To Another Twisted Logic: Arborists Say If More Than Twenty-Five Percent Of A Trees’ Canopy Is Cut, It Will Die.  So, If Pepco Thinks They Will Have To Cut More Than Twenty-Five Percent Of The Canopy Of Any Given Tree To Get The Job Done As They See It, They Simply Remove The Tree Altogether, And, With A Good Collective Conscience, Claim They Don’t Kill Trees.  Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s Office Is Looking Into Matter.

Sewer Category Change Requests   At The T&E Committee Work Session On Sewer Category Change Requests, Potomac Oaks Center Requested “Deferral” Of Their Application In Order To Work On Options For Upgrades To The Center.  WMCCA And The Other Major Civic Associations In The Potomac Subregion Jointly Opposed Their Request Because It Violated The Potomac Master Plan And The County’s Ten Year Water And Sewer Plan.  The Other Request Of Concern Was The Lee-Lacer Property Asking For Sewer To Serve Two Houses On One RE-2 Lot; The Smaller House Is Currently Illegal.  The County Council Voted To Defer This Until The Hearing Examiner Rules On A Special Exception Request For An Accessory Apartment On The Site.   


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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – March 2008

March 2008


President’s Letter – Whys And Wherefores Of The Sewer Envelope

Ginny Barnes

In 2002, When The Approved And Adopted Potomac Subregion Master Plan Finally Made It Through The Minefield Of Political Pressures That Sought To Widen Our Two-Lane Roads, Increase Zoning Density, And Expand Commercial Development Well Beyond The Confines Of Potomac Village, A Sense Of Satisfaction Prevailed.  We Were The First Master Plan Revision To Use The New Geographical Information System Tools The County Had Just Acquired To Have Our Environmental Resources Mapped And Studied In Depth.  We Were The Last Such Revision To Have An Appointed Citizens Advisory Board Which Met Over The Course Of Three Years To Consider Proposals And Policies That Would Shape Our Growth For The Next Twenty Years.  By 2002, The Major Tenets Of Our Master Plan Were Widely Known And Reported Each Week As Community News In The Local Papers.  We Had Come Through The Process With Our Green Infrastructure Largely Protected Because Of Our Role As Stewards To The C&O Canal National Historic Park Along With The Potomac River And The Public Water Supply For Two Counties.  Our Place In Montgomery County As The Western, Low Density Green Wedge Buffer To The Agricultural Reserve Was Thought Secure. 

But Is It?  Six Years Have Now Passed.  Memories Tend To Fade.  Traffic Has Increased And Houses Have Gotten Ever Larger.  Our Forest Cover Is Diminishing.  What Was Once Well Known Now Relies On Institutional And Individual Memory.  It Is Left To Organizations Such As Ours To Remain Vigilant About Guarding Not Only What We Achieved But In Recognizing The Elements That Must Be Upheld In Order To Retain The Quality Of Life We Value. 

Extension Of Sewer Is A Planning Tool Used Throughout The Country To Limit And Shape Growth.  Where Sewer Goes, Increased Development Follows.  The Citizens Advisory Board For The Potomac Subregion Master Plan Recognized That Sewer Service Had Been Granted Piecemeal Without Coherent Planning.  A Major Goal Of The Master Plan Revision Was To Firmly Establish Areas Where Sewer Would Be Allowed While Protecting Other Areas Such As Large Lot Zones And Sensitive Areas By Prohibiting It. 

