Category Archives: Archive

Newsletter – January 2021

January 2021


Are “Stream Restorations” Damaging to Our Streams?

President’s Letter – by Ken Bawer

“To date, the County has completed stream restoration projects, restoring almost 30,000 linear feet of stream…” per the latest report on meeting our MS4 Permit. The inconvenient truth is that in some cases these projects may convert our natural stream valleys into engineered stormwater conveyances without addressing the root cause of the problem – stormwater fire-hosing into streams from developed areas (impervious surfaces such as roofs, roads, sidewalks, driveways, etc.). They address the symptoms (stream bank erosion), but not the cause in an effort to check the MS4 Permit box.

Every year, the County spends millions of taxpayer dollars on so-called “stream restoration” projects. First and foremost, the term “stream restoration” is a misnomer since some of these projects may not actually restore streams. See examples of destructive “stream restoration” projects here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zi7SAvswCh4vNakRtS74vf-bsdiTGsyt/view

A “stream restoration”, as defined by Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) for MS4 Permits, may include stormwater management engineering practices that use heavy equipment such as bulldozers and backhoes to modify a stream channel. Typically, this involves, placing heavy boulders from outside sources to armor-plate sections of the stream bank, changing a stream’s natural meander pattern based on theoretical mathematical formulas, cutting down stream banks, and raising the level of stream channels with fill material brought from off-site. This sometimes means removing tons of stream bank soil along with all the plants and animals residing on and in it. To provide access for the heavy equipment, hundreds or thousands of trees are cut down to build access roads, and then many more trees are cut down during the construction project itself. To add insult to injury, the County and Parks asked that their “stream restoration” projects be exempted from our forest conservation laws which further enables wholesale tree cutting during these projects. (Note: infrastructure protection projects such as protecting or repairing sewer lines in streams valleys are not “stream restorations” – they are proper and necessary).

So, why are such “stream restoration” projects done? They are typically used to help meet the requirements of the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit (required under the federal Clean Water Act and issued by MDE) which requires that the County decrease certain pollutants (nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended sediments) entering the Chesapeake Bay. However, while sediment caused by stream bank erosion may be reduced by these projects which armor-plate sections of streams, research by Robert Hilderbrand has shown that, “Despite the promise and allure of repairing damaged streams, there is little evidence for ecological uplift after a stream’s geomorphic attributes have been repaired.” (1) In other words, while armor-plating streams with boulders may temporarily decrease erosion (since future storms can blow out these structures), the biological health of the area is not improved. In fact, the devastating biological impact of excavations by bulldozers and backhoes in our stream valleys is obvious to even the most casual observer.

Having said all that, the WMCCA has representatives on the Montgomery Stormwater Partners Network Stream Restoration Workgroup in an effort to educate ourselves and reach a consensus position on “stream restorations”. We remain willing to be convinced that these types of “stream restorations” are good for the environment. Until such time when it can be demonstrated that such “stream restorations” are beneficial to the local environment, we ask that the County and Parks obtain their MS4 Permit credits from alternative, upland (out of stream valley) projects and non-destructive practices such as tree plantings and conservation landscaping.

What can you do? On your own property, create rain gardens and replace turf grass with conservation landscaping to decrease stormwater runoff. Don’t pipe your roof runoff to the street. See other ideas at:

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/water/rainscapes/index.html

Above all, contact our elected officials and ask that emphasis be placed on alternative practices such as upland (out of stream valley) stormwater control, tree plantings, and conservation landscaping, for example. (1) Hilderbrand, Robert H., et. al.


Beltway Expansion Project Carol Van Dam Falk

The Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) and other independent analyses have shown that Governor Hogan’s beltway expansion project would hurt local ratepayers and Maryland taxpayers, and would be especially devastating for local residents. In March, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) estimated the cost would be $2 billion to move water and sewer pipes to make way for the project; that’s more than double the original estimate from MDOT. The state has consistently refused to acknowledge who will cover the cost. WSSC fears it may have to raise ratepayers’ water bills. Despite Governor Hogan’s claims that the proposal will cost Maryland taxpayers nothing, the DEIS admits that upwards of $1 billion in state subsidies might be needed to complete the project (Washington Post).

Local communities will be pay the biggest price for the beltway project. The DEIS acknowledges that 1,500 properties will be negatively impacted, and up to 34 homes will have to be bulldozed completely. The project will disproportionately impact local communities, particularly low-income communities and communities of color, all of whom will be forced to cope with increased noise and air pollution and increased risk of flooding and water pollution. The proposal would also negatively impact dozens of community resources including schools, parks, and hospitals, not to mention the numerous environmental concerns.


County Council Hearing on Sewer Category Change Requests Submitted by Susanne Lee

A public hearing will be held on January 12, 2021 at 1:30 pm regarding five sewer category change requests for properties located in the Potomac Subregion. They are located at 10400 Boswell Lane, 10401 Boswell Lane, the 12000 block of Piney Meeting House Rd, 9701 Watts Branch Drive, and 13517 Glen Mill Road. The County Executive has recommended approval of the request for 10400 Boswell Lane and disapproval of the remaining requests. It appears that his recommendations are consistent with the law and policy governing sewer use contained in the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, the County Water and Sewer Plan including the Piney Branch limited access policy, and the Maryland Smart Growth statutes. WMCCA plans to testify at the hearing in support of the County Executive’s recommendations. The package describing these requests can be found here:


Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 20-08 Continuing Care Retirement Community

Submitted by Susanne Lee

The Planning Board’s crazy proposal to use a redefinition of Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) to allow and promote construction of duplexes and triplexes in the County’s remaining low density zones has arrived at the County Council. A Council public hearing is scheduled for January 19, 2021 at 1:30 pm. WMCCA supports efforts to address senior housing needs documented in Montgomery Planning’s recent study where affordability and aging in place were major themes. Our area had already been inundated with facilities, with more on the way, even before the pandemic raised serious issues regarding reliance on congregate living settings for housing seniors. This developer-driven proposal would turn the State law-based definition of a CCRC on its head and appears to be targeted at allowing developments such as Heritage Gardens on South Glen Road – a townhouse development (units starting at $1.25 million) in a single family RE-2 (2 acre) zone. WMCCA is working with the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association to oppose the ZTA, including testifying in opposition at the upcoming hearing. Information regarding the ZTA appears here:


REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2020-2021!

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 welcome donations to our Legal Fund. While we try mightily to get good results without litigation, sometimes it is unavoidable and highly effective. Contributions from members enabled us to join efforts to successfully fight the Brickyard Road soccerplex, the Old Anglers Inn event complex, and the Heritage Gardens townhouse development on South Glen Road. We also joined with neighbors to oppose the Brandywine Senior Living facility and in the appeal of the Glen Mill Road Piney Branch Stream Valley subdivision currently pending before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

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. 


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 


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 – December 2020

December 2020


Who Will Thrive by 2050

President’s Letter – by Ken Bawer

This past month we provided testimony to the Planning Board on the County’s draft General Plan which is called “Thrive Montgomery 2050”. As stated in the document, “Thrive Montgomery 2050 is a general plan for the County with a 30-year horizon. It sets a vision for the County and encompasses broad, county-wide policy recommendations for land use, zoning, housing, the economy, equity, transportation, parks and open space, the environment, and historic resources.”

