Category Archives: Newsletters

Newsletter – November 2022


WMCCA – Celebrating 75 Years!


A Combined Effort Towards Many Controversies & Crises

President’s Letter by Barbara Brown

First of all, congratulations to the 75th anniversary booth WMCCA organized for Potomac Day, October 22, 2022. Meeting the community and presenting beautiful apples, grown locally, was a perfect welcome! Thank you, Barbara, Nancy, Susanne, and Carol.

At our November 9th General Meeting, our speaker will be Paul Tukey, Chief Sustainability Officer for Glenstone. If you desire to keep a beautiful lush green lawn WITHOUT using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, there are environmentally friendly ways. Glenstone does not use ANY chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides! Hear what Paul Tukey recommends to retain moisture and to fight weeds to care for a chemical-free lawn. He will cover: adding a thin layer of compost in the spring and irrigating deeply every so often; mowing at the high-setting, not low, to prevent deterioration; and, mowing less often in the summer when the grass is not active.


Planning Board Debacle Update

Submitted by Carol V. Falk and Ginny Barnes

In the past week, the County Council unanimously approved Thrive 2050.  The controversial General Plan Amendment will essentially up-zone current single family communities to allow apartments, townhouses, and duplex, triplex, and quadruplex housing.  The Plan Amendment will break the residential ‘green wedges’ of current 1 and 2 acre zoning.  Purported to be a vision for the future, it will increase sprawl, threaten long standing environmental planning and the Agricultural Reserve, and it fails to address the most pressing public health issue we face: climate change.  Diverse coalitions had been calling for a ‘pause’ in the Thrive vote to address complaints about inadequate public input, open meetings violations, and ongoing scandals.

Just two days later the Council hastily appointed five interim members to the Planning Board (PB) after asking for resignations of the entire Planning Board two weeks ago in the wake of the latest scandal involving Chair Casey Anderson and a toxic work environment fueled by infighting.  The Council received 128 applications for the 5 seats.  They chose Democrat Jeffrey Zyontz, a long time County employee who has worked on planning issues as temporary chair and Republican Amy Presley, a former PB member as temporary vice-chair.  The Board can have no more than three members of the same political party.

Trust in the Board has been eroding for years under Anderson’s leadership, but it erupted into the open when Board members, minus Anderson who recused himself, fired longtime director Gwen Wright 3 months before she was expected to retire.  Wright told the Washington Post “I believe their main reason for dismissing me was that I supported Casey Anderson in a number of the difficulties that he’s recently been in.”  Anderson was also accused of maintaining a fully stocked bar in his office at the Board and offering alcohol to others, including employees.

The 3-year Thrive 2050 process took place amid a COVID epidemic that limited appropriate public input which led to indifference by officials and when the Plan Amendment reached the County Council for approval, Council members ignored petitions and pleas to slow down.  The result of a bad process is an equally bad product.  It would have been far better to keep our existing General Plan of ‘wedges and corridors’ which has served us well and build on it rather than approve what is not a General Plan at all, but simply ill-conceived housing policy.     


County Council Throws Potomac Under the Bus

Submitted by Ken Bawer

By unanimous vote on October 25, 2022 the County Council essentially threw Potomac and other low density areas under the bus by voting to approve updates to the 2022-2031 Ten-Year Comprehensive Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Plan.  We had urged all Councilmembers to not vote for the Plan’s amendments which resulted in special favors being granted to several sewer category change requests from septic systems to public sewer.  None of these properties had failed septic systems.  To hide the fact that special favors were being granted to individuals, the proposed amendments added language to the Water & Sewer Plan that was so narrowly crafted that few if any other properties would qualify for the same sewer category changes.

The worst part of the Plan update was the creation of a new Community Service for Commercial Land Uses (a.k.a. Commercial Sewer Service Policy) that will extend sewer lines to allow expanded, inappropriate commercial development in low density areas outside the sewer envelope.  This was another special favor to the owners of the “old white house” and Potomac/Travilah Oak shopping center at Travilah and Glen Roads.

One case that was deferred is especially troubling.  The owner has a sand mound septic system and reported that the system pumps have burned out several times.  The problems appear to be electro-mechanical in nature, not a septic system failure, since replacing those components fixed the problem.  Although this is not a total septic system failure and therefore does not qualify for a sewer category change, the Council seems poised to grant another special favor to this owner.  These are examples of how our low-density areas are slowing being transformed by creeping public sewer line extensions.  Absolutely no consideration is given to the environmental impact of sewer sprawl and increased density: increased structure sizes, increased impervious surfaces, increased stormwater runoff, and the resulting adverse impact on streams and the drinking water supply that will result from these special favors.