Any Method Of Processing Human Waste Has Environmental Impacts.  Sewer Lines Rely On Gravity And Since Stream Valleys Are The Low Points In Any Watershed, Main Trunk Sewers Run Adjacent To Streams, Crossing And Re-Crossing Them.  Building Sewers Is Destructive To Ecosystems And Over Time They Can Develop Leaks And Pollute Streams.  Only A Few Of Our Potomac Streams Are Free Of Sewer Lines.  When Properties Are Situated Far From These Lines, Waste Removal Relies On Septic Systems.  Modern Septic Systems Placed Where Soils Drain Properly Function Well, Though They Require Space For Septic Fields And Homeowner Maintenance.  The Sewer Envelope Is The Area Where We Allow Sewer Service And Where Properties Which Adjoin May Apply To Hook Up To Those Sewer Lines.  Properties Outside The Sewer Envelope Are Not And Should Not Be Allowed To Connect.  Here In Potomac And Especially In The Agricultural Reserve, The Restriction Of Sewer Service Is What Holds Back Rampant Development.

Once Sewer Service Is Granted To A Property Outside The Sewer Envelope, The Door Is Open.  Everyone Wants It – For Re-Development, For Expansion Of Existing Homes, And For Cluster Development And Concepts Like Workforce Housing That Break Housing Density Limits.  If Sewer Is There, It Always Creates Pressure For More Density.  Then Pressure Mounts To Rezone.  And Then The Concept Of A Semi-Rural Country Setting Is Lost.   

Environmental Report 

Forest Conservation Law Amendments (Bill 37-07) – The Transportation And Environment Committee (T&E) Held Its First Work Session On February 19th.  Billed As – Forest Conservation 101, – It Was Intended To Familiarize Council Committee Members With The Current Law And The Two Sets Of Changes Proposed.  The Planning Commission Staff Used The Bulk Of The Time To Present Their Amendment Proposals.  In Contrast, A Short Time Was Given Councilmember Elrich Staff For His Amendments And Department Of Environmental Protection Had No Time At All Other Than To Introduce The New Director And Mention The Matrix Created By His Staff Comparing The Two Separate Approaches.  No Subsequent Work Sessions Have Been Scheduled.  It Would Be Helpful If DEP And The New Director Played A Larger Role In The Ongoing Process That Leads To A Stronger Law.

A Forest Conservation Advisory Board Was Created Under Separate Legislation In December Of 2006 But Has Yet To Be Confirmed By The County Council.  The County Executive Has Sent A List Of Nominees But The Council Is Not Satisfied As Yet With The Make-Up Of The Group.  This Board Will Have A Prescribed Set Of Members From Agencies And The Academic, Civic, And Business Communities, And, If Confirmed, Might Prove Helpful In Achieving Consensus On Issues Still Outstanding Between The Two Sets Of Amendments.       

Planning And Zoning 

Country Inn Zone – To Date, No Revised Plan Has Been Proposed By The Applicant.  WMCCA Is Working With Park & Planning To Hold A Meeting With Appropriate Staff And The Applicant To Discuss And Work Through Outstanding Issues. 


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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – February 2008

February 2008


President’s Letter – The Winds Of Change?

Ginny Barnes


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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – January 2008

January 2008


President’s Letter – We Need You – Where Are You?

Ginny Barnes

Happy New Year!  The Beginning Of Each Year Brings Reflection, Reminding Me That The West Montgomery County Citizens Association Was Founded In 1947, Making It One Of The Oldest Civic Groups In Montgomery County – If Not The Oldest!  We Came Into Being When There Were Few Paved Roads, Sporadic Electricity Service, And A Number Of Horse And Cattle Farms.  Over The Years We Have Kept Watch And Helped Shape The Community We Are Today.  In The 1960’S, We Participated In The Creation Of The Montgomery County General Plan Which Established The “Wedges And Corridors” Zoning Model We Still Use Today.  We’ve Helped Shape The County Zoning Ordinance And Gone To Court Enough Times Over The Years To Be Cited In Law Textbooks.  We Have A Good Relationship With Our Chamber Of Commerce And A Reputation With Our Government For Responsible And Knowledgeable Positions.  Former Maryland State Delegate And Current Planning Board Commissioner Jean Cryor Calls WMCCA “The Gold Standard For Civic Associations.”  We Have A Right To Be Proud Of Our Efforts.