After reading the draft plan, one is left asking the question, “Who is meant to thrive in the next 30 years?”. There are many admirable aspirations in this draft plan which we support, such as a greater availability of low-income and moderately priced dwelling units, concentration of growth near mass transit (Metro and Bus Rapid Transit), and a vision where walking and biking is encouraged for shorter distance trips instead of car use. Having said that, it appears clear that the main group that will thrive from this document’s implementation are developers since the plan calls for a huge increase in zoning density at the expense of the environment and quality of life for the average resident. We stated that our vision balances any up-zoning (increased density) with down-zoning (decreased density) in other areas. Otherwise, we will be locked into an untenable future where the County continues to be urbanized (think Bethesda and Silver Spring) at the expense of open spaces.

We said that our vision for 2050 is a County where we don’t compare our growth to other jurisdictions (like Fairfax), and where our main goal and indicator of success is not growth but is being at the top of the Happiness Ratings, having a high quality of life, and above all, respecting and enhancing the environment. Our vision is a County which is not developer-centric but rather is resident-centric and environment-centric, where the focus is on sustainable growth, not simply population, business, and job growth.

Our vision is a County that has maintained the green Wedges & Corridors structure from the current General Plan rather than being “disappeared” from this draft document. This draft condemns us to becoming a County of all corridors and no green Wedges. We need to go back to the Wedges & Corridors concept which more clearly delineates areas of development. For our area specifically, our vision is a County in which low density and rural areas outside the Sewer Envelope are afforded special protection since these areas contain watersheds which contribute drinking water to millions of people. These protections should include severe limitations on new road construction and widening, and stricter requirements to control stormwater and impervious surfaces. Our vision does more to protect well water quality.

Our vision is a County where all decisions and policies are informed by science. Decisions will be based on the fact that any amount of impervious surface degrades our water quality including development in the Ten Mile Creek watershed. So-called “stream restorations”, which convert our natural areas into “engineered stormwater conveyances”, will be banned. We also stated that our vision is a County committed to actually enforcing County codes and regulations. Today, waivers and rulings are being made in a seemingly arbitrary and capricious manner.

Our vision is a County that is honest about air and water quality conditions. Currently, we have only a single air quality monitoring station. Our vision is for a network of roadside monitoring stations. Our vision is for emergency alerts for sewer overflows similar to air quality alerts. Unlike the current draft Plan, our vision does not include “flexible regulations, zoning controls and zoning initiatives”. We don’t have flexible speed limits for a reason. Regulations and zoning controls should be fixed and enforced, not flexible. There are still opportunities to comment on the draft Thrive Montgomery 2050 plan:

The Planning Board is accepting written testimony through December 10, 2020. Comments should be transmitted via e-mail to MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org, faxed to Chair Casey Anderson at 301-495-1320, or addressed to: Casey Anderson, Chair, Montgomery County Planning Board, 2425 Reedie Drive, Wheaton, MD 20902.


Commercial Solar ZTA 20-01 Submitted by Ginny Barnes

This has been a deeply controversial issue that would alter the Agricultural Reserve to allow industrial solar facilities to locate on farmland. Objections center around the need to preserve farmland for food production. The pandemic has highlighted the need to have access to locally sourced food and the Land Link program has been pairing small farmers with landowners to grow affordable food crops. After public hearings and discussions, the County Council has established a stake holders task force. WMCCA has supported the Montgomery Countryside Alliance position that our 93,000 acres of farmland and forest needs to be protected from industrial uses. The energy that could be produced in the Reserve from this ZTA would not be available to Montgomery County but become part of the energy grid in Pennsylvania.


A Necessary Appeal – WMCCA v. Montgomery County Planning Board

Submitted by Susanne Lee

On October 29, 2020, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (COSA) issued an opinion affirming the Planning Board’s decision approving the subdivision of a 2.77 acre lot on Glen Mill Road adjacent to the Glen Hills Park and in the Piney Branch Special Protection Area. WMCCA and multiple neighbors had appealed the decision even though we knew that the Courts are reluctant to reverse administrative agency decisions. However, we believed appeal was essential because the decision resulted in such egregious violations of the County’s Environmental Guidelines, the Piney Branch Special Protection Area covenants, and the Forest Conservation statute. Unfortunately not only did the COSA affirm the Board decision, it did so by basically rubber stamping the Board’s decision and holding among other things that the Board is not required to make findings when it approves a subdivision – only when it disapproves one. It also applied an erroneous standard for the approval of forest conservation statute variances. Because we believe these set a dangerous precedent since they constitute basic errors in the interpretation of administrative law and the forest conservation statute, WMCCA is filing a petition for review of the decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals. The recent COSA opinion appears here:


Spectrum Retirement Communities Conditional Use Application CU-20-5      

Submitted by Susanne Lee

Spectrum, a for-profit real estate developer of senior living facilities, proposes to construct a residential care facility with up to 100 living units (assisted living and memory care) at 9545 River Road, the current site of Potomac Petals and Plants, formerly Behnke’s. Because the land is zoned RE-2 (residential 2 acre minimum) the proposal requires conditional use approval by the Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH). WMCCA joined with surrounding neighbors to oppose the project and submitted a Prehearing Statement in Opposition on September 1, 2020. Subsequently, however, the neighbors whose properties abut or are in close proximity to the site engaged in extensive negotiations with Spectrum seeking ways to lessen the impact of the facility. The result was an agreement by Spectrum to reduce the building from 3 to 2 stories, with a corresponding expansion of the building footprint to accommodate the elimination of the 3rd story, and for enhanced landscaping and screening. In exchange the neighbors agreed to withdraw their opposition to the proposal. In order to support the neighbors’ extensive efforts to reach an agreement on the revised plan, WMCCA agreed to withdraw its opposition as well.

Spectrum submitted the revised plans to OZAH on November 24, 2020. Because the OZAH offices are closed to the public as a result of COVID, case files, including site plans, are only available on line via the Planning Board’s website. As of the date of this newsletter, the revised plans had not been posted, but this is the link where they should appear or call the OZAH office at 240-777-6660 for further information and assistance:

The OZAH Hearing – to be conducted virtually – currently is scheduled to begin at 9:30 am on January 15, 2021. For further information and updates check the OZAH website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ozah/. The agreement the parties reached is in no way binding on OZAH or its hearing examiners who will make their own independent determination as to whether to approve the conditional use application. While WMCCA does not support the project, as a result of its agreement with Spectrum and the neighbors it will not oppose or encourage others to oppose it. The agreement is binding on WMCCA and its Officers and Directors acting in their official capacities, but not on members of WMCCA acting in their individual capacities, nor on any other organization of which WMCCA is a member.________________________________________


REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2020-2021!

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 welcome donations to our Legal Fund. While we try mightily to get good results without litigation, sometimes it is unavoidable and highly effective. Contributions from members enabled us to join efforts to successfully fight the Brickyard Road soccerplex, the Old Anglers Inn event complex, and the Heritage Gardens townhouse development on South Glen Road. We also joined with neighbors to oppose the Brandywine Senior Living facility and in the appeal of the Glen Mill Road Piney Branch Stream Valley subdivision currently pending before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

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.


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 


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 – November 2020

November 2020


Playing Whack-a-Mole For You

President’s Letter – by Ken Bawer

This past month our Board members have been busy working on issues that impact our quality of life. It feels like we are playing whack-a-mole because some of these issues had been put to rest (or so we thought) only to pop up again!

