Seneca Schoolhouse “Back to School Afternoon”

September 26, 2011

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We cordially invite you to a “Back to School Afternoon” on Saturday, October 15th from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Seneca Schoolhouse Museum at 16800 River Road, Poolesville, Maryland. Take a “trip back in time” to experience a class session in a one-room 19th century schoolhouse, and help us celebrate our thirty-year association wit hthe Museum. Our honored guest speaker will be Knight Kiplinger, President, The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Also, Perry and Robert Kapsch will introduce their long-awaited “Standing Stones: A History of Seneca Maryland” which will be available for sale and signing by the authors. Wine and light refreshments will be served.

Built in 1866, the Seneca Schoolhouse is a primary resource in the Seneca Historic District as listed in the National Register of Historic Places. For the past thirty years, thousands of children from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have traveled back in time to attend a four-hour classroom session taught by a trained and period-costumed teacher. The program, coordinated around the local history curriculum taught in second through fifth grades, is loved by all the young “time travelers.” For more information on the history of the Schoolhouse, please visit our website

Because the years have taken their toll on the stone and wood building and the surrounding yard and parking area, the building is now in need of extensive repairs. We owe a huge “thank you” to Knight Kiplinger and the Kiplinger Foundation for their generous financial support for some of the current repairs and replacements. But, we would like to establish a fund to support these maintenance projects. We ask for your financial help to keep this living museum thriving for generations of children coming along. Children today live in a very technologically advanced world. HMD, through the Seneca Schoolhouse, would like them to experience a school day before computers, iPods, iPhones, iPads, Kindles, and hundreds of other gadgets that all children now think they can’t live without.

R.S.V.P. to or  301-972-8588   by October 12.

Maureen O’Connell      Sharon Bauer     Jean Findlay

Producers Summit Wrap Up

Thanks to all that made it out to our follow up Producers  Summit, this event follows our first summit in February in an effort to continue a dialogue around maintaining a strong farming sector in our Reserve and rural lands.

A few notes:

-Thanks so much to Whole Foods, Tony Cohen and his volunteers from Button Farm and Dolores Milmoe of Audubon for making our event a success.
-The producers listserve is a great place to swap expertise, you can join by sending an email with “join producers listserve” in the subject line to

-Please consider joining MCA, memberships start at just $25 and go a long way toward funding our work

-We would appreciate feedback on this event and a continued dialogue on the issues raised below (and any others you think of). Drop us a line anytime-

Topics covered included: How farmers can partner with local Whole Foods stores, pests, both deer and stink bugs, municipal scale composting, bar-coding and aggregation of locally grown products, and finally, better guidance for farmers on typical questions, like starting an egg business or on farm processing.

To read full minutes from the event, click here. To see what local products Whole Foods is looking to stock, click here.

Court Victory in Olney Mega Church case! Master Plans and Law Rule!

Update:  September 18, 2012: Remember? The mega church approved by MC Planning Board on lovely, rural Emory Church Road in Olney? Members of our Board even participated in a “drive in” to demonstrate the folly of such huge traffic volume on the rural road.
As you may also remember, MCA and our partners at Audubon Naturalist Society saw the dangerous precedent that allowing sewer extension in conflict with the Private Institutional Facilities law, standing master plans, process and appropriate impervious limits- and worked to ensure Planning Board denial of this application. Our action alert garnered a huge volume of correspondence to the Planning Board.  That effort failed.  The community, joined by MCA, then took the matter to court.  That effort has succeeded.
Circuit Court Judge Burrell’s Order and concurrent Opinion
in this case can be found here. She has reversed the Planning Board’s preliminary
and site plan approvals on the following grounds:

1. The proposed sewer extension abuts at least two properties ineligible
for public sewer in violation of the Private Institutional Facility standards. Accordingly the
proposed development does not have legal access to sewer.

2. The Council Resolution only allows the sewer category to “advance”
from an ineligible to an eligible status if the Board adopts a preliminary
plan that “conforms to” the intent of the Olney Master Plan; the Board did
not make that finding so the Board’s opinion fails to satisfy this Council
condition and the property maintains its status as ineligible for public

3. The Olney Master Plan recommends against the extension of public sewer
to the FBCW property and thus the Board cannot find that the preliminary
plan either “conforms to” or qualify as “substantial conformance” to the
Olney Master Plan (as required by the Council Resolution and the
Subdivision Regulations, respectively); absent legal access to public
sewer under the PIF standards or the right to access public sewer under
the Olney Master Plan the development cannot proceed.

