Tag Archives: 2009

Newsletter – December 2009

December 2009


Remember The Public In The Private Partnership

President’s Letter – By Liza Wilson Durant, PhD

The Maryland-National Capital Park And Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) Is Reviewing An Unsolicited Proposal From Sunny Pitcher Of Potomac Paddlesports To Establish A National Outdoor Center (NOC) At Rockwood Manor Through A Public-Private Partnership With The Applicant.  Rockwood Manor Is A 44 Acre Property On MacArthur Boulevard In Potomac And Adjacent To The C&O Canal National Historical Park.  The Montgomery County Department Of Parks Manages Rockwood Manor As A Conference/Event Center.  In The Parks System, Rockwood Manor Is Categorized As An Enterprise Facility, And As Such Is Expected To Generate Enough Income To Maintain Itself.  This Is Not The Case With Most Of Our Parkland, Where Maintenance Is Funded Through The Department Of Parks Operating Budget.

The Proposal For A National Outdoor Center Has Characteristics That Make It Sufficiently Attractive To The Department Of Parks To Consider A Public-Private Partnership With The Applicant.  The Project Proposes A Number Of Commercial Uses A Restaurant, A Pub, A Bed And Breakfast Facility, And Retail Operations That Include Kayak And Bicycle Rentals.  Community Amenities Include A Wildlife Rescue Program, A Wellness Center, And Trail Improvements.  The Applicant Will Renovate The Rockwood Manor Buildings.

Unfortunately, The Department Of Parks And The Applicant Failed To Notice WMCCA As Well As Some Other Organizations And Neighbors Of A Public Information Meeting It Held November 17 At Rockwood Manor.  WMCCAs Environmental Chair, Ginny Barnes, Has Been Working With The Department Of Parks To Schedule Additional Public Meetings, Extend The Public Comment Period, And Postpone The Public Hearing Before The Planning Board (Originally Scheduled For December), Thereby Providing All Stakeholders An Opportunity To Gather Information And Provide Comments For The Public Record.

As WMCCA Considers The Larger Implications Of Such A Proposal For Our Community, We Will Study How The Project Fits With The Goals Of Our Recently Revised Potomac Subregion Master Plan, Any Department Of Parks Master Plans, And Long-Range Plans For C&O Canal National Historic Park.  The Projects Impact On Traffic, Parking, Safety, Storm Water Management, And Rockwoods Old Growth Forest Will Be Carefully Considered.  While Rockwood Manor May Be Underutilized, And A Public-Private Partnership Might Provide A Solution, More Information And Stakeholder Advisement Is Needed To Determine If This Proposal Is The Appropriate Project For A Very Special Park And Historic Site. 

The Parks Dept Has Tentatively Scheduled The Next Public Meeting For Tuesday January 12th, 2010.  The Public Comment Period Has Been Extended To January 29th, 2010.    No Date Has Been Set For A Public Hearing Before The Planning Commission.  For More Information As It Becomes Available Go To .  To Provide Written Comments, E-Mail .

WMCCA Brochure!  Our New Brochure Explains Potomac Areas Green Wedge Designation, Tells How The Citizens Association Operates, And Outlines WMCCAs Goals.  Save The Brochure And Refer Often To Its Map Of The Potomac Subregion Watersheds And The Areas Streams And Stream Valley Parks.

 Planning And Zoning Report By George Barnes

The Montgomery County Board Of Appeals Denied The Appeal Of C. O. North And WMCCA On Narrow Technical Grounds That Make A Mockery Of The Due Process Which Citizens Count On When Appealing Or Contesting County Agency Actions.  This Issue Started When, Without Warning, A Cellular Telephone Equipment Structure Installation Started At The Cabin John Volunteer Fire House On Falls Road.  The County Ordinance Clearly States That Cellular Communication Structures On Land Owned By A Volunteer Fire Company MUST Seek A Special Exception Prior To Construction.  No Notice Was Given, No Special Exception Was Sought, And One Day, Mr. North, Who Lives Next Door To The Property, Heard Heavy Machinery Running And, On Inquiring, Was Told That An Equipment Structure For A New Cellular Telephone Network Was Being Installed.  Callum Murray Of M-NCPPC Notified The Department Of Permitting Services That The Facility Was Being Constructed Without The Required Special Exception And Without Mandatory Referral Review, And, On April 25, 2008, A Stop Work Order Was Issued.  On January 30, 2009, DPS Lifted Their Stop Work Order, And Mr. North And WMCCA Immediately Filed An Appeal Of The Lifting Of The Stop Work Order.  The Board Of Appeals Held A Hearing On November 19 And Ruled That The Appeal Was Not Valid Because It Had Not Been Filed Within 30 Days Of The Issuance Of The Building Permit.  Note That The Original Building Permit Was Never Posted On The Property, No Notice Was Given To The Neighbors, And There Was No Way Anyone Could Have Known That A Permit For Construction Had Been Issued Until The Machinery Started Running Long After The Deadline Had Passed For Filing An Appeal Of A Permit.  The Board’s Decision Means That A Builder Could Get A Permit, Put It In His Desk Drawer For 31 Days, And Then Put Up The Permit And  Start Construction And The Community Would Have No Right To An Appeal Because The Appeal Did Not Occur Within 30 Days Of The Issuance Of The Permit!!!  WMCCA Will Decide If We Will Appeal This Ruling To The Circuit Court, But It Seems That This Is An Egregious Miscarriage Of Justice That We Cannot Ignore.

Environmental Report By Ginny Barnes

Norton Road Tree Cutting: Starting At The Corner Of River And Norton Roads, Three Lots Have Been Combined Into One Building Site.  The Developer Removed All 17 Trees In The Public Right-Of-Way  (ROW) On October 29 And 30, Claiming To Have Permission From Maryland Department Of Natural Resources (DNR) To Install A Sewer And Water Pipe Adjacent To The Road.  Of The Trees Cut Down At Least Ten Were Eastern Red Cedars (Juniperus Virginiana), An Indigenous Evergreen Species That Takes Many Years To Reach The Size Of Those Destroyed.  The Berries Of This Tree Are Consumed By 50 Species Of Birds.  Though A Permit Was Found To Have Been Issued By DNR, A Clause In The Permit Indicates It Is Subject To The Local Jurisdiction.  The County Chief Of Roadside Maintenance Stated That He Did Not Authorize The Destruction Of Any Trees On The Site.  WMCCA Has Requested Clarification Of Liability From Both The County Executive, Who Has Passed It On To The County Attorney, And The State Attorney General’s Office.