Potomac Oak Shopping Center (sometimes called the Travilah Oak Shopping Center) and Transquest LLC’s white house at Travilah Road & Glen Road: The owners of these two properties have asserted the only way to make them more commercially viable is to have sewer lines extended to each of them. The shopping center has always been on septic, as is the much larger Harris Teeter supermarket a few miles away on Route 28. Transquest states it wants to turn the house into a Country Inn through the Conditional Use process. After failing to get approval in 2008 for the shopping center, in large part because of the fact that these properties are well outside of the sewer envelope, this issue has popped up again. Allowing this extension of the sewer line outside of the sewer envelope could result not only in a dramatic increase in commericial activity inconsistent with the Master Plan requirements for this low density area, but also set a dangerous precedent, as it would invite the argument from developers that if the County can do it for one property here, they can do it for others. Attend our virtual General Meeting on November 18th to hear their presentation and ask your questions.

Heritage Gardens Townhouse Development on South Glen Road: Last January, the developer withdrew their application for a Conditional Use (formerly, and more accurately, called a zoning special exception) after we and the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association argued before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) that the proposed development did not meet the County’s requirements for an Independent Living Faciltiy for Seniors. The consensus is that they knew they were going to lose on the motion to dismiss it because it didn’t meet the definition and was simply a glorified townhouse development. Now this issue has popped up again – see the article below.

Forest Conservation Easement violations: This issue has popped up on Valley Drive and another on South Glen Drive. In both cases the cutting of trees was reported and determined to be illegal by the Forest Conservation Inspector. The Valley Drive property was issued a citation for cutting and clearing more than 17,000 square feet of forest including portions of a forest stream buffer. The citation included a $1,000 fine and required a Natural Resource Inventory/Forest Stand Delineation and Forest Conservation Plan (FCP) to be submitted for approval. The Citation requires the FCP to be approved and the planting requirements to be implemented this Fall 2020.

We are following developments at the proposed Spectrum Retirement facility on the old Behnke’s / Potomac Petals & Plants site on River Road.

WMCCA is also investigating if tax incentives can be obtained by putting part of a property into a conservation easement with a land trust. Please email President@WMCCA.org if this interests you – we want to understand the level of interest in the community. Other work by the Board includes preparing WMCCA comments on the County’s draft for the new General Plan, called

https://montgomeryplanning.org/planning/master-plan-list/general-plans/thrive-montgomery-2050/

You can comment as individuals in writing and/or sign up to testify at the November 19, 2020 Public Hearing.

On a lighter note, there is some interesting native plant activity even as we approach Winter. Our latest blooming tree Witch Hazel is in flower. If you are lucky enough to spot them, two of our native orchids have new leaves: Putty Root and Cranefly Orchid. Plus, our area is full of fall blooming native flowers including goldenrods and asters. I encourage you to go see these and other native plants in our parks and neighborhoods. Consider native plants for your gardens as well – they are needed to feed our native insects which the birds depend on.


Oh No – Please No More Heritage Gardens / Senior Living Zoning Busters

Submitted by Susanne Lee

On October 29, 2020, the Montgomery County Planning Board approved for transmittal to the County Council a Zoning Text Amendment to change the definition and therefore requirements for a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). West Montgomery joined with the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association to oppose the ZTA. In addition to turning the concept of a CCRC upside down, like Heritage Gardens it appears to be another effort by the building industry to use age restrictions to end run around the prohibition on townhouses, duplexes and triplexes in low density zones and double or triple the allowed density of the land.

The quality of the staff work and the deliberations of the Planning Board continue to plummet and with this developer-driven ZTA they have reached rock bottom. Without getting too far into the zoning ordinance weeds, but in a large nutshell, the staff introduced the ZTA describing it as a response to an aging County population that wants more housing options and doesn’t want to be limited to living in large nursing homes. While certainly a laudable objective, the County Planning Department itself recently conducted an extensive study of senior housing needs and existing and proposed facilities. The study also contained multiple recommendations to address future needs. Meeting the Housing Needs of Older Adults in Montgomery County (2018). What is clear from the study is that there are already many housing options with still more under construction.

Rather than focusing on the study results and the changes in the zoning code proposed there, in what can only be described as bizarre, the ZTA changes the definition of just one type of housing – Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). CCRCs are unique in that they provide “long-term uninterrupted care that includes independent living units, residential care/assisted living services, and skilled nursing care, usually in one location, and usually for a resident’s lifetime. CCRCs allow residents to ‘age in place’ as they typically sign a contract for lifetime care.” Housing Needs study at p. 15. There are also specific state law requirements for CCRCs. The study identified nine in the County. They provide multiple levels of services, including nursing care, to over 4,000 seniors in a variety of housing types, including townhouses and detached single family, e.g., Friends House, The Village at Rockville, Asbury Methodist Village, Ingleside at King Farm, etc.

Likewise, the County requirements currently define CCRC as a “building or group of buildings providing a continuity of residential occupancy and health care for senior adults.” It “must include dwelling units for either independent or assisted living or both, plus a nursing home of a suitable size to provide treatment or care of the residents.” Emphasis supplied. The new ZTA would require both independent living and assisted living, but totally eliminates the requirement for nursing home care, making it optional. This change turns the basic concept of CCRCs – ensuring lifetime care – on its head.

It appears, however, to solve the problem of at least one of the clients of Lerch, Early & Brewer, the law firm the staff report indicates is “interested in the introduction and adoption of the potential legislation.” The firm represented the Heritage Gardens townhouse development on South Glen Road. More recently, in a February 28, 2020 Advisory Opinion provided to Lerch Early, the Director of the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings stated that Lerch Early’s client’s proposal that included building 45 duplex and triplex buildings could not be approved as an Independent Living Facility or alternately as a CCRC because it didn’t include a “a nursing home and comply with State law.” By eliminating the nursing home component, the ZTA would remedy their client’s problem and presumably via a conditional use allow construction of these duplexes and triplexes in low density zones.


REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2020-2021!

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 welcome donations to our Legal Fund. While we try mightily to get good results without litigation, sometimes it is unavoidable and highly effective. Contributions from members enabled us to join efforts to successfully fight the Brickyard Road soccerplex, the Old Anglers Inn event complex, and the Heritage Gardens townhouse development on South Glen Road. We also joined with neighbors to oppose the Brandywine Senior Living facility and in the appeal of the Glen Mill Road Piney Branch Stream Valley subdivision currently pending before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

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.


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 


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 – October 2020

October 2020


A Year Like No Other

President’s Letter – by Ken Bawer

This pandemic is possibly the worst disaster that many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Our region is fortunate to not be plagued by many natural disasters routinely faced by other parts of the country such as large-scale forest fires. But the COVID-19 pandemic is a different beast – it is not limited by geography. And there are segments of our population that are bearing the brunt of the disease – the elderly, low income folks, people of color, and those with pre-existing conditions. Our thoughts go out to those in our community who have lost family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Beyond loss of life, additional hardships caused by the pandemic are many faceted – lost jobs, closed businesses, students having to attend school remotely and the burden that places on entire families. Maybe we can all reach out with a kind word of encouragement, a word of thanks to essential workers, and an offer of assistance to a friend or neighbor. Of course, we have an election coming up. You are encouraged to vote by whatever method meets your own comfort level to protect your personal health.

I would be remiss in not thanking our outgoing President Susanne Lee for her innumerable contributions to the community this past year. The same goes for our entire Board (we are all volunteers) who have spent countless hours on issues of importance to our members. In closing, remember that we are YOUR citizens association. The Board doesn’t have all the good ideas or know all the issues, so please come to us with any ideas or suggestions you might have. Plus, you don’t have to be a Board member to get involved. If there is an issue that you are passionate about, any member can participate with us on a particular project.


