Recipes and Thankful Musings from Farmers

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There is no better holiday than Thanksgiving to thank our farmers for all they do throughout the year.  This year, we asked members of our producers listserve (want to join? learn more) to let us know what they are thankful for and share some favorite local food recipes.

Keith Ohlinger

I am thankful for waking up every morning and being able to do what I love.  I’m thankful for a supportive family.  I’m thankful for the blue sky and crisp air.  I’m thankful that my body still responds to my call, most of the time.  I’m thankful for the sound of my cattle, sheep, and goats munching grass, it soothes my soul.  I’m thankful for the sheer joy my pigs express when it is feeding time, talk about a welcoming committee!  I’m thankful for my land, all the wonders it holds and for all it tries to teach me.  I am thankful for the people who are part of the community that we are preserving.  Most of all, I am just thankful.  I wish you all joy and happiness this holiday season.

Aliabaad Farm-Ali Mohadjer

“We at Aliabaad Farm are thankful to be part of the greater Montgomery, Washington, and Frederick County area. We are specifically thankful to all of those who go out of their way to support us such as our family, friends, employees who work hard year round, customers who take chances with our products, The Potomac Farmers Market that gave us the opportunity to learn the basics and introduce our produce to the community, and all supporting staff (including but not limited to) Montgomery County Alliance and The Washington County Ag staff. It takes many people dedicating their time and efforts to making Aliabaad Farm survive. We are blessed knowing that the community sees the hard work we put into this farm to provide them with farm fresh produce to enjoy.” Pictured above- a fall/winter share of the Aliabaad Farm CSA. Pickups available in Frederick, Montgomery and Washington Counties.Learn More Try recipes for Eggplant Pie, or Balsamic Kale from Aliabaad Farm CSA members

Cheryl Kollin, Farm to Freezer/ Full Plate Ventures

“We have much to be grateful for this year! Farm to Freezer launched in July and has produced more than 2,800 packages of frozen food for Manna Food Center’s clients. Many thanks to all who have supported our fledging new social enterprise. Farm to Freezer is a new brand of delicious, healthy, and regionally-sourced foods that are frozen at the peak of ripeness. We are a for profit social enterprise working in collaboration with hunger relief and social service organizations: Manna Food Center, Woodside United Methodist Church and Interfaith Works. Farm to Freezer purchases surplus fresh produce at the close of farm markets and provides those who are food insecure with more nutrient-rich food all year round. Sales of Farm to Freezer products allow us to deep discount this healthy food to local hunger relief agencies for those in need. Our delicious, healthy, frozen tomato sauce, ratatouille, roasted peppers, summer squash, and apple sauce are available at areas markets including Mixed Greens Market in Poolesville. Farm to Freezer is the proud recipient of Bethesda Magazines’ 2013 Green Business Award. Visit www.farmtofreezer.wordpress.com and www.facebook.com/farm2freezer

Recipes Including Red Pepper Goat Cheese Chicken from the Farm to Freezer site

Mark Mills- Chocolate and Tomatoes Farm

Mark Mills on Land Linked Property - Courtesy Wash Post

Mark  is a member of the County’s  New Farm Pilot Program (in which MCA partners)- an effort to match new farmers with land and know-how to grow new farmers in MoCo. Our Land Link program matched Mark with a spot to grow acres of tomatoes and other table crops. Read the WaPo article about the program here. When he isn’t digging and weeding- Mark is a professional pastry chef and chocolatier- so you know his recipes are going to be good. See Mark’s recipes for Carrot Cake and Toasted Sweet/Spicy Candied Pumpkin Seeds (went over well at the Park Haytt and more importantly with his own family)

Softwine Farm- Joe Orlow

Joe says ” Thank you to Caroline and all those who work for and support the Montgomery Countryside Alliance for all the assistance they’ve provided in my endeavor to make a goat creamery in MoCo a reality” Joe is searching for land through our Land Link program. Pictured here, X’s&O’s, her daughter Violet (in back), and the product of their labor, Nigerian Dwarf goats milk

Rocklands Farm

Rocklands is now producing their own wine- be sure to ask next time you visit which one they recommend with this soup.

Butternut Squash Soup:

1 butternut squash, or half a medium-sized pumpkin, peeled and cubed
2 onions, chopped
large handful sage, torn
1-3 TB butter
salt
water
optional:cream
Melt butter in a large soup pot. Add the onions, saute until soft. Throw in the sage, and let saute until fragrant and wilted, 5 minutes. Add the cubes of squash, and saute until lightly browned. Cover the squash with water up to an inch above. Let simmer for 30 minutes until very soft. Add salt to taste, then blend with an immersion blender. Add cream if desired. Garnish with pumpkin seeds or garlic croutons. Enjoy!