County Cuts Street Tree Planting Program: Each Year, The Montgomery County Department Of Transportation (DOT, The Agency Charged With Maintaining Street Trees On County Roads) Removes About 2,100 Trees And Plants 1,700 Trees, With A Small Annual Planting Budget Of $247,000.  On November 17th The County Council Voted To Cut The Entire Program, A Cut Initiated By The County Executive.  There Will Be No Street Tree Replacement During The Planting Season That Runs From October 15th To May 31st.  Unless The Budget Is Restored, This Is Another Blow To Clean Drinking Water, County Streams, And The Chesapeake Bay, And This Means The Dead And Dying Trees Recently Cut Along The Length Of Persimmon Tree Road Will Not Be Replaced.

Zoning Code Revision By Diana Conway

WMCCA Joins Montgomery County Planners To Invite Citizens To Get Involved In Rewriting The Zoning Code.  The County Is Engaged In A Comprehensive Revision Of The Entire County Zoning Code.  The Three-Year Initiative Will Result In A Number Of Changes To The Code, Which Guides Development By Establishing Rules Regarding Land Uses, Density, Height, Open Space And Public Amenities.  Since The Original Code Was Written In 1928, It Has Been Comprehensively Updated Just Twice.  The Intent Of This Revision Is To Simplify The Code By Reducing Redundancies, Reducing The Number Of Zones, And Increasing On-Line Accessibility To The Code And Its Maps. 

This Undertaking Poses The Possibility Of Winners And Losers, So We Urge Our Members And All Area Residents To Be Vigilant By Following The Process.  Visit Www.Montgomeryplanning.Org/Development/Zoning To Let The Planning Department Know What You Think As The Project Progresses.  Planners Will Post Targeted Questions On Specific Themes Such As Mixed-Use Infill Development, Preserving Neighborhoods, Sustainability, And Simplifying Uses.   The County Council Is The Final Arbiter Of The Proposed Zoning Changes, And E-Mail Sent To Its Website Is Distributed To All Nine Councilmembers. 

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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – November 2009

November 2009


A New Planning Paradigm

President’s Letter – By Liza Wilson Durant, PhD

Zoning Is At The Heart Of Almost Every Issue That Impacts The Quality Of Community Life In Potomac.  Most Of Us Live In Residential Zones Of One Or Two Acres, With The Central Commercial Zone In The Heart Of Potomac.  But There Are Countless Exceptions Throughout Our Community And They Often Come With Protests And Heated Debate About The Intent Of The Code.  Terms Like Special Exception, Country Inn Zone, Rural Density Transfer Zone, And Planned Development Zone Invoke Confusion, And The Montgomery County Code For These Uses Does Not Provide Much Additional Clarity.  The Complicated, Difficult To Use, Easily Misunderstood Behemoth Of A Document That Comprises The County Code Is At Long Last In The Process Of A Complete Overhaul Under The Direction Of The Montgomery County Planning Board.  The Process Began Over A Year Ago When Planning Staff Began To Study The Code And Consider Opportunities For Consolidation And Streamlining The Language And Utility Of The Document.  Aiding Them With Stakeholder Input Is The Zoning Advisory Panel, A Volunteer Body Consisting Of Over 25 Persons (Including WMCCAs Diana Conway), With Knowledge Of The Zoning Code And Experience With Its Implementation And Its Limitations.  Recently, The Planning Board Engaged An Expert Consultant With Experience In Drafting Zoning Code In Other Regions Of The United States Who Promises To Help Bring Our Code To A Place Where Its Clear Interpretation Will Yield Clear Implementation Of Our Planning Policies.

Indeed, The Goals For This Team And The Planning Board Are Lofty, And Include:  Simplifying And Streamlining The Standards And Process, Especially Development Review; Matching Land Use To Development Patterns; Providing Rationale For The Development Standards; Modifying The Language To Make It Consistent; Using Plain English, Supported By Tables, Flow Charts And Graphics; And Making The Code More Transparent And Easier To Understand While Still Respecting The Federal, State And Local Zoning Laws.  The Team Also Promises To Embrace Sustainability, And We Can Expect To See Innovations Such As Transit-Connected Development, Water Conservation, Tree Canopy Requirements, And New Lighting Standards.

I Think Any Stakeholder Can Embrace These Goals And Support This Important Work.  But The Strategy By Which They Achieve The Goals Is What We Might Find Unsettling.  While There Is Talk That The Code Will Help Established Communities Like Potomac Maintain And Preserve The Character Of Their Single-Use Community, There Is Also Serious Talk About A Paradigm Shift To Address How We Plan Mixed-Use Communities To Ensure Neighborhood Completeness, Including Abandoning The Old Density And Use Based Standards And Emphasizing Instead The Form And Character Of The Community.  It Will Be Interesting To See How The New Code Will Include Standards For Form Without Regard For Density And Still Preserve The Single Use Communities Which Comprise The Bulk Of The County.  How Will The New Code Preserve The Environmental Basis For Potomacs Low Density Green Wedge So Critical To The Protection Of The Potomac River And The Buffer To The Agricultural Reserve?

Concurrent With This Effort And Pending Before The County Council Is A Zoning Text Amendment To The Existing Zoning Code For A New C-R Zone A Mixed-Use Commercial And Residential Zone.  Clearly, The New C-R Zone Is A Glimpse Of Things To Come, But Again, It Is The Strategy For Its Implementation That We Might Find Unsettling.   As The Zoning Text Amendment Is Written, The New Zone Could Be Applied By Sectional Map Amendment, And Therefore The County Council Would Only Need To Find That Re-Zoning To The C-R Zone Would Be In Conformance With The Zoning Recommendations Of Any Master Plan, Including Existing Master Or Sector Plans.  This Is A Significant Departure In Process For Rezoning, And Has Implications For Any Community Where The C-R Zone Might Be Proposed.  The Only Public Hearing On C-R Zone Has Already Been Held.

The Process For Development Of The New Code Will Be Lengthy, And There Will Be Opportunity For The Public To Hear What Is Being Proposed And Provide Stakeholder Input.  This Could Be A Very Exciting Time For Montgomery County As It Finally Moves Into The 21st Century In Terms Of Land Use And Planning For Sustainability.  But We Must Participate In The Process To Ensure That Our Planners Preserve What Is Best About Montgomery County While Simultaneously Improving The Way We Look At Mixed-Use And Commercial Development.

Planning And Zoning Report By George Barnes

Gaithersburg West:  This Plan, Proposed By Johns Hopkins University On The Site Of The Banks Farm Bounded By Route 28 And Muddy Branch Road, Would Create A Science City Of Very Tall, High-Rise Buildings, Dramatically Increase The Density Of This Area, And Wreak Havoc On The Road System.  The University Insists That Only If A Viable Mass Transit System Is Built Would This Plan Go Forward, But The University Is, In Fact, Moving Forward In The Face Of Assurances From County Officials, Council Members, And State Transportation Officials That No Such System Will Be Built Because There Is Absolutely No Money To Fund It.

