Several of this year’s WMCCA meetings directly or indirectly focused on our area’s tree canopy. There is good reason for this attention to tree canopy – everything from the quality of our streams to our enjoyment of the outdoors is dependent on trees. The need for trees to remove pollution from the air and water, reduce flooding and limit the heat-island effect cannot be overstated. Already under considerable stress from age, deer damage and the effects of pollution, our tree canopy is experiencing a net loss from ongoing infill and redevelopment, a loss exacerbated by Pepco’s extensive tree removal.
Many trees are lost in older neighborhoods as the small houses built a half-century ago are replaced with much larger houses, and, with the county’s decreasing inventory of buildable lots, there is more pressure for infill development. Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is endeavoring to switch large areas of the Glen Hills neighborhood from septic systems to sewer service. If this change is approved, the infill development will thin the lush Glen Hills tree canopy as well as damage sensitive stream valleys. And it seems that DEP is looking at bringing sewer into neighborhoods similar to Glen Hills.
The Maryland Public Service Commission, in an attempt to improve reliability, has directed Pepco to increase tree cutting along power lines. At our April meeting Pepco representatives told us that, in the past, trees were pruned sufficiently to last two years before needing to be trimmed again. The current standard is now four years, and trees that can’t be cut back enough to last four years need to be removed. The resulting tree removal has been substantial, and the power company’s drastic pruning may stress many trees too much for survival.
Two bills being considered by the County Council are designed to limit the loss of tree canopy by providing incentive to preserve trees where possible and bringing in funds to replant trees when removal is necessary.
Efforts to slow the loss of tree canopy are essential. The two tree bills being considered by the County Council work together to reduce canopy loss and provide protections to trees not covered by the Forest Conservation Law. The proposed bills are facing opposition. These bills are an important step in slowing canopy loss and need our support.
Brickyard Road School Site Update
by Curt Uhre - Circuit Court Judge Robert A. Greenberg made some very pointed comments in a recent Court order regarding the Brickyard dispute. The Court found that “... [T]he entire episode left the oft-stated and under-exercised notion of government ‘transparency’ with a black eye.” The Court added the actions of the county government and the Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) “resulted in an enormous waste of private, county and state resources.” Describing the last minute decision by the County Executive to rescind the Brickyard lease and return the property to the BOE, Judge Greenberg wrote, “After many months of litigation, and on the cusp of a final decision by the court, the county suddenly decided that the lease – initially claimed to be so beneficial that it had to be rammed through the Board of Education before a more thorough and thoughtful public discussion could take place – was not quite so vital to the county and its soccer-playing youth.” The Court order rhetorically reflected, “Why county officials suddenly changed their minds is unknown to the court,” and suggested that “perhaps the decision to abandon the lease was a matter of political expediency, or maybe county officials read the judicial tea leaves and believed the county would ultimately not prevail before this court.”
The Brickyard Coalition is pleased to note that Court has pointedly told the County and the BOE that their process was not “transparent,” and resulted in unwarranted governmental expenditures. It is our hope that the BOE and the County will heed the Court’s findings and will follow an open and transparent process in their future actions.”
Potomac Elementary School Modernization
by Curt Uhre – Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) staff held the first public meeting regarding the modernization of the Potomac Elementary School (PES) since the decision was made by MCPS to consider building a new PES at the Brickyard site. Approximately 50 people attended. Traffic concerns and the added travel time for the students to the Brickyard site was the top concern expressed. About 90 percent of the PES students would be traveling through the congested Falls Road/River Road intersection during morning rush hour traffic. The lack of public notice of the decision to consider Brickyard as a school site was also raised by many attending. Most citizens preferred building a the new PES at the current site rather than moving the school to the Brickyard site. There were no votes for the Brickyard site in a straw poll taken by the MCPS.
Election of WMCCA Officers and Board –
The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of Officers and Directors to the membership for a vote at our May 8th meeting. Nominations may also be made from the floor.
President: GINNY BARNES
President Elect: CURT UHRE;
Vice President: SUSANNE LEE;
Immediate Past President: SHAWN JUSTEMENT
Treasurer: GEORGE BARNES;
Secretary: MIKE DENKER and BARBARA HOOVER;
Newsletter: NANCY MADDEN
Directors serving second year of a two-year term:
BARBARA BROWN, BETSI DAHAN, ELIE PISARRA CAIN, ALISON MROHS
Nominees for a two-year term:
KATHY PETTIT, CAROL VAN DAM FALK, LOIS WILLIAMS, JOHN YASSIN
West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President - Shawn Justement, 301 762-6937
Newsletter - Lois Williams
Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.