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Vigilance Protects Neighborhoods

President's Letter

It is said that April showers bring May flowers. Unfortunately, showers can sometimes turn into downpours and downpours can turn into major problems — especially in new developments where proper drainage is lacking and local streets become rivers of rainwater, sediment and garbage. We have heard several complaints from neighbors in the Potomac Subregion about lack of erosion control, excessive runoff, and clogged sewers, including those near the intersection of Glen and Piney Meetinghouse Roads, along River Road in Potomac Village, on Esworthy Road, and on several other roads where new subdivisions and clusters of new homes have recently been built. Often, the runoff overflows road storm drainage structures.

* For state roads, call Charlie Watkins, District Engineer, District 3, Maryland State Highway Administration, 301-513-7300 or 1-800-749-0737.

* For county roads, call Robert Hubbard, Director, Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS), 240-777-6363 (Robert.hubbard@montgomerycountymd.gov) or William Boyajy, Assistant Director, 240-777-6362 (William.boyajy@montgomerycountymd.gov).

The origin of most runoff problems, however, is inadequate provision for drainage in the site’s Storm Water Management Plan. There is a Montgomery County Land Use Control Process, but many feel the permitting process is set up to primarily serve developers, while complaints from concerned residents, particularly issues regarding runoff, are all but ignored. The Montgomery County Planning Board, together with the county’s Department of Permitting Services and the department’s Sediment/Stormwater Plan staff (240-777-6320 or 6343), is supposed to determine whether a proposed subdivision satisfies the recommendations of an area’s Master Plan, Zoning Ordinance Subdivision Regulations, and the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. Whether it actually performs that task in every instance is debatable.

DPS must approve a stormwater management concept plan for the proposed development. During this process, the public is supposed to be able to evaluate the negative effects of a proposed subdivision on their neighborhood. The process begins when the applicant files either a pre-preliminary plan or a preliminary subdivision plan for review and approval. A public hearing is necessary if the plan is to be considered by the Planning Board. After the Planning Board, it goes to the Preliminary Plan process. At that point, the Planning Board may approve, approve with conditions, or deny the application. Planning Board approval is required before a Record Plot can be filed and a Building Permit issued.

On another topic, WMCCA is pleased to join with the Montgomery Countryside Alliance for its “Celebrate Rural Montgomery," highlighting the 25th Anniversary of Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve.

Environmental Report

– Ginny Barnes

National Park Service/C&O Canal tree cutting update

Rep. Chris Van Hollen has agreed to our request that he sponsor a public meeting to air the concerns and dispel some of the mystery surrounding a two-acre clearcut that took place in November of 2004, in violation of the Montgomery County Forest Conservation Law. The meeting will take place in late May or early June but a confirmed date has not been set as of this writing. The meeting will be held in Potomac and all of the concerned parties will be invited to participate, including Federal, State and County officials, civic, environmental and cultural history advocacy groups, and the public.

Planning and Zoning Report

– George Barnes

Emad property - This property on Glen Road in the Glen has applied for a subdivision for two lots on 1.9 acres, with the existing house to remain and one additional lot. The very steep and heavily forested property is in an environmentally sensitive portion of the Watts Branch stream valley. The hearing, scheduled for April 28, was postponed. When rescheduled, WMCCA will testify on behalf of the neighbors of the property and the Glen.

Congressional Forest - An application has been made for a re-subdivision of an existing lot with one house for two lots with two new houses. We will have more information by our next meeting.

Glen Mill Road at Red Barn Lane - This application is for five dwelling units on 15,000 square-foot lots, applied for under the RE -1 Cluster option. The majority of the property is within the 100-year flood plain boundary of the Piney Branch, and therefore unbuildable. Three of the lots would front on Glen Mill Road, with two more just behind them. Three lots would be reached by a cul-de-sac off Glen Mill, with an additional two driveways on Glen Mill. We have serious concerns about the use of the RE-1C zone for this property, as well as compatibility and environmental concerns. The plan would also have an extremely undesirable effect on the character of the Rustic Road designation of Glen Mill Road, which is Exceptional Rustic from Red Barn to the Glen, and Rustic from Red Barn to Circle Drive.

WMCCA Nominating Committee Report

The Nominating Committee, chaired by George Barnes, is pleased to submit the following slate of Officers and Directors to the membership for a vote at the Annual Meeting. The Nominating Committee has placed in nomination the following slate — nominations may also be made from the floor:

Vice President - Barbara Boykin, Treasurer - C. O. North, Secretary - Betsi Dahan, Newsletter - Lois Williams

Directors: Don McNellis, Jonathan Burnworth, Mike Danker, Tony Barclay.

Directors continuing in office: Scott Bender, Barbara Boykin, Elie Pisarra Cain, and Diana Conway.

As always, the President Elect becomes President, and the Vice President becomes President Elect:

President- Ginny Barnes, President Elect- Susanne Lee, Immediate Past President - Carol Falk.

Enjoy Potomac's parkland and public woods

By Lois Williams

Walking near my Thrush Lane home a few days ago, I stopped where Logan Drive crosses Rock Run to check on the tiny fish there. A patch of golden ragwort beckoned me, and I followed the stream's flood plain on a faint path through the woods. There were spring beauty in abundance, and, yes, jack-in-the-pulpit! In time, a blue heron sensed my presence, and I only saw him as he flapped away. He may have interested in the same fish as I, and perhaps the crawfish I had seen upstream behind the Giant a few days earlier.