Environmental Report By Ginny Barnes

Forest Conservation Law Reform:  Nearly Five Years After The Sensational Tree Cutting Incident At Swain’s Lock Spawned Multiple Efforts To Bring About Critically Needed Forest Conservation Law Amendments, Our County Government Has Utterly Failed To Enact Anything That Will Stem The Loss Of Forests And Tree Canopy In Montgomery County.  The Two Sets Of Amendments Introduced Last Year At The Council One Set From Park And Planning (MNCPPC) And The Other From Councilmember Marc Elrich Are Both Dead.  The Time To Act On Them Has Expired And Would Require Another Lengthy Process Of Reintroduction, Committee Action, Etc.  The Previously Proposed Amendments Never Made It Out Of The Transportation & Environment Committee (T&E) Chaired By Councilmember Nancy Floreen.  The Committee (Floreen, Berliner, Leventhal) Seemed Unable And Equally Unwilling To Take On The Tough Decisions So They Punted The Whole Issue Over To The County Executive.  There It Has Languished For Nearly Ten Months While Department Of Environmental Protection (DEP) Staff Tried To Design A Matrix For Use With Sites Large Enough To Qualify As Forest As Well As Smaller Lots With No Forest But Significant Tree Canopy. 

Meanwhile, This Failure Has Affected The Potomac Subregion In Very Specific Ways On Critical Development Plans.  Currently, Public Institutional Facilities (PIF’s) Like Schools And Churches Are Exempt From Compliance With The FCL.  Both Sets Of Amendments Under Consideration Would Have Eliminated This Exemption, Giving Plan Reviewers And Citizens Alike A Better Outcome On Expansion Projects Like The Fourth Presbyterian School On South Glen Road Or The Connolly School Of The Holy Child, Which Recently Reached A Controversial Settlement With MNCPPC For Violating The Meager Conservation Easements On Their Property While Still Being Allowed To Build An Artificial Turf Playing Field.  

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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – October 2009

October 2009


Gaithersburg West – Who’s Driving?

President’s Letter – By Liza Wilson Durant, PhD

Master Plans Must Reflect A Vision Of The Future That Responds To The Unique Character Of The Local Community Within The Context Of A County-Wide Perspective. Each Time One Of Montgomery Countys Master Plans Is Reviewed And Amended, The County Is Careful To Bring Stakeholders To The Planning Table To Look At The Changing Needs Of The Growing Community Our Elected Representatives Are Cognizant Of The Need To Maintain The Tremendous Quality Of Life That Continues To Draw New Residents And Corporations To Our Community.  Planning Is Accomplished Through Input From All Stakeholders, And Painstakingly Vetted Through Several Tiers Of Local Government, Including The Planning Board, The County Executive, And The County Council.  The Process Is And Should Be Driven By Stakeholders, By The Character And Evolving Needs Of The Existing Community, And Now, As Never Before, By Sustainability.  One Could Argue That We Have Built Beyond Our Capacity In Areas Where Limited Pubic Transportation, Infrastructure, And Schools Lower The Quality Of Life.  In Potomac, We Have Worked Hard To Uphold The Well-Vetted And Prescient Master Plan We Have In Place Today, But If Our Neighbors In Other Sectors Are Not As Successful, We Will Be Affected.  Tens Of Thousands Of Cars Will Spill Into Potomac, Our Air And Water Quality Diminished, And Our Infrastructure Degraded.

The Gaithersburg West Master Plan Is The Latest To Undergo This Process But In This Case, One Must Ask, Who Is Doing The Driving Here?  Is It The Development And Business Interests Who, After All, Are Stakeholders And Part Of The Existing Community?  Or Is It The Local Residents In The Decades-Old Suburban Community Many Of Whom Moved Here Long Before The Commercial Interests?  Our County Council Will Have To Look Close And Hard At The Fine Print To This Plan To Ensure That It Reflects All Stakeholder Interests And The Unique Character Of The Local Community, That It Embraces Technological Advances In Building And Transportation, That It Considers The County Wide Implications Of High Density Housing And Commerce, And That There Are Adequate Financial Resources To Support The Necessary Infrastructure.   There Is A Compromise, I Think An Opportunity To Find Middle Ground Among The Stakeholders, But There Is Much Work Yet To Be Done And Particularly On The Sustainability Aspect Of The Plan.  I Am Optimistic That Our Leaders Won’t Let Our Neighbors In Gaithersburg Down.  But We Here In Potomac Will Be Watching Closely, As The Quality Of Our Life Is As Much At Stake As Theirs.

Planning And Zoning Report  By George Barnes

We Are Entering What May Be A Difficult Time For Our System Of Zoning And The Master Plans Which We Have Been Relying On Since The Wedges And Corridors Concept Was Adopted In The 1960’S And Which Have Guided And Regulated Development And Created The Communities We Now Live In.  We Are Faced With A Movement Within The Planning Department Which Would Create New Zones, Encourage Densities Far Beyond What We Now Have, Alter Height Restrictions, And Create Towering Buildings In Areas Which Are Zoned For Commercial Use But Which Are Restricted In Height.  Many More People, Businesses, And Cars Would Come With These Changes, And We Must Be Ready To Take On Some Severe Challenges In The Months And Years Ahead As Gaithersburg West, White Flint And Montgomery Mall Are Under Consideration For Expansion And High-Rise Construction.  WMCCA Will Be Watching These Carefully In The Coming Year. This Plan, Proposed By Johns Hopkins University, On The Site Of The Banks Farm Bounded By Route 28 And Muddy Branch Road Would, Create A Science City Of Very Tall, High-Rise Buildings, Dramatically Increase The Density Of This Area, And Wreak Havoc On The Road System.  The University Insists That Only If A Viable Mass Transit System Is Built Would This Plan Go Forward, But The University Is, In Fact, Moving Forward In The Face Of Assurances From County Officials, Council Members, And State Transportation Officials That No Such System Will Be Built Because There Is Absolutely No Money To Fund It. 

Environmental Report By Ginny Barnes

Forest Conservation Law Reform: Nearly Five Years After The Sensational Tree Cutting Incident At Swain’s Lock Spawned Multiple Efforts To Bring About Critically Needed Forest Conservation Law Amendments, Our County Government Has Utterly Failed To Enact Anything That Will Stem The Loss Of Forests And Tree Canopy In Montgomery County.  The Two Sets Of Amendments Introduced Last Year At The Council One Set From Park And Planning (MNCPPC) And The Other From Councilmember Marc Elrich Are Both Dead.  The Time To Act On Them Has Expired And Would Require Another Lengthy Process Of Reintroduction, Committee Action, Etc.  The Previously Proposed Amendments Never Made It Out Of The Transportation & Environment Committee (T&E) Chaired By Councilmember Nancy Floreen.  The Committee (Floreen, Berliner, Leventhal) Seemed Unable And Equally Unwilling To Take On The Tough Decisions So They Punted The Whole Issue Over To The County Executive.  There It Has Languished For Nearly Ten Months While Department Of Environmental Protection (DEP) Staff Tried To Design A Matrix For Use With Sites Large Enough To Qualify As Forest As Well As Smaller Lots With No Forest But Significant Tree Canopy. 

