The next meeting of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association will be Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7:15 p.m, at the Potomac Community Center. If schools are closed because of inclement weather, the meeting will be cancelled.
Rick Meyer, president of Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers (MC4T.ORG), will speak on “Wireless Towers and Cell Poles in Potomac: What's here and what's coming ..."
MC4T is fighting for fair, transparent, and accurate regulation of cell poles and cell towers to minimize adverse impacts to surrounding land uses, respect the harmony and aesthetic character of the communities, and protect the safety of all residents.
Summer is usually a slower time for monitoring new development plans, policy changes, and what has become a parade of Zoning Text Amendments. But, the County Council and Executive are facing term limits with November elections and with that comes a number of efforts to push through dubious proposals; some without benefit of public hearings or discussion among civic and environmental groups of needed amendments.
ZTA 18-03 which, as written, is not an agricultural use but a distribution point for alcohol trucked in and accommodates large tasting rooms and events. It is completely out of scale.
WMCCA has joined partners in the Agricultural Reserve in asking the council to deny or at least delay action until completion of the taxpayer-funded study on agrotourism now underway which will address many of the issues being raised about size, traffic, environmental impacts, and compatibility. For more information, go to: http://www.mocoalliance.org/news/alcohol-production-in-the-rural-zone-lets-get-this-right.
Another troubling proposal is MR2018012 PSSM at Fire Station # 30 on Falls Road just outside the Village to build a 189-foot monopole on 1.47 acres. The applicant is the Montgomery County Department of Technology Services (DTS). Planning Board staff recommended denial because the site is too small for such a tall tower and too close to existing residential houses. Now, County Executive Ike Leggett has resubmitted it to MNCPPC. This tower would never be allowed if proposed by any private cell tower company. Yet, as a Mandatory Referral, any Planning Board decision is advisory only. Though WMCCA and nearby private property owners have protested and even sought legal counsel, it may be that only political pressure on the current Executive or the three candidates for the office will carry weight. This impacts the health and safety of nearby residents who are being ignored to accommodate the convenience of DTS who continues to maintain this is the best placement for the tower. Information is available at: http://eplans.montgomeryplanning.org/daiclinks/pdoxlinks.aspx?apno=MR201801
These are only two of the issues we are monitoring, but having a strong membership willing to speak up makes WMCCA a more effective advocate for our community and our Master Plan. Please plan to join the Association and attend the Oct. 10 meeting. You are always welcome.
SUBDIVISION AND ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY
By Susanne Lee:
- Legal challenge to Glen Mill Road Subdivision in Piney Branch Special Protection Area (SPA):
WMCCA has filed a civil action in Montgomery County Circuit Court challenging a Montgomery County Planning Board subdivision approval that blatantly violates the county stream and Maryland wetland buffer requirements. The Planning Board’s action was particularly egregious given the heightened standards applicable to development in county SPAs. WMCCA is working closely with neighbors that abut the property who have filed their own civil action opposing the Planning Board’s decision.
- Large Assisted Living Facility Proposed for Low Density Residential Neighborhood:
Vesta Senior Living, LLC is seeking approval of a conditional use application in order to build a 107-bed assisted living facility at 14100 River Road in an RE-2 neighborhood next to Blockhouse Point Park and close to Pennyfield Lock in the C&O Canal National Historic Park. WMCCA is joining with abutting neighbors to oppose the application. The application is pending before the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings, but a scheduled Nov. 2 hearing was postponed indefinitely at the request of the Planning Board. The Planning Board has yet to issue a recommendation on the proposal.
LAWSUIT, REDEVELOPMENT, SEDIMENT CONTROL
By Ginny Barnes
- WMCCA Joins Voices Supportive of Canal Cruisers Lawsuit Against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for illegally restricting access to the Potomac River. Without following procedures required by law or engaging in any kind of transparent process, the U.S. Coast Guard has decided to prohibit the public from paddling along one of the most popular stretches upstream of Violette's Lock. The rationale is the President's safety when at his golf course on the Virginia side. Americans deserve the right to enjoy recreation on this iconic river.
- Cabin John Center Expansion - Site Plan No. 820190020 - northeast corner of intersection of Seven Locks Road and Tuckerman Lane. New owners have applied for redevelopment of the 14.57 acre property with approximately 45,000 sq.ft. of new commercial use and up to 131,000 sq.ft. of new residential uses, consisting of 48 single family attached dwelling units. WMCCA is concerned with the intensity of development, loss of existing forest, and additional traffic on two already congested roads. Cabin John Center goes to the Planning Board on Oct. 4.
- Congressional Country Club - Violation of Forest Conservation Law - On Sept. 28 a Forest Conservation Inspector from MNCPPC and a Sediment Control Inspector from the Department of Permitting responded to complaints of extensive tree cutting on the site and determined the club had failed to get a sediment control permit for cutting and clearing more than 5,000 square feet of tree canopy. Since there is a sediment control law violation, there is a forest conservation law violation. The inspector estimates that between 20,000 and 30,000 sq.ft. of canopy was removed. The area of tree cutting has been stabilized with turf or seed. A fine or replanting requirement has yet to be determined.
5G CELL ANTENNAS
By Carol Falk:
ZTA 18-11 would change zoning laws to allow private companies to stack 5G wireless system antennas on utility poles and buildings near homes and schools without public knowledge or consent.
WMCCA Board member Carol Falk testified on Sept. 26 before a packed Montgomery County Council public hearing. She noted that over 240 scientists and doctors from 41 nations have appealed to the United Nations to reduce wireless exposure to people. In addition, last year 180 scientists submitted a declaration to the European Union (EU) calling for a moratorium on 5G cell antennas due to health risks. She told the council the 5G systems are unsightly and proven to negatively impact property values as most people do not choose to live near them, not only because they're unsightly but because the radiation emanating from these towers can pose a serious health risk to residents, especially children, according to many experts in the scientific community. On behalf of WMCCA, she urged the council to oppose ZTA 18-11, which will be the subject covered by our October speaker.