Yes, indeed. It was a very busy year. Many thanks to all the citizens who took time in 2015 from their busy schedules and personal obligations to take on a variety of very interesting, but challenging and time-consuming issues critical to ensuring environmental integrity and the overall quality of life in the Potomac Subregion.
WMCCA members, working with other organizations and government officials, were particularly focused on these continuing issues:
- Glen Hills sewer policy;
- Unwarranted tree cutting by PEPCO and the National Park Service;
- Conditional use applications for construction in residential zones of an event venue adjacent to Old Anglers Inn and Brandywine Senior Living’s proposed senior housing facility adjacent to the Falls Road Golf Course;
- The hazards of artificial turf playing fields;
- Implementation of the new County Pesticides Law;
- A proposed utility scale solar facility on the Brickyard Road school site; and,
- Commercial uses and signage in residential zones.
Individual WMCCA Board members also assumed increased duties aimed at strengthening the organization.
We look forward to an equally interesting, challenging, and productive 2016. As always, WMCCA’s focus will be on unbiased fact finding; the application of sound science; compliance with laws, regulations, and the Potomac Subregion Master Plan; and, effective and transparent communications between citizens and government officials.
“Trending” areas of emphasis likely will include:
- Implementation of the new Montgomery County zoning code. How County officials interpret and implement the new zoning code is already impacting the Old Angler’s Inn and Brandywine conditional use applications;
- Talk- yet again- of a bridge crossing through the Agricultural Reserve;
- Public transportation options to serve the Tobytown community and surrounding neighborhoods;
- C & O Canal easement restrictions, e.g., tree removal, construction of structures and paths;
- Potential use of the Brickyard School site as an educational farm;
- Interpretation and enforcement of Montgomery County forest conservation requirements;
- Trails policy for environmentally sensitive park lands, in particular the Serpentine Barrens Conservation Park; and
- Proposed subdivisions on Glen Mill Road: Justement Woods and Parcel 833 (near Boswell Lane)
We welcome any and all who would like to work on these issues. Contact us via our website at www.wmcca.org or send an email to email@example.com or call 301-956-4535.
BRANDYWINE SENIOR LIVING, LLC CONDITIONAL USE APPLICATION
By Susanne Lee
CU-16-01 – The next hearing date for this application for a senior housing (assisted living) facility in an RE-2 zone adjacent to the Falls Road Golf Course is scheduled for Jan. 15. At the request of the Hearing Examiner, Brandywine submitted a revised plan and the Hearing Examiner requested that the Technical Staff of the Planning Department submit their comments on the revised plan by Jan. 8. WMCCA continues to oppose the application because it conflicts with the Potomac Master Plan restrictions regarding where senior housing should be located.
GLEN HILLS SEWER POLICY
By Susanne Lee
The Montgomery County Executive’s recommendations regarding the extension of sewer into Glen Hills are under consideration by the Montgomery County Council’s Transportation and Environment (T&E) Committee prior to transmittal for action by the full Council. The next T&E Committee meeting is scheduled for Jan. 21 with an additional date of Jan. 28 scheduled, if needed. WMCCA supports the County Executive’s recommendations and, along with Glen Hills residents, is meeting with Council members to discuss the proposed recommendations.
By Ginny Barnes
NPS Tree Cutting at Swain's Lock Campground - In early November, at the urging of concerned citizens and Councilmember Roger Berliner, C&O Canal NHP Superintendent Kevin Brandt held an on-site meeting about the plan to remove a number of what arborists consider hazardous trees at three locations. The proposal stunned park volunteers and advocates who had no previous knowledge of the plan until chain saws started cutting at the end of October. The public attending raised the need to engage more than arborists in such a sensitive area. Swain's Lock campground sits right on the Potomac River and while a beautiful place to camp, it is in the river floodplain, subject to flooding and soil compaction around trees. As a result of the meeting the NPS engaged a hydrologist and biologist to look at the site. While there may be little decrease in the number of trees ultimately trimmed or removed as hazardous, there will now be a replanting plan focused on increased species diversity and clustering plantings to protect the soil. WMCCA helped engage an independent arborist to assess the site. We hope this experience will bring greater transparency to such proposals. The public is watching. Many local canal based groups oversee volunteer work to aid the park and we citizens should have been part of the conversation at an early stage.
Old Angler's Inn - Proposal for a Country Inn/Wedding venue - For the past year WMCCA has been part of a coalition of local citizens and HOAs keeping track of the proposal to build a banquet hall/motel facility for special events on the hill above Old Angler's Inn. Weddings, conferences, etc. with overnight guest rooms presents multiple concerns. Proximity to the congested and dangerous parking situation and pedestrian traffic at the C&O Canal NHP is paramount. Noise, environmental impacts, and compliance with the Potomac Subregion Master Plan are also significant concerns. The Country Inn request involves a hearing before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) as well as the Planning Board. It has been rescheduled from Jan. 11 to Sept. 9.
Victor Salazar, supervisor with Zoning and Site Plan Enforcement (ZSPE), Department of Permitting Services (DPS), will speak at the next meeting of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 7:15 p.m., at the Potomac Community Center.
What kinds of businesses can residents conduct in their homes? What kinds and sizes of signs and fences are permissible? Can a “granny flat” be constructed on a resident’s property? WMCCA Board member John Yassin has investigated these and other similar issues on WMCCA’s behalf. He will moderate a discussion with Salazar on these and any other similar zoning questions that the public may have.
If schools are closed because of inclement weather, the meeting will be cancelled.
As always, the public is most welcome to attend WMCCA’s meetings.