WMCCA: Fulfilling the Potomac Master Plan

WMCCA: Fulfilling the Potomac Master Plan

Since its adoption in 2002, The Potomac Subregion Master Plan has seen much of the proposed intentions realized. A long awaited Recreation Center for North Potomac, the Greenbriar Local Park on Glen Road, residential units in former quarries, and expansion of the Cabin John Shopping Center are all intended and welcome additions to our community — but the Master Plan was equally concerned with what was expected to remain the same and serve as distinctive to Potomac.

The Potomac Village itself was to be contained within a commercial zone and restrained from sprawling out River Road or up and down Falls Road. The environmental commitments to low density zoning, retaining forest and water quality, and limiting the expansion of sewer have been challenged over the last 18 years. We've seen proposals, clearly unwarranted, that WMCCA, neighbors, and partner organizations have successfully stopped such as the Soccerplex on Brickyard Road, the Country Inn adjacent to Old Anglers near the C&O Canal NHP, and the cell tower proposal at the Eastgate Swim Club.

As the western residential Green Wedge buffering the county's 93,000 acre Agricultural Reserve, we have a responsibility to hold the line on inappropriate land uses, not just for the sake of our community but for the benefit of careful countywide planning. Our ability to uphold master plan intentions requires constant vigilance. We need the help of citizens who love what Potomac represents. WMCCA is an all volunteer citizens organization and we rely on your membership and participation to remain effective. Please join, get involved. Start the new year with a membership and keep abreast of proposed changes to the community we love!

St. Francis Church Exterior Sign

By Ginny Barnes

WMCCA attended a hearing of the County Sign Board on a proposed digital sign to replace the one on River Road at the entrance to the Village. There is no other church in Potomac with a lighted digital sign and we expressed concerns regarding the precedent and potential appearance. The Sign Board suggested a continuance to work out issues raised and St. Francis agreed. WMCCA will meet with church officials prior to the next Sign Board hearing on Jan. 10.

WMCCA v. Montgomery County Planning Board

By Susanne Lee

WMCCA and adjacent neighbors filed their respective Reply Briefs on Dec. 26, 2018 in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County in this consolidated challenge to the Montgomery County Planning Board’s approval of a new Glen Mill Road subdivision in the Piney Branch Special Protection Area next to the Glen Hills Park. WMCCA’s brief focused on the Planning Board errors that, if not reversed, will have profound, adverse environmental impacts not just at this site, but throughout the county, particularly in the statutorily established and protected Special Protection Areas. The four most glaring errors are:

  • Failure to cite, let alone address, the county’s Environmental Guidelines that govern all such developments;

  • Blatantly erroneous calculation of the required stream buffer resulting in housing construction on steep slopes adjacent to the stream;

  • Failure to delineate and provide for wetland buffers required by State law; and,

  • Failure to ensure the establishment of stream buffers required by the Piney Branch Sewer Agreement Covenant.

The county’s Opposition Brief states that none of these requirements is binding on the Planning Board. Counsel for the county and the Applicant also argue, based on differing theories proposed for the first time in their briefs, that the subdivision does somehow meet all these requirements. WMCCA has asked the Court to reject these post hoc rationalizations of counsel and remand the case to the board for a decision on these issues. Oral argument is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Citizens Against Beltway Expansion Update

By Barbara Hoover

Since Citizens Against Beltway Expansion’s (CABE) presentation at our Community Meeting on Dec. 12 they have continued to hold public meetings and present compelling evidence that Governor Hogan's proposal to widen the Beltway and I-270 is not in the best interest of Maryland residents and commuters.

CABE presented testimony at the Dec. 17 State Highways hearing on this Bill. The Maryland DOT has been driving the $11 billion project at top speed with little documentation in order to obey Hogan's mandate to, "just fix the damned roads." Thankfully, Nancy Kopp, Maryland treasurer, abstained on Dec. 19 from approving funds to advance the toll lane project, saying she needed more than the one-page description passed out before the vote. Fixing the roads will not relieve Beltway congestion, nor pay for itself as we have learned from Virginia's experience. CABE believes that Hogan's Toll Road Plan is the wrong approach.

CABE has shared articles that document that "... building new roads does little more than breed more cars, increase traffic and impact residents' health and wellbeing." Widening I-495/I-270 would reduce quality of life without reducing traffic; threaten homes, businesses, communities and forest canopy; reduce property values and tax revenues; stress stormwater systems and stream valleys by adding 600-plus acres of impermeable surface; boost air and noise pollution; and threaten National Historic sites. For more information, see www.cabe495.com.

Next Meeting

Ken Wormald and Mike Wiley of The Wormald Companies, and Kelly Cook Andress of Sage Life Senior Living will speak at the next meeting of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 7:15 p.m. at the Potomac Community Center.

A 30-acre site on South Glen Road owned by the 4th Presbyterian Church was once approved for a 400 student private school — grades Pre-K through 12th grade. The school closed before construction of the high school began. Ken Wormald of the Wormald Companies is now proposing a senior living facility of 18 estate homes with three independent living units in each structure. Wormald is partnering with Sage Life Senior Living on the proposed project. There will be a discussion of the plan and an opportunity for questions. The proposal has been submitted and is under review by the staff at the Planning Board. No hearing date has been set.

As always, the public is welcome to attend.

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