But Our Success Is Dependent On Our Members.  From Our Membership Is Drawn The Board Of Directors, Which Also Meets Monthly And Covers The Actual Business Of The Association.  We Do Research, Meet With Public Officials, Craft WMCCA Policies, And Develop Positions On Issues We Bring To Members At WMCCA General Meetings.  We Rely On Our Members To Bring To Our Attention The Goings-On In Their Neighborhoods.  Often A Small Group Of Neighbors Becomes A Liaison And The Leaders That Address Issues With Our Help.  They Join Us And We Join Them To Provide Our Expertise And Connections.  We Keep Our Membership Informed On The High Profile Issues, But There Are Many Things Happening Out There We Don’t Know About Until You Tell Us.  Only Then Can We Help. 

Recently, On A Residential Street On The C&O Canal Side Of  River Road, A Number Of Large Trees Were Cut Down Without Notice To Adjoining Neighbors.  They Just Woke Up One Morning To Chain Saws!  Understandably, They Were Shocked And Upset.  As It Turns Out, One Of The Felled Trees Was A Rare Species First Discovered By The Famous 18th Century American Botanists John And William Bartram.  But Who Knew?  The Surrounding Homeowners Were Aware, But Perhaps Thought It Protected.  Perhaps That Tree, If Better Known, Could Have Reached The Attention Of Those In Montgomery County Who Designate Such Trees With “Specimen” Status.  Perhaps It Could Have Been Saved.  We Often Believe That Things We See Every Day In Our Surroundings Are Immune To Change, Only To Find Them Gone When We Look Away.  We Need You To Do More Than Pay Your WMCCA Dues And Read Our Newsletter.  We Need Your Participation At Meetings And The Benefit Of Your Watchful Eyes, Your Questions, Observations, Opinions, And Your Invaluable Historical Memories.  You Are The Substance Of Our Now Sixty-Year-Old And Still Vital Citizens Organization. 

Environmental Report  

Trees And Forests Are Going To Be Dominant In The Coming Year As The County Council Starts Debate On Amendments To The Forest Conservation Law Later This Month And Is Solidifying Plans To Create A County-Wide Tree Ordinance.  

Tuesday, January 22 – The County Council Has Scheduled A Public Hearing On Forest Conservation Law Amendments Proposed By The Maryland National Capital Park And Planning Commission (MNPPC) As Well As Amendments Proposed By Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At Large).

Thursday, January 10 – The League Of Women Voters Is Holding A Public Forum For Citizens To Learn More About The FCL Amendments.  Besides The Planning Board Recommendations, Councilmember Marc Elrich Has Additional Changes He Is Proposing, And Both Sets Of Changes Will Be Topics At The Forum.  The Panelists Will Include Planning Board Chair Royce Hanson, Councilmember Marc Elrich, Ginny Barnes For The Environmental Community, And Dusty Rood Representing The Maryland-National Capital Building Industry Association.  The Forum Is In The County Council Office Building (7th Floor) At 7:00 P.M. 

Planning And Zoning And Transportation 

Sutton Property – We Have Just Received A Revised Site Plan For This Property Which Reduces The Number Of Lots From Eight To Seven And Claims To Remove The Problem Of Cross Easements. Previously Scheduled For Public Hearing At The Planning Board On January 17th, This New Plan May Delay Consideration To A Later Date.  

Major Bridge Work On Westbound Clara Barton Parkway – We Have Received A Notice That The Bridge And Ramp Up To Southbound I-495 Over Westbound Clara Barton Parkway Will Be Rehabilitated In 2008.  The Bridge Deck Will Be Replaced And The Work Will Also Include Cleaning And Painting Of The Steel Beams And Minor Roadway Work Approaching The Bridge.  A Public Meeting Will Be Held January 10, 2008 At Carderock Springs Elementary School, 5:30 To 7:30 P.M.  There Will Be No Formal Presentation, Instead Citizens Can Come Anytime And Discuss Displays Of The Plan With State Highway Administration. 

