All posts by Thomas Fahey

Newsletter – May 2022


A Fond Farewell to Loyal WMCCA Volunteer

President’s Letter by Carol Van Dam Falk

We have been indebted to Peter Poggi, our ongoing volunteer webmaster who took us from having no online presence to providing an inviting, up-to-date home page with easy-to-use links on our newsletters, meetings, archive material, and more.  Peter has uploaded all of our newsletters, important testimony, and other pertinent information without fail for more than 25 years.  He also became involved as an activist on certain issues that were close to his heart, including one several years ago in which the head of Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation proposed to straighten a stretch of Quince Orchard Road in North Potomac that is part of the County’s prized Rustic Road network.  MCDOT wanted to make it easier for truckers to pass through and may have been planning to link up Travilah and Quince Orchards with a second river crossing at the time.  Peter, along with the late, beloved WMCCA Board member George Barnes, and I testified before the Planning Board in strong opposition to the proposal, arguing the windy nature of the Quince Orchard was a natural barrier to speeders, especially teenagers who often traversed that stretch of road at night as it was near Quince Orchard High School.  The Planning Board agreed with us; Quince Orchard Road was left untouched.

We have good news to share on the search for a new WMCCA web administrator.  Local resident Thomas Fahey has stepped up to the plate!  Thomas is joining WMCCA in the capacity of volunteer webmaster beginning this month.  At the same time, we are migrating from a decades-old web provider to a new one that has a more straightforward, modern design and will be easier to maintain.  Thomas has had an evolving career, including posts focused on interacting with government agencies, ‘neighborhood-level’ community development, and software design.  He recently returned to the Washington Metropolitan Area after spending several years away, and happily lives with his family in a welcoming community near the Potomac River, not far from Old Angler’s Inn.

We thank Peter Poggi for his dedication and service to WMCCA and look forward to our new chapter with Thomas Fahey.


2021 Water and Sewer Plan Update

Submitted by Ken Bawer

As of this writing, we are still waiting for the County Executive’s office to transmit their updates to the Water and Sewer Plan to the County Council for a public hearing.  We will object to continuation of the peripheral and abutting mains sewer policies and multiple “special rule” changes that are inconsistent with the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and Maryland Smart Growth Statutes and are designed to benefit specific property owners who are otherwise ineligible for sewer extensions.

Aside from the Water and Sewer Plan update, there is a property in the Palatine of Potomac neighborhood which is requesting a category change to allow sewer hook-up.  Per the County Executive’s office, “The applicant has proposed the provision of public sewer service for an existing residential lot along Centurion Way in Potomac, Maryland.  The approval of public sewer service for the property requested is not consistent with Water and Sewer Plan sewer service policies or with 2002 Potomac Subregion Master Plan recommendations.  This location is outside of the planned public sewer envelope in the Palatine of Potomac subdivision.  The Potomac peripheral sewer service policy can allow for the consideration of public sewer service for some properties at the edge of the planned sewer envelope.  However, properties at the edge of the Palatine subdivision are excluded from qualifying under this policy.”


Amendments to County Forest Conservation Law

Submitted by Ginny Barnes

On Thursday April 28, 2022 the Planning Board approved amendments that seek to add strength to the existing law and move the County closer to achieving ‘no net loss’ of forest.  A MoCo Forest Coalition consisting of staff and representatives from a number of civic and environmental organizations worked on developing the amendments for over a year.  There was strong favorable public testimony at the hearing.  The proposed changes are an improvement on the existing law but do not go as far as the MoCo Forest Coalition recommended.  Their priority is to protect existing forest, not just replant what is destroyed for development.  Existing forest stands are diminishing and it is nearly impossible to plant and nurture new forest, especially with the added stress of the expanding deer population, invasive species, and climate change.  Here is the link to the Planning Board update:

https://montgomeryplanning.org/planning-board-approves-proposed-changes-to-montgomery-county-forest-conservation-laws-to-achieve-no-net-loss-of-forest/​

Amendments will now be sent to the County Council where they could be strengthened.