4. The 17.1 percent impervious level approved by the Board does not
strictly “conform to” the intent of the Olney Master Plan or qualify as
“substantial conformance” to the intent Olney Master Plan to limit
impervious levels to approximately 9 percent and consequently the “Board’s
decision in this regard is not supported by substantial evidence of

The matter will be remanded to the Planning Board for the issuance of
“Preliminary and Site Plan Resolutions consistent with the findings of
this Court,” (i.e., denials).


Previous Posts

Update:  March 12, 2012

MCA will sign on as co-plaintiff in an appeal of the First Baptist Church of Wheaton preliminary and site plan resolutions. MCA’s executive committee agreed that this Planning Board decision should not go unchallenged.  At the heart of the issue is the integrity of our master plans countywide.

Update:  11/11/11 (neat)

Planning Board has not published decision as yet.  Will keep folks informed. This decision remains very troubling for the County’s communities that properly rely on our local government’s  adherence to their own master plans and regulations.

Despite clear Master Plan guidance, conditions imposed by the County Council and standing law – the Planning Board, without addressing a number of important issues, unanimously approved plans for the out of scale church complex on rural Emory Church Road in Olney.  Long time observers of  County politics and planning were stunned at the lockstep vote that came after citizen’s were told that issues relating to the developer’s water/sewer category change, both under PIF and as addressed in Master Plan, would not be considered by the Board.  Incredible and part of a Board trend of total disregard of the County’s master plans. (We saw this during the Barnesville Oaks proceeding.)


Emails to Park and Planning needed by COB September 7th!


(Apologies for short notice.  Warning:  issue is land usey/dry but action is important!)

Park and Planning decision on Olney area mega church threatens the integrity of critical policy that protects the Ag Reserve from large scale institutional development!

Need Email to P&P Chair by COB September 7th!

The Short Story:  This project (46,500 square feet, 788 seat house of worship), while just outside the Ag Reserve, is subject to the Public Institutional Facilities policy (PIF) which restricts sewage extension to large scale PIFs in rural zones (including the Ag Reserve). The First Baptist Church of Wheaton knowingly purchased land encumbered by PIF and master plan sewerage restrictions.  This is not your harmonious scaled to community use facility.This is, like the Global Mission Church near Sugarloaf, MEGA. Yet, Planning Staff has recommended approval of this huge development on narrow, rural Emory Church Road.  At issue is the integrity of both County PIF policy and County master plans.  If these can be violated here… they can be violated anywhere, including in the Ag Reserve.

The Ask:  A quick email urging denial to the Planning Board who will take the matter up on September 8th. Your voice will help not only the Emory Church Road community but also defend against dangerous precedent that would undermine the protection that PIF policy provides elsewhere, including the 93,000 Ag Reserve. Make no mistake, institutions seeking cheaper rural acreage for their mega projects are watching this case closely.

Send emails to:


Email sample (personalize if you can):

Subject Line:  Urge Denial:  Preliminary and Site Plans, First Baptist Church of Wheaton, 120100250 & 820100080

Dear Madame Chair and Members of the Planning Board,

I am a County Resident and support the County’s policies that seek to ensure that our rural lands and communities do not become holding ground for large scale public facilities.  Both the PIF and our Master Plans serve important public purpose.  The large scale church that seeks to build on Emory Church Road should be denied their water/sewer category change and their preliminary and site plans.  Our highest courts agree that the right to worship does not trump public health, environmental, resource laws and policy. There is a vast difference between a community sized house of worship and a mega church. The Olney Master plan does not provide for a facility of this scale in this location for good reason.

I respectfully urge you deny this project at this site.  The church should be encouraged to obtain a site appropriate to their scale, one with infrastructure in place, including sewer and roadways.

The Long Story:

Fact Sheet

Park and Planning Staff Report (this link can be very slow to load)

The court decision that upheld the PIF (despite claims that it abridged right to worship)

The First Baptist Church of Wheaton bought a 14.4-acre piece of property on Emory Church Road in Olney in 2007 (“Site”) and applied for a sewer category change under the County’s PIF policy.  They now seek approval for a 788 seat sanctuary.

Write a quick email to:

Individuals and associations who oppose the preliminary and site plan have urged the Board to find that the Site does not qualify for a sewer extension under the plain language of the PIF policy (in addition to multiple master plan conformance, neighborhood compatibility

to see the full alert, click here

PIF Legislation

Bethel Church Decision

Emory Church Road: sewer extension fact sheet

Fact Sheet

PIF Policy

pif policy excerpts