NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 – 7:15 p.m.
WMCCA Meeting at the Potomac Community Center
If schools are closed because of inclement weather, the meeting will be cancelled.
SPEAKER: Mike Longfellow, Senior Vice President of Construction & Development, Spectrum Retirement Communities
Spectrum, a Denver-based corporation, is proposing a new senior living community at 9545 River Road, the current location of Plants and Petals, previously Behnke’s. It would be a combination of independent living, assisted living, and memory care and requires approval as a Conditional Use. They have asked for the opportunity to provide us with their “vision for the property, answer our questions and seek our feedback.”
As always, the public is welcome to attend.
A Place for Mom – and Dad – and Ultimately Us – But Where?
President’s Letter by Susanne Lee
Many of us envision ourselves and our loved ones living independently in our beloved homes in the Potomac Subregion until age 105 followed by a sudden, painless demise hiking Billy Goat trail or snorkeling in the Coral Triangle. However, there may come a time when additional services or housing options are wanted or needed. There are currently a wide range available either within the Subregion or on the periphery. These include the Potomac Community Village model to help folks age in place, home based services, small group homes, accessory dwelling units, and larger institutional settings – independent senior living, assisted living, nursing homes, and memory care. The County’s recent study of housing needs for seniors confirmed that most older adults in Potomac have lived in their homes for many years and want to stay there and age in place. Alternatively, they want to downsize and move closer in to a walkable area with amenities.
Recently, multiple large institutional providers have gone outside the areas where these institutions “are allowed by right” and targeted our lowest density areas (2 acre zoning) for their expansion. Already granted a conditional use and under construction are Brandywine (near Normandie Farms) and Artis Senior Living (near The Quarry). Pending before the hearing examiner are Heritage Gardens (at 10701 South Glen Road near Norton Road) and Vesta Senior Living (next to Blockhouse Point on River Road) and presumably soon Spectrum.
The Potomac Subregion Master Plan directly addresses the need for senior housing and designates specific sites where it might be appropriate. Facilities have been rejected in the past because the Master Plan requires that “impacts on the surrounding neighborhood must be minimized. When significant impacts cannot be mitigated, projects should be located elsewhere….” (Pp. 36-38).
The Plan further requires that the more intense and commercial uses are to be concentrated on the periphery of the Subregion close to I-270 and the Beltway, preserving the remainder as a low density residential Green Wedge. The zoning ordinance requires that senior living facilities have access to public transportation and be near medical and other services.
The goal should be to support housing choices residents want while not adversely impacting the surrounding neighborhood and the important environmental features of the Subregion.
The Heritage Gardens proposal for the former 4th Presbyterian School site at 10701 South Glen Road fails entirely. Masquerading as an independent senior living facility (senior group living in a building) the proposal would destroy over 30 acres of open space, steep slopes, and stream buffer to construct 51 four bedroom townhouses each with individual fee simple ownership. The site has no public transport or other access to needed services and will exit directly on already busy South Glen Road just across from Norton Road. We applaud and will continue to support the efforts of the neighbors surrounding the site who have been working hard organizing opposition to the proposal.
Mark Your Calendars for Oct. 12, 2019
Visit our WMCCA Booth at POTOMAC DAY!
Submitted by Ken Bawer
According to Jason Samenow (Washington Post, Sept. 19), ”Four months ago, Washington had notched its wettest 365 days in recorded history, accumulating over 71 inches of rain (and melted snow).” Now, however, “The U.S. government’s drought monitor released Thursday classified much of the Washington region in its “abnormally dry” category, just one step away from drought.” This could be the new normal, as climate change predictions for our area call for more wild weather swings with more intense storm events. This past July was especially troubling. The tremendous storms we had in the first half of July washed out a driveway and flooded a home on Kendale Road by Ken Branch, Belfast Road was washed out by Rockwood Creek, blocking access to an entire neighborhood, and cars on Coach Street were flooded up to their roofs – all in the Potomac area. Presumably, there were many other incidents of washouts and flooded basements.
Back in May, I helped lead a tour of the Watts Branch watershed in the Potomac area for about 38 people, including County Executive Marc Elrich and Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton, along with Department of Environmental Protection Director Adam Ortiz, Parks Director Mike Riley, and members of their staffs. We were also joined by Councilmember Tom Hucker's Deputy Chief of Staff Andrea Nunez, and representatives from many environmental and other related organizations. Our objective was to show selected examples of various types of stormwater management challenges in a watershed that directly impacts municipal drinking water and the costs of water treatment. As we saw, these challenges are found across jurisdictions and types of properties: public, private, commercial, residential, roads, schools, and parks. To address the problem of stormwater runoff, we will need to use a wide range of tools.
We are currently drafting stormwater control recommendations for the County government. You can do your part by controlling stormwater on your own property with rain gardens, replacing lawns with conservation landscaping, planting trees, and not piping roof runoff directly to the road. Some of these measures could qualify for RainScape refunds (montgomerycountymd.gov/water/rainscapes) and Water Quality Protection Charge refunds (www.montgomerycountymd.gov/water/wqpc).
Trees Cut Down on Gary Road
Submitted by Barbara Hoover
Gary and Chapel Road neighbors have addressed several issues recently including the burned-out house on Chapel and the WSSC water main installation. The latest controversy involves the destruction of 31 trees on the end of Gary Road that exits onto South Glen Road. The owner of a double lot on the right-of-way decided to tear down the one existing house and build two separate houses. As we understand it, the County required that he widen the driveway to allow for traffic and emergency vehicles. As a result, 31 trees were identified for cutting. Unfortunately, there was no public notice and neighbors did not learn about this until just before when orange marks appeared on the trees. Many of them pursued a variety of ways to stop, slow, or decrease the cutting, but the permits had been issued and the trees were removed. We thank the neighbors for their efforts and look forward to working with them and the County to increase notice of and minimize roadside cutting.