Saturday, April 16, 2005

May 5: Planning Board holds 'hearing' where families can oppose surplusing SLES

The Montgomery County Planning Board is holding what it calls a "hearing" on the facility plan for the new Kendale Elementary School being built to replace the surely-to-be-surplused Seven Locks School.

Even though the community knows the "hearing" is just a formality to make it look like the county welcomes input from parents and neighbors, citizens are urged to attend the May 5 event to voice opposition to surplusing the valuable SLES site.

"Although we have lost the battle to keep Seven Locks Elementary open, we can still fight to keep the site from being declared surplus and available for high-density affordable housing," writes Barbara Boykin of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association.

"If this site is taken away from our neighborhood, we will not only lose a much-used community facility, but it will set a very dangerous precedent for the county in controlling land use against the neighboring homeowners’ wishes," she says in the Almanac. "On May 5 the Facility Plan for the Seven Locks replacement school on Kendale will be reviewed in a hearing before the Planning Board. We urge you to join WMCCA at this hearing and express your opposition to the surplusing of this and any other school site."

Friday, April 15, 2005

'Mini-mall disguised as a Country Inn' part of county plan on historic C&O site

The Seven Locks Elementary School land grab is just part of County Council Doug Duncan's plan to manhattanize the quiet neighborhoods, parklands and historic wooded areas of West Bethesda and Potomac.

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Carol Van Dam Falk describes a county panel's plan to clearcut 30,000 square feet of scenic, steep wooded area along the historic C&O Canal towpath.

She writes in the Potomac Almanac: "If the Montgomery County Planning Board and eventually the County Council approve a change in zoning for property such as the Potomac Inn on River Road to a Country Inn Zone, it would mean the new owners could construct a myriad of shops, restaurants, banquet facilities and hundreds of parking spots along a very narrow strip of land. This could happen even though the county has never clearly defined what it means to have a Country Inn Zone. If this zoning change is approved, others will undoubtedly be lining up to follow suit."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

County board OKs new housing project by Cabin John Park near Seven Locks School

The County Planning Board has voted in favor of a housing developer's plan to destroy a wooded area abutting Cabin John Park and stuff it with townhouses near the busy intersection of Seven Locks Road and Democracy Boulevard.

The 5.3 acre site - just a mile north of Seven Locks Elementary School - is currently uninhabited, hosting specimen trees that include ancient white oaks and sycamores. The Potomac Almanac's Ken Millstone has the story.

In another bow to developers and against the wishes of the neighborhood, the board recommended to re-zone the land from present limits of one single-family home per 9000 square feet of ground, to enable the townhouse construction.

The wooded property sits across the road from The Heights School. The Texas-based developer plans to build as many as 31 townhouses on the property.

The county discounted concerns of worried neighbors that the dynamiting of the hill on the project site would damage their aging homes, and appears ready to shut its eyes to environmental concerns about stormwater management and traffic.

Friday, April 08, 2005

County plans ultra-dense 'monstrosity' on Seven Locks & Bradley

Our source close to county developers, planners and councilmembers tells us, "What the county is . . . talking about putting on the Seven Locks site is a monstrosity, a four-story maximum density complex with at least 150 housing units and possibly many more, plus a concrete parking garage and zero green space. The plan is to use every last inch for development; not one blade of grass remaining. You know the townhome development that just went up adjacent to Grosvenor Metro station? The one that seems overbuilt and all-concrete even situated next to a rail line? It'll look like that."

Other sources tell us that some planners are anticipating the construction of between 220 and as many as 600 housing units on the present schoolyard at the corner of Seven Locks Road and Bradley Boulevard.

Decision process is 'smokescreen'; school board and County are 'laughing at us'

A source close to county developers, planners and councilmembers tells us that it "is 100% certain Seven Locks will be torn down. Only an act of God could prevent it. MCPS and the County Council are committed to this and are strictly going through the motions about listening to public opposition. There is no chance they will change their minds – they are already talking to developers . . . about what goes on the site. All pretense of a step-by-step decision process is a smokescreen, and MCPS and the County Council are privately laughing at us for not seeing this."