The Farm at Our House

We’re thankful to have had great weather to get our garlic planted this week, and to have our NRCS-funded high tunnel for its first winter of production this year. I seeded most of the high tunnel earlier this month, and the seeds have now germinated consistently. We’re looking forward to having an abundance of greens from the high tunnel this winter. I’ve attached pics of garlic planting and the freshly sprouted seedlings in the high tunnel.We’re thankful to have had great weather to get our garlic planted this week, and to have our NRCS-funded high tunnel for its first winter of production this year. I seeded most of the high tunnel earlier this month, and the seeds have now germinated consistently. We’re looking forward to having an abundance of greens from the high tunnel this winter. I’ve attached pics of garlic planting and the freshly sprouted seedlings in the high tunnel.

What Has MCA Done for Me Lately?

Filed Under Master Plan Update, News · Tagged:  

photo by Lee Langstaff

As we were putting together our ambitious 2014 work plan, we got thinking about all of the things we have achieved together with our supporters in the last few years. There is much left to do and we could use your help.

What has MCA done for me lately? Well…..

Our Shared Environmental Resources

Set Ten Mile Creek (backup water supply for 4.3 million) on the path to protection … but there is more to do

Supported Successful Urban Tree Legislation

Rebuffed Efforts to  Increase Previous Surface  Allowed in County Development

Supporting a Strong Ag Sector

Connecting New and Expanding Farmers with Land

Strengthening the Producer Community with a  Listserve and Summits

Successfully Pushing for a New Farm Pilot Program

Proud Lead Organization of the Farming at Metro’s Edge Conference

Community

Helping to Found the MoCo Food Council

Keeping Monocacy Elementary Open

Zoning

No Commercial Recreation or Camps in the Ag Reserve

No Sewer Extension for Mega Churches

Battling Back Plans for Massive Cell Towers

And the list goes on and on… help us add more victories to this list- join MCA – a yearly membership is just $25


Bethel World Outreach: Settlement Reached

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The longstanding court dispute over whether a large scale religious facility could locate on 119 acres in Montgomery’s Agricultural Reserve has been settled.  Montgomery County has agreed to pay the church 1.25 million and the church will build in Silver Spring. After 7 years of court wrangling, both sides were ready to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.  The purchase of an easement that will limit development of the parcel to 4 single family homes has been well received by all parties, including the affected neighborhood.

Bethel Settlement Agreement

Coverage:

Washington Post
Gazette

What’s happening with Global Mission Mega Church?

Filed Under Master Plan Update · Tagged:  

Breaking: The Frederick County Circuit Court returned a verdict against the church’s ability to use the lot they purchased on Dr. Perry Rd as a through-way for the secondary access road required by the large scale of their project. The neighborhood where the property sits is bound by decades-old covenants that would restrict its use for anything but a residence. The court found that under these covenants a large engineered roadway will not be allowed.
What this means- It is possible that the Church will appeal this decision to a higher court in Annapolis but it seems as long as the proposed church remains the same size it will need this access road and building a road through to Dr. Perry on this property was the only option for getting it as the larger property is steep and remote. As the suit we are engaged in (with partners Sugarloaf Citizens Association) lays out- there are still immense concerns with the Church’s septic system but resolving the secondary access comes first. We continue to offer to help the church find a more suitable property or scale back to fit this rural location.
See Gazette Coverage Here.
more coverage below…

This project is being challenged on several fronts.
MCA and partner Sugarloaf Citizens Association (SCA)  have appealed the FC Board of Appeals refusal to hear our site plan appeal.  The case is pending.  MCA has contributed funds to the important challenge to the needed secondary access road filed by affected neighbors.  No permits can be issued to GMC until that case is decided.  That case will not be heard until, at the earliest spring 2014.
MCA and SCA have also sought recourse with the Maryland Department of Environment regarding the huge septic system that poses threat to area groundwater and Little Bennett Creek.  The State has said that this issue is not yet ripe (ready) for appeal.

Mega Church Hearing Play by Play- 2/28

Filed Under Master Plan Update · Tagged:  

Welcome- the Frederick County Board of Appeals is hearing an appeal of the approval of Global Mission Mega Church that is proposed to for the shadow of Sugarloaf. See a background here

We are going to give you the play by play below. We are going to 11pm at the latest tonight and will continue at another date if need be. There is the possibility that this case will not be heard tonight because of assertions by GMCs laywers sent in at the last minute.

