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

Newsletter – May 2022


A Fond Farewell to Loyal WMCCA Volunteer

President’s Letter by Carol Van Dam Falk

We have been indebted to Peter Poggi, our ongoing volunteer webmaster who took us from having no online presence to providing an inviting, up-to-date home page with easy-to-use links on our newsletters, meetings, archive material, and more.  Peter has uploaded all of our newsletters, important testimony, and other pertinent information without fail for more than 25 years.  He also became involved as an activist on certain issues that were close to his heart, including one several years ago in which the head of Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation proposed to straighten a stretch of Quince Orchard Road in North Potomac that is part of the County’s prized Rustic Road network.  MCDOT wanted to make it easier for truckers to pass through and may have been planning to link up Travilah and Quince Orchards with a second river crossing at the time.  Peter, along with the late, beloved WMCCA Board member George Barnes, and I testified before the Planning Board in strong opposition to the proposal, arguing the windy nature of the Quince Orchard was a natural barrier to speeders, especially teenagers who often traversed that stretch of road at night as it was near Quince Orchard High School.  The Planning Board agreed with us; Quince Orchard Road was left untouched.

We have good news to share on the search for a new WMCCA web administrator.  Local resident Thomas Fahey has stepped up to the plate!  Thomas is joining WMCCA in the capacity of volunteer webmaster beginning this month.  At the same time, we are migrating from a decades-old web provider to a new one that has a more straightforward, modern design and will be easier to maintain.  Thomas has had an evolving career, including posts focused on interacting with government agencies, ‘neighborhood-level’ community development, and software design.  He recently returned to the Washington Metropolitan Area after spending several years away, and happily lives with his family in a welcoming community near the Potomac River, not far from Old Angler’s Inn.

We thank Peter Poggi for his dedication and service to WMCCA and look forward to our new chapter with Thomas Fahey.


2021 Water and Sewer Plan Update

Submitted by Ken Bawer

As of this writing, we are still waiting for the County Executive’s office to transmit their updates to the Water and Sewer Plan to the County Council for a public hearing.  We will object to continuation of the peripheral and abutting mains sewer policies and multiple “special rule” changes that are inconsistent with the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and Maryland Smart Growth Statutes and are designed to benefit specific property owners who are otherwise ineligible for sewer extensions.

Aside from the Water and Sewer Plan update, there is a property in the Palatine of Potomac neighborhood which is requesting a category change to allow sewer hook-up.  Per the County Executive’s office, “The applicant has proposed the provision of public sewer service for an existing residential lot along Centurion Way in Potomac, Maryland.  The approval of public sewer service for the property requested is not consistent with Water and Sewer Plan sewer service policies or with 2002 Potomac Subregion Master Plan recommendations.  This location is outside of the planned public sewer envelope in the Palatine of Potomac subdivision.  The Potomac peripheral sewer service policy can allow for the consideration of public sewer service for some properties at the edge of the planned sewer envelope.  However, properties at the edge of the Palatine subdivision are excluded from qualifying under this policy.”


Amendments to County Forest Conservation Law

Submitted by Ginny Barnes

On Thursday April 28, 2022 the Planning Board approved amendments that seek to add strength to the existing law and move the County closer to achieving ‘no net loss’ of forest.  A MoCo Forest Coalition consisting of staff and representatives from a number of civic and environmental organizations worked on developing the amendments for over a year.  There was strong favorable public testimony at the hearing.  The proposed changes are an improvement on the existing law but do not go as far as the MoCo Forest Coalition recommended.  Their priority is to protect existing forest, not just replant what is destroyed for development.  Existing forest stands are diminishing and it is nearly impossible to plant and nurture new forest, especially with the added stress of the expanding deer population, invasive species, and climate change.  Here is the link to the Planning Board update:

https://montgomeryplanning.org/planning-board-approves-proposed-changes-to-montgomery-county-forest-conservation-laws-to-achieve-no-net-loss-of-forest/​

Amendments will now be sent to the County Council where they could be strengthened.


Potomac Friends of the Library Dissolved ??

