History of SBCA

Recently there have been many emails on the Sligo-Branview listserv regarding an action taken by the Sligo-Branview Community Association (SBCA) Board. It is appropriate at this point to provide the community with some information on what SBCA is, what it has done, and how it functions. SBCA is a volunteer organization formed to promote the general welfare of the community. It is open to any resident within our boundaries who has attained the age of 18.

Current dues are $15 per year. The operating year begins in September. The SBCA is about 70 years old. The earliest document in the files is dated 1946. SBCA has always represented our current geographical area that now includes 945 single-family homes. It is one of hundreds of civic or community (both names mean the same thing) associations in the County. SBCA is recognized by Montgomery County as the official organization for this neighborhood in regard to land use and other government actions. The County Council, the County Executive, and the Planning Board send us notices of proposed government actions such as zoning changes, plans for our streets, etc. that either directly or indirectly affect our neighborhood so that the neighborhood can examine the expected impacts and
respond appropriately.

The SBCA by-laws have had only minor changes over the years. The last revision was done in the fall of 2010. Meetings have been held in various locations. Early meetings were held in the basement of the Suburban Trust Bank (what is now the Bank of America) building on Flower Ave. Then meetings were held at Oak View and Highland View elementary schools for some time. In 1976, after the Long Branch library was built, SBCA moved the meetings there.

Until this year, when SBCA switched to using computer notification  eans, communication with members was via printed newsletters that were hand-delivered door-to-door by members. Early on, dues also were collected by members going door-to-door. By the late 1970s, the organization changed to relying on dues notices in our newsletters and collecting at the Association meetings.

All officers (with the exception of two trustees) are elected each year. Officers may not be in a position to personally profit from their office and are paid nothing by the association for their time. The amount of time spent can be significant when certain issues arise. When they attend public hearings or meetings, they pay for their parking, or when hosting board meetings in their homes, they pay for refreshments provided. Sometimes they take off from work to attend meetings or provide testimony. Sometimes they have also supplied postage and copying costs for testimony and other communications. One board member for years has graciously been providing the refreshments at the SBCA general meetings with no expectation of reimbursement.

Officers and active members often represent the SBCA at other groups and coalitions, such as the Montgomery County Civic Federation (a countywide group of civic associations) PREZCO (an organization of current leaders of associations in Silver Spring) and others formed to address specific issues like the Residential Wayne Avenue Working Group and the Committee of Purple Line Neighborhoods (COPLN).

These contacts are very beneficial because the participants learned from each other. Recently, SBCA did a lot of work critiquing the Council’s rewriting of the Zoning Code to protect the single-family residential zoning rules. The SBCA participation in these groups has been documented in the SBCA newsletters and discussed at the SBCA general meetings.

The SBCA’s major focus is on issues that affect our community. Since the early days of Sligo-Branview, highway and zoning issues have been of primary importance. One major effort in the 50’s and 60’s was opposing the extension of Wayne Ave., past Oak View Elementary School, across the Long Branch stream bed to University Blvd. How would this community look today if University Blvd. traffic were using Wayne as a shortcut to downtown Silver Spring?

Another big highway issue addressed was the North-Central Freeway, a tenlane highway through Sligo Creek Park. SBCA helped defeat this idea. Our opposition efforts included Rose Crenca and her merry mothers threatening to chain themselves to trees. Rose served on the County Council and today is an SBCA Trustee.

On the zoning front, a major focus in the 60’s was opposing and defeating a
large high-rise apartment building where the library now stands. In the 70’s, SBCA
focused on bringing a library and parkland to that site as a better transition from the
Flower Branch apartments to the single family homes of Walden Rd. and Plymouth
St., ending efforts to put a high rise there. Bringing the library to the community is a
very clear example of how the work of SBCA resulted in something much better than
the high rise.

A decade or two ago SBCA also prevented the paths in Sligo Creek Park from being substantially widened. The Association also insured that the path from Fire Engine Park to Franklin Ave., a path that is a way to reach the park from Sudbury Rd. and Walden Rd., remains in the public domain.

In the last few years, when the County was generating a new Long Branch Sector Plan, SBCA worked to preserve the Arliss St. townhouses as the appropriate transition between the future superblock redevelopment and the single family homes adjacent to that land. SBCA also succeeded in limiting the height of new buildings allowed on the west side of Flower Ave, from the Flower Avenue Park to Piney Branch Rd. Again, the goal was to protect the single-family homes along Geren Rd. that would be overshadowed by the high rise originally proposed for that site.

In the past, SBCA sponsored several events that depended upon volunteers to staff them. Only the Halloween Parade is still being held through the efforts of a few dedicated members. If residents are interested in restarting programs like:
• the home and garden tour,
• the Christmas/holiday decorations contest, or
• the annual Long Branch Park Clean-up

The SBCA Board would welcome volunteers to get them going again. New ideas for
community activities are welcome also. The SBCA Board is grateful for the hard work of the many residents who, over the years have contributed to the successes of the Association. The Board hopes that, since the Sligo-Branview Community Association is a topic of discussion in the community right now, some residents will be encouraged to step forward and become involved in helping to keep Sligo-Branview a lively and livable

A special thank you to the SBCA Vice President Marilyn Piety for compiling the
historical details for this article.
William R. Mentzer Jr
Sligo Branview Community Association

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