Meanwhile, This Failure Has Affected The Potomac Subregion In Very Specific Ways On Critical Development Plans.  Currently, Public Institutional Facilities (PIF’s) Like Schools And Churches Are Exempt From Compliance With The FCL.  Both Sets Of Amendments Under Consideration Would Have Eliminated This Exemption, Giving Plan Reviewers And Citizens Alike A Better Outcome On Expansion Projects Like The Fourth Presbyterian School On South Glen Road Or The Connolly School Of The Holy Child, Which Recently Reached A Controversial Settlement With MNCPPC For Violating The Meager Conservation Easements On Their Property While Still Being Allowed To Build An Artificial Turf Playing Field.  

Artificial Turf Fields:  Over The Summer, This Has Been A Growing Concern As More And More Information Becomes Available On The Hazards, Both To Human Health And The Environment.  Artificial Turf Playing Fields Are Essentially Impervious Surfaces That Generate Toxic Runoff From The Chemicals In Their Composition.  They Heat Up When Exposed To Sunlight And Can Reach Temperatures Of 160+ Degrees, Becoming A Thermal Threat To Local Water Quality And A Health Hazard To Children Playing On Them.  The CDC Cautions That All Clothing Worn While Using Them Should Be Immediately Laundered, No Food Or Drink Be Allowed Near Them, And Signs Should Be Posted Warning Users To Act Accordingly.  Evidence Shows These Fields Also Lead To An Increase In The Number Of Sports Injuries.

Stormwater Partners: As A Founding Member Of The 55+ Organizations That Have Successfully Wrangled A New Stormwater Permit For Montgomery County, WMCCA Is Active In The Partners On The Emerging Issue Of Environmental Site Design (ESD) Which A Recent Maryland State Law Will Require Of Future Development And Redevelopment.  While Montgomery County Has Made Progress With Energy Efficient Building, We Still Moonscape Sites With Little Regard For Existing Ecological Features Critical To Managing Stormwater, Cooling, And Carbon Sequestering The Most Vital Features Being Trees, Ground That Filters Runoff, Wetlands, And Streams.  If We Preserve The Features Of A Site That Provide The Functions We Previously Engineered After Stripping That Site, We Not Only Save Maintenance And Money But Come Closer To The Ultimate Goal Of Sustainability, Our Planet’s Most Crying Need. 

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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – May 2009

May 2009


President’s Letter

Carol Van Dam Falk

As I Step Down At The End Of The Summer As President Of WMCCA To Make Way For The Very Capable, Passionate New President, Liza Durant, We Have Much To Be Proud Of But Much Work Still Lies Ahead.  A Top Priority Will Be Tracking Developments Of The Gaithersburg West Master Plan.  We Have Attended Several Informational Meetings With Johns Hopkins Real Estate Folks And County Officials, Including Council President Phil Andrews.  I Can Report To You That Mr. Andrews Expressed Similar Concerns To Our Board Members Who Met With Him.  He Does Not Support The Sheer Magnitude Of What Johns Hopkins Has In Mind, And He Agrees That 40,000 New Jobs And 20 Million Square Feet Of Office Space, Research Facilities, And Housing Should Be Downscaled.  Mr. Andrews Also Agrees That Transit Is An Overriding Concern, And Is Something That Must Be Nailed Down Before Any Development Begins. 

WMCCA Board Member Mike Denker And I Attended The Planning Board’s First Work Session On Gaithersburg West, And There Was Quite A Bit Of Pushback From Planning Board Members To Staff Regarding The Same Issues.   Several Planning Board Commissioners Flatly Stated That Without A Commitment On Major Upgrades To Highway Interchanges From State Transportation Officials, This Project Should Not Move Forward.  Our Roads Simply Cannot Handle The Density Proposed By Johns Hopkins.

As WMCCAs Environmental Chairperson, Ginny Barnes Will Continue Efforts On Revisions To The County Forest Conservation Law.  She Has Been Working With Other Organizations And County Officials Over The Last Five Years To Strengthen The Law So It Protects More Existing Forest Rather Than Simply Providing Mitigation After Forest Has Been Cut And Destroyed.  Conservation Easements As Well As Canopy Protection On Smaller Lots Play Significant Roles In Overall Forest Function And Have Become Pivotal Issues In Local Communities.

The WMCCA Board Is Also Keeping Tabs On The Proposal For A Country Inn On River Road.  The Project Still Lacks Definition And Could Be Troublesome In Years To Come If  The Proposal Is Not In Keeping With The Intent Of The Country Inn Zone.

Election Of WMCCA Officers And Directors

The Nominating Committee Proposes The Following Slate Of WMCCA Officers And Directors To The Membership For A Vote At Our May 13th Meeting.  Nominations May Also Be Made From The Floor.  

President: Liza Durant

President Elect: Ginny Barnes;  Vice President: Susanne Lee;  Immediate Past President: Carol Falk

Treasurer: George Barnes;  Secretary: Kate Anderson;  Newsletter: Lois Williams

Directors Nominated For A Two-Year Term:

 Mike Denker, Shawn Justement, Cynthia Fain

Directors Serving Second Year Of A Two-Year Term:

 Ellie Pisarra Cain, Diana Conway, Betsi Dahan, John Yassin

Planning And Zoning Report By George Barnes

Potomac Swim And Tennis Club:  A Decision By The Hearing Examiner On The Special Exception Modification To Allow A Tennis Bubble Will Be Available Soon.  The Record Had Been Kept Open Until The End Of April To Allow All Parties To Submit Complete Testimony.

Environmental Report By Ginny Barnes

Montgomery County Stormwater Permit:  Implementation Of The New National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit, Delegated Through The Federal Clean Water Act, Has Begun, Including Budgeting At The County Level.  The Stormwater Partners Network (Of Which WMCCA Is A Member) Is Supporting A Modest $10 Increase In The Annual Water Quality Protection Charge (To $45.50) To Fund Total Maximum Daily Load Planning And Other Stormwater Work Necessary To Meet Conditions Of The New Permit.  Stormwater Pollution, With The Toxins And Sediment It Carries, Is The Greatest Threat To Our Streams, Rivers, And The Chesapeake Bay, And Severely Impairs Our Ability To Provide Clean Drinking Water To A Growing Population.   