Submitted by Ginny Barnes

For 31 years our Potomac library has enjoyed the care of dedicated volunteers from our community that has enhanced programming, sponsored book sales, contributed money for library improvements, and even dressed as storybook characters for the annual Potomac Day parade.  Not every County library has a Friends Chapter. Of the 21 Libraries, 15 have their own chapters.  All are overseen by a nonprofit Montgomery County Friends of the Library.  On March 19, 2022, without notice or discussion with any chapters, the trustees dissolved all existing local chapters.  In notifying chapters of the decision, a lack of fiscal responsibility by a few was cited as the primary reasoning.  The stated solution being to centralize chapter functions, which means community members may not be able to volunteer in their own libraries but be assigned elsewhere.  This is not what community is all about.  If other chapters not as well functioning as others needed help, why not make that decision as a community of chapters instead of doing away with all chapters?

I learned the value of our Chapter when I nominated them in 2019 for the Potomac Chamber of Commerce  ‘Citizens of the Year’ Award’ after discovering they’d never been nominated.  The Chamber voted them the award and I was fortunate to be able to present it to the Potomac Chapter at the awards dinner.  I’ve never met a more dedicated group.  A group that defined ‘community’ here in Potomac.  Up until that time, I’d only partaken of monthly book sales or the shelf in the lobby as I left after each visit.  For me, as for many I’m sure, just this service was invaluable; putting books in the hands of many who cannot afford to buy from distributors of new books.  There must be a better way to keep our libraries attractive to local volunteers as well as spreading services among the different chapters.  The Board of Trustees needs to rethink such a rash decision.


2022 ELECTION OF WMCCA OFFICERS AND BOARD of DIRECTORS:

The election of the WMCCA Officers and Board of Directors will occur at our May 11th General Meeting.  The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of Officers and Directors to the membership for a vote.  Nominations may also be made from the floor.

President:  BARBARA BROWN

Treasurer:  BARBARA HOOVER

Immediate past President:  CAROL VAN DAM FALK

Secretary:  KATHY PETITT

President Elect:  SUSANNE LEE

Newsletter:  NANCY MADDEN

Vice President:  GINNY BARNES

Nominees for a two-year term:  KEN BAWER

To serve 2nd Year of their two-year term (no action needed):  THEODORA SCARATO


REMINDER:  YOUR SUPPORT IS VITAL TO OUR CONTINUED WORK – PLEASE JOIN OR RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2021-2022!  

If you live in the Potomac Sub-Region (most of zip codes 20850, 20854, 20817),  you really should belong to the only Citizens Association representing your interests in preserving the charm of the Potomac area.  Membership is only $25 individual/ $50 family.  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”.


Newsletter – April 2022


Pass the Synthetic Turf Disposal Bill; Fight Airplane Noise Pollution

President’s Letter by Carol Van Dam Falk

This past week WMCCA wrote our state lawmakers calling on them to support SB 321/HB 131,“Synthetic Turf and Turf Infill – Chain of Custody,” which requires manufacturers and owners of synthetic turf and infill to maintain a chain of custody of its installation, reuse, repurposing, recycling, and ultimate disposal, and to report this information to MDE for posting on a public website.  This bill has no down side; it protects citizens from being exposed to dumped turf fields which are known to contain carcinogenic material.

We know that 80,000 square foot synthetic turf fields have an average life span of 8 to 10 years and produce a significant amount of waste as they are made from 40,000 pounds of mixed plastic turf, most of which is used tires.  Synthetic fields and infill contain aquatic and human toxins, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, heavy metals, and immune disruptors, including PFAS or “forever” chemicals.  State officials keep no inventory of the number or location of synthetic turf fields across Maryland and have no idea of where the used fields end up, even though some of them have been dumped in woods or near waterways.  In 2021, Sierra Club volunteers found 347 fields in 18 counties and Baltimore.  They estimated the waste produced over the next decade for 328 of the fields, as they are replaced, which includes more than 67,000 tons of plastic carpet and infill, almost 123,000 cubic yards of infill, and 24 million square feet of plastic carpet, or 557 acres.

The fate of this incredible amount of toxic, plastic waste is nearly impossible to track.  No documentation is required regarding how much, if any, of the material is repurposed or recycled or how it is disposed of.  Many waste facilities do not accept synthetic turf waste because of its high volume, weight, and toxicity.  When improperly disposed of and uncontained, especially near waterways, these materials pose untold risks to humans, wildlife, and the environment.  We hope this is the year that Maryland paves the way for other states by becoming the first state in the nation to approve this important legislation.

