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Council Council Meets on March 25: Agenda Preview

The Montgomery County Council is scheduled to take action on recommendations by the County’s Planning Board to designate seven park properties to the County’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation at 9:45 a.m. on March 25.

One of the seven properties is the Wheaton Youth Center, which has received considerable attention from residents who believe it should be preserved due to its history and architecture and from others who do not believe its past warrants preservation and that the youth center should be demolished to make way for a new, more modern and useful center.

The Council’s regular weekly session will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The Council’s morning and afternoon sessions will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast of the meeting also will be streamed at

The Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee held a worksession on March 24 about the seven park properties the Planning Board has recommended for historic designation. The properties are the Wheaton Youth Center; Stubbs Barn in Wheaton Regional Park; the Rock Creek Recreation Center in Chevy Chase; the Pinecrest Recreation Center in Silver Spring; the Ken-Gar Palisades Recreation Center in Kensington; the Veirs Mill Recreation Center in Wheaton; and the Norbeck Rosenwald School in Rockville.

The County Code requires a finding of historic, cultural, architectural or design significance if a property is to earn an historic designation. The Council may consider all facts and opinions to determine if historic designation is in the public interest.

The Council conducted a public hearing on the potential historic designations on Feb. 25.

At 10:15 a.m., the Council is scheduled to hold a worksession on the Fiscal Years 2015-20 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) recommendations County Executive Isiah Leggett has made for Health and Human Services projects.

In its worksession on Feb. 24, the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee recommended construction of a new building to replace the Dennis Avenue Health Center in Wheaton. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer. The committee also recommended funding for planning and design for a new building in downtown Silver Spring to house the existing services of Progress Place. In addition, the new building will have living quarters for people who need services.

At 1:30 p.m., the Council will be briefed on the draft report of an ad hoc committee that has been reviewing policy options related to the potential breaks in large diameter water mains. The group was originally created in response to a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) policy prohibiting new development within 80 feet of certain large diameter pipes; however, the ad hoc committee considered a broader range of issues and potential policies related to large diameter pipes.

WSSC is responsible for a network of nearly 5,600 miles of fresh water pipeline and more than 5,400 miles of sewer pipeline in a 1,000-square-mile service area covering Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. This includes approximately 200 miles of larger-diameter transmission mains, which range between 36 and 96 inches in diameter, the majority of which were constructed from pre-stressed concrete (PCCP).

Because the failure of PCCP pipes causes a far more explosive and sudden break than the leaking that occurs with other pipe failures, WSSC decided in 2009 to impose a standard 80-foot setback for new development. However, WSSC had failed to take into consideration the significant social and economic impacts that would be caused by this setback.

At the urging of the county executives of both counties, both County Councils and the other public and private organizations impacted by WSSC’s actions, WSSC formed an ad hoc committee made up of representatives from the executive and legislative branches of the Montgomery and Prince George’s governments, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and private organizations and residents to develop a set of fully informed recommendations to submit to the WSSC commissioners for how to appropriately address the risks associated with the failure of PCCP pipes in a more balanced manner. WSSC no longer applies the 80-foot setback.

The ad-hoc committee met 10 times since June 2013. A final meeting is planned for March 31 to consider comments on the draft report.

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