Spectrum Senior Living (CU-20-5) OZAH Hearing Postponed Submitted by Susanne Lee

As described in our May, 2020 Newsletter, Spectrum Retirement Communities, LLC, a Denver-based corporation that operates 48 senior living facilities in 10 states, proposes to construct its first facility on the East Coast at 9545 River Road near the intersection of River and Persimmon Tree Road. The site is the current location of Potomac Petals and Plants and was previously the site of Behnke’s Nursery. The 5 acre site is zoned RE-2 Residential – single family houses built on 2 acre lots. Spectrum proposes to construct an assisted living facility with 100 plus units, including some memory care units. In order to do so in this single family residential zone, it must obtain a Conditional Use approval from the Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Appeals (OZAH). Neighbors near the site have been actively involved in responding to the proposal. The conditional use hearing before OZAH was originally scheduled for July 17, 2020, but has been postponed to November 2, 2020.

To obtain additional information and keep up to date with the proceedings, check the OZAH website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ozah/ and the Montgomery County Planning Board’s DAIC Dashboard at the link below. If this link does not work for you, you can search for the file on the Montgomery County Planning Board website by using their Spectrum Case No. CU202005.


Illegal ATV Trail in Watts Branch Stream Valley Park Submitted by Ginny Barnes

In early summer, a neighbor in the Glen contacted WMCCA to report men riding ATVs and carrying equipment to clear vegetation on his property. The neighbor’s property abuts the park so Park Police were notified and they began an investigation. First, Ken Bawer (our current President), then several WMCCA Board members, took a reporter to hike the damage which extended for miles into Watts Branch. Motorized vehicles are strictly prohibited on County Park property. The illegal clearing had been going on for some time. Park Police traced the sources of incursion to a neighborhood on Piney Meetinghouse Road. Parks natural resource staff was called in to assess the extensive damage which included several stream crossings. Park Police sent out letters warning the activity is illegal. While arrests have yet to be made, Parks staff and Park Police continue to monitor the area.


REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2020-2021!

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 welcome donations to our Legal Fund. While we try mightily to get good results without litigation, sometimes it is unavoidable and highly effective. Contributions from members enabled us to join efforts to successfully fight the Brickyard Road soccerplex, the Old Anglers Inn event complex, and the Heritage Gardens townhouse development on South Glen Road. We also joined with neighbors to oppose the Brandywine Senior Living facility and in the appeal of the Glen Mill Road Piney Branch Stream Valley subdivision currently pending before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

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.


Beltway Expansion Opposition Submitted by Carol Van Dam

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s push to widen Interstates 270 and 495 in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties continues despite the pandemic. There is pushback from many communities, including our own and from The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The Commission staffers said a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released recently fails to properly analyze impacts on low-income communities, understates the loss of parks and cultural sites, and neglects to account for current and future stormwater runoff. Please write a letter in response to the draft DEIS. According to Arlene Montemarano with CABE, “any letters sent to MDOT must contain the exact words…”I support the no-build option.” If they don’t, MDOT will not count your letter as being in opposition, no matter how eloquent the letter. The comment period deadline for DEIS is Nov. 9, but the County has asked that any residents submitting comments get them to County officials no later than Oct. 16.

Public comment letters should be addressed to:

Email: lchoplin@sha.state.md.us

Lisa B. Choplin, DBIA, Director, I-495 & I-270 P3 Office
Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration I-495 & I-270 P3 Office,
707 North Calvert Street, Mail Stop P-601,
Baltimore, MD 21201

with copies to:

Governor Lawrence J. Hogan: governor.mail@maryland.gov
Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot: pfranchot@comp.state.md.us
Treasurer Nancy Kopp: Treasurer@treasurer.state.md.us
County Executive Marc Elrich: marc.elrich@montgomerycountymd.gov
Councilmembers: County.Council@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov


2020 ELECTION OF WMCCA OFFICERS AND BOARD of DIRECTORS:

The election of the WMCCA Officers usually occurs at our May General Meeting. However, because the May meeting was cancelled, the election will occur at our General Meeting on October 14th. The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of Officers and Directors to the membership for their vote. Nominations may also be made from the floor.

President: KEN BAWER
Treasurer: BARBARA HOOVER
Immediate Past President: SUSANNE LEE
Secretary: JILL PHILLIPS
President Elect: CAROL VAN DAM FALK
Newsletter: NANCY MADDEN
Vice President: BARBARA BROWN

Nominees for a Two-Year Term: GINNY BARNES, SAMUEL STAVIS
To Serve 2nd Year of their Two-Year Term (no action needed): GEORGE BARNES, KATHY PETITT


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 


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 – May 2020

May 2020


Spectrum – Another Senior Living Facility Proposed – This in the Time of Pandemic

President’s Letter – by Susanne Lee

Spectrum Retirement Communities, LLC, a Denver-based corporation that operates 48 senior living facilities in 10 states proposes to construct its first facility on the East Coast at 9545 River Road near the intersection of River and Persimmon Tree Road. The site is the current location of Potomac Petals and Plants and was previously the site of Behnke’s Nursery. The 5 acre site is zoned RE-2 Residential – single family houses built on 2 acre lots. Spectrum proposes to construct a 100 unit residential care facility (a continuing care retirement community). In order to do so in this single family residential zone, it must obtain a Conditional Use (previously Special Exception) approval from the Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Appeals (OZAH). Prior to a decision by OZAH, conditional use applications are submitted to the Montgomery County Planning Board and they provide their recommendations to OZAH.

Spectrum filed its application with OZAH on March 18, 2020 (CU 20-5) and OZAH set its hearing date for July 17, 2020. It was received by the Planning Board on March 11, 2020 and some of the documents were posted on their website on April 2, 2020 (CU202005). The Planning Board has not disclosed the date for the meeting of its Development Review Committee or the Planning Board hearing.

Spectrum presented preliminary information on their proposal at WMCCA’s October 2019 General Meeting. At the time, we were gratified to see that, in contrast to the since-withdrawn Heritage Gardens townhouse development, their proposal resembled a residential care facility. At the time members expressed their concerns about the size, location, and need for yet another such facility. We urged them to be creative and consider offering something other than their usual large institutional model. Looking at their current application, it appears the only change they made was in the color and shape of the façade.

This is how the proposed structure will look: (Ctrl + Click to follow link):

Spectrum Elevation illustration
https://eplans.montgomeryplanning.org/UFS/31763/90458/CU202005%2016_%20%20Exh%20P%20-%20Architectural%20Plans.pdf/CU202005%2016_%20%20Exh%20P%20-%20Architectural%20Plans.pdf

We learned only recently that this formal application had been filed and are now beginning our review. Our initial reaction is that the project is: much too large given the size and location of the site; incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood; likely to exacerbate the flooding caused by the Ken Branch stream; and inconsistent with the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and the need for senior housing in the County and the Potomac Subregion. The building will have 100 units: 40 independent living units made up of studio,1 bedroom and 2 bedroom units with kitchens; 42 Assisted Living Units made up of studio, 1 and 2 bedroom units without kitchens; and,18 memory care units.

There will be 56 employees working 3 different shifts with 25-40 on the site at any one time. There will be 86 underground and 16 surface parking spaces. In addition to the housing units, there will be a central restaurant, a bistro, cybercafé, fitness center, multipurpose community center, theater, and multiple lounges. The proposal maxes out the density, lot coverage, and height limitations and provides the absolute minimum of green space required under the Zoning Code.

