Celebrate Spring in Montgomery County!
President’s Letter by Barbara Brown
Montgomery County offers 420 parks on 37,220 acres. There are 4 lakes, 27 activity buildings, 102 campsites, 114 historic structures, 136 picnic areas, 27 basketball courts, 276 playgrounds, 269.6 miles of trails, and 297 outdoor tennis courts. It will be a fascinating program!! Please come out and enjoy!
Expedited Bill 25-22, Forest Conservation – Trees
Submitted by Ginny Barnes
The Montgomery County Council has passed, and the County Executive signed, legislation which will help the County achieve greater forest planting and forest conservation with a goal of no net loss. Specifically, the amendments will require maintenance plans in some instances if mature forest is struggling to compete with non-native invasive plants. They will discourage forest clearing and incentivize forest planting in areas with low forest cover; strengthen reforestation ratios; increase required planting in stream valley buffers; and require more mitigation for removal of large trees, among other measures. This revision has been a long process and the updated legislation will protect and expand Montgomery County forests and move the County closer towards its ambitious climate goals.
Yes !!!Maryland Rejects Certain of the Council’s Proposed Changes to the County Water and Sewer Plan
Submitted by Susanne Lee
In the last days of the prior County Council’s terms in office, and within hours of when the Lame Duck prohibitions would prohibit them, the Council passed a variety of changes to the County’s Water and Sewer Plan that WMCCA believed were dead wrong. Following the debacle that was the prior Planning Board, this last minute move by the Council, many running for election within days of the vote, seemed to epitomize exactly how far afield from basic principles of the rule of law, and in particular administrative and environmental law, both entities had strayed. These changes, however, required approval by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) after consultation with the Maryland Department of Planning. We at WMCCA submitted the following to MDE requesting that they reject certain changes that had specific relevance to the Potomac Subregion.
On March 16, 2023, MDE issued its decision and rejected those that WMCCA had asserted should be rejected. While the State references the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, the State’s decision relies heavily as well on Thrive Montgomery 2050 and the Water Resources Plan.
In particular, MDE denied two new policies in the Plan that dealt with transferring connections under the abutting mains policy and community service for commercial uses outside the sewer envelope. MDE also denied in part and revised the new main extension element of the abutting mains policy placing additional limitations on its application. The new County Council has six months from the date of receipt of MDE’s March 16, 2023 letter to request reconsideration by MDE. In the meantime, the County has informed the applicants that these category requests approved by the Council based on the provisions in the disapproved amendments are on hold:
WSCCR 20-TRV-03A (Arora) WSCCR 20-TRV-05A (Kapoor) WSCCR 20-TRV-09A (Ainane)
WSCCR 20-TRV-14A (Transquest LLC) WSCCR 20-TRV-15A (Travilah Oak LLC)
Bullis Plans Artificial Field
Submitted by Carol Van Dam Falk
A hearing before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) on the Bullis School application for a major revision to their Special Exception scheduled for late January was postponed. The revision includes plans for a new, synthetic turf playing field. A Bullis modification of conditional use hearing is scheduled for April 13th before the Planning Board. On May 2nd, it goes before OZAH.
Synthetic turf contains toxic chemicals including PFAs or “Forever Chemicals,” and presents a host of other problems including a higher rate of injuries to players vs. natural grass and serious disposal questions. Last month, a report on a possible link between a rare brain cancer that killed six professional US baseball players and toxic chemicals in artificial turf has raised new questions over whether synthetic sports fields pose a health threat to athletes and others using them. The six athletes, who all died from glioblastoma, played most of their professional lives with the Philadelphia Phillies, a team that for decades competed on artificial turf in Veterans Stadium, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. While no causality has been proven between cancer and synthetic turf, we do know heavy metals, carcinogens, and endocrine disrupters exist in artificial turf. We urge you to contact the Planning Board and tell them you oppose Bullis’ construction of synthetic turf fields.
Submitted by Susanne Lee and Ginny Barnes
We were so very sorry to hear that Norman Knopf died recently. He was WMCCA’s go to attorney for over 30 years until his retirement from active practice several years ago. He himself was a community activist so in addition to his remarkable legal skills he brought enormous commitment to our efforts as well. The law firm of Knopf and Brown that he founded is one of the few that will represent community groups as most in the land use bar will only represent development interests. He was an absolute expert on zoning statutes and a joy to work with; patient, collegial, and always mindful of optimizing the use of citizens’ often limited financial resources.
WMCCA NOMINATING COMMITTEE
The following individuals will nominate Officers and Directors to be voted upon at the May 10, 2023 General Meeting:
Chairperson – Ginny Barnes
Members: Susanne Lee, Theodora Scarato, Nancy Madden, Ken Bawer
MARK YOUR CALENDAR for our MAY 10TH GENERAL MEETING!
Our Speakers will be Senator Brian Feldman and District 15 Delegates Lily Qi, Linda Foley, and David Fraser-Hidalgo. They will provide their annual update on their work in the Maryland General Assembly. Their efforts to improve the lives of citizens in their District and throughout Maryland are always important. Please join this meeting and bring your interests and questions.
VIRTUAL WMCCA Meeting April 19, 2023 – 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