Living in the Watershed Area of Potomac is Magical
President’s Letter by Barbara Brown
Seeing the Potomac River, the magnificent trees, and the preserved C&O Canal towpath makes one appreciate the effect of rural living in an established residential area. Rustic roads are the core of this ambiance. Please join our meeting to hear and support our speakers, members of the Rustic Roads Advisory Committee who spend their volunteer hours defending this Master Plan.
Update of Thrive 2050
Submitted by Ginny Barnes
The County Council passed Thrive 2050 by a unanimous vote despite widespread concern, significant public opposition, and prolonged scandal leading to resignations of the entire Planning Board. As an Amendment to the General Plan, this document will guide future growth throughout the County and create special challenges for the low density ‘green wedges’ and the Agricultural Reserve with potential upzoning to provide additional housing. One of the criticisms from the beginning has been how to balance multiple objectives
proposed by Thrive. Two stand out: Meeting the threats of climate change and providing equity in housing. We all want safe, walkable, compact communities as well as clean air and water with access to open space and parkland. Likely future changes to meet these objectives will come through individual Master Plans as Zoning Text Amendments (ZTA’s) and each of these will have to be carefully reviewed to assure they meet these objectives without contributing to additional sprawl. The County also needs more transit and fewer highways. While the existing General Plan envisioned this trend, over intervening years since the last General Plan was amended in 1994, government failed to provide both transit and equitable housing while
continuing to allow development proposals to go forward.
Current land use categories recognize a need for Residential Wedges to protect the public water supply and
Suburban Communities to contain growth close to the Urban Ring. These essential distinctions may be lost in an effort to rezone all single-family neighborhoods, to allow duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes. While Thrive itself may not accomplish this, it provides the basis for doing so. It is essential for citizen and environmental organizations to be especially vigilant going forward. We must scrutinize each alteration to zoning patterns to assure they first meet the primary threat we all face: Climate Change. Only then will Montgomery County hope to thrive.
Bill 13-22 – Buildings – Comprehensive Building Decarbonization
Submitted by Ginny Barnes
On November 29th, the County Council passed legislation to end the use of fossil fuels in all new development. Currently, water heating, cooking and space heating account for over 50% all the carbon emissions in our County. Starting December 31, 2026 the County Executive will be required to issue all electric standards for building construction. When paired with renewable energy, all electric systems have zero emissions, save money, and improve indoor air quality in buildings and homes.
The legislation addresses the County’s biggest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, which comes from its building sector. All electric buildings do not produce carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, pollutants shown to contribute to asthma in children and disproportionately affect communities of color. This is a major step forward in addressing Climate Change and improving our environmental future.
Montgomery County Quiet Skies Coalition (MCQSC) Update
Submitted by Theodora Scarato
11/18/2022: Status of proposal to modify procedures for flights approaching DCA from the north.:
At the 10/27/22 meeting of the Reagan National Airport (DCA) Community Noise Working Group (CWG), the FAA presented modifications to the proposal that Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC communities have asked the FAA to implement for flights approaching DCA from the north (Recommendation 22). Until the October meeting, the FAA had provided no substantive updates about the status of Recommendation 22, which the CWG originally submitted to the FAA on July 22, 2021. Unofficially, we were hearing that the FAA was experiencing significant personnel turnover and that the proposal was possibly delayed another 18 months to mid-2024.
At the October 27 meeting, however, we learned that FAA procedure designers have recently conducted a detailed technical review of Recommendation 22. In the course of that review, the agency determined that it needs to modify the proposed approach procedure changes slightly to ensure that they meet FAA technical criteria, some of which have changed since the proposal was made. The flight procedures that the FAA is proposing would still shift the beginning of the approach to waypoint DARIC, which will move across the river to the CIA in Langley, VA. It will also lead to a significant reduction in the use of the harmful LDA-Z approach procedure which flies inland over our communities during inclement weather.
The next step for MD, DC, and VA representatives on the CWG is to confirm that the FAA proposal is still an improvement for noise-impacted communities. This will be done with the assistance of the MCQSC consultant, Vianair (formerly ABCx2). The FAA stated at the October meeting that if communities are satisfied with the modified proposal, they should get back to the Agency ASAP so it can move to the next stage, which is an environmental review. If it all goes smoothly, the FAA said the proposed procedures might be back on track for implementation in 2023. The FAA proposal can be viewed at the CWG website by scrolling to “Presentations and Information,” Oct. 27, 2022, FAA Presentation: Proposed Southflow GPS Arrival Procedure.
Coalition Petition to Council on Cell Tower 30 Ft from Homes
Submitted by Theodora Scarato
A county coalition has created a NEW petition calling for the Council to repeal the cell antenna ZTAs that allow cell tower antennas close to homes in residentially zoned neighborhoods:
The new petition requests amending the two ZTAs with input from a working group of residents and stakeholders. Two ZTAs greenlighted by the Council (ZTA 19-07 and 22-02) changed the wireless antenna setback to 30 feet for utility poles and streetlights. A coalition of thousands of residents has long opposed this zoning for several reasons including aesthetics, property values, health, climate/environmental effects, and lack of community input into the decision making process.
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