The application comes at a time when the Potomac Subregion is flooded with the construction of new senior living facilities providing the same levels and types of services proposed by Spectrum. Brandywine is under construction on the former site of the Potomac Tennis Club next to ManorCare and the Falls Road Golf Course. It will include 140 beds in 120 suites made up of assisted living and memory care units. Artis Senior Living under construction on River Road near the quarry will contain 72 memory care units. The Village on Scott Drive is constructing a whole new complex of independent living units adding to its existing cottage and assisted living and skilled nursing units. These are in addition to the the existing large facilities on the periphery of the Subregion such as Ingleside at King Farm and the Fox Hill Residences and Sunrise at Fox Hill at River Road and the Beltway. Previously the predominant desire of many seniors in the Potomac Subregion was to age in place. Given the current situation of many residential facilities during the Pandemic, it is unclear what the demand for congregate living will be in the future.

Our immediate concern is that the Conditional Use application process, already very opaque and difficult for citizens to navigate, will become even more difficult given the restrictions on participation resulting from Covid-19. The OZAH and Planning Board offices are closed to the public and activities, including hearings and document requirements, have to be done entirely on line. Even notice of the application which is made by posting a sign on the site is ineffective given that we are under a stay-at-home order and few are likely to see it. In addition, the sign was placed on the far right corner of the property and not in a conspicuous location such as the middle of the parking lot. OZAH is only required to give actual notice to a very few individuals and entities and then just 30 days before the hearing. Furthermore, OZAH sometimes limits the number of individuals who can become Parties of Record entitled to receive all communications.

With a proposal such as this one, WMCCA ordinarily would be trying to personally contact all of the neighbors affected, conducting open meetings, etc., but we will not be able to do that for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the application process continues and we will be requesting that OZAH and the Planning Board provide additional methods for citizens to participate. If you are interested in learning more about the process and want to be involved and included in our efforts, please email me at susannelee1@hotmail.com or call me at 301-956-4535.

OZAH indicates that because their offices are closed, the case documents will be found on the Planning Board website on the DAIC Dashboard at the link below. Although the Dashboard does not include all of the documents that would ordinarily be available at the OZAH office, it does provide many essential documents. If this link does not work for you, you can search for the file on the Montgomery County Planning Board website by using the Spectrum Case No. CU202005. (Ctrl + Click to follow link):


Walking Our Neighborhoods Submitted by Ken Bawer

To put a positive spin on a terrible situation, it is great to see so many people out walking our neighborhoods. I have seen more people walking these past few months than in the past twenty years. One neighbor who normally has their security gate closed even posted a sign on the now-open gate inviting walkers to tour their beautiful garden.

Having said that, sometimes our walks in areas without sidewalks resemble a game of chicken where two parties are walking towards each other hoping that the other will yield and cross the street to maintain social distancing. When I politely suggested to someone coming towards me that it was safer to walk facing traffic, the response was, “I’ll do whatever I want.”

What are the rules? It used to be taught in elementary school that one should always walk facing traffic. That seems reasonable since one could presumably prepare to move even further off the road if an oncoming vehicle showed no signs of a courtesy move-over. If that wasn’t enough, please know that it is illegal to walk on the right side in areas without sidewalks: “Where no sidewalk is provided, a pedestrian may walk only on the left shoulder or on the left side of the roadway, facing traffic. Penalty: $40 or up to $500.00.”

With those fun facts in mind, let’s go out there and get some exercise!


Swains Campground Logging Submitted by Barbara Brown

Five years ago, November 9, 2015, there was a public meeting at Swains Lock Campground after plans were made by the C&O Canal National Park to severely log the open area. Nearly 50 people attended. After statements and suggestions from arborists and Councilman Roger Berliner, cutting was abbreviated. Extensive replanting was attempted after the pruning and removal of several diseased trees. The public protest clearly signaled the desire to have careful management of the wooded campground for safety and aesthetics.

It was a surprise that ‘in the time of COVID-19’ the Park announced that starting immediately – additional tree clearing would be made by Bartlett Tree Experts under contract to the National Park. Upon inspection, 50 mature trees were marked for removal with medallions. Once again concerned citizens rallied: WMCCA, the Canal Trust, the C&O Canal Association’s Swains Lock canal stewards, and neighbors – to protest both the timing and the extent of the proposed logging.

A Zoom-type conference call on April 24th included Tina Capetta (Superintendent), John Noel (Assistant Superintendent), John Adams (Park Safety Officer), Jason Gillis (Arborist and Facility Operations Specialist), Tim Zastrow (Bartlett Project Manager), and others. The call was also attended by Officers of WMCCA, the Canal Trust, the C&O Canal Association’s Swains Lock canal stewards, and neighbors. A powerpoint program created by the Park emphasized the importance of public safety and stated there was now a two-year continuing maintenance schedule for Swains Lock campground due to “public feedback”. It was announced that because of the public concerns, the trees marked for removal were reduced from 50 to 5. Promises were made to replant with careful planning to maintain and restore the beauty of this camping area. Most importantly, it opened a positive communication channel between the Park and the various communities and individuals who are passionate about it.

Swains Lock Trees

West Montgomery County Citizens Association v. Montgomery County Planning Board,
Case No. 2428 Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

Briefing is concluding in this appeal brought by WMCCA from an erroneous decision made by the Montgomery County Planning Board. Oral argument is scheduled to occur in the Court of Special Appeals on June 3rd. It is currently scheduled to be conducted remotely and public participation will be restricted to the attorneys arguing the case. Attorney David Brown is representing WMCCA. A recording will be made of the argument and will be posted later on the Court of Special Appeals website.

The appeal involves an attempt to subdivide an undeveloped parcel of land in the Piney Branch Special Protection Area. It is located on Glen Mill Road just east of the intersection with Boswell Lane. The heavily wooded site has severe environmental constraints with steep slopes and extensive wetlands and the Piney Branch stream runs through the property. The Planning Board erroneously approved a subdivision of the plot that violated the County and State requirements governing stream buffers, wetlands, the Piney Branch Sewer Agreement Covenant, and the County Forest Conservation Act. In so doing it also violated basic tenets of administrative law by failing to address and make findings and conclusions regarding these crucial elements of the plan.

The election of the WMCCA Officers usually occurs at our May General Meeting. However, because the May meeting is being cancelled, the election will occur at our next General Meeting on October 14th. The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of Officers and Directors to the membership for their vote in October. Nominations may also be made from the floor.


In response to the need to practice “Social Distancing” – our May 2020 Newsletter will be distributed only by e-mail to all members who have supplied their e-mail address. Everyone is welcome to send their e-mail address to membership@WMCCA.org to receive the Newsletter and to stay in touch with WMCCA updates and responses to your concerns. As always, our Newsletter is available on our website.


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 


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 – April 2020

April 2020


No Need for Me to Tell You

President’s Letter – by Susanne Lee

UNLESS YOU ARE TRULY ESSENTIAL – PLEASE JUST STAY HOME AND STAY SAFE !!! And if you are essential, like my sister at the NIH Clinical Center, or my niece who is an ER doctor, or the clerks at the grocery stores and pharmacies, and so many others, we thank you very much.