Koh Property/Country Inn Zone – A Planning Board Hearing Has Been Scheduled For January 17th.  The Project Then Goes Before The Hearing Examiner On January 28th.


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.

Newsletter – February 2005

February 2005


President’s Letter – Carol Van Dam Falk

WMCCA is a watchdog group for zoning and environmental issues that impact our entire corner of Montgomery County – the area that is bounded by Seneca Creek, I-270, I-495 and the Potomac River. The Potomac Subregion Master Plan recognizes that protecting the public drinking water supply and buffering the Agricultural Reserve as a residential “Green Wedge” are critical roles for our community. To that end, WMCCA has worked diligently to keep commercial development within the bounds of Potomac Village.

We must be wary of plans for projects that are not a suitable fit for the area, or that are inappropriate for the neighborhoods within our boundaries, or that violate Master Plan restrictions. It is imperative that we as an organization protect our Master Plan whenever its language is in danger of being watered down or overlooked – or ignored – in favor of Special Exceptions, zoning changes, site density increases and even major highways cutting through our community.

Countywide policy changes in areas such as the recent MPDU legislation passed by the County Council and development threats to the Agricultural Reserve have far reaching implications that affect our future as a community and our role in the General Plan for Montgomery County. During our more than 50-year history as a civic association, WMCCA has gained a reputation for vigilance and integrity in keeping our planning area as the Master Plan intends, as well as supporting other communities in their efforts to do the same.

Planning and Zoning – George Barnes

The following plans for sites within our area await approval. We invite questions on any of these projects at the February 9 WMCCA General meeting.

  • Normandy Farm – Country Inn Zone
  • Potomac Inn proposal – Country Inn Zone (see above)
  • Safeway expansion
  • Lake Potomac – subdivide one existing lot into two lots (this is the property visible across the stream behind the Potomac Inn site on River Road, and the former Hunt residence.)
  • Glen Estates – two lots proposed on 4.85 acres off Glen Mill Road in the 11700 block.
  • Dental Office on Srour property next to the Bank of America in the village. A hearing is scheduled late in February.

WMCCA.org – Look on our website for the text of the WMCCA president’s testimony on January 5, 2005 before the State Highway Department in opposition to the Inter County Connector.

Roads – Diana Conway

Montgomery County is planning to abandon its right-of-way for a “paper street” named Ronald Drive, which lies in a heavily wooded stream valley between the 10200 block of Falls Road and Gary Road. The Gary Road portion of Ronald Drive was abandoned in 1978 in a similar proceeding when the County gave up all but a 20-foot wide strip of its easement. The current abandonment has been approved by the Planning Board, again with retention of a 20-foot wide strip of land. These retained portions are slated to become a bikeway/sidewalk connection, although no plans exist for its construction.

WMCCA has taken an interest in this proceeding since the County’s easement is roughly aligned with the forested and sensitive headwaters of the Rock Run, as they cross beneath Falls Road at the road’s lowest point just north of Potomac Village. There is also a sewer line along this right-of-way. Although this request for abandonment from abutting neighbors does not say so, it seems likely that the petitioners are seeking a future subdivision for an additional lot, or possibly more. Park & Planning has very clearly told the petitioners and their attorneys that any future owners MUST stay out of the 200-foot-wide buffer (100 feet on each side of the stream bed), with absolutely no tree cutting. The County Council must still approve the request for abandonment. WMCCA will continue to monitor this process, and its impacts on our forests and water quality.

WMCCA Special Project  

WMCCA Reviewers will be visiting some school Science Fairs and the Montgomery Area Science Fair to honor projects done outdoors at a site within the Potomac Master Plan area. Exemplary projects will be showcased as part of the April 13th WMCCA General Meeting on the topic of Environmental Issues in Our Community.

WMCCA Special Project  

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President, Carol Van Dam Falk
301 963-6779


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.

