Things to Know
Check out the POP Fact Sheet, compiled by Richard Klein of Community & Environmental Defense Services, as well as Caroline Taylor's PowerPoint presentation and Klein's PowerPoint presentation from the POP Community Meeting.
The Planning Commission voted (3 to 2) to NOT recommend use of the Overlay Zone for the proposed Willshire Development. Without being granted the use of the Overlay Zone, developer Miller & Smith cannot move forward with the proposal as it now stands (61 homes on 1/10 acre lots). While Miller & Smith are still able to request use of the Overlay Zone from the Town Commissioners for their current plan, our Commissioners will have to weigh this request alongside the Planning Commission's recommendation.
Town Master Plan
The Town Master Plan was generated in large-part through focus groups comprised of Poolesville residents and town surveys. Overwhelmingly, town residents value the small-town "village" feel and are eager to protect and promote it as such.
The Town Master Plan shows that Poolesville residents want a town center that is pedestrian-friendly, supports safety, and encourages walking to parks, the library, businesses, Whalen Commons, and Town Hall.
It is cited in our Town Master Plan that the Poolesville population will be capped at 6,500. It's our understanding that this number is not set in stone. Things have a way of changing. Remember that, until last fall, housing density was limited by zoning that can now be overriden by the Village Overlay Zoning. The Village Overlay Zoning allows for a level of urban density that threatens our 6,500 population capacity (not to mention our small-town charm!).
The town center has the highest volume of traffic. Fisher (between Elgin and Cattail) has reached capacity for automobile traffic, according to the Town Master Plan. Proposed (and future) development will add hundreds of cars to our roads. A significant increase in traffic would threaten the "small town character, down-home charm" that we celebrate in our town motto.
The new development proposes to make Fisher 4 lanes at one point. Crosswalk safety is already a concern for pedestrians. This development would undermine the vision of a pedestrian-friendly town center.
Green Space, Community Use
The proposed development accommodates the movement of cars, not people. There are limited walking paths and the subdivision (unlike others in Poolesville) is not connected to other neighborhoods by pedestrian or bike paths.
The Town Master plan recommends 30 acres of green space per one thousand residents. Only about .7 acres of dedicated, usable green space is allocated for the proposed development.
Historic Sites and Communal Places
The John Poole House would sit right next to this dense subdivision. Wouldn't it be desirable to have a neighborhood that intentionally flows with these important public spaces and that matches the scale of existing development on the Commons?
Planning that is sensitive to historic sites (like the John Poole House) and important communal spaces (like Whalen Commons) has the potential to create a more coherent flow and dramatically increase our small-town charm.
Our schools are NOT in danger from under-enrollment. The Board of Education is currently working to clarify a rural schools policy which will not hold schools in the Agricultural Reserve to the same student number threshold that applies to other Montgomery County schools.
Town officials might say otherwise, but water is a very serious concern. Poolesville just decommissioned one of our major wells (#10) due to pollutants. Our groundwater supply is not guaranteed. Considering all the new development in town, we need to question how such dense developement would tax our aquifer. Past droughts have caused water shortages and significant inconveniences for Poolesville residents. Serious droughts are predicted for our area by the Interstate Commission for the Potomac River Basin. Dense development would dramatically increase water restrictions during drought periods.
Poolesville has been in violation of the waste sewage permit granted by the state. Can our sewage system withstand this added stress? It seems that our town has a "build it now, worry later" mentality. Dense developement is something that we could all pay for down the road in the form sewage problems and higher taxes.