December Update

Latest on Telecom Tower at Seven Locks/Bradley Boulevard Intersection

The Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings held a public hearing, November 28, on the Petition of SBA Structures, Inc. and Verizon Maryland Inc. for a special exception of the Zoning Ordinance to permit replacing the radio tower on the site (7887 Bradley Boulevard) with a new telecommunications facility. That facility would include a 105-foot monopole, nine panel antennas, three dishes and three future antennas, eighteen Tower Mounted Amplifiers, and a support structure to hold two telecommunication carriers. In response to resident concerns and a vote of the WBCA Board, the West Bradley Citizens’ Association sent a letter, November 14, registering opposition to the Petition. In a letter dated November 21, WBCA also registered objection to permitting the Petitioner to change its special exception request on short notice during Thanksgiving week. WBCA representatives attended the hearing on November 28 and testified for the record.

The Hearing Examiner (Lynn Robeson) took two actions at the Hearing: (1) She denied the Applicant’s Motion to Amend the Petition and (2) she postponed a public hearing on the Petition indefinitely in order to permit the Applicant an opportunity to address the many issues raised in the Technical Staff Report (prepared by Leslie Saville, Senior Planner, M-NCPPC) as well as to provide the information that the Hearing Examiner requested at the Hearing. Ms. Robeson encouraged the Applicant (represented by attorney Tracy Anderson) to work with the community to address concerns raised in correspondence and the hearing. Senior Planner Saville will meet with Attorney Anderson on Dec. 6 to review issues raised by the Planning Staff and would welcome any additional questions from our community. If any WBCA residents would like to submit questions, send them to Sandy Vogelgesang (WBCA president – by COB Dec. 2 so that we can dispatch a consolidated collection to the Planning Staff. Although WBCA has already flagged such concerns as the expanded telecom facility’s impact on health, the environment and property values as well as violation of County setback requirements and safety issues, we would be pleased to forward your more detailed questions on those and other issues Despite the strong critique of the Application from the Planning Staff and Hearing Examiner and the unanimous opposition of three civic/homeowner associations (West Bradley, Deerfield, and Riverhill), the Seven Locks PTA, and individual residents, we have probably not heard the last of this Petition. The Applicant will probably call for meetings with our community, followed by another County Hearing (probably in Spring 2012). Bottom line: there is still the prospect of a large new telecom complex just across the street from Seven Locks Elementary School that many residents believe would constitute a major eyesore with negative impact on many community interests. Short-term: dispatch questions you’d like addressed. Longer-term: stay tuned for alerts on need to organize for meetings and hearing.

Seven Locks Elementary – Ready for Prime Time!

Many residents have asked whether the new building will actually open as scheduled on January 4, 2012. WBCA met with the principal, Robin Gordon, this last week and the answer is YES! Although there are mounds of dirt and construction material outside, some furniture has already been installed inside. The first of the displays commemorating the school’s links to the historic C and O Canal – a large mural of Canal life – will greet students in the main entry hall. A group, including West Bradley reps, has been active in selecting other displays celebrating the historic heritage of the Seven Locks community. For those who might wonder where the name “Seven Locks” comes from, it is the segment of seven locks of the Canal, encompassing eight through fourteen, that raised the level of water for Canal barges 56 feet in a little over one mile. Fun facts to know and tell!

Happy Holidays!

Finally, as we head into December, one of the best ways to get into a celebratory mood right here in West Bradley is to stroll over to 9432 Rosehill Drive, just south of the intersection of Seven Locks Road and Bradley. Kudos again to the Elliott family for producing a winter festival with sound and light displays bound to bring a smile to one and all!

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