Newsletter – January 2005

January 2005


President’s Letter – Carol Van Dam Falk

Though the holidays are a joyful time of year, they are also a time of reflection and resolution. As I look ahead to the new year, I see as WMCCA’s focus our separate but related efforts to protect the Potomac Subregion, one of two residential “Green Wedges” designated in the General Plan to buffer and provide transition to the Agricultural Reserve from the more densely developed down-county areas. There are threats on several fronts through dilution of the Master Plan precepts – threats that are real and dangerous to the integrity of Potomac Subregion zoning, its environmentally sensitive areas, and the green spaces that we cherish. We pledge to continue to inform our membership through this newsletter and the General Meetings, to work both formally and informally with individuals and agencies with responsibilities in areas of our interest, and, as we have done historically and in recent instances, to retain counsel to augment our efforts.

One of Maryland’s premier green spaces – the C & O Canal National Historical Park – is in our back yard, and although the park is under federal rather than county jurisdiction, local citizenry have a role in assuring that federal laws for the protection and preservation of the natural scenery of the Potomac River and its adjacent historic C & O Canal and towpath are being enforced. It has been our understanding that cutting trees on park property is prohibited, and we know that twice Potomac residents have been fined for tree cutting on parkland, with one of the persons performing an alternative punishment to jail time. We are looking into the circumstances of the recent extensive tree cutting visible from the canal towpath near Swain’s Lock, and the role of the National Park Service in this incident.

We look forward to seeing Potomac area citizens at the January 12th WMCCA General Meeting.

Planning and Zoning – George Barnes

Boswell Lane – The Montgomery County Planning Board approved a subdivision plan on Boswell Lane that was the subject of an appeal by WMCCA to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), Planning Division. This state agency had ruled that the subdivision did not comply with the Potomac Master Plan, and overturned the original approval of a sewer category change that the last County Council had approved at a lame duck session on the last day of that Council’s existence. Attorneys for the developer have now managed to find a technicality- a minor procedural error by the Department – and have used it to overturn the decision denying the sewer category change. WMCCA has filed a written complaint to the MDE, and will file a formal appeal if one is possible. In the meantime, the development is proceeding.

Potomac Inn – The new owners of the former Hunt property across from the Water Filtration Plant on River Road have filed an application for a re-zoning from the RE-2 zone to the Country Inn Zone. They propose to build a 16-room inn, small retail shops, a restaurant and banquet facilities. A traffic study submitted to Park and Planning as part of the application shows no adverse impact from the project on any of the nearby intersections -that is, the project will not raise traffic volumes to an unacceptable level of service as defined in the Master Plan. The project is known as the Potomac Inn Project. We will certainly be hearing more about this application as it proceeds.

WMCCA.org – Look on our website for the text of the WMCCA president’s testimony on January 5, 2005 before the State Highway Department in opposition to the Inter County Connector

WMCCA Reviewers will be visiting some school Science Fairs and the Montgomery Area Science Fair to honor projects done outdoors at a site within the Potomac Master Plan area. Exemplary projects will be showcased as part of the April 13th WMCCA General Meeting on the topic of Environmental Issues in Our Community.

WMCCA Special Project  

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President, Carol Van Dam Falk
301 963-6779


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.

Newsletter – December 2004

December 2004


President’s Letter – Carol Van Dam Falk

This area of Montgomery County is unlike any other in the County in terms of its green space, wooded stream valleys – and, yes – the slow roads that wind through wooded areas and cross stream valleys. The Rustic Road Program reflects the unique environmental character of our region. Unfortunately, the program is facing increasing pressure from both inside and outside our communities to change. 