Stormwater Partners Honored By Civic Federation:  Each Year The Civic Federation Gives The Star Cup Award To An Outstanding Effort In The Montgomery County Civic Community.  This Year, The Stormwater Partners Network, Under The Leadership Of Diane Cameron, Will Receive The Award For Its Work With Montgomery County Department Of Environmental Protection To Craft A Stormwater Permit That, For The First Time, Sets Limits On Pollutants Reaching Our Watersheds.  WMCCA Will Be A Participant In The Ceremony.  

Conservation Easements, Winterset Subdivision:  On April 4th, The Planning Board Heard A Request To Remove A Category I Easement From A Property Where Afforestation (Planting Forest Where None Existed Previously) By The Developer Had Not Occurred In 1996 When The Development Was Built, So There Was No Forest Within The Easement.  The Property Owner Had Since Received Permits From The Department Of Permitting Services To Build An Array Of Structures Within The Easement That Should Never Have Been Allowed.  The Danger Here Lies In Setting A Precedent For Lifting Easements Just Because They Have Already Been Violated In This Case, By A Large Cast Of Characters That Included The Homeowner, The Developer, And The County’s Own Permitting Department.  A Creative Solution Proffered By The Planning Board Includes Changing The Nature Of The Easement Without Lifting It By Using The Developer’s Original Bond Posted In 1996 To Plant Trees On All Properties In The Subdivision That Have Easements As Well As Requiring 4-To-1 Mitigation By The Property Owner To Protect Off-Site Existing Forest.  Another Hearing Is Scheduled May 7th At The Planning Board.   

In Memorium: Throughout Our Region, The Historic Preservation, Civic, And Environmental Communities Are Mourning The Loss Of Wayne Goldstein, A Tireless Activist And A Pillar For Those Of Us Working For Better Government, For Citizens To Be Heard And Respected, For Our Historic Resources To Be Saved, And For Our Environment To Be Protected.  Many Of Wayne’s Friends And Colleagues Feel That One Of The Ways He’d Wish Us To Honor Him Is By Defeating The Knapp Amendment No. 09-1 A Proposal To Amend Chapter 24A Of The Montgomery County Code Regarding Preservation Of Historic Sites.  Wayne Was Working Hard On This Issue At The Time Of His Sudden Death April 27.  The Amendment Would Essentially Gut Our Ability To Preserve Historic Structures, And Many Of The Historic Sites Now Part Of Our Collective Heritage Would Have Been Considered Ineligible Under This Proposal.  Write Or Call In Your Opposition; Emails Should Be Addressed To County Council President Phil Andrews, County.Council@Montgomerycountymd.Gov, Or Call 240 777-7900.  The Record Closes For Comments May 22nd.
 
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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – April 2009

April 2009


President’s Letter

Carol Van Dam Falk

In The Course Of My Years Serving WMCCA, Many Public Institutions And Private Developers Come Before The Board As An Early Step In The Approval Process For Projects Proposed In Potomac.  Over The Last Ten Years, The WMCCA Board Heard Presentations For Norwood Schools Expansion Of Playing Fields, A Continuing Care Facility On Democracy Boulevard, Bullis Schools Comprehensive Master Plan For New Buildings And Increased Enrollment, Normandie Farms Expansion Of Dining And Banquet Facilities, TCP At Avenels Golf Course And Stream Rehabilitation Project, Congressional Country Clubs Swimming Pool And Storm Water Management Alterations, Changes To The Potomac Oaks Shopping Center, A Second Level For Safeway, A Rock Run Wellness Center, A Potomac Inn, The Potomac Swim And Recreation Clubs Tennis Bubble, And Norwood Schools New Buildings.

In Our Role Of Monitoring Significant Changes In The Community, The WMCCA Board Is Interested In An Institution’s Impact On Traffic, The Environment, And The Neighborhood, As Well As Its Adherence To The Tenets Of The Potomac Subregion Master Plan.  We Insist On Realistic Traffic Counts For An Institutions Expansion. We Review A Proposals Environmental Impact, Including Impervious Surface Area, Forest Conservation Plan, And Stormwater Management Plan.  We Look At A Project In Relation To The Size Of Its Site.  We Discuss Our Concerns With The Institutions Representatives Early In Their Process Of Applying For County Approvals.  And Sometimes We Testify Before The Planning Board And Hearing Examiner Against A Troubling Aspect Of A Project Or Against The Project As A Whole.

Private And Public Entities Looking To Build Or Expand Don’t Want WMCCAs Opposition.  We Have Always Been An Effective And Formidable Opponent This Is A Truth And A Tribute To WMCCA!  Over The Years, We Can And Have Stopped Development Proposals In Their Tracks, And We Have Significantly Changed Even More Of Them.  What Those Looking To Build Or Expand Can Count On Is Constructive Criticism That Always Makes Their Project Better If And When It Passes Through All The Layers Of Review.  This Is One Of The Reasons Why WMCCA Has Been Called “The Gold Standard Of Citizens Groups.”

Dying Roadside Trees By Diana Conway

Several Board Members From WMCCA Met On March 9 With Brett Linkletter, Program Manager For Tree Maintenance With The Countys Department Of Public Works And Transportation, To Review The Trees Marked For Removal From Persimmon Tree Road.  We Determined That The Marked Trees Were Indeed Dead Or Would Be Dying.  We Also Found Out That The Office Responsible For Their Removal Has A Significant Backlog Of One To Three Years.  And We Were Informed That We Can Request A Two-To-One Replacement Ratio, To Help Preserve The Wooded Appearance Of The Road, Again With A One- To Three-Year Delay, Due To Budget And Staffing Limitations.  We Also Understand That Property Owners Abutting A Public Right-Of-Way Can Ask The Countys Tree Maintenance Group To Remove Invasive Growth From The Area.

Planning And Zoning Report By George Barnes

Potomac Swim And Tennis Club: The Hearing Examiner Has Sent Out A Supplemental Notice Regarding This Case Because Some Civic Associations That Should Have Received Notice Of The Hearing Were Inadvertently Omitted From The Mailing.  The Hearing Examiner Will Keep The Record In The Case Open For An Additional 30 Days To Allow These Associations To Express Views In Writing, Which Must Be Received By April 17.

The County Council Has Sent Notice That They Are Seeking Applicants For A Vacancy On The Montgomery County Planning Board To Fill The Seat Occupied By John Robinson Whose Term Will Expire On June 14.  Full Details Of The Application Process Are Available From The Council Offices.