Potomac Friends of the Library Dissolved ??

Submitted by Ginny Barnes

For 31 years our Potomac library has enjoyed the care of dedicated volunteers from our community that has enhanced programming, sponsored book sales, contributed money for library improvements, and even dressed as storybook characters for the annual Potomac Day parade.  Not every County library has a Friends Chapter. Of the 21 Libraries, 15 have their own chapters.  All are overseen by a nonprofit Montgomery County Friends of the Library.  On March 19, 2022, without notice or discussion with any chapters, the trustees dissolved all existing local chapters.  In notifying chapters of the decision, a lack of fiscal responsibility by a few was cited as the primary reasoning.  The stated solution being to centralize chapter functions, which means community members may not be able to volunteer in their own libraries but be assigned elsewhere.  This is not what community is all about.  If other chapters not as well functioning as others needed help, why not make that decision as a community of chapters instead of doing away with all chapters?

I learned the value of our Chapter when I nominated them in 2019 for the Potomac Chamber of Commerce  ‘Citizens of the Year’ Award’ after discovering they’d never been nominated.  The Chamber voted them the award and I was fortunate to be able to present it to the Potomac Chapter at the awards dinner.  I’ve never met a more dedicated group.  A group that defined ‘community’ here in Potomac.  Up until that time, I’d only partaken of monthly book sales or the shelf in the lobby as I left after each visit.  For me, as for many I’m sure, just this service was invaluable; putting books in the hands of many who cannot afford to buy from distributors of new books.  There must be a better way to keep our libraries attractive to local volunteers as well as spreading services among the different chapters.  The Board of Trustees needs to rethink such a rash decision.


2022 ELECTION OF WMCCA OFFICERS AND BOARD of DIRECTORS:

The election of the WMCCA Officers and Board of Directors will occur at our May 11th General Meeting.  The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of Officers and Directors to the membership for a vote.  Nominations may also be made from the floor.

President:  BARBARA BROWN

Treasurer:  BARBARA HOOVER

Immediate past President:  CAROL VAN DAM FALK

Secretary:  KATHY PETITT

President Elect:  SUSANNE LEE

Newsletter:  NANCY MADDEN

Vice President:  GINNY BARNES

Nominees for a two-year term:  KEN BAWER

To serve 2nd Year of their two-year term (no action needed):  THEODORA SCARATO


REMINDER:  YOUR SUPPORT IS VITAL TO OUR CONTINUED WORK – PLEASE JOIN OR RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2021-2022!  

If you live in the Potomac Sub-Region (most of zip codes 20850, 20854, 20817),  you really should belong to the only Citizens Association representing your interests in preserving the charm of the Potomac area.  Membership is only $25 individual/ $50 family.  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”.


Newsletter – April 2022


Pass the Synthetic Turf Disposal Bill; Fight Airplane Noise Pollution

President’s Letter by Carol Van Dam Falk

This past week WMCCA wrote our state lawmakers calling on them to support SB 321/HB 131,“Synthetic Turf and Turf Infill – Chain of Custody,” which requires manufacturers and owners of synthetic turf and infill to maintain a chain of custody of its installation, reuse, repurposing, recycling, and ultimate disposal, and to report this information to MDE for posting on a public website.  This bill has no down side; it protects citizens from being exposed to dumped turf fields which are known to contain carcinogenic material.

We know that 80,000 square foot synthetic turf fields have an average life span of 8 to 10 years and produce a significant amount of waste as they are made from 40,000 pounds of mixed plastic turf, most of which is used tires.  Synthetic fields and infill contain aquatic and human toxins, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, heavy metals, and immune disruptors, including PFAS or “forever” chemicals.  State officials keep no inventory of the number or location of synthetic turf fields across Maryland and have no idea of where the used fields end up, even though some of them have been dumped in woods or near waterways.  In 2021, Sierra Club volunteers found 347 fields in 18 counties and Baltimore.  They estimated the waste produced over the next decade for 328 of the fields, as they are replaced, which includes more than 67,000 tons of plastic carpet and infill, almost 123,000 cubic yards of infill, and 24 million square feet of plastic carpet, or 557 acres.