Of equal disappointment is that several of our letters and a phone call to our elected representative Councilmember Friedson went unanswered.  The rule of law in Montgomery County has been replaced, it seems, by the rule of special favors.


County Council Votes Yes for Cell Antennas on Utility Poles 30 Feet From Homes

Submitted by Theodora Scarato

Despite heavy opposition, the County Council approved zoning text amendment (ZTA) 22-01, Antennas on Existing Structures.  This ZTA changes the current wireless antenna setback from 60 feet to 30 feet for existing structures such as utility poles.  There is no limit on height nor on the amount of equipment boxes attached to each pole.  Last year, the Council passed a similar bill, ZTA 19-07, which allows cell antennas on top of street lights and replacement poles at 30 feet from homes and eliminates routine public notice and hearings.  A coalition of thousands of residents has opposed this zoning for several reasons including aesthetics, property values, health, climate/environmental effects, and lack of community input into the decision making process.

The coalition has created a NEW petition calling for the Council to repeal the cell antenna ZTA’s and consider input from a working group of residents and stakeholders:  https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/moco-cell-towers/ .


Bullis School Seeks a Major Modification of its Conditional Use (S-687-H)

Submitted by Susanne Lee

The Bullis School has filed an application with the Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) for a major modification of its current special exception (now called a conditional use) in order to:

  1. construct a new Lower School building and internal access “loop” road, parking and related site improvements and facilities, including conversion of an existing field to artificial turf;
  1. increase enrollment by 21.7 % from 900 to 1,096 (grades K-12);
  1. add faculty and staff to accommodate the increased enrollment; and
  1. confirm previous approvals including unbuilt improvements under the 2004 Campus Master Plan will remain.

OZAH has set a hearing date of January 27, 2023.  The application must first be reviewed by the Montgomery County Planning Board.  The full application as well a list of special exceptions granted to Bullis can be found on the Planning Board website. The current application is summarized here:


REMINDER IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY RENEWED:  IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2022-2023!  

We rely upon your membership to support our efforts!  Please renew or become a new member of WMCCA.  Go to our website https://wmcca.org/become-a-member/ to download a membership form or join using PayPal:  Individual: $25 / Family: $50.  We encourage donations to our Legal Fund.  While we strive for positive results without litigation, sometimes it is unavoidable and highly effective.  Contributions from members enabled us to join efforts to successfully address several issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve.  If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors.  Thank you for your support !!  Our Membership year runs from October 1st to September 30th.


West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P.O. Box 59335, Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Barbara Brown: President@WMCCA.org
Website: WMCCA.org – Thomas Fahey,   Newsletter Editor – Nancy Madden

Newsletter – October 2022


Our C&O Canal’s Beauty, History, & Preservation

President’s Letter by Barbara Brown

The C&O Canal gives the Potomac river a secluded privacy, and a feeling of history. Stretching from DC to Cumberland, traveling the canal can take you away from modern times to a different, quieter, simpler era. Only parts of the canal are still watered, but in Washington, DC, the canal is not only a beautiful walk, but also provides for boat travel.

Two years of repairs are planned from November 22, 2022 through November 24, 2024. These repairs will be extensive and time consuming, but will add quality to the towpath. There will be a public meeting within the next month. The main intent is to renew the Stop Lock (Guard Lock) at the bottom of the Feeder Canal (Lock 5). Next there are plans to rehabilitate the prism between Great Falls (Lock 20) and Violettes Lock (Lock 23). Plans to rehabilitate Georgetown Level 4, Gates 1 and 2 being finalized.


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

Submitted by Susanne Lee

Much to our dismay, but as expected, on September 6, 2022, Hearing Examiner (HE) Lynn Robeson Hannon approved the Conditional Use application for the construction of a massive townhouse and lodge complex on this 30 acre low density RE-2 residential site at the intersection of Norton and South Glen Road. The decision reflects an abject failure of multiple agencies of Montgomery County government to conform to and perform the essential elements of good governance in a manner consistent with the basic tenets of administrative, zoning, planning, and environmental laws and regulations. This included actions and inactions by the County Council, the Forest Conservation and Planning Staff, and the Planning Board in addition to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH). The HE Hannon approval decision is provided here:

Click to access CU%2022-01%2C%20Heritage%20Land%20LLC%2C%20Report%20and%20Decision%20(Robeson)_Final(1).pdf