What irony that as the pandemic surrounds us our natural world is exploding with the best flower displays ever. Or is it just that because we are stuck at home, we are actually really noticing Spring this year. Outdoor exercise is a critical element in keeping us healthy and sane. The throngs that are out and about in our local, state, and national parks are a testament to that need and the treasured natural resources of the Potomac Subregion. But given the sheer numbers of people, it appears the best is to stick – as the Irish are doing – to within 2 km (a mile and a quarter) of our homes or best yet to our gardens. We are so fortunate that so many of us have garden space – perfect for therapeutic self isolating.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/gardening-self-isolating-coronavirus/2020/03/23/30bae166-6a08-11ea-9923-57073adce27c_story.html

There is no question that for so many reasons the best thing I can do for myself and the universe is to stay home and garden safely. We at WMCCA will continue to work on issues important to the Potomac Subregion using all available electronic means. With the exception of our legal expenses, our financial needs are small and because we are all volunteers we are not faced with wrenching decisions to cut back on staff or activities, except our General Meetings. But in addition to staying in place, we encourage you to support local businesses in any way you can and to consider donating to the many domestic and international social service and conservation organizations that are addressing the adverse impacts of the virus while revenue sources are dropping.


Montgomery County Pesticide Law Submitted by Barbara Hoover

Springtime reminder that Montgomery County has a law that bans the cosmetic use of pesticides on your lawns. For more information: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/lawns/law/. Specific bans include:

NO Weed & Feed Products: These products contain both a fertilizer and pesticide and none of them are allowed for use under County law on lawns.

NO “EPA Reg. No.” on Label: Most products with an EPA registration label contain chemicals that cannot be used on lawns, playgrounds, childcare facilities, or mulched recreation areas. There are a few exceptions. Check the above website for a description of the exemptions that apply.


Legislative Roundup Submitted by Carol Van Dam Falk

The Maryland General Assembly adjourned its session three weeks early on March 18th due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a roundup of what happened:

Lawmakers passed a sweeping education reform plan proposed by the Kirwan Commission, a $440 million revenue plan to fund the reforms and several emergency bills to curb coronavirus cases in the state.

660-plus bills were passed between Sunday and Wednesday (March 15th – 18th).

Debate in the final hours of the House centered on a proposed constitutional amendment that began in the Senate which would allow the Legislature the power to move funding around in the state budget, thereby diminishing the powers of the Governor. Republicans vehemently opposed it and so did one Democrat (Velentino Smith-Prince, George’s County). The bill passed 95 to 39.

A measure to guide compensation for prisoners wrongly convicted of a crime sailed through the House (123-9) but a Republican Senator’s filibuster kept the measure from passing this year.

A bill banning cabinet secretaries from lobbying in Maryland for 12 months after leaving the government passed. House Bill 315, backed by Del. Vaughan Stewart (D-Montgomery), was amended to include the Hogan administration priority of increasing the penalties that can be levied against elected officials convicted of bribery.

Lawmakers also approved legislation that prohibits price-gouging on food, fuel, cleaning products, medical supplies, and other items. It also extends unemployment benefits to people who are quarantined or whose employers have ceased operations because of COVID-19. Other bills that were approved would enshrine the main elements of the Affordable Care Act into state law and authorize the Maryland Stadium Authority to float $375 million in bonds to overhaul Pimlico Race Track.

Unfortunately two synthetic turf-related bills crafted by Montgomery County Safe Play Activists, (HB 1098 and HB 1042) one to regulate the disposal of used synthetic turf playing fields, and the other to ban the use of public money to buy and install more synthetic turf fields, did not pass this year. There’s always 2021.


2020 ELECTION OF WMCCA OFFICERS AND BOARD of DIRECTORS: The election of the WMCCA Officers usually occurs at our May General Meeting. However, because the May meeting is being cancelled, the election will occur at our next General Meeting on October 14th. The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of Officers and Directors to the membership for their vote in October. Nominations may also be made from the floor.

President:  KEN BAWER

Immediate Past President:  SUSANNE LEE

President Elect:  CAROL VAN DAM FALK

Vice President:  BARBARA BROWN

Treasurer:  BARBARA HOOVER

Secretary:  JILL PHILLIPS

Newsletter:  NANCY MADDEN

Nominees for a Two-Year Term: GINNY BARNES, SAMUEL STAVIS

To Serve 2nd Year of their Two-Year Term (no action needed): GEORGE BARNES, LEROY MILLER, KATHY PETITT.


In response to the need to practice “Social Distancing” – our May 2020 Newsletter will be distributed only by e-mail to all members who have supplied their e-mail address. Everyone is welcome to send their e-mail address to membership@WMCCA.org to receive the Newsletter and to stay in touch with WMCCA updates and responses to your concerns. As always, our Newsletter is available on our website.


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 


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 – 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:

https://montgomeryplanning.org/planning/master-plan-list/general-plans/thrive-montgomery-2050/

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.”

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/water/rainscapes/index.html

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

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/water/wqpc/about.html#credit

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:

https://montgomeryparks.org/caring-for-our-parks/natural-spaces/weed-warriors/

A few of the best places to buy native plants are: 1) spring and fall plant sales at Montgomery Parks Nature Centers  https://montgomeryparks.org/parks-trails/nature-centers/ including our own Locust Grove Nature Center on Democracy Boulevard; 2) Chesapeake Natives  http://chesapeakenatives.org/ in Upper Malrboro; 3) Earth Sanga https://www.earthsangha.org/ 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: https://www.facebook.com/TheWMCCA/


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 

Help support our efforts in defending the Master Plan. Renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Look for your renewal notice in the mail or go to our website to download a membership form or join using PayPalhttp://www.wmcca.org


West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Ginny Barnes 301 762-6423
Newsletter – Lois Williams


The Newsletter is published monthly, and the Board of Directors meets each month. We welcome any suggestions for upcoming meeting topics and ways to further utilize our web site (www.wmcca.org).

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

Newsletter – February 2020

February 2020


Forest Bathing (Not What You’re Picturing) – Needs Your Forest

President’s Letter – by Susanne Lee

Results continue to pour in confirming the beneficial effects of getting ourselves outdoors. They demonstrate that spending time in nature can result in improved physical, mental, and emotional health and cognitive functioning. Blood pressure and stress hormone levels decrease and immune systems are strengthened. The minimum amount of time required is pegged at 120 minutes a week, but it can be cumulative – in small chunks. And it can occur in a variety of settings – your yard, pocket urban parks, and along the Canal, not just deep in the redwoods.

However, deep in the redwoods is closer to the concept the Japanese have coined “Forest Bathing”. The emphasis is not just on being outside, but increasing the potential beneficial effects by being outside in a forested area. The objective is to experience the forest with all of our senses including touching, hearing, and smelling, not just seeing. The person is “bathed,” showered down upon, by all aspects of the forest. Research indicates that the forest aroma in particular, yes they bottle it, increases the production of certain beneficial immune cells. Areas with more trees and bigger trees have greater beneficial impacts. And the beneficial effects of exercise were increased when it occurred in forested areas instead of in urban areas with few trees.

So in addition to all the other critical functions trees provide, this is yet another reason why we urge everyone to do whatever you can to stop losing trees, any existing trees, on and off your property. And we urge you to redouble your efforts to plant even more, lots more. Now you will have another reason to feel better when you turn your lawn into a forest. And to increase your impact, when you are deciding what to plant, please take a look at the amazing work and recommendations of Douglas Tallamy, an entomologist at the University of Delaware. Here’s a video of one his lectures to enjoy when you are taking a break from your forest bathing:

His focus is not just on native plants, but ones that provide “services.” And not just to support pollination, but insect populations in general. Insects turn into spectacular butterflies and moths and are food for our declining song bird populations. Spoiler alert – oaks and native cherries appear to be the best for our area.


