MARYLAND

Washington Grove: Developments threaten Montgomery Co. town

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By 2040, the metro D.C. area is set to explode with almost two million more residents. For one tiny village nicknamed "The Town within the Forest," the explosion is more of an attack.

Washington Grove is a place where 230 families spread out over 200 acres. Roads fade into walk ways and Mike Schank walks his dog, Toby.

“It’s kind of like an oasis here,” says Schank. “People look out for each other. I’ve been a lot of places and I’ve never been anywhere that feels like this town.”

Steve Werts works on his green and orange Model-A cars in the garage outside of his wife’s childhood home. They were married in the backyard.

“And when her dad died we decided to buy this house and move over here,” says Werts. “And I feel like I’ve lived here my whole life. I feel like I belong here.”

But development is creeping in and attacking this mostly historical landmark. Kathy Lehman grew up here.

“Well it really, really makes you angry. What makes them think that’s OK?” she asks.

Now town officials want to make the threat official by being added to Preservation Maryland’s list of endangered communities. It won’t stop growth, but it will hopefully help them gain funding and awareness.

“Somebody can go away for 20 years and come back and we still look the same, but that’s what we like about it,” says Lehman. “We’re not bucking growth or the system or any of that. We just don’t want it to encroach upon us so much that we can’t live the way we want to live.”

The list goes public in March. Until then, Washington Grove remains a place where visitors are welcome, but change is not.

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