In contrast, the one bright shining example of what should have happened throughout was captured in the decision by the previous HE Derek J Baumgardner to require a traffic study. He was at the time relatively new to OZAH, but with prior substantial zoning law experience as head of the Baltimore Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals. His decision rejected the Planning Board’s long-standing practice not to require a study in order-in their words-to make it easier for the development community. The HE decision rejected this typical Planning Board approach and relied instead on basic tenets of administrative law and especially the plain language of the requirements. Given his demonstrated independence and adherence to administrative law principles and rules of statutory interpretation, he may well have ruled differently than HE Hannon. However, with no notice or explanation, he was gone from OZAH almost immediately after he issued his decision on February 11, 2022, and was replaced with HE Hannon. His decision is provided here:

Click to access CU%2022-01%20Order%20Remanding%20Case%20to%20Planning%20Staff%20(002).pdf

Given that the parties are not likely to appeal and the uncertainty surrounding the developer’s plans, it is unclear what will happen at the site and when. WMCCA thanks the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association leadership, members, and contributors for their incredible efforts. They have worked tirelessly for years to try to ensure positive development of the site. Development that, in contrast to this plan, would maintain and enhance the character of the neighborhood, preserve the natural environment, and decrease the traffic and pedestrian hazards on South Glen Road.

Going forward we at WMCCA, along with other concerned citizen organizations, continue to consider what can be done regarding what we believe is a County government structure that has lost all ability to administer effectively essential Federal, state, and local zoning, environmental and planning requirements. In the meantime, to follow some of these issues, check out the website at http://www.theseventhstate.com.

And keep an eye out for what the OIG at the Planning Board is finding:

https://wjla.com/news/local/montgomery-county-casey-anderson-planning-board-chairman-official-full-bar-in-office-liquor-rum-vodka-gin-tequila-forced-employees-to-drink-oig-report-wheaton-cocktail


Update on Thrive 2050

Submitted by Ginny Barnes

For the past several years, amidst COVID lock down, inadequate public participation, endless controversy and scandal at the highest levels, the Planning Commission has delivered to the County Council what is intended to be an update of the Montgomery County General Plan.  It isn’t an update at all. It will alter forever how we develop our county and destroy the ‘wedges and corridors’ vision of our successful growth pattern for the last 60 years. That vision has provided an environmental basis for development and made possible our 93,000+ acres of Agricultural Reserve, 2 low density semi-rural areas called ‘green wedges’ and guided the creation of over 33,000 acres of parkland. The Potomac Subregion is the western ‘wedge’. We play a major role in protecting the public water supply and the narrow, linear C&O Canal National Historic Park that hugs the Potomac River from Georgetown to Cumberland. 
Purported to address inequities in housing, Thrive 2050 seeks to compact development, open the entire county to upzoning, and create what are called complete communities. It does not provide actions to address our greatest threat: Climate change. One which does not discriminate. One which requires a focus on our environment as a public health issue. We all need increased tree canopy, local and sustainable food security, provision of clean energy and water quality protection. The singular focus of Thrive on more housing distribution will only increase sprawl. It will not decrease poverty. It will cause more problems and solve nothing.  The pandemic has helped make a distance between the public and policy makers, but the Planning Commission turned a deaf ear to proper and even legal citizen inclusion. Now a deeply flawed document sits at the County Council poised for approval.
Coalitions have been formed to fight back this disaster. One of the most recent and diverse sent a letter signed by 36 organizations (including WMCCA) and 209 residents requesting the County Council hit the pause button on Thrive Montgomery 2050. But they are not listening. We’ve received no reply. Our collective letter is not even included in staff packets at Council work sessions. Our letter is still open for signatures.  Go to https://tinyurl.com/PauseThriveSignOn. The Council did not create this disaster but is responsible for enacting it. Please help pause the process and open it to the wider community it has failed to reach – do so now, before it is too late.


REMINDER:  IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2022-2023!

Please renew or become a new member of WMCCA.  Go to our website http://www.wmcca.org to download a membership form or join using PayPal:  Individual: $25 / Family: $50.  We encourage donations to our Legal Fund.  While we strive for positive results without litigation, sometimes it is unavoidable and highly effective.  Contributions from members enabled us to join efforts to successfully address several issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors. Thank you for your support !!  Our Membership year runs from October 1st to September 30th.


Mark Your Calendars for October 22, 2022 – Visit our WMCCA Booth #51 at POTOMAC DAY!


Our Speaker for the November 9, 2022 General Meeting with be Paul Tukey,
Chief Sustainability Officer for the Glenstone Museum in Potomac
and author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual.

VIRTUAL WMCCA Meeting October 12, 2022 – 7:30 p.m.


West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P.O. Box 59335, Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Barbara Brown: President@WMCCA.org
Website: WMCCA.org – Thomas Fahey,   Newsletter Editor – Nancy Madden