Cell Phone Towers Proposed for the Agricultural Reserve
The Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve was established ~30 years ago by the County Council. The aim behind the Reserve is the preservation of agriculture and open space. The 90,000 acre Reserve provides us with fresh produce, is a major part of the County's economy, and is vital to our air and water quality. In addition to farming, its roads and trails are used by walkers, cyclists, and those who enjoy a ride in the country. The Reserve has been lauded as a model for the Nation. However, because of its size and the relatively low cost of land in it, the Reserve has been subject to several threats. Amongst these are the use of sand mound septic systems, abuse of the child lot provision, private institutional facilities, and the Outer Beltway/Techway. A recent development that impacts the Reserve is a proposed cell-phone tower project.
Specifically, T-Mobile has proposed the erection of 10 new cell phone towers in the Reserve. While cell phone coverage is important to the public, there is also a conflict with the intent of the Master Plan for the Agricultural Reserve. A reasonable approach to reconciling these competing public interests is to ensure the following:
The Election Is Over—Now What?
Election 2010 is over but this is not the time to sit back and relax. We can be pleased with the success of many of the candidates that we endorsed but now we need to encourage all our elected officials to work towards those goals that will protect and improve our environment here in Montgomery County and nationwide. This means making sure that our county council members, our state representatives and our state senators, as well as members of the U.S. Congress, continue to support smart growth, transportation alternatives, energy efficiency and the protection of natural habitats.
We need to continue to pay attention to Montgomery County development around transit hubs such as the Twinbrook, Wheaton, and the White Flint Metro station areas. This is Smart Growth when it incorporates planned access to alternative transportation such as Metro, bike routes and walkable streets, is energy efficient and demonstrates clear attention to storm water control. Whereas development at Twinbrook and White Flint will need to provide housing to go with the planned job development, development at Wheaton and the Eastern side of the county will need to focus on job development. Balanced development in these areas should help reduce the necessity for many county residents making long cross-county commutes from home to job and back.
We also need to pay attention to the development of the Life Sciences Center at West Gaithersburg, to ensure that that planning incorporates adequate public transportation options.
Finally we need to be alert to protect the Agricultural Reserve from encroaching development.
Meanwhile be sure to get out and enjoy nice fall weather and get to know the wilder side of Montgomery County on our local hikes, invasive plant removal programs and other outings. More on our online calendar.
Watch Your Mailbox for the December Newsletter
The end-of-the-year issue of the Montgomery SIERRAN will be printed and mailed in early December. It will include the year-end summary of accomplishments by our chapter and local environmental topics of continued concern. There will be updates on transportation issues in the county, smart growth and the projects planned for White Flint, Wheaton, Twinbrook and, of course, the Life Science Center in West Gaithersburg. We will have an article on energy efficiency and a list of the top 10 actions you can take to reduce your use of energy. We will summarize our political actions and PAC work this election year. Finally, candidates for our Executive Committee will be presented and there will be a ballot so that you can vote for the ExCom members.