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7 Days: End in Sight

Potomac Master Plan finale approaches

Potomac's 20-year future will be decided within the next seven days.

This coming Tuesday, Feb. 5, the full County Council will devote portions of its morning and afternoon sessions to voting on all portions of the Potomac Master Plan, the 20-year blueprint for landuse in Potomac.

Potomac residents have sent thousands of letters, e-mail and faxes commenting on the Plan. That groundswell of support for the Plan as drafted played a major role in its outcome.

The Council's Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee — consisting of Howard Denis (R-1), Steve Silverman (D-At large) and Derick Berlage (D-5) — spent the last three weeks making its set of recommendations that will be provided to the County Council.

"The committee and the full Council is pretty much in agreement with the Master Plan and are just looking at a few properties. By in large, we're taking the recommendations that the Planning Board has come up with," said council president Steve Silverman (D-at large), to 200 citizens who attended a West Montgomery County Citizens Meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Potomac Elementary School. "I know many of you worked long hours on this plan, how hard you worked in putting together a plan that represents the goals of the community in which you live. That's a Master Plan we should respect."

The PHED committee finished its set of recommendations to the Plan this past Monday, Jan. 28, at its third and final worksession on the Master Plan.

<mh>Environment Prevails

<bt>"I was glad the Planning Board's recommendations prevailed on most of these issues," said Callum Murray, Potomac team leader with Planning Board staff. Murray has worked with citizens, developers, landowners and advocates for close to four years to develop the Planning Board draft of the Plan.

Issues held intact through the process included Potomac's two-lane road policy, the Master Plan's stand against a techway bridge over the Potomac River, the designation of 10 Potomac roads as rustic roads, limiting sewer expansion and development, and acquisition of 14 parcels of land for parks, conservation or Legacy Open Space.

All these issues passed the three-person PHED committee with an unanimous vote, giving indication that there may not be a lot of controversy passing the Full Council.

"I want to thank Callum Murray and the planning team for the work they have done and chairman [Arthur] Holmes Jr. for presenting to us an excellent document. Citizens have worked over three years to get us this document," said Denis, at the first worksession on Jan. 15. "I compare it to an arch that reinforces itself with its parts. If you take out any element, I would be concerned that the whole plan would collapse."

Portions of next week's morning and afternoon session will be devoted to the Potomac Master Plan. The Council's full votes could be finalized at that time, according to Marlene Michaelson, of Council staff. Should the Council need another worksession, one will be scheduled next week.

After giving the public a chance to review a Staff Draft Resolution that will be published to make sure language written conveys the intent of the Council, the Council is scheduled to adopt the 2002 Master Plan in late February or early March, said Michaelson.