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Votes

Keeping True to Master Plan

WMCCA is a watchdog group for zoning and environmental issues that impact our entire corner of Montgomery County — the area that is bounded by Seneca Creek, I-270, I-495 and the Potomac River. The Potomac Subregion Master Plan recognizes that protecting the public drinking water supply and buffering the Agricultural Reserve as a residential "Green Wedge" are critical roles for our community. To that end, WMCCA has worked diligently to keep commercial development within the bounds of Potomac Village.

We must be wary of plans for projects that are not a suitable fit for the area, or that are inappropriate for the neighborhoods within our boundaries, or that violate Master Plan restrictions. It is imperative that we as an organization protect our Master Plan whenever its language is in danger of being watered down or overlooked — or ignored — in favor of Special Exceptions, zoning changes, site density increases and even major highways cutting through our community.

Countywide policy changes in areas such as the recent MPDU legislation passed by the County Council and development threats to the Agricultural Reserve have far reaching implications that affect our future as a community and our role in the General Plan for Montgomery County. During our more than 50-year history as a civic association, WMCCA has gained a reputation for vigilance and integrity in keeping our planning area as the Master Plan intends, as well as supporting other communities in their efforts to do the same.

WMCCA.org – Look on our Web site for the text of the WMCCA president’s testimony on Jan. 5 before the State Highway Department in opposition to the Inter County Connector.

WMCCA Special Project – WMCCA Reviewers will be visiting some school Science Fairs and the Montgomery Area Science Fair to honor projects done outdoors at a site within the Potomac Master Plan area. Exemplary projects will be showcased as part of the April 13 WMCCA General Meeting on the topic of Environmental Issues in Our Community.

Planning and Zoning – George Barnes

The following plans for sites within our area await approval. We invite questions on any of these projects at the February 9 WMCCA General meeting.

Zoning Change requests:

* Normandy Farm - Country Inn Zone

* Potomac Inn proposal - Country Inn Zone (see above)

Subdivision issues:

* Safeway expansion

* Lake Potomac - subdivide one existing lot into two lots (this is the property visible across the stream behind the Potomac Inn site on River Road, and the former Hunt residence.)

* Glen Estates - Two lots proposed on 4.85 acres off Glen Mill Road in the 11700 block.

Special Exception:

* Dental Office on Srour property next to the Bank of America in the village. A hearing is scheduled late in February.

Roads – Diana Conway

Montgomery County is planning to abandon its right-of-way for a "paper street" named Ronald Drive, which lies in a heavily wooded stream valley between the 10200 block of Falls Road and Gary Road. The Gary Road portion of Ronald Drive was abandoned in 1978 in a similar proceeding when the county gave up all but a 20-foot wide strip of its easement. The current abandonment has been approved by the Planning Board, again with retention of a 20-foot wide strip of land. These retained portions are slated to become a bikeway/sidewalk connection, although no plans exist for its construction.

WMCCA has taken an interest in this proceeding since the county's easement is roughly aligned with the forested and sensitive headwaters of the Rock Run, as they cross beneath Falls Road at the road's lowest point just north of Potomac Village. There is also a sewer line along this right-of-way. Although this request for abandonment from abutting neighbors does not say so, it seems likely that the petitioners are seeking a future subdivision for an additional lot, or possibly more. Park & Planning has very clearly told the petitioners and their attorneys that any future owners must stay out of the 200-foot-wide buffer (100 feet on each side of the stream bed), with absolutely no tree cutting. The County Council must still approve the request for abandonment. WMCCA will continue to monitor this process, and its impacts on our forests and water quality.