This week we also wrote U.S. Members of Congress including Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen regarding the March 17, 2022 Aviation Subcommittee Hearing: Aviation Noise: Measuring Progress in Addressing Community Concerns.  Aircraft noise continues to negatively impact hundreds of people in our community who were not adequately represented at the hearing.  The only speaker (1 of 8) who spoke for communities was from the organization N.O.I.S.E. which does not represent Montgomery County.  Airplanes fly directly over Cabin John and several other local neighborhoods, sometimes every 4-5 minutes in the mornings and evenings.  The planes are so loud they drown out conversations on the street.

Studies have shown repeated exposure to aviation noise pollution is a significant public health hazard.  It has been proven that aircraft noise pollution has negative health impacts on the cardiovascular system, including increased risk of strokes and heart attack.  It also harms the endocrine and nervous systems, impairs cognition, and causes sleep disruption, anxiety, and depression.  We urged the aviation panel to address the serious health impacts caused by aviation noise pollution, including amending the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 which stripped away all local control over aircraft and aviation noise.  Alternatively, we called for Congress to give responsibility for regulating aircraft noise to the EPA, not the FAA, which has no experience handling health-related issues.


Heritage Gardens (CU2022-01) Submitted by Susanne Lee

No date has been set for the next and perhaps final hearing before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) regarding this conditional use application to construct a townhouse / senior care community on the 30-acre lot at the intersection of Norton and South Glen Road.  OZAH has remanded part of the case back to the Montgomery County Planning Board staff to address the need for a traffic study.  In the meantime, on March 23rd, Wormald, the applicant townhouse developer, submitted its proposed legal structure for the facility. 

It still proposes what we believe is a bizarre arrangement in which this age-restricted senior living facility and the required conditional use will be owned by 46 different entities – the 45 townhouse owners and Wormald who will own the Lodge structure containing independent and assisted living and memory units.  Sage, the actual provider of services, will not have any ownership interest or hold the conditional use.

On March 31st, the Hearing Examiner asked the applicant for further clarification of the proposed legal structure. She also referred the submission to the County’s Department of Permitting Services “to see if they have any concerns regarding enforceability of the conditional use given the multiple levels of HOA [Home Owners Association] and multiple conditional use holders.”  The Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association (GSGNA) and the surrounding neighbors continue to work on a variety of issues including compatibility and the impact this massive development will have on the neighborhood and those using South Glen Road.  If you would like to further 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.


Glen Road Bridge over Sandy Branch near Glenstone Museum Submitted by Ken Bawer

Several questions arose after reviewing the “Glen Road Bridge Replacement” document prepared for Glenstone by Rocky Powell, et. al. dated April 22, 2021.  What would be the purpose for the proposed upstream side cross vane and plunge pool?  What would be the impact on movement of aquatic organisms (fish, etc.) up and down the stream?  Is the extensive proposed left (east) bank protection (rock wall) really needed?  Is the proposed upstream side “realign and shape channel for better entrance to bridge” really needed?  This is a lot of engineering in a stream channel which would destroy the natural character of the stream and its riparian plant life. On the downstream side, why extend the plunge pool to the head of the downstream riffle?  This would disrupt the current stream bed and its aquatic life.

Regarding the Rustic Road Advisory Committee letter of May 5, 2021 to Barry Fuss, Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) which supports the proposed improvements to the upstream channel, the issue should not be visual enhancement.  The primary issue should be the protection of the natural area.  What is the impact of this project on the ecology of the project footprint?  The beneficial effect on stream quality has not been established.  We will relay our views to MCDOT.


2021 Water and Sewer Plan Update Submitted by Ken Bawer

DEP staff has prepared the 2021 triennial comprehensive update of the Water and Sewer Plan which it turned over to Executive Elrich’s office.  After the Executive’s review and sign-off, the Plan goes to the County Council; a public hearing will follow.  We are providing comments on a variety of issues.

For example, creating a septic system survey requires that it be initiated by a property with a septic system failure, but DEP can expand the survey area to include as many additional properties as they desire, even if these properties have no septic system failures.  This loophole can result in numerous properties unnecessarily being granted sewer category changes from septic to sewer thereby promoting extension of the public sewer system in spite of the fact the WSSC sewer system spills enormous quantities of raw sewage each year (almost 8 million gallons of raw sewage in 2021).  Aside from the environmental consequences of spills, sewer line extensions can lead to higher density development resulting in more impervious surfaces, causing more stormwater runoff that erodes our streams.  We have asked that the Plan be changed so only properties with failed septic systems can be added to a survey.  

