Thursday, September 07, 2006

Storm Brewing in Chevy Chase

The Town of Chevy Chase held a forum on flooding and the town's storm drains last night. The forum began with statements by officials from the Montgomery Department of Public Works and Transportation and State Highway Administration, including Montgomery DPWT Director Art Holmes. However, the really riveting portion were the three-minute statements by town residents who expressed anger and frustration over the damage to their property and even health caused by repeated flooding. Some residents have been forced to resort to sandbags to keep the water out.

Potential causes of the problem were identified. The coverage with hard surfaces of more ground in the town by expanded or new homes as well as new development on the edges of the town has reduced the ability of the soil to absorb water. The storm drains are also quite old and no one is sure if they are blocked or sufficient. Entrances to the storm drains may also not be large enough even if the pipes are. Some also speculated that the amount of rain has increased.

Quite a few politicians attended this event in addition to Chevy Chase Mayor Linna Barnes, who chaired the meeting, and the other members of the Chevy Chase Town Council (Rob Enelow, Lance Hoffman, Kathy Strom, and Mier Wolf). County Council Members Howard Denis (R-District 1), Nancy Floreen (D-At Large), and Michael Subin (D-At Large) all came to the meeting. Councilman Subin may have wished he hadn't as he and a town resident (who had actually paid for a private study of the storm drains) had a few heated words when Subin started to warn that it could take time to address the issue and solutions would have to go through proper procedures. Mayor Barnes managed to calm things down. The other politicians in residence wisely said hello and little more.

State Delegates Richard Madaleno and Jane Lawton were the only state legislative candidates in District 18, which includes Chevy Chase, to attend the forum--a missed opportunity for the candidates to express interest on an issue that may soon pass mansionization as the top issue in one of the highest turnout precincts in District 18. (Standard Disclaimer #115: I am volunteering for the District 18 slate which includes both Madaleno and Lawton as well as Ana Sol Gutierrez.)