Montgomery Enviros Fault Leggett Over Mega-Church
Environmentalists who have fought successfully to limit mega-churches in Montgomery County say they are now being thwarted by County Executive Isiah Leggett.
At issue is Wheaton-based Global Mission Church's proposal to build in a largely rural area of Frederick County, just across the Montgomery line.
The church's entrance will be in Montgomery County, which means Montgomery will be saddled with all the traffic hassles and fire and rescue demands, the opponents say.
They also are dismayed because Leggett (D) has weighed in and written to the Frederick County Planning Commission backing the church's plans.
Leggett's spokesman Patrick Lacefield said his boss is supportive of efforts to limit big churches in Montgomery and also supportive of the church, which he said has done good works and social services in Montgomery.
"He is very cognizant of how difficult it is for the faith comunity to expand. He just felt he wanted to be supportive of the good work of the church and support the ability of faith communities to stretch out where they can." The church's membership is largely made up of residents of Korean descent, one of many minority constituencies Leggett has cultivated.
Steve Dryden, an environmental activist, has written to Leggett aide Bruce Adams, criticizing Leggett for his involvement.
A spokesman for Leggett could not be immediately reached; this item will be updated with a reply when it becomes available.
Here's the text of Dryden's letter:
Bruce: As a board member of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance, I was dismayed to learn this week that the County Executive wrote to the Frederick County Planning Commission on June 16 expressing support for a mega-church on the county border, to be built by the Global Mission Church of Silver Spring. Even more alarming is the fact that Montgomery County approved an exceptional access arrangement for this development on the Montgomery side of the border, off I-270 -- WITHOUT PUBLIC NOTICE OR DEBATE.
The footprint of this proposed mega-church will be in Frederick, but its effects will be seen and felt among Montgomery residents living in the Sugarloaf Mountain viewshed, and the Agricultural Reserve, as detailed below. This is second time in a five years that a Silver Spring church has proposed to expand in the Ag Reserve area; the last proposal was rejected by the county. For the life of me, I can't understand how Mr. Leggett can, in this era of global warming and rising energy prices, endorse the idea of a huge Silver Spring congegation driving 40 miles or so every Sunday to a new church carved out of much-needed green space and farmland. I am very disappointed that the Leggett administration doesn't have a way of better vetting frankly crazy ideas like this one that threaten our fragile Ag Reserve.
I say this as an elder at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, which has decided not to expand its parking lot into two acres of woodland that we own, preferring instead to ask congregants to park on side streets and walk a few blocks. Global Mission should be politely told to see what it can do to live within its current suburban site, which I understand is rather spacious, and thereby respect God's Creation.
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