The fate of this incredible amount of toxic, plastic waste is nearly impossible to track.  No documentation is required regarding how much, if any, of the material is repurposed or recycled or how it is disposed of.  Many waste facilities do not accept synthetic turf waste because of its high volume, weight, and toxicity.  When improperly disposed of and uncontained, especially near waterways, these materials pose untold risks to humans, wildlife, and the environment.  We hope this is the year that Maryland paves the way for other states by becoming the first state in the nation to approve this important legislation.

This week we also wrote U.S. Members of Congress including Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen regarding the March 17, 2022 Aviation Subcommittee Hearing: Aviation Noise: Measuring Progress in Addressing Community Concerns.  Aircraft noise continues to negatively impact hundreds of people in our community who were not adequately represented at the hearing.  The only speaker (1 of 8) who spoke for communities was from the organization N.O.I.S.E. which does not represent Montgomery County.  Airplanes fly directly over Cabin John and several other local neighborhoods, sometimes every 4-5 minutes in the mornings and evenings.  The planes are so loud they drown out conversations on the street.

Studies have shown repeated exposure to aviation noise pollution is a significant public health hazard.  It has been proven that aircraft noise pollution has negative health impacts on the cardiovascular system, including increased risk of strokes and heart attack.  It also harms the endocrine and nervous systems, impairs cognition, and causes sleep disruption, anxiety, and depression.  We urged the aviation panel to address the serious health impacts caused by aviation noise pollution, including amending the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 which stripped away all local control over aircraft and aviation noise.  Alternatively, we called for Congress to give responsibility for regulating aircraft noise to the EPA, not the FAA, which has no experience handling health-related issues.


Heritage Gardens (CU2022-01) Submitted by Susanne Lee

No date has been set for the next and perhaps final hearing before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) regarding this conditional use application to construct a townhouse / senior care community on the 30-acre lot at the intersection of Norton and South Glen Road.  OZAH has remanded part of the case back to the Montgomery County Planning Board staff to address the need for a traffic study.  In the meantime, on March 23rd, Wormald, the applicant townhouse developer, submitted its proposed legal structure for the facility. 

It still proposes what we believe is a bizarre arrangement in which this age-restricted senior living facility and the required conditional use will be owned by 46 different entities – the 45 townhouse owners and Wormald who will own the Lodge structure containing independent and assisted living and memory units.  Sage, the actual provider of services, will not have any ownership interest or hold the conditional use.

On March 31st, the Hearing Examiner asked the applicant for further clarification of the proposed legal structure. She also referred the submission to the County’s Department of Permitting Services “to see if they have any concerns regarding enforceability of the conditional use given the multiple levels of HOA [Home Owners Association] and multiple conditional use holders.”  The Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association (GSGNA) and the surrounding neighbors continue to work on a variety of issues including compatibility and the impact this massive development will have on the neighborhood and those using South Glen Road.  If you would like to further support these efforts, we urge you to send donations for legal and consultant expenses to GSGNA at 11021 Dobbins Drive, Potomac, MD 20854, or by Venmo to @Neil-Goldman-9.  GSGNA will provide a receipt for all contributions.


Glen Road Bridge over Sandy Branch near Glenstone Museum Submitted by Ken Bawer

Several questions arose after reviewing the “Glen Road Bridge Replacement” document prepared for Glenstone by Rocky Powell, et. al. dated April 22, 2021.  What would be the purpose for the proposed upstream side cross vane and plunge pool?  What would be the impact on movement of aquatic organisms (fish, etc.) up and down the stream?  Is the extensive proposed left (east) bank protection (rock wall) really needed?  Is the proposed upstream side “realign and shape channel for better entrance to bridge” really needed?  This is a lot of engineering in a stream channel which would destroy the natural character of the stream and its riparian plant life. On the downstream side, why extend the plunge pool to the head of the downstream riffle?  This would disrupt the current stream bed and its aquatic life.

