Opinion: West Montgomery County Citizens Association

Opinion: West Montgomery County Citizens Association

WMCCA Meeting

The West Montgomery County Citizens Association will meet at the Potomac Community Center on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 7:15 p.m. If schools are closed because of inclement weather, the meeting will be cancelled.

Ralph Buglass will talk about the early history of Potomac Village, when it was known as "Offutt's Crossroads" and the area consisted primarily of farms with crisscrossing dirt roads. Buglass is a member of the Montgomery Historical Society's speakers bureau and a descendant of the Offutt family, Potomac's colorful “first family.” He'll describe how and why the village came to be called Potomac, including feuding among the family, the end of slavery, a business partnership gone bad, and yes, even attempted murder and ghostly appearances. The public is always welcome. As always, the public is welcome to attend.

Vandals Strike Over the Summer

By Ginny Barnes

WMCCA President

A civic association is vital to preserving community identity. Potomac has a rich history and characteristics that define us. One such feature is our tree-lined rustic roads that wind in and out of ecologically significant stream valleys. The Potomac Subregion Master Plan designates some of these roads and bridges as Rustic and Exceptional Rustic.

One of the most iconic areas once had its own post office in the old Peters Store and was known as Glen, Md. Here, two streams meet. A grain mill once stood along the edge of Glen Road. A one-lane bridge crosses Watts Branch and a two-lane bridge crosses the Kilgour Branch. Both are bordered by narrow strips of parkland containing wetlands and forest that serve as wildlife corridors allowing needed connectivity to a wealth of species. In the late 1980s, WMCCA fought to protect the Glen. Longtime residents deeply treasure its historic significance.

Early this summer, an ugly act of vandalism covered one of the Watts Branch bridge buttresses and guardrail with graffiti. On a Friday WMCCA called the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (DOT) which manages our Rustic Road program and early Monday morning a crew had painted over the offense.

Over the summer, the bridge on Piney Meetinghouse Road was reconstructed causing traffic pressure on the Glen roads and bridges to increase. DOT erected small signs urging drivers to "take turns" crossing the one lane bridge. These signs have now been spray painted over to hide the words.

Why can't those who choose to travel through the Glen respect a historic and sensitive area? Why can't we be courteous to one another without instructions to do so? As residents, we all use these crossings and if we grant each other consideration, taking turns benefits everyone.

East Gate Recreation Association Cell Phone Tower

By Susanne Lee

The East Gate Recreation Association has signed a lease with Verizon to install an 89 ft. “stealth” monopole (cell tower disguised as a fake tree) at the East Gate Swim and Tennis Club at Gainsborough and Democracy Boulevard.

Installation of a cell tower in the middle of the East Gate residential community requires approval of a new conditional use at the site as well as an amendment to the current conditional use for the recreation area.

The application (CU-17-T-01) is currently pending before Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings. Hearing Examiner Tammy CitraMarnis conducted hearings on Sept. 26-27, 2017 and an additional hearing is scheduled for Oct. 13, 2017.

WMCCA is participating with residents of East Gate in opposition to the proposed cell tower. We believe it is a violation of the basic requirements of the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, including the conditional use policy. Furthermore, evidence provided by Verizon documents that they have identified an alternate location for a tower that would service the alleged gaps in coverage and that would not violate the requirements of the Master Plan.

Piney Branch Special Protection Area Subdivision Request

By Susanne Lee

A developer has proposed subdivision of a lot that abuts and is located partially in the Piney Branch stream bed adjacent to the Glen Hills Park on Glen Mill Road, just east of the intersection with Boswell Lane (Preliminary Plan No. 120160168).

This site is subject to heightened environmental protection requirements because it is located in the Piney Branch Special Protection Area. The developer has requested two sewer hook ups in order to subdivide and build two new homes on steep, heavily wooded slopes with multiple environmental constraints. WMCCA is working with neighbors who are opposing the subdivision.

Requests for Sewer Expansion in the Potomac Subregion

By Susanne Lee

WMCCA continues to monitor requests for sewer category changes that may be inconsistent with the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and County and State policies governing sewer construction in low density areas, including under the new Glen Hills area sewer policy. WMCCA is participating in Planning Board and County Council hearings on several current requests.

Zoning Text Amendment 17-04

By Ginny Barnes

In June the County Council introduced ZTA 17-04 to revise the standards for allowing a Country Inn as a conditional use in the R-200 zone. The purpose is to clarify language left out of the recent zoning code rewrite and define "rural area" to comply with the Potomac Master Plan. Public Hearings were held at the Planning Commission and the County Council. WMCCA testified in support of the ZTA at both hearings. A Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee work session is scheduled for Oct. 16, 2017.