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Commentary: WMCCA Opposes Rezoning of Tennis Club

Next Meeting

There will be no West Montgomery County Citizens Association General Meeting in December, but the public is invited to the General Meeting on Jan. 8, 2014, at 7:15 p.m. at the Potomac Community Center for a look at local water quality and threats to the drinking water supply.

If schools are closed because of inclement weather, the meeting will be cancelled.

— As a follow-up to the well-attended November General meeting, on Nov. 24 WMCCA sent a letter to Francoise Carrier, chair, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Dear Chair Carrier,

WMCCA has been contacted by Charles Maier of Maier and Warner, a representative of the Potomac Tennis Club property, seeking input on possible rezoning of the approximately four acre site located off Falls Road between Manor Care and the Falls Road Golf Course. On Nov. 13, he and Erin Girard of Linowes and Blocher discussed potential changes to the property. Over 65 people attended the meeting, many of them members of the popular tennis club for many years. Zoned RE-2, the property owner is exploring a change to RT - Residential Townhouses, using TDR’s at four units per acre. Mr. Maier mentioned that both the Bullis School (across Falls Road) and the Revenue Authority which operates the golf course have been contacted and are interested in the property to continue use as a tennis facility.

Many long time members of the existing club expressed concern over loss of the facility and noted the significant value of the clay courts to older players. WMCCA has decided to oppose any rezoning of the site. We would like to see the property continue as a tennis club and we believe it is a viable option given the interest mentioned above. While WMCCA realizes we cannot prevent the property owner from utilizing the property to build two houses, we will strongly oppose any attempt to build townhouses on the site.

This puts our opposition in the public record before any plans to rezone are submitted. Any proposal from the property owner will need to go through review at the Planning Commission. Depending on the nature of the proposal, it may also need review before the Montgomery County Council and or the Board of Appeals. We urge individuals who wish to support retention of the Potomac Tennis Club to email Chair Carrier at: francoise.carrier@mncppc-mc.org.

Since the underlying zone on the site is residential housing on two acres, WMCCA is not in a position to object to use of the property for that purpose. We would, however prefer to see its use as a tennis club retained. Members of the public attending our meeting made a compelling case for the value of this centrally located community amenity. Consultants to the current owner claim to have no set plans as of yet, but will be meeting with Planning staff in the near future. WMCCA will continue to provide any updates we receive.

Please plan to attend our Jan. 8 General meeting. In addition to updates on the issues we are following, we plan to focus on the public water supply. Within the Potomac Subregion, threats to drinking water are making headlines. On River Road, the WSSC Water Filtration Plant will be seeking to install a mid-river intake in the center of the Potomac River. Why? Because the Watts Branch stream, which feeds the current intake where it enters the river is so laden with sediment pollution that in peak storm flows, the plant cannot keep up with sediment removal.

Installing such an intake will cost $25 million and represents a “last straw” effort to reach clean water that serves over 4.3 million people in the region. Further upstream, Seneca Creek has become the subject of a lawsuit to be filed by three environmental groups against the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) for discharging pollutants from their solid waste treatment operation into Seneca Creek. The pollutants are then carried downstream to the Potomac River. The pollution discharge enters Seneca Creek and flows into the Potomac upstream of the filtration plant. The Environmental Integrity Project, Potomac Riverkeeper, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation calculate the Seneca Creek facility has added 18 to 30 million pounds of material to the river over the past four years. Further upcounty in Clarksburg, Little Seneca Reservoir, source for our emergency drinking water, has come into focus as development threatens the three streams that feed it, including Ten Mile Creek, considered the “last, best creek” in Montgomery County. These watersheds are all linked. What happens to one affects another. They are critical to all life in this region. Wouldn't you like to know more about the water you drink? Join us in January. The public is always welcome.

— Ginny Barnes, WMCCA President

GLEN HILLS AREA SEWER UPDATE

According to an official of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the DEP staff recommendations regarding sewering Glen Hills have been presented to DEP Director Robert Hoyt for consideration and decision. Director Hoyt’s determination will then be transmitted to County Executive Isiah Leggett for consideration and submission to the Montgomery County Council for decision.

The timing of this process is unclear, but so far DEP has made it crystal clear that they will not provide any information or opportunity to comment by the Sewer Study Citizens Advisory Committee members, let alone the general public, regarding the recommendations submitted to Director Hoyt, County Executive Leggett, or the County Council. It is likewise totally unclear what public process the County Council intends to follow, if any, to ensure public disclosure and participation in its decisions regarding sewering Glen Hills. (susannelee1@hotmail.com; telephone 301-956-4535).

— Susanne Lee

WMCCA ENTERS THE ELECTRONIC WORLD

WMCCA is now encouraging our members and friends to accept electronic newsletters. You will still have access to the same excellent content each month, and now you can share articles of interest with your friends via email. Plus, electronic newsletters save trees and allow WMCCA to put more money in our legal fund to protect our "Green Wedge." Please email Membership@wmcca.org if you are willing to accept our newsletter in an electronic format.

At the same time, WMCCA is happy to announce that we are now accepting PayPal for membership renewals and contributions as an option to checks, stamps, and paper envelopes. We invite you to join us, the oldest and one of the most effective citizens associations in Montgomery County. Memberships are only $25 for individuals and $50 for families. Become part of a community organization that works to protect your quality of life here in Potomac.

Please consider supporting WMCAA by going to our website, www.WMCCA.org and clicking “Join Us”. PayPal is a secure way to pay with your credit card without sharing your credit card information with us. We believe that both steps will streamline our operations and save trees.

— Barbara Hoover