Regarding the Rustic Road Advisory Committee letter of May 5, 2021 to Barry Fuss, Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) which supports the proposed improvements to the upstream channel, the issue should not be visual enhancement.  The primary issue should be the protection of the natural area.  What is the impact of this project on the ecology of the project footprint?  The beneficial effect on stream quality has not been established.  We will relay our views to MCDOT.


2021 Water and Sewer Plan Update Submitted by Ken Bawer

DEP staff has prepared the 2021 triennial comprehensive update of the Water and Sewer Plan which it turned over to Executive Elrich’s office.  After the Executive’s review and sign-off, the Plan goes to the County Council; a public hearing will follow.  We are providing comments on a variety of issues.

For example, creating a septic system survey requires that it be initiated by a property with a septic system failure, but DEP can expand the survey area to include as many additional properties as they desire, even if these properties have no septic system failures.  This loophole can result in numerous properties unnecessarily being granted sewer category changes from septic to sewer thereby promoting extension of the public sewer system in spite of the fact the WSSC sewer system spills enormous quantities of raw sewage each year (almost 8 million gallons of raw sewage in 2021).  Aside from the environmental consequences of spills, sewer line extensions can lead to higher density development resulting in more impervious surfaces, causing more stormwater runoff that erodes our streams.  We have asked that the Plan be changed so only properties with failed septic systems can be added to a survey.  

We are also objecting to continuation of the peripheral and abutting mains sewer policies and multiple “special rule” changes that are inconsistent with the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and Maryland Smart Growth Statutes and are designed to benefit specific property owners who are otherwise ineligible for sewer extensions.


WMCCA NEEDS A NEW WEB ADMINISTRATOR!  We have updated the website and are poised to turn it over to a new provider.  Would you be interested in performing this important task for the organization?  It would require uploading the monthly newsletter, the occasional testimony by Board members, community and environmental issues, etc.  If you’re interested, contact us at president@wmcca.org.


REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO JOIN OR 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”.

Newsletter – March 2022

March 2022


Light at the End of the Tunnel

President’s Letter – by President Carol Van Dam Falk

Finally, we’re seeing some light at the end of the long, pandemic tunnel. COVID-19 cases are falling and local governments across the country, including our own, are lifting restrictions, although it’s wise to still exercise caution in public places. Like most institutions, the Montgomery County Planning Board held meetings online during the pandemic which is completely understandable, but it failed to inform the public how they could attend some of those meetings. The Board’s Development Review Committee repeatedly violated the Open Meeting Act by failing to provide links to such meetings. The Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) agreed. In a letter this week, we asked the County Council if it plans to launch an investigation. Stay tuned for its response.

In another letter this week to Marc Elrich, we asked the County Executive to immediately fund the People’s Counsel. The County Council is looking at controversial zoning changes in connection with Thrive 2050 and already passed other questionable legislation regarding the installation of 5G technology. The People’s Counsel once played a critical role in ZTAs that represented the interests of ordinary people, not corporations or developers. The People’s Counsel was defunded years ago.


New Residential Cell Tower Zoning       Submitted by Theodora Scarato

Councilman Hans Riemer has proposed another cell antenna zoning amendment ZTA 22-01– which will allow cell tower antennas on existing utility poles 30 feet in front of homes in residential areas, removing notice to residents and public hearings. Note – This is an attempt to fix a technical loophole in ZTA 19-07 (which the Council passed in the summer of 2021) allowing short “small cell” towers 30 feet from homes. There is a coalition petition online at https://actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-zta-19-07/. Sign up for the Council’s public hearing for ZTA 22-01 on Tuesday July 12, 2022. If the waiting list fills up, they may accommodate speakers by moving the event to the evening for a longer hearing.