We are also objecting to continuation of the peripheral and abutting mains sewer policies and multiple “special rule” changes that are inconsistent with the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and Maryland Smart Growth Statutes and are designed to benefit specific property owners who are otherwise ineligible for sewer extensions.


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, the occasional testimony by Board members, community and environmental issues, etc.  If you’re interested, contact us at president@wmcca.org.


REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO JOIN OR 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”.

Newsletter – March 2022

March 2022


Light at the End of the Tunnel

President’s Letter – by President Carol Van Dam Falk

Finally, we’re seeing some light at the end of the long, pandemic tunnel. COVID-19 cases are falling and local governments across the country, including our own, are lifting restrictions, although it’s wise to still exercise caution in public places. Like most institutions, the Montgomery County Planning Board held meetings online during the pandemic which is completely understandable, but it failed to inform the public how they could attend some of those meetings. The Board’s Development Review Committee repeatedly violated the Open Meeting Act by failing to provide links to such meetings. The Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) agreed. In a letter this week, we asked the County Council if it plans to launch an investigation. Stay tuned for its response.

In another letter this week to Marc Elrich, we asked the County Executive to immediately fund the People’s Counsel. The County Council is looking at controversial zoning changes in connection with Thrive 2050 and already passed other questionable legislation regarding the installation of 5G technology. The People’s Counsel once played a critical role in ZTAs that represented the interests of ordinary people, not corporations or developers. The People’s Counsel was defunded years ago.


New Residential Cell Tower Zoning       Submitted by Theodora Scarato

Councilman Hans Riemer has proposed another cell antenna zoning amendment ZTA 22-01– which will allow cell tower antennas on existing utility poles 30 feet in front of homes in residential areas, removing notice to residents and public hearings. Note – This is an attempt to fix a technical loophole in ZTA 19-07 (which the Council passed in the summer of 2021) allowing short “small cell” towers 30 feet from homes. There is a coalition petition online at https://actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-zta-19-07/. Sign up for the Council’s public hearing for ZTA 22-01 on Tuesday July 12, 2022. If the waiting list fills up, they may accommodate speakers by moving the event to the evening for a longer hearing.


2021 Water and Sewer Plan Update       Submitted by Ken Bawer

The Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) is preparing a final draft of the Water & Sewer Plan for submittal to the County Executive. They expect to transmit it to the County Executive by the end of the day on March 4th. DEP will also request a meeting with the Executive to discuss any questions he may have. Once that is done, within the next few weeks, the Executive’s office will transmit the Executive draft to the County Council and the Council will set a public hearing date. Given the Council’s schedule with other water and sewer issues, DEP does not expect a hearing to be scheduled until late April or May, once the Council is through with the budget. The Council is required by State law to provide a minimum 30-day notice for the hearing. We will be looking for, and opposing, any changes which grant special favors to developers. For example, the owners of the Potomac Oak (a.k.a. Travilah Oak) Shopping Center and the “old white house” diagonally across from each other at the intersection of Travilah Road and Glen Road have each asked for a 5,300-foot public sewer line extension along Travilah Road to their properties which are outside the planned sewer envelope.


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

Two more days of hearings (February 28th and March 2nd) were conducted before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) regarding the conditional use application to construct a townhouse / senior care community on the 30-acre lot (RE-2-residential) at the intersection of Norton and South Glen Road. This followed a win on February 11, 2022, when OZAH granted the motion submitted by West Montgomery, the Greater South Glen Neighborhood Association (GSGNA) and other neighbors to require a traffic study that the applicant had failed to submit. In siding with us, OZAH rejected a long-standing interpretation by the Planning Board regarding such studies – an interpretation that was clearly inconsistent with the plain language of the requirements.

The traffic study requirement was remanded to the Planning Board and any additional hearings will be scheduled after that is completed. During these recent hearings WMCCA, GSGNA, and many residents expressed their opposition through testimony and written submissions. Many have done extensive research and they presented a broad range of reasons why this application must be denied. We at West Montgomery focused on 3 major reasons:

  • First, the placement and construction of the Lodge Complex will violate the environmental protection requirements contained in state and federal laws and regulations and summarized in Montgomery County’s Environmental Guidelines and the forest preservation requirements in the Potomac Subregion Master Plan.
  • Second, the construction of a facility this size at this location is inconsistent with the basic framework of the Master Plan, including the elderly housing and special exception provisions.
  • Third, the ownership structure of the facility is so bizarre that, when coupled with the stringent age restrictions, dooms it to failure and guarantees an enforcement nightmare – thus requiring stringent covenants, staging, and reporting requirements.

