Category Archives: Rustic Roads

Newsletter – February 2022

February 2022


Addressing 5G and Thrive Montgomery 2050 Concerns

President’s Letter – by President Carol Van Dam Falk.  

We hope all of you survived the nor’easter which evolved into a “bomb cyclone” last weekend and are staying warm and dry. The weeks of frigid weather we’re experiencing may well be due to climate change. According to the Washington Post, several studies link higher snowfall amounts in the eastern United States to changes in the Arctic. “When the Arctic is warm, one study found, cold blasts and heavy snowfalls in the eastern U.S. are two to four times more likely to occur than when the Arctic is cold.” As we warm our toes by the fire and contemplate the future of our neck of the woods, we thought now would be a great time to hear from the folks who have been urging the Montgomery County Council to revise the Thrive Montgomery 2050 document, to make it more environmentally friendly and less focused on development. In late October, the County released the “Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee Draft of Thrive Montgomery 2050,” an update to the County’s general plan. Unfortunately, it ignored all of the concerns and ideas we and others had raised in 2021. In December, the Council asked the County’s five Citizen Advisory Boards to hold talks with members and communities about the Plan at their January meeting. The Thrive site mentioned a Western Montgomery County Advisory Board Committee meeting at 7:00pm on Jan. 27th, but offered no other information, including no link to the meeting. Along with WMCCA, Scott Plumer, of the Darnestown Civic Association, has been actively involved in trying to revise the document to better protect our area and the green wedges north of us from overdevelopment. We look forward to hearing Scott’s recommendations and how we can make our voices heard on Thrive Montgomery.

The second half of our meeting will be devoted to a discussion of 5G plans for Montgomery County. The Council passed two resolutions on January 25, 2022 related to rules and fees for ZTA 19-07 fast tracking the deployment of 5G, 4G and new wireless networks in County residential areas. Last summer, the Council passed zoning amendment ZTA 19-07, which removes routine notice and hearings for short “small” cell towers in residential areas. That means poles can be erected in your front yard or directly adjacent to your yard, so long as the pole is 30 feet or more from your home. The ZTA streamlines the ability for telecommunications companies to access public rights of way in residential areas. Several thousand residents went on record opposing the ZTA. Theodora Scarato, our newest WMCCA Board member and an expert on the subject, will discuss the latest developments concerning 5G in the County.

As always, the general meeting is open to the public. Bring your questions and invite your neighbors!


Council Passes New Rules on Short 5G Cell Tower Deployment into Residential Areas      

Submitted by Theodora Scarato

The new rules govern fees and rules for ZTA 19-07. Fees are set at levels intentionally well below processing costs, leaving residents/taxpayers to subsidize the wireless industry’s OZAH waiver and hearing processes for small cell towers. The second resolution sets rules that govern expedited conditional use processes for small cell towers – such as cases where the companies want to erect their cell tower poles closer than 30 feet. The new rules limit participation in critical pre-hearing matters. On January 31, 2022, the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee will have a briefing on the status of the master licensing agreements for 5G deployment. If you want to stay updated on new permits for wireless antennas, sign up for the County esubscription newsletter: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cable/Towers/calendar.html

Join the residents campaign to bring public notice and hearings back at: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-zta-19-07

More information can be found at https://mc4t.org/ and https://mococoalition.blogspot.com/


2021 Water and Sewer Plan Update       Submitted by Ken Bawer

Per the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection web site, “DEP staff are currently preparing the 2021 triennial comprehensive update of the Water and Sewer Plan as required by the State of Maryland. The initial staff draft is under development and is expected to be completed for agency review by the end of February. As this update moves forward, this webpage will provide schedule information on this process.” In theory, the Water and Sewer Plan establishes policies that emphasize the use of on-site septic systems in lower-density areas like ours; this keeps our areas low density to protect our watersheds from high density-related pollution.

In practice, however, the County has allowed changes to the sewer category of many properties that will allow creeping extensions of public sewer lines throughout our low-density area, which grow each year. Example: the “Glen Hills Area Sanitary Sewer Study” that created a loophole to grant sewer category changes from septic to public sewer for several properties with fully functioning septic systems.

Another example: the Potomac area “peripheral sewer service policy” which allows properties to connect to public sewer simply because they are adjacent to an existing “sewer envelope.” This defeats the whole purpose of containing sewer lines within the sewer envelope. While this action does not automatically expand the envelope, it only takes a small leap of imagination to envision the sewer envelope being expanded to include peripheral policy properties, then allowing even more properties to be hooked up to sewer. Public sewer lines are the pre-requisite to higher density development leading to the degradation of public water quality as large parts of our area drain into the Potomac River upstream from the WSSC Filtration Plant on River Road. We are working to have this Potomac Peripheral Sewer Service policy removed since it is a senseless loophole that applies to no other part of the County.

