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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.

By Miranda Spivack  |  July 15, 2009; 11:03 AM ET
Categories:  Miranda Spivack  
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Comments

There is no way we should allow the entrance to this huge church and all the traffic in our ag preserve. I live nearby and know the devastating effects this plan would have.

Posted by: robinfickerofrobinrealty | July 16, 2009 2:52 AM | Report abuse

This whole thing smacks of a cover-up!
Why weren't the local residents given a hearing on this access to Frederick County?
Why is Montgomery County servicing this road at our expense? or are they? Why was no one representing Montgomery County at the Frederick County Planning Commission meeting yesterday to answer our questions? Is Mr. Leggett proposing to diversify HIS County or ours? and at our expense? The "diversity" issue is not his job!
Please help us get this terrible invasion of our rights reviewed, out in the open and discussed by everyone. The fact that the church is way too large, misrepresenting usage of the property, as was demonstrated yesterday, is not the issue for us. We have been trampled by our own County Government and deserve answers.

Posted by: plumstuff | July 16, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

It is very troubling that County Executive Leggett has blessed a project without consulting the citizens of Montgomery County-- particularly the ones who will be impacted by this large environmentally incorrect project. It makes no difference that this organization is a good organization-- religious or secular. Their environmental footprint is too large in this age of trying to have smart green policy. Particularly troubling is the impact of this project on the drinking water of the local residents and on the emergency water supply for all the metropolitan region- the lake at Black Hills. We hope that County Executive Leggett will hold a public hearing on this Target Sized Building.

Posted by: annets1 | July 16, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

gee Mr. Ficker, I thought that you lived in Councilmanic District 4?

I guess that was just another of your lines.

Posted by: tfp_wnc | July 16, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I am still reeling from the fact that County Executive Leggett has given his okay to a project that is so detrimental to the rural landscape of Montgomery County--a landscape mind you, that county leaders and other advocates had the foresight to protect over 25 years ago by creating the Agricultural Reserve.

I have to imagine that if any other organization or business, other than a church, was proposing to build a 138,027- square-foot building with 232 parking spaces and a 500-seat dining facility, that County Executive Leggett would find such a plan to be detrimental to the AG reserve and to his constituents who call this area home.

The size of the proposed building, coupled with the fact that there is no county sewer or water supply in this area, makes building a campus this large, in this particular area, simply not feasible. County Executive Leggett has a duty to all Montgomery County residents to hold a hearing on this matter and to explain why, in his estimation, this project needs to be built at its proposed location.

Posted by: otimber12 | July 17, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I am still reeling from the fact that County Executive Leggett has given his okay to a project that is so detrimental to the rural landscape of Montgomery County--a landscape mind you, that county leaders and other advocates had the foresight to protect over 25 years ago by creating the Agricultural Reserve.

I have to imagine that if any other organization or business, other than a church, was proposing to build a 138,027- square-foot building with 232 parking spaces and a 500-seat dining facility, that County Executive Leggett would find such a plan to be detrimental to the AG reserve and to his constituents who call this area home.

The size of the proposed building, coupled with the fact that there is no county sewer or water supply in this area, makes building a campus this large, in this particular area, simply not feasible. County Executive Leggett has a duty to all Montgomery County residents to hold a hearing on this matter and to explain why, in his estimation, this project needs to be built at its proposed location.

Posted by: otimber12 | July 17, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I am still reeling from the fact that County Executive Leggett has given his okay to a project that is so detrimental to the rural landscape of Montgomery County--a landscape mind you, that county leaders and other advocates had the foresight to protect over 25 years ago by creating the Agricultural Reserve.

I have to imagine that if any other organization or business, other than a church, was proposing to build a 138,027- square-foot building with 232 parking spaces and a 500-seat dining facility, that County Executive Leggett would find such a plan to be detrimental to the AG reserve and to his constituents who call this area home.

The size of the proposed building, coupled with the fact that there is no county sewer or water supply in this area, makes building a campus this large, in this particular area, simply not feasible. County Executive Leggett has a duty to all Montgomery County residents to hold a hearing on this matter and to explain why, in his estimation, this project needs to be built at its proposed location.

Posted by: otimber12 | July 17, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I am still reeling from the fact that County Executive Leggett has given his okay to a project that is so detrimental to the rural landscape of Montgomery County--a landscape mind you, that county leaders and other advocates had the foresight to protect over 25 years ago by creating the Agricultural Reserve.

I have to imagine that if any other organization or business, other than a church, was proposing to build a 138,027- square-foot building with 232 parking spaces and a 500-seat dining facility, that County Executive Leggett would find such a plan to be detrimental to the AG reserve and to his constituents who call this area home.

The size of the proposed building, coupled with the fact that there is no county sewer or water supply in this area, makes building a campus this large, in this particular area, simply not feasible. County Executive Leggett has a duty to all Montgomery County residents to hold a hearing on this matter and to explain why, in his estimation, this project needs to be built at its proposed location.

Posted by: otimber12 | July 17, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

As acting President of the Peachtree Ridge Water Coalition, I am always keenly aware of the potential damaging impact these types of project will inflict on the water availability to the aquafier and surrounding residents wells. It is critical to also realize the huge negative impervious surface impacteffect the parking areas will have on recharge to the ground water. Where are the studies, where is the truth. In our current environmental, energy, and agricultural delema, this project is not what GOD would want from his people. This needs to get a HARD and complete review.
Peter H. Eeg DVM

Posted by: laserveteeg | July 19, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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