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  • Writer's pictureJohn Parrish

Protecting local drinking water sources in land use planning

Updated: Feb 28

By John Parrish

Conservation Montgomery Advocacy Committee

Last summer Montgomery Planning held an open house to announce plans to create the Clarksburg Gateway Sector Plan. Meetings were held last fall to gain public input into various issues related to transportation, environment, housing, employment and historic sites. Conservation Montgomery members attended the meetings to express concern for safeguarding water quality in three streams flowing to Little Seneca Reservoir that originate in this area.

We are advocating for protection of the 285 acres of forest occurring within the 969-

acre sector plan boundary. We are very concerned about proposals to construct new roadways through forests, parks, streams and wetlands. Several road projects under consideration include the following:

  • A Clarksburg Bypass planned to traverse the headwaters of Ten Mile Creek.

  • A new I-270 interchange through forested wetlands along a tributary of Little Seneca Creek.

  • An extension of Observation Drive through forests and wetlands in the Little Seneca Creek Greenway

  • Park and through forests in the Cool Spring Tributary watershed.

  • An extension of Little Seneca Parkway across the Cool Spring Tributary thru wetlands to connect with Observation Drive and the proposed I-270 interchange.

These road projects would destroy forests and wetlands and degrade streams feeding the Little Seneca Reservoir, the regions back-up drinking water supply. A significant increase in harmful sediments and polluted runoff can be expected if the roads are built. The entire sector plan area lies within the Clarksburg Special Protection Area (SPA) which was created to protect sensitive water resources by expanding wetland buffers, restricting impervious surfaces and conserving forests. If built, these major road projects would severely undermine the goals of the SPA. We are also very concerned with the extent of development on the 204 acre Comsat Property. The famous Comsat Building and its rural environmental setting warrant historic preservation according to earlier reviews made by the Historic Preservation Commission. Historic preservation can helps safeguard the natural environment by limiting the amount of land disturbance associated with new development.

Conservation Montgomery will continue to advocate for healthy streams, forest conservation and clean drinking water as planners craft the sector plan. The Planning Board public hearings are set for July 2024.


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