2021 Water and Sewer Plan Update       Submitted by Ken Bawer

The Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is preparing a final draft of the Water & Sewer Plan for submittal to the County Executive. They expect to transmit it to the County Executive by the end of the day on March 4th. DEP will also request a meeting with the Executive to discuss any questions he may have. Once that is done, within the next few weeks, the Executive’s office will transmit the Executive draft to the County Council and the Council will set a public hearing date. Given the Council’s schedule with other water and sewer issues, DEP does not expect a hearing to be scheduled until late April or May, once the Council is through with the budget. The Council is required by State law to provide a minimum 30-day notice for the hearing. We will be looking for, and opposing, any changes which grant special favors to developers. For example, the owners of the Potomac Oak (a.k.a. Travilah Oak) Shopping Center and the “old white house” diagonally across from each other at the intersection of Travilah Road and Glen Road have each asked for a 5,300-foot public sewer line extension along Travilah Road to their properties which are outside the planned sewer envelope.


Heritage Gardens Land, LLC’s Proposed Townhouse/Senior Care Community at 10701 South Glen Road – Conditional Use Application No. CU202201       Submitted by Susanne Lee

Two more days of hearings (February 28th and March 2nd) were conducted before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) regarding the conditional use application to construct a townhouse / senior care community on the 30-acre lot (RE-2-residential) at the intersection of Norton and South Glen Road. This followed a win on February 11, 2022, when OZAH granted the motion submitted by West Montgomery, the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association (GSGNA) and other neighbors to require a traffic study that the applicant had failed to submit. In siding with us, OZAH rejected a long-standing interpretation by the Planning Board regarding such studies – an interpretation that was clearly inconsistent with the plain language of the requirements.

The traffic study requirement was remanded to the Planning Board and any additional hearings will be scheduled after that is completed. During these recent hearings WMCCA, GSGNA, and many residents expressed their opposition through testimony and written submissions. Many have done extensive research and they presented a broad range of reasons why this application must be denied. We at West Montgomery focused on 3 major reasons:

  • First, the placement and construction of the Lodge Complex will violate the environmental protection requirements contained in state and federal laws and regulations and summarized in Montgomery County’s Environmental Guidelines and the forest preservation requirements in the Potomac Subregion Master Plan.
  • Second, the construction of a facility this size at this location is inconsistent with the basic framework of the Master Plan, including the elderly housing and special exception provisions.
  • Third, the ownership structure of the facility is so bizarre that, when coupled with the stringent age restrictions, dooms it to failure and guarantees an enforcement nightmare – thus requiring stringent covenants, staging, and reporting requirements.

The OZAH link to the exhibits has been taken down until just before the next hearing. If you want details about the project, many of the exhibits can be found at the Montgomery County Planning Board website here:

If you would like to submit a written statement, the hearing record is still open and you can do so by sending your signed submission by email to nana.johnson@montgomerycounty.gov. If you would like to further support our efforts, we urge you to send donations for legal and consultant expenses to GSGNA at 11021 Dobbins Drive, Potomac, MD 20854, or by Venmo to @Neil-Goldman-9. GSGNA will provide a receipt for all contributions


WMCCA Nominating Committee The following individuals are proposed to serve on the Nominating Committee and will be voted upon at the March 9, 2022 General Meeting. They in turn will nominate Officers and Directors to be voted upon at the May 11, 2022 Annual Meeting:
Chairperson – Ginny Barnes
Members: Barbara Hoover, Ken Bawer, Kathy Petitt, Barbara Brown


Finally – WMCCA NEEDS A NEW WEB ADMINISTRATOR! We have updated the website and are poised to turn it over to a new provider. Would you be interested in performing this important task for the organization? It would require uploading the monthly newsletter, occasional testimony by Board members, and the like. If you’re interested, contact us at president@wmcca.org.


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


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.