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It’s All About You — And Your Neighbors

Opinion — WMCCA President's Letter

It was a great victory when the Planning Board rejected the proposal for development of the Justement Woods property overlooking the Glen, based on incompatibility with the neighborhood. We thank the neighbors surrounding the property for their time and effort.

At our April WMCCA meeting, we learned more about the Wellness Center proposal for the property next to the Giant in Potomac. We applaud the neighbors who live near the site for their willingness to become involved in the issues presented by the proposal. As in the past, we at WMCCA will actively engage on the issues, but often the critical elements are the first-hand knowledge and dedication of those directly affected. We encourage those wanting to learn more about the Wellness Center proposal to attend a presentation by the developer on Saturday, May 12 at 11 a.m. at the Potomac Community Center.

This newsletter features three writings from your neighbors who serve on the WMCCA Board. Mike Denker describes work on a proposed county ordinance to save individual trees. This effort is a complement to proposed Forest Conservation Law (FCL) amendments that will impact tree cover in areas of 5,000 square feet or more. WMCAA Environmental Chair Ginny Barnes helped craft the FCL legislation, and writes about its status. Diana Conway tells about an Earth Day stream clean-up.

A NEW TREE PROTECTION INITIATIVE: MICHAEL DENKER

When trees are cleared for any reason, neighbors feel a very real loss. Who speaks for the individual trees that shade and beautify our homes, draw in carbon dioxide and pump fresh cool air into our environment, and absorb storm water that can scour our creeks and overload our sewers?

Recently Montgomery County Council members Marc Elrich and Roger Berliner convened a roundtable discussion group consisting of themselves, staff members, representatives of citizens groups, environmental activists and local builders. The group’s objective is to review how other communities have sought to protect their trees and to assess what would be the best model for Montgomery County, leading to legislation to protect the urban trees in Montgomery County to the greatest extent possible, while taking into account the property owner’s right to the economic benefit of the property.

Are there ways of balancing the proven environmental value of trees, with the pressure to redevelop older heavily treed neighborhoods? If a family plans to enlarge its home, should trees be part of the planning process? What size thresholds should there be before a tree is protected? Are some tree species more worthy of protection than others? When trees are taken down, should they be replaced with new young trees? The discussion has begun — and is ongoing.

UPDATE ON FOREST LAW CONSERVATION AMENDMENTS: GINNY BARNES

The C&O Canal Task Force signed off on legislative language for their recommendations to the Forest Conservation Law and met with County Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At Large). Simultaneously, at the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC), the last of their proposed staff revisions went to the Planning Board Thursday, April 26, and Mark Elrich was in attendance. The County Council and MNCPPC have now publicly agreed to work together on the law. MNCPPC's Mark Pfefferle has been named the forest conservation coordinator, and he is to be the point person regarding changes to the law. This will include any meetings with Council staff to try and create a unified revision of the FCL. Such cooperation between branches of Montgomery County government is most welcome.

HELPING ROCK RUN; HELPING THE EARTH: DIANA CONWAY

On Earth Day this year, several Potomac families gathered at Rock Run to pull trash from the banks of this local creek. Rock Run crosses River Road and Falls Road and meanders down to the Potomac River.

Among the "treasures" we retrieved over the course of four hours were a massive green tarp and a heavy metal tire rim, and we collected an extra-large trash bag chock-full of recyclable plastic bottles and cans, which one family took home to add to their weekly recycling. We also collected several hundred pounds of asphalt chunks, probably pushed onto the grassy area near Giant by snowplows.

And of course we found endless plastic bags and styrofoam containers. The plastic will break down eventually, and can be recycled (if clean) at most grocery stores. But styrofoam is here to stay for up to 500 years in the landfills or the creeks — please stop buying products or foods packaged with styrofoam! A warm thank-you goes to Giant for graciously accepting our accumulation of bagged trash in their dumpster.

We were defeated by a large metal sink that was too entrenched in the banks for our troops to remove. Likewise we could not budge a plywood sheet on the creek bottom because of all the accumulated mud and debris. On the other hand we were delighted and heartened to see several types of fish, some up to several inches long, as well as a lively frog and innumerable tadpoles, all doing their thing and enjoying a beautiful Earth Day — with a little less trash.

ELECTION OF WMCCA OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS

The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of WMCCA Officers and Directors to the membership for a vote at our May 9 meeting. Nominations may also be made from the floor.

President: Ginny Barnes

President Elect: Carol Falk; Vice President: Susanne Lee

Treasurer: George Barnes; Secretary: Betsi Dahan; Newsletter: Lois Williams

Directors (nominated for two-year term):

Mike Denker, Don McNellis, Kate Andersen, Liza Durant

Directors (serving the second year of their term):

Ellie Pisarra Cain, Diana Conway, Elizabeth Grusin