The OZAH link to the exhibits has been taken down until just before the next hearing. If you want details about the project, many of the exhibits can be found at the Montgomery County Planning Board website here:

If you would like to submit a written statement, the hearing record is still open and you can do so by sending your signed submission by email to nana.johnson@montgomerycounty.gov. If you would like to further support our 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


WMCCA Nominating Committee The following individuals are proposed to serve on the Nominating Committee and will be voted upon at the March 9, 2022 General Meeting. They in turn will nominate Officers and Directors to be voted upon at the May 11, 2022 Annual Meeting:
Chairperson – Ginny Barnes
Members: Barbara Hoover, Ken Bawer, Kathy Petitt, Barbara Brown


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
Website – WMCCA.org – Peter Poggi, Newsletter Editor – Nancy Madden


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 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

Newsletter – November 2021

November 2021


Protecting Our Rustic Roads

President’s Letter – by Carol Van Dam Falk

This past month it came to our attention that a highway inspector with the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (DOT) had recommended installing asphalt curbs and gutters on a section of South Glen Road – an Exceptional Rustic Road – where there have been periodic runoff and drainage issues due to heavy rains. It was suggested that the County’s DOT install 100 feet of curb and gutter down a hillside to the low spot in the road, then re-grade the swale at the low point of the road with Rip-Rap stone to alleviate the flow of runoff water. Members of WMCCA pointed out that asphalt curbs and gutters do not address the problem, only push the water further down the road, and often lead to larger erosion problems in area streams, especially the Watts Branch. Curbs and gutters are an inappropriate remedy for such drainage issues when there are environmentally friendly alternatives.

As past WMCCA President Ken Bawer put it, “Amor-plating the swales with Rip-Rap stone does nothing to decrease stormwater volume and only forces the water along so it ends up firehosing into the nearest stream. If feasible, and if the best solution at this specific location, DOT should install bioswales and/or bioretentions, which absorb the water within the swales instead of shunting it downhill.” WMCCA has recommended bioswales and bioretention mechanisms to address the problem on South Glen which hopefully will be carried out, but attempting to fix runoff issues with ‘armor-plating’ is not just a local issue; it unfortunately is the preferred course of action on designated rustic roads, and other roads, all over the country, and that is a frightening trend. It is also alarming to realize that if this had not been a designated Rustic Road, neighbors would not have been consulted and the asphalt curbs would likely have already been installed.

On top of the environmental concerns of installing curbs and gutters on a wiggly, rustic road such as South Glen, a high curb here could be hazardous to bicyclists who often traverse this road, especially on weekends. Another scary thought.

We are grateful DOT is working through these issues with the local community and thank them for starting the patching and repaving work that is proceeding now. It makes our Glen roads much safer.


Update on Thrive Montgomery 2050, the new Montgomery County General Plan      

Submitted by Ken Bawer

WMCCA had testified and also submitted written comments on the “Public Hearing Draft Plan” for Thrive Montgomery 2050 back on November 19, 2020 at the Planning Board’s public hearing. Subsequent to that, the Planning Board did an almost complete re-write of that draft Plan. The new document became the “Planning Board Draft” and included an entirely new organization, different chapters, and missing chapters. This “Planning Board Draft” was then submitted by the Planning Board to the County Council, and the Council held their own public hearing on July 7, 2021. Again, we submitted our comments. We said that the long-term consequences of the pandemic are unknown. The current draft plan could be inappropriate for the reality of a post-pandemic County. As a result of our shared experiences during the pandemic, personal and professional choices may change. People may favor less dense housing arrangements for health reasons. Transportation preferences and commuting patterns may change dramatically if workers continue telecommuting after the pandemic.

Continued high levels of telecommuting may cause a drastic downturn in the commercial office market. Therefore, we recommended pausing the finalization of this plan at least until the consequences of the pandemic start to become clearer. We objected to the designation as a “growth corridor” of River Road from the District line all the way to Potomac Village. We were never consulted on making River Road in our area a “growth corridor” nor in designating Potomac Village as a “potential center of activity”. MacArthur Boulevard has also been designated a “growth corridor” with no consultation from the neighbors. We don’t know if these are necessarily good or bad things (bad, we suspect), but we objected to the Planning Board inflicting their vision on residents with absolutely no collaboration – this speaks to the lack of public transparency in the process of developing this plan. Does this mean that River Road would need to be expanded from 2 to 4 lanes all the way to Potomac Village? We completely rejected the premise that the County will inevitably become more urban.

