Column: Concerned? Get Involved

Column: Concerned? Get Involved


Well, what I can say? I’ve got big shoes to fill as WMCCA President Susanne Lee finishes her term this month, but thank goodness Susanne will remain a wise and trusted member of the WMCCA board of directors as immediate past president and chairperson of the Committee on Planning and Zoning. Picking up from Susanne’s last president’s letter, I’d like to reiterate that while WMCCA is not a political body, we are most definitely committed to protecting the quality of our waterways and streams, and preserving the character of our neighborhoods by making sure that our locally elected representatives, developers, citizens, and county agency officials abide by the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and do not embark on actions that hurt our neighborhoods.

For example, members of the Board and residents of Glen Hills have worked tirelessly for years to track the Glen Hills Sewer Study, subsequent amendments and policy; to craft thoughtful testimony to present to Montgomery County and state agencies, and to meet with local legislators and county officials, as well as neighborhood groups in order to keep everyone abreast of potential changes to the “Countywide Water and Sewer Plan.”

The WMCCA board monitors what is happening, speaks up when rules and regulations are being violated or ignored, and reports back to concerned community members. The septic vs. sewer policy issues affect not only Glen Hills residents but property owners throughout the county and in some instances the state. It dictates whether or not rural neighborhoods will remain so, or whether higher density will be allowed to come in, causing further degradation of our streams, the Potomac River, and the drinking water supply. Significant changes to the policy could forever alter the character of our neighborhoods. The board continues to follow these important developments and many others, but we cannot do it alone.

Your voice counts, but it can be strengthened and informed by coming to meetings, listening to speakers whose expertise directly impacts our communities, raising concerns, and becoming advocates for preserving and maintaining the Potomac sub-region. How do you do that exactly? Well, there are many ways. Besides attending WMCCA General Meetings, encourage your neighbors to come, invite them to become members, offer to help staff the WMCCA table at Potomac Day on Oct. 22, offer to serve on various WMCCA committees, and write letters to your elected representatives on issues that matter to you. We know that there are many demands on your time. But the rewards of seeing tangible positive changes in your own neighborhoods are great — and we can’t do it alone.

Brandywine Senior Living at Potomac, LLC Appeal

By Susanne Lee

WMCCA joined with the Brickyard Coalition to appeal the decision of the Montgomery County Board of Appeals (BOA) granting a conditional use (special exception) to Brandywine Senior Living, LLC. The BOA decision would allow Brandywine to construct a 140-bed assisted living facility on land zoned for residential use next to the Falls Road Golf Course. Neighboring property owners have also appealed. WMCCA’s opening brief filed on Aug. 26, 2016 in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County emphasized the failure of the conditional use to conform with the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and key provisions of the Montgomery County Zoning Code. Oral argument is scheduled for Nov. 4, 2016.

WMCCA Comments on the Environmental Assessment (EA) for WSSC’s Potomac Water Filtration Plant Proposed Mid-River Intake

By Susanne Lee

WSSC proposes a massive construction project at their filtration plant located off River Road on land within the C & O Canal National Historical Park (NHP). They propose to move their drinking water intake pipe further into the Potomac away from the pollution, primarily sediment, discharged into the Potomac from the Watts Branch and Seneca Creek. WMCCA joined with the Watts Branch Watershed Alliance and individual WMCCA Board Members to provide comments on the National Park Service (NPS) Environmental Assessment for the project.

WSSC’s comments concentrated on the substantial adverse impacts of the project including the permanent loss of national park land and the destruction of five acres of mature forest and an archeological site in the heart of one of the most visited sections of this very popular national park.

The project will involve blasting and drilling, disruption and elimination of certain key visitor uses, destruction of cultural resources, and adverse impacts on the rich biological diversity of the Canal including hundreds of high value and protected species.

We also proposed a new alternative — “no-build plus aggressive stream remediation of the Watts Branch and Seneca Creek” — that would have absolutely no impact on the C&O Canal NHP, would benefit the regional environment, and would provide a permanent solution, rather than the proposed temporary fix, to the problem of silt coming from those streams. The NPS is now considering all the comments they received and will then issue either a Finding of No Significant Impact or a determination that an Environmental Impact Statement is required.

Glenstone Museum

By Ginny Barnes

The state has issued Glenstone a permit to withdraw 9,500 gallons of well water per day to be used on a yearly basis and a daily average of 19,000 gallons for the month of maximum use for the purpose of running museum air conditioning. Glenstone is required to install water meters on the water system to document usage and submit semi-annual water usage reports to MDE.

Additionally, Glenstone has applied for another permit to conduct stream restoration work in segments of the Sandy and Greenbriar Branch streams.

Old Angler’s Inn Proposal

By Ginny Barnes

The applicant continues to move forward with their conditional use application for a Country Inn on MacArthur Boulevard, uphill from the existing restaurant. A traffic study has been submitted to the Hearing Examiner and revised drawings show 80 parking spaces on the site. WMCCA is part of a coalition of community groups opposing the current application.

Support WMCCA

Help support WMCCA’s efforts in defending the Master Plan. Renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Look for your renewal notice in the mail or go to our website to download a membership form or join using PayPal:

Next Meeting

The October General Meeting meeting of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association will be held Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 7:15 p.m. at the Potomac Community Center.

Jerad Minnick, the featured speaker, is the turf manager at the Boyds/Germantown Soccerplex. He is also an advisor and advocate for natural grass sports surfaces, and writes the blog “Growing Green Grass.” He’ll talk about the benefits of natural grass over synthetic turf on public and private playing fields, as well as address the health risks and hidden financial costs of synthetic turf.

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

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