We will continue to oppose changes which grant special favors to developers, including the one at Travilah Oak (a.k.a. Potomac Oak) Shopping Center. Both the shopping center, which is on septic, and the “old white house” across the street at Travilah and Glen Roads, have each asked for a 5,300-foot public sewer line extension along Travilah to their properties. County Executive Marc Elrich’s office and the Planning Board both recommended denial but the Council’s T&E Committee voted for a deferral. We believe the Committee took this action to allow staff time to consider how to modify County policy to approve such developments. We will fight such action.


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

The conditional use application hearing before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) for the townhouse/senior care community proposed for the 30 acre lot (RE-2-minimum 2 acre residential) at Norton and South Glen Road began on January 28, 2022. The Hearing Examiner heard oral argument regarding whether a traffic study is required but has yet to rule. Heritage Gardens began the description of its proposal. The Hearing Examiner then scheduled the next two days of hearings for February 14th and February 15th. Heritage Gardens will continue with its witnesses and then West Montgomery and the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Assn. (GSGNA) and other neighbors will present our testimony and exhibits. In order to ensure that other members of the public have an opportunity to testify, the Hearing Examiner specifically set aside time at 9 am at the beginning of the Hearing on February 14th for anyone to testify, even if they had not signed up before.

The hearing is conducted remotely via Teams. To participate by testifying at 9 am on the 14th or to just watch click on the hearing link for Heritage Gardens on the OZAH website (see link below) on the lower left hand corner under Hearing Schedule and also at Public Hearing Remote Access and Exhibits. Unfortunately the link is only good for the next case that OZAH will hear so they won’t include Heritage Gardens again until closer to February 14th. If you want details about the project, some exhibits are still posted on the Montgomery County Planning Board website:

The OZAH link that will have the hearing link at a later date is here: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ozah

West Montgomery continues to join with the abutting neighbors and the GSGNA to oppose the development as it is currently proposed. If you would like to support these efforts, we urge you to send donations for legal and consultant expenses to GSGNA at 11021 Dobbins Drive, Potomac, MD 20854, or by Venmo to @Neil-Goldman-9. GSGNA will provide a receipt for all contributions.


Mark Your Calendars – The WMCCA March 9th General Meeting will feature District 1 Councilmember Andrew Friedson as our Speaker. This will be his first presentation to a WMCCA General Meeting since he became our representative on the County Council.


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


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

Newsletter – January 2022

January 2022


Speaker: Ken Wormald, Partner, The Wormald Companies
Kelly Cook Andress, President and Founder, SageLife Pat Harris, Partner, Lerch Early

Topic: Join us to hear a description of Heritage Gardens Land LLC’s conditional use application to build a Senior Care Community at 10701 South Glen Road. Participating in the discussion will be key project personnel responsible for the proposed development. We encourage not just the neighbors directly affected by the development to attend to present their questions and concerns, but all those in the Potomac area since the development as currently proposed will have major impacts beyond the adjacent neighbors.  


When farmers bartered for supplies at Perry Store in Offutts Crossroad in 1880, Potomac was an agricultural community where transportation relied on the C&O Canal and horse-drawn wagons on dirt roads.  Today, we see something far different.

Yet much remains constant.  Great Falls, the Potomac River, and the Canal still draw us.  Forested stream valleys, rural roads, and Potomac Village still define our community.  The look and feel of Potomac today is no accident.  Much of what we hold dear is due to the vigilance of volunteers working to preserve what is best here a community that values our history, the environment, and our role as Green Wedge in the overall vision of county planners.

We invite you to become one of the team to insure the continued beauty of this area. If you are interested in preserving the beauty of Potomac, please become a member.


Join Us For A Virtual Meeting
Wednesday, January 12th at 7:30 p.m. via ZOOM

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85890676682?pwd=QmFVcWU3U2g4RjB6NGxLMW1nL2g3QT09

or call in with 301-715-8592 (Meeting ID: 858 9067 6682, Passcode: 038629)
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdP13X1cuH


No advance registration required, but only the first 100 participants will be allowed into the meeting. A recording of this meeting will be available on our website.

Click here for a recording of our previous monthly meeting.


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

Newsletter – December 2021

December 2021


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

President Carol Van Dam Falk

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

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

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

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


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

Submitted by Susanne Lee

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

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

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


Thrive Montgomery 2050 – General Plan Update

Submitted by Ken Bawer

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

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

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


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

Submitted by Barbara Hoover

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

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


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

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


Add the January 12th WMCCA General Meeting to Your Calendar

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


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


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