Certainly, the County will become more urban if this plan is implemented as written. However, the authors presented 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. The mantra expressed in this plan is growth, growth, growth (whether economic, business, or population). Instead, 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? Not adhering to sustainable growth is how we ended up with the global warming crisis, why the Chesapeake Bay is polluted, our air quality is poor, we have traffic gridlock at times, we have contaminants in our drinking water, and we have degraded natural areas. There were many other areas we commented upon. On Sept. 20, 2021, the Council’s Planning, Housing, and & Economic Development (PHED) Committed held a session to discuss the Plan (additional sessions were planned as well). The good news is that they removed River Road outside of Beltway as a “growth corridor” from the “Growth Map”. What is disturbing, and what lays bare the blatant push towards over-development, is that the 1993 General Plan’s urban ring has exploded up along I-270, Rt. 28, and Rt. 29 like an amoeba engulfing the County. Calling this ever-expanding blob “corridor focused” growth is disingenuous.


Heritage Gardens 10701 South Glen Road – Conditional Use Application No. CU202201      

Submitted by Susanne Lee

They’re back – property owner South Glen Properties, Winston-Salem NC, contract purchaser Ken Wormald/The Wormald Companies, Patricia Harris, Lerch, Early & Brewer, and now aided by Councilmember Friedson who supported their Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 20-08 adopted by the Council on May 11, 2021. Their last attempt at a townhouse development on this site was clearly illegal under the Zoning Code and they withdrew it on January 31, 2020. Now under the guise of a residential care facility/senior care community, they are proposing an even larger and more destructive development on these 30 acres of environmentally sensitive land in this low density (minimum 2 acre) residential zone. The core of the proposal is still a high end town house development – 45 privately owned town houses – 11 triplexes and 6 duplexes. Each with 3 bedrooms/2 baths and it appears starting at approximately $1.25 million. In addition they’ve now added a large 4 story “lodge” building containing parking and 102 units/141 beds consisting of 29 independent living units, 45 assisted living units, and 28 memory care units. They still propose a Clubhouse and other disturbances in the stream valley buffer.

The proposed development of the lot is so intensive that it will destroy a portion of multiple forest stands and in particular will destroy 42 of the 128 spectacular large specimen trees that are to be protected under the Forest Conservation statute. It will adversely impact 11 other large specimen trees and they admit it will even adversely impact 10 large specimen trees offsite on neighbors’ properties. We believe the proposal still fails to meet the zoning code requirements for group living in a residential care/senior care community. And it is clearly an environmental, traffic, and, with private townhouse ownership, an enforcement disaster. WMCCA is working with the surrounding neighbors to oppose it.

The proposal was submitted to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) on 8/17/21 for their required conditional use approval. It is currently pending before the Planning Board for their review and recommendation but no staff report has been posted or hearing date noted on their agenda. The OZAH hearing is scheduled for December 13, 2021 at 9:30 am. 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:


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, 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 background in current website design/development methods, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2021-2022! 

Please renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Go to our website https://wmcca.org/ to download a membership form or join using PayPal: Individual: $25 / Family: $50. We encourage 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 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 !!


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 2021

October 2021


Emerging From The COVID Pandemic

President’s Letter – by Carol Van Dam Falk

It’s been a long, slow, frightening odyssey of twists and turns as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has affected everyone’s lives, whether they know someone dear to them who has been infected or not. The summer surge of U.S. cases has started to decline thank goodness, but the virus still poses a threat in places where large chunks of the population lack immunity. WMCCA will continue to host its General Meetings with key speakers via Zoom meetings for the next several months and provide a link for members to join us in thoughtful discussions. This month, we have invited delegates Sara Love and Marc Korman of District 16 to give us an update on what is happening at the state and local levels with COVID-19, other health care issues, the environment, development and infrastructure, and other legislation they have been involved with in Annapolis. Sara was first elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2018. She is a lawyer, a social justice advocate, and a single mom. Sara is passionate about women’s reproductive rights, civil rights and civil liberties according to her website. Marc Korman was first elected in 2014. He has dedicated his time in the state legislature to ensuring economic growth in Maryland and believes that if the economy is strong, the state can achieve goals like protecting the environment, according to his website.

