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Community Happenings

Please consider emailing the County Council ahead of their scheduled discussion on Tuesday Sept 12 regarding the proposed Maryland Highway 83 extension. Sugarloaf Citizens Association opposes the expansion of this highway because it adversely impacts the Ag Reserve.
You can read about the issue and how to email the council at

On Wednesday Sept 27 at 6pm, a hearing will take place, at the Upper Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Department, 19801 Beallsville Rd., Beallsville, MD, regarding the Dickerson coal plant water permit. The plant is operating with an outdated water pollution permit.
The plant's wastewater discharge is the number one source of water pollution in the county.

Let Us Know!!

We look for and welcome
your suggestions, concerns
and questions about
what's going on in the
Ag Reserve.
Please email us here.

See "Growing Legacy,” a terrific portrait of the Ag Reserve,
produced by Montgomery Countryside Alliance.
Here’s the link to the 30 minute film.
MCA has a synopsis here.

[Staff login]


We Oppose a New Potomac Bridge

SCA applauds the Montgomery County Council’s unanimous vote on July 18 to oppose a proposed study of a new bridge across the Potomac north of the Beltway. We are pleased as well that Council members voiced their firm opposition to the bridge.

Unfortunately, just a day later the regional Council of Governments voted in favor of the bridge study as part of planning for future traffic flow in the area.

Our fight to kill the bridge will continue. The Council of Government’s Transportation Planning Board is scheduled to make a presentation to the full COG in December. That presentation is slated to include an assessment of whether the bridge should be considered as part of Montgomery County’s long-range transportation plan.

Between now and December, we will work diligently to oppose the bridge. County Council member and long-time Sugarloaf Citizens’ Association friend Marc Elrich is the Council’s representative on the COG Transportation Policy Board. We’ll work with Marc, who opposes the bridge, to make our case to the Board, the COG, and regional leaders who support the bridge.

The proposed bridge study is the latest attempt by some regional lawmakers, developers, and transportation officials to reprise an idea that has been defeated several times over many years.

Three major studies of a bridge between Virginia and northern Montgomery County have been conducted over the past 25 years. All have concluded that a bridge is an expensive, ineffective and environmentally destructive way to resolve regional traffic congestion, and that its adverse impact would far outweigh any economic benefits.

Most recently and notably, a 2015 analysis by the Virginia Department of Transportation found that an up-country bridge would require 13 to 15 miles of new highway in Montgomery County, and impose the bulk of cost and negative impact on Montgomery and the state of Maryland. In contrast, just 2 miles of new road would likely need to be built in Virginia, with far less impact in populated areas.

The 2015 study as well as previous studies indicated that the preferable transportation fixes for the region were (a) increasing the capacity of the American Legion Bridge, the Capital Beltway, and 270; (b) improvements to U.S. Route 301 to expand its use; (c) better Metro service; (d) improved regional bus and commuter services; and (e) an expansion and improvement of MARC service.

SCA also concurs with other local environmental groups that new and improved mass transit initiatives are the best way to ensure future reductions in the growth of travel by car in the region, and the adverse impact commuting by car has on land use and open spaces, air quality, climate change, and quality of life in Montgomery County.

We’ll keep you informed.

-- Lauren Greenberger, President, and the SCA Board

Announcing a New Sugarloaf
Citizens' Association Campaign

Many of you know that the 22-year old Covanta trash incinerator in Dickerson is Montgomery County’s second largest polluter. It’s responsible for some 15 percent of air pollution in the county.

The incinerator also generates 170,000 tons of toxic ash per year and other toxic emissions that are five to 25 times higher than what a coal-driven power plant of the same size would generate.

Dangerous uncontrolled fires at the plant have also occurred recently. Covanta acknowledges that the incinerator is in poor shape. Although the company has committed to new safety procedures and additional funding for repairs and maintenance, many questions remain regarding the feasibility of the plant’s safe operation.

For years, the citizens of Dickerson, Barnesville, Poolesville and the immediate environs around the incinerator have put up with the existence of this major polluting source.

An opportunity to shut down the incinerator has finally arrived, however. The contract with Covanta to operate the incinerator expires in April 2021.

Sugarloaf’s board has, therefore, decided to launch an initiative to close the incinerator down by 2021, if not before.

We will be joining forces with other environmental, social justice, and public health groups, both local and national, in this effort. But SCA will take the lead, given that the incinerator is in our backyard.

We have hired a leading environmental policy expert to assist us in navigating the legislative aspects of the campaign, as well as to help build the coalition.

You may well be thinking: “Well, what will happen to the trash?" Major advances in recycling and the reuse of waste have occurred over the past 20 years. As a result, a rapidly growing number of counties and cities across the country have switched to other means of waste removal and disposal. Some are achieving 85 percent or higher rates of recycling or environmentally friendly waste disposal - with a resultant sharp reduction in the burning or landfilling of waste.

A recent Montgomery County study found that of the materials being incinerated at the Covanta plant, 34 percent is food waste, 22 percent is paper and 18 percent is plastic. Even if these were the only things we got out of the waste stream and recycled we would already eliminate the need for the incinerator.

Aspirational "zero waste "programs are proving to be both economically viable and to create jobs in many communities. We believe there is emerging political will in Montgomery County to move aggressively toward this option, advocating a “zero waste” strategy for the county will be part of our campaign.

As we move forward, we’ll provide you with more details. For now, please know that we are excited to gear up for this fight to preserve the Agricultural Reserve and protect the health of our friends and neighbors.¬†We will be turning to you in the future for help in assuring this campaign is a success.

Lauren Greenberger, SCA President, and the SCA Board

Sugarloaf Citizens' Association, Inc.
Linden Farm 
20900 Martinsburg Road
P.O. Box 218 
Dickerson, MD 20842

 © Copyright 2017 Sugarloaf Citizens' Association. All rights reserved.