The 2001 Potomac Subregion Master Plan states that the Rustic Roads Program was developed, in part to protect the sylvan nature of the Subregion’s roads, particularly in Watts Branch Glen where Glen Road intersects with Glen Mill and South Glen Roads. The Master Plan notes that the traffic volume and accident history of these roads would typically exclude them from rustic road designation. The traffic volume is not caused by increased development in the immediate vicinity, but by traffic congestion during morning and evening rush hour along I-270, prompting commuters to look for alternate routes. Through the years, these commuters, many of whom come from Germantown and further points North, have switched to using our country roads and rustic roads as their main routes for getting to and from work. This is a disturbing trend, and one that needs to be addressed.  

There are a number of roads listed as Rustic with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Unfortunately, many of these roads in our area are used as cut-throughs by commuters who have little or no regard for the speed limit, much less the status of the road. Bsecause of their status, these roads are protected from being widened, straightened, or otherwise streamlined to carry more traffic.  

We also need to reconsider the criteria that must be met before a neighborhood can receive speed-calming devices. Even if a particular road generates the kind of traffic volume that meets or exceeds the criteria, and virtually all of the neighbors support the installation of round-abouts, stop signs, speed bumps, or other speed-calming devices, there are certain criteria the County has established that preclude a neighborhood from getting on the County’s waiting list for such devices. We hope to address these and other issues when Mr. Holmes speaks at the December WMCCA general meeting, and we invite you to bring your transportation and public works concerns to Mr. Holme’s attention as well.  

These roads have become terribly unsafe for children who want to bike to their friend’s house, for moms and kids who want to walk the dog, for anyone wanting to take a short stroll down the road. It has even become treacherous for many of us who live along these cut-throughs to retrieve the mail. The answer, of course, is not to decrease the number of roads designated Rustic, but to give the Rustic Road classification some teeth. 

Planning and Zoning – George Barnes 

Special Exception, Falls Road – The hearing on the application for a special exception on Falls Road next to the Bank of America has been rescheduled for mid February. The postponement was requested by the applicant to allow time to comply with the requirements of the Park and Planning Commission staff. The application will have a hearing before the Planning Board prior to the Special Exception hearing. 

WMCCA.org – Look on WMCCA’s website for the text of recent WMCCA testimonies before the County Council and Planning Board on proposed changes in county policies related to Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDU’s) and Accessory Apartments.  

WMCCA Special Project  

WMCCA invites students who have done an outdoor science activity at a local site to show us their report, poster, collection, scout project, or science fair project. A WMCCA representative will be at the Potomac Library to review projects for an hour before the General Meeting each month (7:00 to 8:00 p.m.).  Call Lois Williams, 301 299-7236

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President, Carol Van Dam Falk
301 963-6779


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.

Newsletter – November 2004

November 2004


President’s Letter – Carol Van Dam Falk

Now that the presidential 2004 election is over, many of us breathe a collective sigh of relief – and hope that our national leadership has strong convictions about protecting our environment. On a local level, there seems to be a disturbing trend taking place in our neighborhoods that has far-reaching, detrimental effects for our environment. That is the rather indiscriminate clearcutting of mature trees on private property.

To name just a few examples, we have witnessed it on a lot behind the Potomac Elementary School in the past few months. Closer to my home, I’ve noticed it occurring on Esworthy Road. Clearcutting can lead to soil erosion that can have disastrous effects on not only the property at hand, but on several adjoining properties. It hampers watershed protection, especially if it occurs near a stream. DNR experts tell us that when water heats up in the sun, it reduces the amount of oxygen available for stream organisms and increases algae growth. The algae than dies, decomposes, using up more oxygen in the water.

Clearcutting also fragments large forest areas into smaller tracts that make it harder for wildlife to survive, especially some species of birds. Incidentally, instead of throwing out our Christmas trees after each holiday season, we discard it on our own property in the woods, where it makes an ideal nesting area for birds. Robb Gibbs of Montgomery County’s local DNR extension tells us Forest Interior Dwellings (FIDs) are losing habitat throughout North America.