Environmental Report By Ginny Barnes

Winterset, Lot 46 (600 Feet East Of Ambleside Drive) Montgomery County Planning Board Public Hearing Originally Scheduled For March 5 Has Been Postponed Due To Inadequate Public Notice.  The Amendment Proposes To Remove A Category I Easement Of 17,569 Square Feet To Build A Garage.  The Site Currently Has Many Non-Compliant And/Or Unapproved Uses Within The Easement, Including Part Of An In-Ground Swimming Pool, Decking, A Shed, A Stone/Concrete Patio, Fencing And Part Of A Driveway.  Curiously, No Citations For Violation Of The Easement Were Issued And Staff Is Recommending Approval Of The Request And Offsite Mitigation For The Loss.  A New Hearing Will Likely Be Scheduled In Early April.

Connelly School Of The Holy Child (9025 Bradley Boulevard) Limited Amendment To Remove A Substantial Forest Conservation Easement To Build An Artificial Turf Playing Field.  Park And Planning Has Discovered The School Has Already Violated The Easement By Constructing An Electronic Scoreboard And Will Not Act On The Amendment Proposal Until The Forest Conservation Violation Goes Before The Planning Commission.  No Date Has Yet Been Set.

Montgomery County Stormwater Permit WMCCA Is One Of An Impressive Number Of Organizations That Make Up The Stormwater Partners Network Which Successfully Worked To Craft A Ground Breaking New Stormwater Discharge Permit Under The Federal Clean Water Act.  However, The Waterkeepers Alliance And Earthjustice Have Recently Requested A Contested Case Hearing In A Letter To The Maryland Department Of The Environment, Claiming, Among Other Things That The New Permit Fails To Meet Compliance With Maryland Water Quality Standards And Fails To Incorporate Required Effluent Limits. 

Montgomery County Stormwater Partners Has Been Selected By The Montgomery County Civic Federation (MCCF) To Receive The “Sentinel Award” For Contribution To Good Government At The Local Level.  The Award Will Be Given At The Annual Civic Federation Banquet May 15.  

The InterCounty Connector By Diana Conway

WMCCA Joined Others In Annapolis On March 16 To Meet With Our Four State Legislators On The InterCounty Connector.  This 18-Mile, $10-A-Day Toll Road Is Sucking Up Funds From Our Federal Highway Allotment And Our Borrowing Capacity, And Will Result In A Doubling Of Tolls On All Other Maryland Toll Roads, Bridges And Tunnels, In Addition To The $2 Billion In Debt That It Will Incur.  In An Earlier Meeting With County Executive Ike Leggett, We Were Given The Bitter News That Montgomery County’s Share Of Stimulus Dollars Is Significantly Reduced Because “We’re Getting The ICC.”  While Some Portions Of The Road Are Under Construction, The Biggest And Most Financially And Environmentally Costly Portion In The Center Has Not Been Started.

We Urged Our Legislators To Consider Completing The Two Ends And Linking Them To Existing Roadways, So The Expensive Center Section Could Be Cancelled Or At Least Deferred To Free Up Funds For Critical Needs Like Schools, Health And Safety, And Other Vital Social Services Being Cut In This Difficult Budget Climate.  To Date The ICC Remains The ONLY Fully Funded Transportation Project Despite Cuts Amounting To 30 Percent Of The $10-Plus Billion Originally Slated For Transportation, Including Transit Projects Like The Purple Line And The Corridor Cities Transitway Which Are Proven Traffic-Relievers, And Together Cost Less Than The ICC.
 
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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – March 2009

March 2009


President’s Letter

Carol Van Dam Falk

One Of My Greatest Pleasures Since Moving To Montgomery County More Than Twenty Years Ago Has Been Walking, Biking, Or Hiking The Chesapeake And Ohio Canal.  Something Magical Happens Every Time I’m There A Family Of Box Turtles Sunning Themselves On A Weather Beaten Log, A Pileated Woodpecker Jabbing Away At A Hollow Tree Trunk, A Great Blue Heron Wading In The Shallows.  We’ve All Witnessed Some Glory Of Nature Along The C&O Canal, Just As We All Likely Cherish A Fond Memory Of Spending A Quiet, Peaceful Day Along Its Beautiful Towpath.

Potomac People Care Deeply About The C&O Canal Historic Park.  Four Years Ago Nearly 200 Of Us Turned Out For A Meeting At Potomac Elementary School That WMCCA Helped Organize With Congressman Van Hollens Office To Address Public Outcry Over 55,000 Square Feet Of Trees Cut By Mr. Snyder At Swains Lock.  The Tree Planting Mitigation For That Violation Has Still Not Been Completed.

Later In 2005, Kevin Brant, C&O Canal Historic Park Superintendent, Spoke At WMCCAs December Meeting About The Parks Staff Shortages, Lack Of Adequate Funding, And The Problems Of Incomplete Scenic Easements And Encroachments And Told Us About New Measures To Improve Stewardship Capability, Public Input, And Federal/County Cooperation.

Since Then, The C&O Canal Trust, A Nonprofit Organization Headed By Matthew Logan, Has Been Formed To Work In Partnership With The National Park Service To Protect, Restore And Promote The C&O Canal National Historical Park.  Also Since Then, Friends Of The Great Falls Historic Tavern Raised Funds And Donated The New Canal Boat, The Charles F. Mercer, To The Park In 2006.  Alas, Mother Nature Struck Our Own Back Yard On September 5 And 6, 2008, With Stormwater That Caused A Breach Of The Towpath At Widewater Between Great Falls And Old Anglers Inn And Another Breach At Great Falls, Leaving The New Canal Boat High And Dry. 

At WMCCAs March 11th Meeting, Superintendent Brant And Mr. Logan Have Promised To Bring Us Some Welcome News About The Towpath, The Breaches, And The Canal Boat.  They Will Also Speak To Specific Potomac-Area Concerns The Status Of The Great Falls Area Plan Of A Few Years Ago, Including Adding A Bike Path To The Entrance Road; Parking Problems Near Old Angler’s Inn And Swains Lock, Vacant Lock Houses, And Invasive Stilt Grass And Deer Browse Issues.  As Always, The Public Is Welcome.

Planning And Zoning Report By George Barnes

Norwood School:  Representatives Of Norwood School Presented Plans To The WMCCA Board To Request A Modification Of Their Existing Special Exception To Allow Increased Enrollment, Hours Of Operation, And Staff As Well As Approval Of Their Long-Range Building Program.  They Plan Construction Of A Performing Arts Center, A New Classroom Building, A Natatorium, And A Small Building Near River Road To House Equipment.  The Proposal Will Surely Be Controversial Among Neighbors And Area Citizens, And We Will Ask The Representatives To Bring Their Plans To A Membership Meeting.

