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Votes

ICC: A Bad Idea Gets Worse

Opinion: West Montgomery President's Letter

We in the Potomac Subregion have known for years why we are adamantly opposed to the Inter County Connector (ICC). All you need to do is glance at a map of the metropolitan area. The ICC forms a critical link in an outer beltway. The next link would be the “Truckway” – a massive Potomac bridge crossing and four- to six-lane highway to join the Dulles Airport with the ICC. No matter the exact location, the Truckway would be built somewhere between the American Legion Bridge and the Agricultural Reserve, resulting in the destruction of a wide swath of our Potomac neighborhoods.

As the time for construction of the ICC looms, more reasons for stopping this disastrous project emerge:

* Climate change through sharp increases in automobile use, oil consumption, sprawl, and greenhouse gas emissions;

* Massive destruction of forests, wetlands, and parkland that are essential to the health of our streams, the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay; and,

* Enormous costs – $ 3.1 billion ($1,417 per Maryland household) diverted away from transit and other needed road and bridge projects.

Thirty-four members of Maryland’s General Assembly have asked Governor O’Malley to take a “breather” until a detailed review of the project can be performed. Times have changed. The plug should be pulled now.

ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT: GINNY BARNES

* Forest Conservation — In the last three years, growing citizen concern over forest and tree loss in Montgomery County coupled with a County Forest Conservation Law (FCL) that is not preserving our existing forest has given rise to several simultaneous efforts. The C&O Canal Stewardship Task Force, created by Congressman Van Hollen in the summer of 2005, has completed their final task of submitting a legislative draft of amendments to strengthen the FCL. The Task Force met with County Council Member Marc Elrich (D-At Large) and Council legislative staff in late March; Elrich plans to sponsor a bill based on the Task Force proposals. Meanwhile, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which administers the FCL, has drafted more modest amendments now under review by their staff.

But the FCL does not apply to individual trees or stands of trees, particularly on smaller lots. The C&O Canal Task Force also recommended development of a Countywide Tree Ordinance. Citizens throughout the County have been called together to explore such an ordinance through a workgroup jointly sponsored by Councilmembers Berliner (D-District 1) and Elrich (D-At Large). Forest and trees are recognized as increasingly essential to protecting water quality, halting global warming, and preventing flooding and pollutants that are killing the Chesapeake Bay.

PLANNING AND ZONING: GEORGE BARNES

* Justement Woods — On March 29 the Planning Board voted to deny subdivision of 2.49 acres into two lots. Though the property (located on the east side of Glen Mill Road, approximately 1200 feet northwest of the one-lane bridge intersection with Glen Road) is zoned RE-1, the subdivision plan was found to be incompatible with surrounding lots, all of which are greater in size than the smallest lot requested. This is a significant decision, for the proposed plan would have destroyed mature trees, adversely impacted the Exceptional Rustic portion of Glen Mill Road, demolished the old Louis Justement home, and altered the unique character of Potomac's historic Glen.

* 12000 River Road — March 30, a proposal to build an iron fence completely surrounding the property, within a scenic easement, and running along the edge of the C&O Canal was denied by the Planning Director of Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Construction of the fence would have triggered the Forest Conservation Law as it required removal of significant contiguous forest on steep slopes adjacent to the C&O Canal National Park.

* Verma Property — The property owner has requested a two-lot subdivision of his property on South Glen Road. Neighbors of the property are rightfully concerned with a garage, which contains an apartment, that does not conform with the setback requirements of the RE-2 zone. If the subdivision is approved for two lots, and if one of the two lots contains a separate apartment, then three residences would exist on the property.