Where clearcutting results in large grass lawns, habitat for many animals is lost. There are also local County ordinances that forbid clearcutting on some tracts of land, especially those that are near a riverbed or stream. Stiff fines may result if the necessary permits are not obtained before clearcutting takes place. Please think twice before you consider expanding your lawn. Ask yourself if the tradeoff is worth it.

We hope to see you all at the November 10th meeting.

Planning and Zoning – George Barnes

Normandy Farm: The hearing on the zoning change for the Normandy Farm property has been suspended indefinitely while the applicants ask that the parking requirements for the Country Inn zone be modified.

ZTA 04-10: The Planning Board will hold hearings on this zoning text amendment that would allow accessory apartments by right in many zones in the county, including RE1 and RE2. WMCCA will testify on the vital importance of keeping the process under the special exception jurisdiction of the Board of Appeals. This process provides notice to neighbors and citizens associations, allows residents to testify on the merits of the proposed use, and requires inspections to insure that the accessory apartment continues to operate within the rules which govern them.

Environmental Report – Ginny Barnes

Conservation Parks in Montgomery County are defined as tracts of open space where conserving resources takes precedence and recreation is limited to those activities with the least impact. The Planning Board approved the Blockhouse Point Conservation Park Master Plan on October 21, with several amendments to the Staff Draft. Natural Resource staff focused their recommendations on necessary protections to the ecological, historical and cultural values of the park. These included a Trail Concept Plan that would re-route some existing trails away from steep slopes and rare plant communities, and amending the Muddy Branch Trail Plan to identify a specific location for the portion of a shared use trail that passes through Blockhouse Point Conservation Park. Visitors to the Park will find a user-specific trail system with some uses limited by the sensitivity of the terrain.

Three of the five Planning Board members wanted to try a pilot program granting equestrian access to the southernmost trail to the bluff overlooks. Access would be through the adjacent Callithea Farm, currently being acquired by MNCPPC through Legacy Open Space. Such expanded access would not go into effect until (and if) an implementation plan is specifically approved by the Planning Board. They also expanded the plan for a historical interpretive center to be located at Callithea Farm to include ecological education that would help future visitors understand the conservation values of the Park.

WMCCA Special Project –

WMCCA encourages young people to go outdoors for science. We invite students who have done an activity at a local site to show us their report, poster, collection, scout project, or science fair project. A WMCCA representative will be at the Potomac Library to review projects for an hour before the General Meeting each month (7:00 to 8:00 p.m.), including November 10, 2004. Call Lois Williams, 301 299-7236.

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President, Carol Van Dam Falk
301 963-6779


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.

Newsletter – October 2004

October 2004


President’s Letter – Carol Van Dam Falk

As your new President, I hope to draw on the vast experience of our past President George Barnes and other equally effective past Presidents, some of whom still serve on the board of WMCCA as well as our other able and experienced board members. I also want to extend a most cordial invitation to new members, potential new members, and existing members dedicated to responsible growth in the Potomac Subregion Master Plan area. That civic responsibility includes keeping a watchful eye on our elected representatives and civil servants. It also means doing our share to protect the Green Wedge.

We can’t do it alone. Now is the time to step up to the plate and join us in protecting our Master Plan, which has come under attack in various forms of legislation by the County Council. On November 2, you will vote on Ballot C, which would do away with the at-large seats on the County Council. The WMCCA Board voted to remain neutral on Question 5. There are pros and cons to this issue. Some say we need these at-large members so we can work with each of them on a broad range of issues that affect our area and the entire county. Others say the at-large members are beholden to no one but developers. A brief report will be presented at the October general meeting.

On MPDUs, George Barnes testified before the Council and argued that while some of the proposed changes were viable, others did nothing to enhance affordable housing but would in fact jeopardize all of the county Master Plans, including ours, and subject us all to increased density, more traffic congestion, more developer buy-outs, and reverse years of innovative planning as set forth in the 1980 and 2002 Master Plans for the Potomac subregion. On the Seven Locks school issue, an appeal is now before the Maryland Board of Education. As Seven Locks transcends typical school issues and crosses into land use issues, we are following its developments and are encouraging interested parties to raise money and hire a lawyer to pursue the Administrative Procedures Act as an appeal mechanism.