8:02pm- It seems that none of the BOA Members actually visited the site but instead drove around it- they couldn’t get access to the site for some reason.

8:10- GMC’s lawyers insist that opponents are using the wrong statute- this is the case they made in a huge filing late yesterday insisting that the issue of septic can not be any part of this.

8:17- The county’s lawyer agrees with the church- anything related to the health department should not be part of tonight’s proceedings.

8:27- MCA’s lawyer insists that the people living closest deserve to take a look at the numbers on the septic system.

8:33- the BOA takes a break to consider the church’s assertion that church opponents can’t present anything on the septic system or anything on the site plan- basically they are saying that there are no arguments we can make tonight and the lawyer for the Planning Commission has agreed. This could be a short night folks- not in a good way.

9:23- Chair Duke has said he would like to deny the whole appeal, agreeing that neither the site plan or the septic are the preview of the BOA.

9:25- BOA member Sepe says it is crazy to deny the appeal without hearing any testimony at all “we have not even started this process”

9:26- MCA’s Caroline Taylor asks the BOA- if we are asking the Health department about their methods to find how they have arrived at those numbers and we can’t get them before a decision- what is the process for getting those? We are asking you to collect information to make sure we are getting our questions answered.

9:26- The County’s lawyer points out that the Health Department is a state agency and supports the idea that the BOA can not decide on Health Department.

9:32- MCA posits that we are here at the BOA because we have not gotten the information on the septic calculations in previous hearings.

9:34- BOA member Sepe is still (rightly) concerned that they have not heard any testimony at all. Chair Duke says that there is precedent in a case a few months back, denied on the basis of jurisdiction.

9:37- A motion made that they will not take evidence on septic as they do not have jurisdiction over the decisions made by the heath department- it passes 4-1 Ms. Sepe in opposition. This means that the BOA will not even hear testimony on the septic issue.

9:44- A motion is made to appease the church’s second demand- denying the appeal on the basis of our appeal being based on 2009 regulations when the church insists it is the 2008 regulations that should be applied (even though they had added more land to thier property to it site since then). If this passes it takes another big plank out of our argument against the church. County staff say that the newly submitted site plan was a continuation of the same one, not a new one. Again- Ms. Sepe is a voice of reason for taking testimony and giving our side a chance to respond to these late breaking filing from GMC. BOA member Fenimore agrees with her.

Woah- BOA member Bowersox- “That’s why there is a circuit court”. In response to not hearing testimony.

3 to 2 – the motion to take out site plan-

Folks- the appeal of the site plan approval has been denied. This is not the end of this issue. Stay Tuned.

5 Things the Same Size as the Mega Church

Filed Under News, Uncategorized · Tagged:  

MCA has been appealing the FredCo Planning Commission’s approval of the 118,000 square ft proposed mega church project in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain, high on a hill over a pristine stream and using a giant sandmound septic system that will take up 2 acres of the property. The size of the building and the number of services that would be held means thousands of people would occupy the building each week- making it likely the septic system would fail and degrade the local sole-source aquifer- the source for all area resident’s drinking water. Read the whole saga here.

But how big is 118,000 Square Feet? We put together the handy guide below with similarly sized buildings. Note- all these buildings are on public water and sewer- as buildings of this size and occupancy should be to protect water quality. Also note- even though they are all the same size, all but St. Patrick’s Cathedral would not be allowed on the proposed site for the Mega Church. The Agricultural zoning allows houses of worship but not commercial ventures. So, a building housing a church that happens to be the size of a Wal-Mart, fine- a Wal-Mart- no.


St. Patrick’s Cathedral: 108,000 Sq Ft
St. Patrick’s  is NYC’s great Cathedral and landmark. The Cathedral hosts 5.5 million visitors a year and 2,400 masses are celebrated each year.

The new Wal Mart in Aspen Hill 118,000 SqFt



The Tacoma, WA Convention Center 118,000 SqFt
The Convention center has recently played host to a crowd of 5,000 for the Best of the NW Cheerleading and Dance Competition and in 2011 hosted the America’s Got Talent tryouts.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio 118,000 SqFt
This Museum has been expanded over the years to its current size and welcomed 186,429 guests last year.

