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"The consideration of alternate sites for two of the planned towers in no way jeopardizes the public safety system today." - County Exec Marc Elrich from a statement released 6/20/19
Photo: Dolores Milmoe
THIS JUST IN:
The Montgomery County Council has been advised by staff that there is only one person who is complaining about the proposed 230 foot radio tower at Bretton Woods Country Club. The Council Public Safety Committee will be briefed this Tuesday in a closed door meeting. The briefing packet states on page 5:
“It is staff’s understanding that only one person complained about this site.”
And this is precisely why the Reserve gets short shrift and unwanted land uses... because they simply wave a hand and say no one cares.
So let's write in and let them know we do care and we are the ONE. (enter your return address and click "start writing" to send an email below.)
Affected area: Southern gateway to the Agricultural Reserve at River Road near Riley's Lock near Darnestown and Poolesville
In 2017, without proper public process, including coordination with area stakeholders, MC Department of Technical Services picked a spot to construct a 230’ radio tower that will serve as part of the County’s emergency services radio system. The location on River Road, in a State designated Heritage Area, at the southern gateway to the Agricultural Reserve is highly visible. Due to the tower height at that spot, it will require strobing red and white lights. As soon as discovered, stakeholders met with County Executive Ike Leggett in early 2018. He agreed that the site was problematic and asked that alternative sites be identified. And despite having stakeholder timely supplied potential feasible locations, County staff apparently pressed forward with the original site and now is demanding that the County Council facilitate building immediately. Contrary to what the County Council has been told, the County executive and staff have heard from numerous residents, adjacent neighbors, community, and historic preservation groups asking to place the tower in a less prominent location.
Barnesville Oaks Hearing Wrap up - you can watch the hearing above.
Summary: Board did not grant the applicant’s Request... they did not deny it either.
A warning - this all gets complex:
First, a huge thanks to the over 385 folks that wrote in on this issue. Truly a remarkable response and an indication of how much people care about the Reserve and the integrity of our prime farmland and public trust in local government. Bravo!
Second big thanks to Peter Gimbrere, Kerri Cook on behalf of the town of Poolesville, Dolores Milmoe, Marie Shepard, The League of Women Voters, and Ginny Barnes for their strong in person testimony.
Hooray for Barnesville and Poolesville (both wrote in)- the municipalities that treasure the Reserve!
The hearing can best be described as a waaay down county board and staff wrestling largely ineffectively (and/or disinterested) with up county/Reserve issues. Board and some staff folks seemed confused over key points. Some Staff had key facts incorrect.
But both Chair Anderson and board member Patterson voiced strong concern about approving this request wo knowing what the applicant is proposing to do.... “it’s a wild card,” said Tina Patterson.
In the end the Board asked the applicant, clearly now stated as Duffy builders, to bring their pre-preliminary plan for subdivision and at that time the board will review the particulars. Be clear: the board stated that the provision of ZTA 17-06 which allows for farm labor housing in the Reserve without needing a development right (TDR) would be applied uniformly and therefore to this property. So the applicant frees up 2 TDRs. Would these be buildable on the farm remainders, effectively undermining the protection of the prime farm remainders? Or would the Duffy folks be able to sell the TDR’s? That would be the subject of future debate.
Chair Anderson and Planning Director Gwen Wright indicated that staff will address the important issues we raised with the developer and land seller placed covenants that limit farming on all 3 of the subdivided parcels as well as non- conformance with hard fought condition requiring public access/maintenance of the public use trail.
Bottom Line: The applicant will have to come back with a "pre-preliminary plan" that will detail what they want to do and at that point the board can make decisions about density and farm protection. There is no sense right now when that will be. But as always we will be watching. MCA is the lean, tenacious an award winning organization protecting the Ag Reserve since 2001. Our focus on just this sort of local issue is supported by local folks. Please consider a tax-deductible gift today.
Read on for the original post on this issue.
Local Food Connection
Community Supported Agriculture
Restaurants & Retail
Artists of the Reserve
Montgomery Countryside Alliance
P.O Box 24, Poolesville, MD 20837
301-461-9831 • email@example.com
MCA is proud to announce that we have been recognized for a third time as one of the best small charities in the D.C. region by Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington. A panel of 110 expert reviewers from area foundations, corporate giving programs, and peer non-profit organizations evaluated 270 applications.
MCA is known as an effective and innovative non-profit whose efforts to preserve and promote Montgomery County’s nationally recognized 93,000 acre Ag Reserve have brought increased public and governmental support of local food production and farmland and open space preservation. Most importantly, MCA’s efforts are putting more farmers on the ground and keeping them there.