Help us to fight the good fight. Join us on October 13th to learn about what is at stake for our County’s future, and encourage your friends and neighbors to come as well.

Planning and Zoning – George Barnes

Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDU’s) and Accessory Apartments – WMCCA testified at two recent hearings before the County Council on a series of Zoning Text Amendments and bills introduced by a number of different council members with different ideas and philosophies on the MPDU program in Montgomery County. How the Council decides to modify this program could have radical impacts on all areas and zones in the county and could conceivably reduce the role of Master Plans in determining densities throughout the county. WMCCA has urged the Council to protect the Master Plan process, the role of the Planning Board and the planning process and to not allow the zoning ordinance to trump master plans and allow increased density and denser housing types if MPDU’s are included in development proposals. We have asked for an end to the buyout policy that has resulted in the net loss of most of the MPDU’s created since the program was started in the late 80’s. We have cautioned against removing accessory apartments from the jurisdiction of the Board of Appeals (i.e. the Special Exception process) and putting it in the hands of a housing authority, thereby eliminating notification, public hearings and an inspection policy that exists under current law. We will work with other Citizens Associations to lobby Council members in the coming weeks on these issues and will certainly ask our members to write and call the Council.

Special Exception hearing – Srour property, Falls Road – A hearing will be held on November 15 on an application for a Special Exception for a Medical Practitioner’s office for use of other than a resident of the building. This property is next to the Bank of America building on Falls Road, and it has been operated as a dentist’s office as a home occupation for several years. The special exception would allow two dentists, a hygenist, one dental assistant and two part time employees (one full time equivalent employee) who will serve as the receptionist and perform other front office duties. One day a week there will be a maximum of four employees on site at one time. Prior to this application, one dentist was a resident of the building and it was a permitted use as a home occupation. WMCCA has sought to confine commercial enterprises to the commercial zone and prevent businesses from moving out into the residential zones surrounding the Village. The use of the property as a home occupation does not create a presumption that a special exception at this location is permissible. Such an exception will be subject to all of the requirements for parking, landscaping, set backs, traffic impacts and the impacts on the surrounding neighbors.

Normandy Farm rezoning application to Country Inn Zone – A hearing will be held on November 19 on the application of Normandy Farm for a rezoning from the R-200 zone to the Country Inn zone. WMCCA is concerned with the possible accessory uses permitted under this zone in the zoning ordinance. While the owners have maintained that no accessory uses are contemplated, we would like to have some sort of more binding assurance that no such uses will be permitted. We are also concerned with the landscaping, new building, parking reconstruction, afforestation of the site and the preservation and restoration of the spring on the property that is in the headwaters of the Kilgour Branch.

Safeway expansion in Potomac Village – The management of the shopping center presented a plan to the WMCCA Board for an expansion and remodeling of the Safeway in Potomac. The addition would consist of a mezzanine above the rear portion of the store to house receiving, food preparation, offices, an employee lounge and rest rooms, and would allow increased floor area on the first floor for sales and display. The addition would add some 3000 square feet to the area of the store. Entry and exit from the store would be through one set of doors on the front of the store next to the hardware store. The Board expressed some concern about the potential for increased congestion in this area of the center with both ingress and egress and car loading in this area. No increase in the number of parking spaces is contemplated to offset the increased square footage of sales area in the center.

WMCCA Special Project

WMCCA encourages young people to go outdoors for science. We invite students who have done an activity at a local site to show us their report, poster, collection, or science fair project. A WMCCA representative will be at the Potomac Library to review projects for an hour before the General Meeting each month (7:00 to 8:00 p.m.), starting October 13, 2004. Call Lois Williams, 301 299-7236.

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President, Carol Van Dam Falk
301 963-6779


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.