Cherokee South Plaza- Overland Kansas

118,000 SqFt


This redeveloped shopping center serves a suburb of Kansas City- the developer notes that there are 100,000 people living in a 3 mile radius- necessitating a 15,000 sqft stand-alone Walgreens.

Global Mission Church: Mega Effort to Protect Regional Resources – Frederick’s Big Shrug!

Filed Under Take Action Now!, Uncategorized · Tagged:  

Update- 3/29:
The BOA heard our motion for reconsideration (of our appeal earlier this month, read more below)  last night, and again did not take any testimony. Board member Ms. Sepe moved for reconsideration on 4 different motions:
1. citing the facts that the septic is only conditionally approved
2.that the site plan does not include one whole parcel that was bought recently, the parcel that would allow a project-critical secondary access for emergency vehicles.
3. that the wrong year’s ordinances have been applied
4. the BOA did not follow its own by laws in not hearing any testimony at the its last hearing.
After each of her motions, the chair would allow discussion but the other members said nothing- only raising their hands to vote down each well reasoned motion. Ms. Sepe was joined by alternate Mr. Dyjak on her final motion but it was still 2-3- the motion to reconsider failed. The whole thing was over in 20 minutes.
What’s Next- We await the written opinion from the BOA and then, in the words of one BOA member “this is what Circuit Court is for.” As we say after each such hearing- the proposed building is still just too big, still threatens water resources and this is nowhere near over. We value your support as we go hearing for hearing, round for round. Donations to our legal fund can be made here. Please be sure to write “legal fund” in the instructions to seller field- and thanks!

Update:  Frederick County Board of Appeals:  Dismisses Site Plan Appeal Without Hearing Evidence

The Frederick County Board of Appeals dismissed our (MCA,SCA and neighbors) appeal of the site plan approval of Global Mission’s (GMC) mega facility.  Last Thursday evening, we had 22 people prepared to testify and our attorney was set to argue our appeal. Yet, in response to a GMC last minute submitted 15 page communication advocating on procedural grounds (that we dispute) for dismissal and without affording us the opportunity to reply, the FCBOA, by majority vote, dismissed. It was the big shrug. The Frederick County Attorney, days before the hearing,  noted that is was extraordinarily odd that GMC had not filed as a party.  Apparently they did not so that they would not be held to filing deadlines that apply only to parties!

It was abundantly clear that GMC knew that they must at all cost ensure that our compelling evidence (especially with regard to the scale of use as relates to septic discharge) not be heard. Specifically, GMC argued that the FCBOA has no jurisdiction to hear evidence/argument relating to the FC Health Dept. approval of the septic system and that the site plan falls under a 2008 Comprehensive Plan and not a 2009 plan as our appeal stated. Interesting.  Just last year he reconfigured GMC site plan had significant  new geography (in a rural residential subdivision) added to address the requirement , due to the massive scale of the project, of a secondary road access.  So if one were to accept the mega church’s  argument:  What right would any property owner have if their neighbor could simply file one site plan and then, years later, add more land  (right next door) and assert that, newly configured, it flys under an old and less protective land use plan?  That simply does not pass the straight face test.
With the number of procedural errors at both the FC Planning Commission level and, now, the FC Board of Appeals  level, there is ample ground for appeal. Global Mission’s required secondary road access is also facing challenge from the community that would be affected by its construction.
Many many thanks to all those who have written in and those who spent so much time crafting compelling testimony.  We are resolute that this development will not be built in the shadow of Sugarloaf.
Have time to volunteer on this issue?  Contact:  info@mocoalliance.org

_______________________________

Previously:

Hearing set for February 28th at Frederick County Board of Appeals (link to directions/agenda)

Please plan to attend to give voice to the numerous concerns! Scroll down for more action.

Currently, Frederick County is poised to allow the Global Mission Church (GMC) of Silver Spring to construct a massive complex on farmland, steep topography and forest – in the shadow of Sugarloaf. At approximately 120,000 square feet (the size of the Nashville Convention Center  and larger than St. Patrick’s in New York), the development will dominate the vista from the mountain and the area long designated for farm and open space preservation in both Montgomery and Frederick Counties. Moreover, as the project will be served by Montgomery County’s rustic roads -it is a traffic nightmare and hazard waiting to happen. The complex, with an occupancy load potential of 5800, would draw from the Piedmont ground water aquifer that is the sole source of water to a swath of geography from Frederick, through Montgomery and into Loudoun. The sewerage produced would rely on a massive (and untested) sand mound septic system atop highly fractured geology, the aquifer and fragile Little Bennett Creek.   See the Map Here.
Montgomery Countryside Alliance and Sugarloaf Citizens’ Association are currently challenging the legality of Frederick County’s approval of the project before the Frederick County Board of Appeals. Partner groups such as Audubon Naturalist Society, Friends of Frederick County and Friends of Little Bennett have labored with us on this issue since 2009. Our concern has always centered on the massive scale of the project and the incompatibility with resources and beloved treasures, especially the mountain. Neighbors have filed suit against GMC’s proposed secondary access road that, if constructed, would greatly alter their neighborhood. Efforts to help the church find a location with public water/sewer and appropriate transportation infrastructure were unsuccessful.

