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Potomac Master Plan: What Will Stay the Same?

August 5, 2002

<bt>Some of the most striking elements of the 2002 Potomac Master Plan aren't the changes that the Plan encourages or allows, but the changes that the Potomac Subregion won't see as a result of the 20-year blueprint for landuse that was approved by the County Council on March 5, 2002.

This map highlights some of the key policies of the Master Plan that preserve areas of Potomac and help Potomac serve its responsibility as a protector of the Potomac River and the region's water supply.

For a full version of the Master Plan, call Community Relations at Park and Planning at 301-495-4600 or visit the Web site at www.mc-mncppc.org

<mh>Two-lane Road Policy

<bt>The Master Plan's two-lane road policy, which prohibits roads from being widened to more than one lane in each direction, was affirmed by the County Council on March 5 despite some notable opposition.

The County executive opposed the two-lane road policy, recommending the widening of River, Falls and Piney Meetinghouse roads from two to four lanes.

Council staff, which makes its own set of recommendations to the Council, opposed the widening of Piney Meetinghouse and Falls roads but suggested that:

* River Road be widened to a four-lane road between Seven Locks Road and Potomac Village

* Seven Locks be widened to four lanes between Montrose Road and Democracy Boulevard

* Montrose Road be widened to four lanes between Seven Locks and Falls Road.

The two-lane road policy stirred some of the most passionate response from citizens of Potomac. Although the Council and Planning Board received some feedback calling for widening roads, residents sent hundreds of letters, faxes, calls and e-mail messages requesting that Potomac’s roads continue to be limited to two lanes.

Ultimately, the Council maintained the 1980 Master Plan's system of two-lane road policy. (Intersection improvements can be studied. See pages 16-17.)

<mh>No Techway

<bt>The Potomac Master Plan not only recommends against a bridge or river crossing connecting Potomac with Northern Virginia, it states that "accommodation of such a crossing would require a fundamentally different plan."

The Council never swayed from its unanimous opposition to a bridge crossing the Potomac River or a highway leading to a bridge through any neighborhoods of the Potomac Subregion or Montgomery County.

<mh>Callithea Farm

<bt>Callithea Farm, 97 acres bordering Blockhouse Point and the C&O Canal along the Potomac River, will be preserved by the Potomac Master Plan. It is an example of the old rolling hills and equestrian heritage of Potomac.

The site, which is contiguous on three sides to parkland, includes a horse farm. Preserving horse farms is one piece of preserving Potomac's semi-rural heritage. Acquiring the land won't cost the County anything since the Friends of Callithea Farm, Inc. are working with the owner of the property to acquire the land and ultimately transfer it to the county for conservation.

<mh>The Environment/Water

<bt>The guiding principle throughout the Potomac Master Plan involved putting the environment first. Underpinning the entire Plan is the vision of Potomac as a "green wedge," and an area that serves to protect the Metropolitan region's water supply.

"Protecting the subregion's water resources is critical," states the plan.

The area contains several exceptionally healthy aquatic ecosystems. In addition, the Watts Branch drains to the Potomac river just north and upstream of the WSSC Potomac Water Filtration Plant, directly affecting raw water quality.

The Master Plan creates a low-density buffer along the Potomac River. (See 4.) Protecting and expanding stream valley parks, also key to protecting water quality, was high priority in many individual decisions in the Plan.

<mh>Potomac Place Shopping Center

<bt>Despite changes coming to Cabin John Center and Fortune Parc, the Potomac Place Shopping Center at the intersection of River and Falls Road will remain the same.

Owners of the property requested rezoning lots on both ends of the site from R-200 to C-1; the lots are zoned for houses, with a special exception for commercial parking. Changing the zoning to commercial could have allowed new buildings on the site, increasing development and putting stores closer to existing homes behind the center. The Master Plan will provide language that ensures that the special exception for commercial parking is not jeopardized.

<mh>River Falls Elementary Site

<bt>This 8.13 acres of forested land on Brickyard Road is located directly across from the county's Rock Run Stream Valley Park.

The land was once planned as the site for the River Falls Elementary School, but that school is not needed. The Master Plan recommends the acquisition of the land as a natural extension of the stream valley, an underlying goal of the Plan, preserving the trees on the heavily wooded property.

<mh>Rustic Roads

<bt>The Master Plan designates the following roads as rustic or exceptional rustic to protect and preserve their sylvan nature and historic and scenic character:

Berryville Road, Boswell Lane, a segment of Glen Road, a segment of Glen Mill Road, Poplar Hill Road, Query Mill Road, Stoney Creek Road and Turkey Foot Road.

Riley's Lock, Violette's Lock and Swain's Lock roads are already part of the Rustic Roads Program.

(The Master Plan changes a portion of South Glen Road between Deepglen Drive and Falls Road to a "country road.")

<mh>Scenic Byways

<bt>Within the Potomac Subregion, several sections of roads are designated as part of the C&O Canal Scenic Byway, including the Clara Barton Parkway, MacArthur Boulevard from the Clara Barton terminus and Falls Road, Falls Road from MacArthur to River Road and River Road west of Falls Road.

<mh>Willowbrook Drive

<bt>Willowbrook Drive, was constructed piecemeal, and has four gaps, two between Tuckerman Lane and Bells Mill Road and two between Bells Mill Road and Democracy Boulevard. Until now, the county has repeated affirmed its intention to connect the segments at some point in the future. The Master Plan ensures that Willowbrook will remain in its current, discontinuous state.