WMCCA Column: Defining and Ensuring Effectiveness

WMCCA Column: Defining and Ensuring Effectiveness

Next Meeting

The West Montgomery County Citizens Association will meet Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7:15 p.m., at the Potomac Community Center. Find more at http://www.wmcca.org">www.wmcca.org.

The speaker will be Chris Gillis, senior legislative aide to Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal. New legislation regulating the use of pesticides is currently pending before the Montgomery County Council. Introduced by Council Leventhal, Bill No. 52-14 would prohibit the use of certain pesticides on lawns and certain county-owned property, establish notice requirements, and require the county to adopt integrated pest management techniques on certain county property. If enacted, Montgomery County would join just two other local jurisdictions (Takoma Park and Ogunquit, Me.) with similar statutes. Gillis, a key County Council staff member involved in the proposed legislation, will discuss more details about the legislation, current issues under consideration, next steps in the legislative process, and the outlook for its passage.

As always, the public is encouraged to attend the WMCCA meetings.

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

— The proposed pesticide law pending before the Montgomery County Council and the National Park Service proposal to collect entrance fees from those using the C&O Canal National Historical Park present interesting challenges. We will learn more about the pesticide bill at WMCCA’s Feb. 11 meeting. C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt will discuss the fee proposal and other Canal issues at our March 11 meeting.

WMCCA has been and will always be a strong supporter of enhanced environmental protection and defender of our beloved C&O Canal. And even imperfect legislative efforts, such as the new Montgomery County Tree Canopy Law, presumably are better than nothing. But when examining what is likely to result in effective environmental protection and the conservation of natural resources — what does and does not work — there appear to be some basic principles.

There must be the critical “rule of law” framework — transparent legislative process, clarity in objectives and requirements, and effective enforcement. But the entire effort also must be grounded in common sense and an acknowledgement of basic elements of human behavior, with a laser focus on ensuring maximum efficiency and effectiveness given scarce resources.

As we become engaged in examining these two new proposals — and others in the future — we will do so with an emphasis on ensuring public transparency and strong, effective methods for environmental protection. These are some of the questions we will be asking:

  • Is there a clear statement of the problems to be addressed, including the sound science behind the elements of the pesticide law and the financials behind the fee proposal?
  • Exactly how will the proposals address these problems and how will success or failure be documented?
  • Are there other more effective targets and alternatives?
  • Exactly what will each of us be required to do to comply with these solutions and how will this be communicated?
  • How and by whom will they be enforced and how will citizens be able to monitor enforcement?

Glen Hills Study

By Susanne Lee

Following their meetings in December 2014 with Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Montgomery County Council Member Roger Berliner, a group of scientists, engineers, university professors, and governmental agency experts who are Glen Hills residents prepared an extensive analysis of the Glen Hills Study. They focused on one aspect of the study — the science behind the Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports — and determined it was fatally flawed. Thus, any recommendations drawn from the reports would be invalid. They, along with WMCCA, submitted their findings to Mr. Leggett in a detailed Jan. 12 letter requesting that he reject the Study and instead initiate a revised fact-based and scientifically sound analysis.

Pennyfield Lock Road

By Ginny Barnes

The recent CIP (Capital Improvement Projects) budget contains an item for replacing the bridge on Pennyfield Lock Road. This road dates back to the 1850s and is designated as Rustic in the Rural and Rustic Roads Master Plan. The bend in Pennyfield was created to go around the Dufief warehouse that was located on the south, inside part of the bend. The warehouse was the reason the road was built. Dufief (who also ran a mill) was bringing in fertilizer and shipping crops from the warehouse, which was a huge improvement in access for a big chunk of the farming community.

Criteria for alterations to Rustic Roads are specific and have not been followed in the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposal to fund bridge reconstruction. Of the three possible alternatives, the DOT selected the one most detrimental to the historic landscape of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The public has never seen or been given an opportunity to comment on the proposed bridge replacement alternatives, nor have the ”safety” criteria been assessed. The precedent and possible “unintended consequences” to other Rustic Roads in Potomac may be at stake. Accordingly, WMCCA will be writing testimony for the public hearing on the CIP Budget. The National Park Service has done a thorough and thoughtful report on the historic and cultural aspects of Pennyfield. It makes fascinating reading: www.canaltrust.org/quarters/pdf/Pennyfield_Lock_CLI.pdf

Update on Ten Mile Creek

By Ginny Barnes

In 2014, the County Council adopted an amendment to the Clarksburg Master Plan affording unprecedented protection to Ten Mile Creek. A strict impervious cap was placed on development in the creek and tributaries. The Rural Neighborhood Cluster (RNC) zone was applied, requiring 60-80 percent open space development sites. The RNC zone also requires sewer and the County Council is currently considering Sewer Category Changes for the proposed developments. In the case of Ten Mile Creek, the choice of sewer alignments is integral to following through with protecting the watershed and Little Seneca Reservoir. A public hearing was held and the Transportation and Environment Committee will take up discussion of the category changes Feb. 5.