Heritage Gardens, LLC Submitted by Susanne Lee

On January 31, 2020 the attorneys for the Heritage Garden developers withdrew their application for a conditional use approval to build a 51 unit townhouse development on this South Glen Road property. This is a huge win for WMCCA and the dedicated neighbors who have opposed this application. While we cannot know the reason the developer decided to withdraw, WMCCA made very strong, compelling arguments in our Motion to Dismiss the application and at the hearing on the Motion before the Hearing Examiner. The developer has withdrawn the application before the Hearing Examiner issued her decision on our Motion. Although it appears the developer may make other proposals for the use of the site, for now we are very happy that the current application was withdrawn and we thank all of the neighbors for their efforts.


Grass is Better Than Synthetic Turf  Submitted by Carol Van Dam Falk

It’s the time of the season for state bills to be making their way through committees in Annapolis and this year, the third year of the self-declared climate emergency, we are hoping LR 1967-Use of Public Funds–Playground and Athletic Field Surfaces–Preferences and Prohibitions- makes its way into law.

LR 1967 would restrict the use of state funds for the construction and maintenance of synthetic surfaces (fields and playgrounds) and instead prioritizes and funds state-of-the-art grass and natural materials to build playgrounds and fields. It is cosponsored by House Speaker Delegate Jared Solomon. Delegate Aruna Miller introduced nearly identical language last year, but this time around, momentum is building. At least 10 state lawmakers have expressed their support for the legislation. Plastic synthetic turf is a urethane-backed carpet of colored plastic blades placed on top of a layer of rocks. The plastic contains known toxic chemicals such as heavy metals, phthalates, UV inhibitors, colorants, and flame retardants. Such carpets usually have anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 pulverized, used tires added for cushioning impacts from falls. The tire crumb waste contains additional known toxic substances including lead, mercury, benzothiazoles, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carbon black (a known carcinogen), and volatile organic compounds like benzene.

A growing number of studies underscore the danger posed by synthetic surfaces to public health and the environment. The turf industry acknowledges that dangerous heavy metals such as lead are found in dust from playing fields. There is no safe level of lead exposure to children according the CDC. Aside from chemical exposure, safety is a paramount concern, such as over-heating, unexpected failure of infill to cushion falls, sanitation problems (spit, snot, blood that is never cleaned from plastic carpet), and injuries such as skin abrasions, and more frequent joint injury to knees and ankles.

Grass is Better for Our Health & Economy. Natural grass has excelled in recent months on cost, quality, and durability. New grass fields limit or eliminate chemical inputs while providing more durability in most conditions. Unlike synthetic turf, they filter water, oxygenate the air, and provide safe, softer, sustainable surfaces for play. In a change from last season, LR 1967 authorizes funding under Program Open Spaces for lifetime costs for maintenance and upkeep of grass athletic fields and drainage systems. The use of grass helps our local economy. Synthetic turf is not manufactured in Maryland. This change should incentivize county public school systems and sports organizations to install natural grass over unsustainable, unhealthy, and cost-prohibitive synthetic surfaces. We will keep you updated on the progress of LR 1967.


CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK!

Please like and follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/TheWMCCA/


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 

Help support our efforts in defending the Master Plan. Renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Look for your renewal notice in the mail or go to our website to download a membership form or join using PayPalhttp://www.wmcca.org


West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Ginny Barnes 301 762-6423
Newsletter – Lois Williams


The Newsletter is published monthly, and the Board of Directors meets each month. We welcome any suggestions for upcoming meeting topics and ways to further utilize our web site (www.wmcca.org).

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

Newsletter – January 2020

January 2020


Looking Back 10 and Forward 10 – with Gratitude and Increased Resolve

President’s Letter – by Susanne Lee

Northern Virginia paved over everything in sight leading to the American Legion Bridge. So it didn’t take a rocket scientist or a transportation expert to predict the giant traffic bottlenecks that are now occurring daily on the Virginia side of the Bridge. Maryland Governor Hogan was already jamming through a massive, financially risky, public-private luxury toll lanes project to widen the Beltway from the American Legion Bridge to I-95 and up I-270. The whole process has been plagued by a lack of transparency, inadequate and conflicting data, failure to conduct the required environmental impact studies and mitigation, and the future degradation of water quality and loss of hundreds of acres of wildlife habitat and parkland. The proposal is so flawed that litigation between the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the Maryland Department of Transportation seems likely.

Having a decade roll over seems to prompt more than the usual New Year’s introspection. Looking back over the last 10 years prompts us to express our deep gratitude to community members who have joined with WMCCA to help preserve the environmental green wedge and the quality of life in the Potomac Subregion. Individuals throughout the Subregion took time away from other responsibilities and dedicated hours and hours of their time and their creativity, financial, and other resources in these efforts. Here are just some of the groups of neighbors that have done so much in the past 10 years: Brickyard Coalition and River Falls and other abutting neighbors (Brickyard organic farm, soccerplex and solar installation, Old Angler’s Inn events venue); East Gate (monopole); Potomac Tennis Club site Lockland Rd. neighbors (Brandywine Senior Living); Carderock (Artis Senior Living); Gary Road (WSSC and forest conservation); Glenstone neighbors (sewer extension, water table, and stream conservation); Query Mill Road (Potter Glen Subdivision); Glen Hills (County sewer policy); Oaklyn Drive (Potomac Swim and Tennis Club); Cutters Lane (Glen Mill Road Subdivision); Fire Station 30 neighbors (monopole); and, Woodrock (Rockwood Manor).

Countless other neighbors have worked with us to preserve or improve specific environmental conditions, especially by stopping the destruction of forest stands and stream buffers throughout the Subregion. And then there is the ongoing work done by our Board members in coordination with others regarding artificial turf playing fields, cell towers, and preservation of the C&O Canal and the Agricultural Reserve. But what about the next 10 years? Certainly WMCCA will be engaged in similar issues. We begin the new decade by joining with the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association to oppose the massive Heritage Gardens townhouse development. The Spectrum Senior Living proposal for the Potomac Petals and Plants garden center site on River Road will likely be filed soon. But perhaps it is time for all of us, as individuals and in concert with others, to step up our game.

Think about the enormous impact overdevelopment throughout the Metropolitan Region in the past 10 years is already having on the quality of life for all of us and on the natural environment – from clogged roads and impaired water and air quality to likely declining songbird populations. Yet County policies encourage even more development. With the rollback of the EPA’s air, water and toxics regulations and the failure of the Planning Board to enforce State and County environmental protections, we as individuals and organizations have to be even more proactive to ensure human health and safety. Most importantly, even here in our area away from the coast, EPA predicts rising temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns are likely to increase the intensity of storms as well as both floods and droughts. We are already experiencing extreme weather events – cars floating on Canal Road, historic flooding along Kendale Road. In these next critical 10 years, our focus must be on solutions that don’t involve more pavement and beltway expansion. It must instead be on whatever we can do to address the wider issues – reducing carbon in the atmosphere and slowing climate change.


Winter Salt Usage Submitted by Ken Bawer

As stated in a December 10, 2019 article in WUSA9, “Montgomery County is taking an active approach to protect the environment and preserve road infrastructure this winter.” The County’s DOT wants to better manage how it uses salt on local roadways. “The goal is to use less,” MCDOT Director Chris Conklin said. “Conklin explained that salt used to de-ice roadways can often end up in local waterways. On top of that, he added that the usage of salt can be corrosive on asphalt and concrete roads.”

Salt run-off also kills plants and is harmful to aquatic organisms. A Wisconsin State Journal article (11/11/18) states that a myriad of problems arise from over-salting. The salt that is spread on pavement inevitably ends up in nearby soil – altering its composition and slowing plant growth – or washing into area waterways and polluting the water. One teaspoon of salt that washes into lakes, rivers, or streams can pollute five gallons of water to a toxic level. Salt causes seasonal chloride spikes that endanger the freshwater animal and plant life, and the salt does not break down once it is in the waterways.