PNC Bank, Potomac Village:  PNC Bank Has Filed A Site Plan Modification Proposal With Park And Planning To Accommodate A Drive-Through Remote Teller And ATM Facility Along The Falls Road Edge Of The Safeway Shopping Center Parking Lot.  A Number Of Parking Spaces Will Be Lost.  Cars Using The New Facility Would Enter From The Lane Behind The Gas Station And Travel Next To The Sidewalk Along Falls Road, With The ATM/Teller Machine On Their Left.  On The Other Side Of The Machine A Through Traffic Lane Would Be Maintained Joining The Traffic Leaving The ATM And Proceeding Toward The Exit From The Center.  We Have Serious Questions About The Effect On Traffic Flow At This Entrance And Exit.  The PNC Bank And Shopping Center Planners Feel That They Can Adequately Handle The Situation With The Use Of Stop Signs.  This Will Come Before The Planning Board And We Will Have An Opportunity To Comment.

Potomac Swim And Tennis Club:  WMCCA Will Testify At A Hearing Before The Montgomery County Hearing Examiner On March 9, In Opposition To The Proposal To Erect A Tennis Bubble Over Expanded Courts Along The Oaklyn Drive Side Of The Property.  The Bubble Would Be Up For Six Months Of Each Year And Has Raised A Number Of Significant Issues.  The Montgomery County Planning Board Staff Opposed The Proposal, And Their Report Has Been Forwarded To The Hearing Examiner.

Environmental Report By Ginny Barnes

Connelly School Of The Holy Child (9025 Bradley Boulevard):  A Proposal To Remove A Forest Conservation Easement Preliminary To Construction Of A Synthetic Turf Playing Field Has Brought Concerns To Our Attention From Adjoining Residential Neighbors About The Loss Of Forest That Buffers The Institution.  Requests To The Planning Commission To Remove Forest Conservation Easements Have Increased Recently.  With Climate Change And Stormwater Pollution To The Chesapeake Bay, Any Further Loss Of Forest And Tree Cover Is Serious And Costly To Our Deteriorating Environmental Health.   

Parks And Recreational Programming:  The County Council Planning, Housing And Economic Development Committee (PHED), Composed Of Councilmembers Knapp, Floreen And Elrich, Has Required Both The Director Of Parks (One-Half Of The Park And Planning Commission) And The Recreation Department (Which Is Part Of The County Executive Office) To Produce Reports On Merging All Recreational Programming Into One Entity, Either Under Parks Or Under Recreation.  However, Recreation Is More Than Organized Sports, And Much Of What The Parks Department Offers In Terms Of Programs Includes Fostering Stewardship Toward Our Parkland.  With 34,000 Acres And 400 Parks In The Montgomery County Parks System (Compared To Less Than A Third That Much For Other Jurisdictions In Maryland) It Is A Bad Idea To Divorce Programming From The Very Agency That Maintains Parks, And Move It To A Department With No Investment In Protecting Parkland.  Further, Over The Years The County Executive Office Has Proposed Numerous Questionable Uses For Our Parklands, Including Bus Depots, Affordable Housing, Schools, And Roads.  WMCCA Is Working With Several Environmental And Watershed Groups On This Issue. 
 
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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – February 2009

February 2009


President’s Letter

Carol Van Dam Falk

A New Day Is Dawning.  The Obama Administration Is Just Getting Started, But The President Is Committed To Redoubling Our Efforts To Protect And Preserve Our Environment, As Well As Improving Public Transportation And Transportation Planning, With An Eye Toward Green Jobs.  In A White House Statement, Mr. Obama Vowed To Invest Heavily In Public Transportation, Saying, Public Transit Not Only Reduces The Amount Of Time Individuals Spend Commuting, But Also Has Significant Benefits To Air Quality, Public Health And Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The Administration Will Be Working With State And Local Governments To Create New And Effective Public Transport Systems And Modernize The Aging Urban Public Transit System.

Thats Where Councilman Marc Elrich Comes In.  He is Working To Convince County Executive Ike Leggett And The Rest Of The County Council To Re-Evaluate Our Approach Toward Solving Montgomery County Traffic Congestion And Lowering Our Emissions.  Right Now, If We Do Nothing, Our Carbon Emission Numbers Will Increase By 48 Percent By 2030, And If We Adopt Californias Standard, Our Emission Levels Will Increase By 22 Percent By 2030.  Neither Scenario Is Acceptable.

Mr. Elrich Has A Transit Network Plan That Focuses On Moving People Between The Regions Residential Areas And Job Centers Concentrated Along I-270, Route 355, And Parts Of Silver Spring.  His Plan Involves Rapid Buses That Are More Like Aerodynamic Cars Than Todays Buses, As Well As More Comfortable And Fuel-Efficient, Giving People A Reason To Switch Out Of Their Cars Into Buses.  Mr. Elrich Sees A Modern Bus Network As More Advantageous Than Light Rail For The Recently Approved Purple Line And Proposed Corridor Cities Transitway.  He Is In Discussions With The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, And More Scoping Meetings Will Take Place Between Mr. Elrich’s Office And The Maryland Highway Administration, The Maryland Transit Authority, And The Maryland Department Of Transportation, And As Well As With Montgomery County Agencies.

We Can All Participate In This Process By Asking Questions And Attending Meetings And We Can Leave Our Cars Behind And Rideshare, Bicycle, Walk, And Bus To Work, To Errands, And To Recreation. 

Planning And Zoning Report By George Barnes

West Montgomery Has Joined C. O. North In An Appeal Of A Department Of Permitting Services Ruling That Nextel Is Not Required To File For And Obtain A Special Exception To Construct A Telecommunication Facility At The Privately Owned Cabin John Fire Department Station On Falls Road.  WMCCA Worked Hard To Have Just Such A Requirement Placed In The Telecommunication Legislation That The County Council Adopted Into Law Several Years Ago.  We Believe That This Requirement Still Exists And Is Necessary If We Are To Maintain Some Degree Of Control, Or At Least Input, Into What Kind Of Equipment Is Placed In Our Neighborhoods And The Equipments Setback, Appearance And Screening From Adjoining Properties. 

Environmental Report By Ginny Barnes

Greenbriar Local Park:  Last Week, Governor O’Malley Issued A Press Release Announcing The Use Of Program Open Space Funds For The Construction Costs On The Greenbriar Local Park On Glen Road. WMCCA Worked Closely With Park And Planning On The Facility Plan For This Park Since It Includes Much Needed Recreational Facilities Not Available In The Potomac Area Including A Soccer Field, But The Site Is Also Environmentally Sensitive.  Protecting The Nearby Greenbriar Branch Stream Was Also A Priority.  However, The Press Release Claims The Park Will Serve A Projected Annual Attendance Of 50,000 Visits!  During The Design Phase, Park And Planning Did Not Even Conduct A Traffic Study, Reasoning That Since Glen Road Is Designated A Rustic Road And Only 70 Parking Spaces Were Planned, The Site Would Serve No More Than 40 Visits Per Weekday At Peak Traffic Times.  Where Did 50,00 Visits A Year Come From?

