|Nearly 80% of residents who|
took a Save Westbard poll oppose
the Westbard sector plan
Only 3% said they want the Montgomery County Council to approve the plan, which is expected to be voted on Tuesday. The survey required respondents to provide their name and full address, which ensured the results were representative of actual residents. Other recent "polls" produced by development interests have had responses from outsiders everywhere from the District to the United Kingdom (you can't make this stuff up, folks).
In response to the survey results, Save Westbard, the citizen organization that conducted the survey, wrote to the Council:
79% of residents said they prefer the Save Westbard organization (which conducted the survey) to represent their interests after Tuesday's Council vote, rather than existing citizen associations. Some opponents of the plan have criticized the endorsement of the "Berliner" amendments to the plan by the Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights, which did not reflect an actual vote by any of the neighborhoods it represents. The changes, which are not yet official, were proposed by Councilmember Roger Berliner. The Berliner Alternative, as he called it, has been soundly rejected by residents, only receiving support from developers and the CCCFH.
73.79% said the sector plan process was "obscure and confusing, dominated by developer interests rather than the affected constituents, and a reproach to the principles of representative government." 66% pledged they were willing to support (financially or by volunteering time) legal action against the Westbard vote.
702 actual, verified residents took the survey. Springfield, Wood Acres, Sumner, Kenwood and Westmoreland Hills were among the most active in taking the poll. Twenty-nine communities participated in all, including Westgate, Mohican Hills, High Point, Crestview, the Town of Somerset, Westbard and Westwood Mews, Green Acres, Spring Hill, Glen Cove, Glen Mar Park, Brookdale, Westhaven, Kenwood Forest and Park Bethesda.
The survey results, as well as the community petition signed by over 200 residents who attended a Save Westbard meeting on April 3, will be hand-delivered to the Council offices this afternoon. Save Westbard's letter concludes by warning the Council that a vote to approve the plan "directly contravenes the will of the people."
Meanwhile, the number of citizen groups across the County backing Westbard residents in their fight against urbanization grew over the weekend. On Friday, the Luxmanor Citizens Association called on the Council to freeze development proposals at Westbard, the WMAL tower site, Rock Spring, Wildwood, and White Flint 2 until adequate public facilities and infrastructure can be provided to support such growth.
Abbe Milstein, President of the LCA, wrote to County officials that Luxmanor has "watched with interest as the County prepares to move ahead with a proposed Westbard sector plan despite overwhelming opposition from residents in that area. We too are dismayed by the County's irresponsible development plans."
Criticizing the County's attempt to urbanize the suburbs, Milstein wrote, "Families in our neighborhood have paid premium prices to live primarily in detached single-family homes on quiet streets under a leafy, tree-covered canopy where our children can attend world-class public schools. And we’d like it to stay that way. Recently, however, it seems that our elected representatives and various developers appear to want to take all of that away from us. Against our will, these forces have apparently decided that our area should be more urban."
In regard to the Council's suggestion that schools such as Walter Johnson and Whitman can be "super-sized" (with no explanation as to where the magic money will come from to do so, by the way), Milstein cites data that indicates large schools negatively impact the quality of education.
Residents and small business owners in Lyttonsville, also facing an urbanization push from the Council and Planning Board, have already joined the Westbard fight. Several marched alongside Bethesda residents in last Tuesday's protest at the Council building in Rockville.