This winter, consider using less salt for icy conditions around your home. As alternatives, consider using sand or non-clumpting kitty-litter to provide traction (although neither will melt the ice). But be sure to sweep it up later so that it doesn’t gets washed into our streams and cause sediment problems.


Heritage Gardens Townhouse Development Submitted by Susanne Lee

Heritage Gardens LLC (HG) seeks to build 51 separately owned townhouses on individual lots on 30 acres zoned RE-2 (2 acre minimum detached houses). In order to build these townhouses in an RE-2 acre zone, the applicant seeks approval for them as a conditional use under the guise of Group Living, and in particular as an independent living facility for seniors. HG’s conditional use application is currently pending before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH). WMCCA filed a Motion to Dismiss the application because, on its face, the supporting documentation establishes that the intended project does not constitute an “independent living facility for seniors” as that conditional use is defined in §59.3.3.2.C.1. of the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance. Briefing has been concluded and the OZAH Hearing Examiner has requested that the County’s Department of Permitting Services provide her with their totally advisory interpretation of the provision by January 8th. A hearing on the Motion is scheduled before the Hearing Examiner on January 13, 2020. If she grants the Motion, the application will be dismissed. If she does not, the hearing on the application is set to begin on February 10, 2020.


CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK!

Please like and follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/TheWMCCA/


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 

Help support our efforts in defending the Master Plan. Renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Look for your renewal notice in the mail or go to our website to download a membership form or join using PayPalhttp://www.wmcca.org


West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Ginny Barnes 301 762-6423
Newsletter – Lois Williams


The Newsletter is published monthly, and the Board of Directors meets each month. We welcome any suggestions for upcoming meeting topics and ways to further utilize our web site (www.wmcca.org).

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

Newsletter – December 2019

December 2019


Just What Planet Are Our State Officials Living On – the American Legion Bridge to River Road Widening Fast-Tracked

President’s Letter – by Susanne Lee

Northern Virginia paved over everything in sight leading to the American Legion Bridge. So it didn’t take a rocket scientist or a transportation expert to predict the giant traffic bottlenecks that are now occurring daily on the Virginia side of the Bridge. Maryland Governor Hogan was already jamming through a massive, financially risky, public-private luxury toll lanes project to widen the Beltway from the American Legion Bridge to I-95 and up I-270. The whole process has been plagued by a lack of transparency, inadequate and conflicting data, failure to conduct the required environmental impact studies and mitigation, and the future degradation of water quality and loss of hundreds of acres of wildlife habitat and parkland. The proposal is so flawed that litigation between the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the Maryland Department of Transportation seems likely.

Now Virginia Governor Northam has joined with Governor Hogan to initiate a rapid rebuilding and widening of the American Legion Bridge and the Beltway from the Bridge to River Road – again luxury toll lanes and private funding with construction starting as early as 2021. This is an immediate threat to all of those who live anywhere near where the new lanes will be built. Use this link to see the impact on individual homeowners and our schools and parkland:

https://rkk.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9c67313b31eb46fea59f0b14c7e6bf38

WHAT ARE THESE STATE OFFICIALS THINKING? Have we learned nothing since the Bridge was built and the Beltway opened over 50 years ago? Both became jammed with traffic soon after they were completed. Are they totally clueless regarding the impacts of climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions? Just because the Region has failed miserably in its transportation planning, doesn’t mean we can’t stop the madness now. Yet these proposals have not one – not one – transit option or smart growth action proposal. Nothing in this massively destructive infrastructure project will do anything to solve long term traffic congestion or reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. To the contrary, study after study documents that where new roads are built or old ones expanded, they just encourage more driving and more development, and are soon filled to capacity. The objective of all of these expansion projects is to allow additional space for an increased number of greenhouse gas emitting vehicles when we should be doing everything in our power to decrease those numbers. The climate crisis demands real change – not the same old, same old mistakes.


Heritage Gardens Townhouse Development Submitted by Susanne Lee

On November 20, 2019, WMCCA filed a Motion to Dismiss the developer’s application for a conditional use approval to construct 51 townhouses on the 30 acre former 4th Presbyterian School site on South Glen Road. The property is zoned RE-2 – Single Family Residential on Two Acre Lots. WMCCA requested that the Hearing Examiner reject the application because, on its face, the development fails to meet the definition of an Independent Living Facility for Seniors contained in the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance. If not dismissed, the conditional use hearing before the Hearing Examiner is set for February 10, 2020.


Synthetic Turf Nightmare Submitted by Carol Van Dam Falk

Another push is underway at the state level to end subsidies for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and other county school systems or agencies that install synthetic turf playing fields instead of maintaining natural grass fields, fields which do not off-gas carcinogenic material or whose surface temperatures do not exceed 150 degrees on hot days as do artificial turf fields. Dr. Kathleen Michels, a neuroscientist, parent and member of our coalition Safe Healthy Playing Fields testified recently that it’s no secret that the world is “drowning in plastic and it’s related toxins.” Michels pointed out that “no amount of ‘recycling’ can or will solve the problem. “The answer to an overflowing bathtub is to TURN OFF the TAP. Then mop it up,” said Michels.

To that end, the coalition supports an end to subsidies for plastic synthetic turf sports fields and playgrounds. We also support efforts to regulate their disposal so that hundreds of tons of disintegrating plastic and tire crumb from each one of these fields does not end up dumped in local woodlands or wetlands. Many plastics, including synthetic playing fields, are manufactured with the PFAS class of toxic, “forever chemicals” that now pollute our drinking water and soil. PFAS (Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) are in Vortex jackets, Scotch Guard carpets, and non-stick pans like Teflon. The EPA recently released its delayed Nationwide Per and PFAs action plan, and it falls far short of what is needed to protect communities. Linda Birnbaum, former head of the NIH National Toxicology Program, was banned last month from telling the public PFAs cause multiple health problems.

PEER, (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) recently joined our efforts to ban subsidies for synthetic turf and regulate their disposal. It said tests by the Ecology Center, a nonprofit in Michigan, found a marker chemical that suggests PFAs are present in the blades of fake grass used in artificial turf. “PFAS in synthetic turf should sound alarm bells for parents and for all municipalities with these fields,”- November 2019 PEER Newsletter. Now Wootton High School is being forced to replace its 6 year old synthetic turf field, which was supposed to last 10 years. Walter Johnson High School recently had to replace its synthetic turf field early. Crumb rubber from both fields are leeching into nearby soil and waterways. We need to clean up our mess and make sure that the next generations do not have to deal with this toxic nightmare.


REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2019-2020!

Help support our efforts in defending the Master Plan. Renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Go to our website to download a membership form or join using PayPal: www.wmcca.org

We count on your dues to cover the cost of our newsletter. Individual: $25 / Family: $50. We also welcome donations to our Legal Fund.


CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK!

Please like and follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/TheWMCCA/


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 http://www.wmcca.org website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 

Help support our efforts in defending the Master Plan. Renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Look for your renewal notice in the mail or go to our website to download a membership form or join using PayPalhttp://www.wmcca.org


West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Ginny Barnes 301 762-6423
Newsletter – Lois Williams


The Newsletter is published monthly, and the Board of Directors meets each month. We welcome any suggestions for upcoming meeting topics and ways to further utilize our web site (www.wmcca.org).

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