After two decades, Clarksburg continues to debate Ten Mile Creek development
In 1994, the Montgomery County Planning Commission launched a development plan for the Clarksburg area which involved Ten Mile Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River and Little Seneca Reservoir. Two decades later, the Planning Commission has finally taken the initiative to begin the development stage of the project.
The Save Ten Mile Creek Coalition, a branch of the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS), strongly opposes the impending developments. According to the Coalition, Ten Mile Creek is one of the healthiest waterways in the Chesapeake Watershed, as well as the cleanest tributary of the Little Seneca Reservoir. The Reservoir contributes to the mid-Potomac River and is, therefore, an essential source of safe drinking water for over three million people in the DC area. According to the Coalition, the development plans threaten the safety of drinking water, the aquatic life of the river and the flora and fauna surrounding it. The Coalition published an article on Sept. 11 that claimed the plan for the Clarksburg development does not protect the water supply.
The Save Ten Mile Creek Coalition is not alone in their concern for the Creek’s future. In an article published by Bethesda Magazine, Diane Cameron, the Audubon Naturalist Society’s conservation director, expressed the Society’s commitment to preserving Ten Mile Creek. She also announced the formation of the Liveable Clarksburg Coalition, a group of Clarksburg area residents that, according to Bethesda Magazine, are frustrated about the “lack of a town center and mass transit options” in Clarksburg but are also concerned about the environmental impact on the Ten Mile Creek area. The Coalition is therefore anticipating targeting county officials to spread their message.
While the Montgomery County Planning Commission itself holds a policy under its “Plans for the Future” that “identifies the Ten Mile Creek watershed as an environmentally sensitive area of County-wide significance” and “recommends forested buffers along all stream valleys to promote water quality,” the plan does not any provisions for buffers or other sources that may promote water quality.
According to the Washington Post, Doug Duncan, former County Executive of Montgomery County, also opposes the proposed development. The Post describes Duncan’s former policies as pro-businesses, which “didn’t endear him to environmentalists, who saw him as a public official who never met a slab of concrete he didn’t like.” However, on Jan. 21 Duncan proclaimed that he, too, sides with environmentalists who want to protect Ten Mile Creek from new development.
District 2 County Councilmember Craig Rice, who represents Clarksburg, held a hearing on a bill last summer to create incentives for developers to use more environmentally conscious pavement technology to avoid runoff. The main concern of the County Council, Craig Rice and many citizens of the Clarksburg area is that the development has taken two decades to begin and may take longer. The citizens of Clarksburg are anxiously anticipating a new town center and transit options. The County Council hopes to resolve the issue before the 2014 election year.
Article by Leigh Cooke, the MoCo Student Staff Writer