It has been our tradition to hear from District 15 delegates in the Spring when the delegates update us on legislative achievements and battles, but we thought it would also be good to hear about the work of District 16 delegates, since they represent a significant portion of the Potomac subregion. We encourage you to ask questions following their brief presentations.

Due to COVID-19 and especially the rapid spread of the Delta variant across the country including parts of Maryland, the WMCCA board has decided not to partake in the annual Potomac Day parade and celebration on 10/23/2021.

Although we were not meeting over the summer, the WMCCA Board stayed in touch and on top of issues affecting our area. When we learned that MDOT was looking into the possibility of installing traffic lights in the Glen on rustic roads, WMCCA made phone calls and sent letters to locally elected representatives and MDOT requesting more information and expressing our opposition to the proposal. As Ginny Barnes describes in greater detail in this newsletter, MDOT is no longer considering installing traffic lights in the Glen !!

We encourage you to stay involved with WMCCA, attend the General Meetings, bring to our attention any development plans or other changes that affect your neighborhood, and stay safe.


Proposed Traffic Lights at the One-Lane Bridges in the Glen   Submitted by Ginny Barnes

On 9/3/21, an onsite meeting with Montgomery County Department of Transportation (DOT), Rustic Roads Advisory Committee (RRAC) members, and neighbors living in the Glen was held to discuss safety issues. While there was no public notice, WMCCA had learned DOT was considering installing 2 traffic lights at the one lane bridges.

The Glen has long been considered the heart of Potomac as it embodies many environmental and historical elements of the Subregion: a former grain mill site, extensive wetlands, a narrow wildlife corridor surrounded by steep wooded slopes at the confluence of 2 streams critical to the public drinking water supply. Here Glen, South Glen, and Glen Mill roads meet. All are part of the County Rustic Roads Program. RRAC members noted that crash reports do not support a need for lights and have decreased in recent years. Neighbors were more concerned with the condition of road surfaces. By meeting end, DOT agreed to patching and/or repaving roads leading into and out of the Glen. There is CIP money allotted for this road work, which could start in late Fall 2021 or early Spring 2022. They also agreed to better signage: relocating one Stop sign and installing a back-to-back Stop sign at the approach from Glen Mill Road, as well as installing Stop bars at all Stop signs.


MoCo Council Votes for ‘Short” Cell Towers in Neighborhoods  

Submitted by Theodora Scarato

Despite strong community opposition, over the summer the Montgomery County Council passed a new zoning amendment – ZTA 19-07- which allows “short” cell towers 30 feet from houses without routine notice and public hearings. The streetlight or utility pole in front of your home can now be replaced by a taller pole topped with cellular antennas and an unlimited amount of equipment boxes (up to 12 cubic feet). WMCCA, along with several cities, homeowner and community groups sent letters to the Council opposing this ZTA. Twelve MoCo climate groups asked the Council for climate, racial equity, and social justice impact statements but the Council refused. A county wide coalition is advocating for changes.

Just weeks after the MoCo vote, a federal court ruled on a case regarding cell tower radiation safety standards in favor of environmental health groups and a Montgomery County resident. The U.S Court of Appeals for DC Circuit ruled in EHT et al v FCC that the FCC’s decision not to update its 1996 standards was “arbitrary and capricious” and did not address children’s vulnerability, long term health impacts, and impacts to the environment.

Hundreds of new neighborhood cell antenna applications are expected this fall. If you want to know when companies apply to locate one near your home, sign up for email notifications:

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cable/Towers/home.html


Sewer Category Change Requests   Submitted by Ken Bawer

The owners of the Travilah Oak Shopping Center and the old white house diagonally across from each other at the intersection of Travilah Road and Glen Road have each asked for a public sewer line extension to their properties. The County Council’s T&E Committee voted for a deferral (rather than a denial as recommended by the County Executive and the Planning Board). The property owners of an unimproved lot at 13417 Valley Drive in Glen Hills also asked for a sewer category change to allow connection to the public sewer system. In this case, the T&E Committee did the right thing by voting 3-0 to recommend a denial.


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, 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 background in current website design/development methods, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi, peter.poggi@yahoo.com.


REMINDER: IT’S TIME TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP FOR 2021-2022! 

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 also welcome donations to our Legal Fund.


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.