Action Requested:

Write or testify in person:  Sample language here. (personalize please!)

FC Board of Appeals;  PlanningandZoning@fredco-md.net bcc us: info@mocoalliance.org

Please write to: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Board of County Comissioners: Ask them to:

1) Join the growing list of groups and elected representatives in voicing concern over the scale of the development and the potential for harm to natural and historic resources and public safety.
2)Provide guidance and assistance to the Church in finding property that will accomodate the scale of use – with public sewer/water and adequate road infrastructure.
3) In any case: Ensure that the process of review of the development is comprehensive and adheres to law and longstanding public policy.

Ike Leggett:  ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov

FC Board of County Commissioners:  CountyCommissioners@FrederickCountyMD.gov.

Note:  MC county council weighs in with concerns

MCA’s letter to the editor Frederick News Post

Additional coverage

2012- MCA’s Year in Review

Filed Under Master Plan Update, Take Action Now!, Uncategorized · Tagged:  

Gravitas in the Reserve- Dame Judy Dench films the BBC film “Philomena” at St Paul Church on Sugarland Rd. (With MCA’s Caroline Taylor and Gwen Reese)

With 2012 almost over- MCA’s board joined with our Advisory Committee (a group of local luminaries that provide us much valued guidance ) to look over the past year and plan our ambitious work plan for 2013.
Check out our 2012 wrap up presentation.

Donate Now: Mega Church Appeal!

Filed Under Take Action Now! · Tagged:  

MCA and Sugarloaf Citizen’s Association have retained legal counsel to challenge the Frederick County Planning Commission approval of the GMC site plan, with limited conditions.  The size of the project remains enormous and the community’s legitimate concerns and the evidence in the multi-year hearing record have been ignored.  We are working to raised fund for the litigation as well as experts in geology and environmental issues.

Please help by donating what you can to help us win this issue (with expert help)  for all of us who treasure the Reserve and Sugarloaf Mountain region.

Donate Now.

3 For- One Against-One Abstention- One Absence.

That was the vote ending many hours of testimony and cross examination at the Frederick County Planning Commission in front of an overflow crowd.

FC Staff said they had received almost 200 emails in opposition to the project, backed up by testimony from four organizations and 10 individuals in opposition. Our attorney, Michele Rosenfeld, argued well. MCA Executive Director Caroline Taylor ably cross examined GMC’s Attorney who was rude in response to respectful and legitimate lines of questioning.

Despite the lack of compatibility with the comprehensive plan, the extreme constraints of the site, the compelling argument with regard to the sheer scale of the project, and the egregious lack of transparency on the part of the applicant the Planning commission voted to approve the site plan with some conditions, notably a reduction in parking spaces. Two members that might have voted with us were ill.

We are evaluating options, including looking into options for appeal. The approval is conditional on outcome of the case against the GMC Secondary Access road cutting through a residential neighborhood on Dr. Perry Rd, an effort to which MCA has lent support.

We are immensely grateful to everyone who wrote in and testified. Regardless of the the outcome today, keeping up the pressure is still critical.

But there is more to be done, and we call on you again:

Please consider donating to our legal fund to help us continue this fight.

We are being far outspent and the common sense arguments we are making about water quality and traffic are not swaying the decision makers in this case. We may need to engage in more suits to keep conditions on yesterday’s ill-advised approval, and construction crews off of Old Hundred Rd.

Again, thanks to all that wrote in- this aint’ over yet.

You can be the first to hear updates about GMC by joining us on Twitter or Facebook

Frederick News Post Coverage

Victory! Court Rules in Emory Church Road Mega Church Case

Filed Under Master Plan Update · Tagged:  

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
sewer.

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
record”.

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!

Greetings!
(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:  MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org

Neil.Braunstein@montgomeryplanning.org

copy:    info@mocoalliance.org

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

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