Pepco Tree Cutting: WMCCA Has Received A Number Of Calls About Roadside Trees Being Cut Or Marked In Red For Cutting With No Explanation Observed On Seneca Road, Route 118, And Even Along Persimmon Tree Road.  Initial Research Has Shown That Pepco Is Working With State Forestry On A Project To Eliminate What They Call “Nuisance Trees” From Roadsides With Power Lines.  Ever Since Pepco Invoked Homeland Security To Cut Everything That Grows Beneath The Right-Of-Way For High Voltage Transmission Lines, They Have Become Bolder And More Aggressive In The Destruction Of Our Roadside Trees.  What Do They Consider Constitutes A Nuisance Tree? 

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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

Newsletter – January 2009

January 2009


President’s Letter

Carol Van Dam Falk

Montgomery Countys Division Of Solid Waste Services Works To Reduce The Amount Of Waste That We Generate And To Recycle As Much Material As Possible.  The County Has A Waste Reduction Goal Of No Increase In The Amount Of Waste Per Resident, And A Goal For Businesses Of No Increase In Per-Employee-Generated Waste Over The 1992 Level.

Montgomery Countys Goal Is To Recycle 50 Percent Of All Waste Generated In The County.  In Fiscal Year (FY) 2008, The County’s Overall Recycling Rate Was 44.3 Percent, While Businesses Recycled 40 Percent Of The Non-Residential Sector Waste, Up From 37.3 Percent Recycled In FY 2007.  Businesses Are Critical To The Success Of The County’s Recycling Achievement, As They Produce More Than Half Of The Countys Solid Waste.  If Business Recycling Were Carried Out As Intended, The 50 Percent Recycling Goal For Montgomery County Could Be Easily Met.

Most Of The Potomac-Area Businesses Are Too Small To Be Required To Submit An Annual Waste Reduction And Recycling Report To The County.  Like Montgomery Countys Large Businesses, Though, Potomacs Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Retailers, Medical And Dental Offices, Home-Based Businesses, And Swimming Pools Are Required To Recycle Mixed Paper, Commingled Materials, Scrap Metal, And Yard Trim Materials.

We Are Concerned That Some Local Potomac Businesses May Not Fully Understand The Countys Goals, May Feel That Bins Are Unsightly, Or May Not Be Implementing A Recycling Program Consistent With The Countys Goals.  To Address That Issue, We Are Inviting Local Business Owners To Come And Join Us January 14th When Mr. Pultyniewicz Speaks About The Countys Recycling Programs.  We, The Public, Also Have A Role.  As We Patronize Potomac Businesses, We Need To Look For And Use Recycling Bins, And We Can Thank A Manager That Makes Bins Visible And Convenient.

Planning And Zoning Report By George Barnes

Potomac Swim And Recreation Club  The Planning Board Voted Two To Two, With One Commissioner Absent, On A Special Exception Modification To Permit Additional Courts And A Tennis Bubble For The Club At Oaklyn Drive.  The Decision, Without Finding For Or Against, Transmits The Planning Boards Staff Report, Which Recommended Denial Based On Incompatibility With The Surrounding Residential Neighborhood, To The Board Of Appeals.  The Board Of Appeals Hearing, Originally Scheduled For January 9th, Has Been Postponed.  A New Date Will Be Set And All Parties Notified. 

Environmental Report By Ginny Barnes

Forest Conservation Law (FCL) Amendments The County Executive Has Asked Department Of Environmental Protection Staff To Look At Creating A Process To Protect Trees On Smaller Lots As Well As The Forest Stands That Are Currently Part Of Our County FCL.  Councilmember Marc Elrich, Who Has Sponsored A Set Of Amendments To The FCL Now Under Consideration By The County Council, Is Enthusiastic About This Approach.

Circle Drive Ash Tree Several Years Back, WMCCA Worked To Protect An Enormous Specimen Ash Tree From Land Disturbances Impacting The Critical Root Zone.  We Hired An Arborist And Testified At The Planning Board On A Proposal The Board Subsequently Denied.  The Tree Is Again In Danger From A Plan To Remove The Old House Located Just Next To It, Preparatory To Developing The Property.  We Have Concerns About How The Tree Will Be Made Safe If The House Is Removed As Well As The Placement Of Long-Term Maintenance Protections If The Property Is Developed.

River Road Water Main Break The Enormous Volume Of Water That Rushed Down River Road During The 66-Inch Water Main Break Was Directed By Gravity To The Nearest Watershed, The Cabin John Creek.  While Much Has Been Made Of The Damage To The Road And The Disruption Of Vehicular Transportation, There Is An Untold Story In This Disaster.  What Did Thousands Of Gallons Of Chlorinated Water Roaring Into Cabin John Do To The Stream Banks, Aquatic Life And The Nearby Potomac River Into Which The Creek Flows And From Which River Road Takes Its Name?  

Update On Gaithersburg West Master Plan By Diana Conway

The Current Draft Of Gaithersburg West Master Plan Adds 20 Million Square Feet Of Space, 60,000 Jobs, And Thousands Of Housing Units To An Area Very Near Potomac.  The Land Under Study Consists Of Several Hundred Acres In Parcels Around Shady Grove Road And Darnestown Road That Are Not In Potomac Proper But Abut Our Area.   This Would Have Serious Impacts On Our Roads, Our Homes, And Our Streams And Forests. 

A Group Of Citizens In The Gaithersburg West Area Has Formed Residents For Responsible Development (RRD) To Advocate For More Balanced Growth That Respects Existing Neighborhoods And Natural Resources As Well As Original Master Plans.  WMCCA Is Participating In The Citizen Group Because Of The Impacts So Much Development Would Have On Our Sub-Region Along With Its Threats To Our Region’s Role As A Green Wedge Between The Rural Up-County And The Urban Down-County Areas

WMCCA Recently Joined Numerous Civic Associations In Co-Signing A Letter To Park & Planning Chairman Royce Hanson, Listing The Objections And Concerns Of RRD And Proposing Several Alternative Planning Scenarios With More Appropriate Densities.  RRD Is Particularly Concerned That The Transit Component Upon Which So Much Density Is Premised The Corridor Cities Transitway May Not Be Funded In These Difficult Budget Times.  For More Information, Contact Diana Conway At Dconway@Erols.Com Or Pam Lindstrom At Pamela.Lindstrom@Gmail.Com.

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 w

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.

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.