2/12/13 Clagett’s proposed bill to hurt citizens more than help

Clagett’s bill proposes to eliminate the option for citizens to challenge binding contracts between Frederick County Government and developers (DRRAs) at the Frederick County Board of Appeals. This leaves the only option for citizen’s to challenge DRRAs by taking it to the Frederick County Circuit Court. Friends of Frederick County stresses the importance of keeping the Board of Appeals:

  • The Board of Appeals is a safeguard against precipitous and ill-considered county actions.  It gives citizens a venue for more thoughtful review of development proposals.  The repeal of the BOA review for DRRAs would railroad threatened Frederick County communities and neighborhoods, and put developers back in the drivers seat for court review.
  • Citizens can appeal a decision at no cost with no legal fees.  Filing a complaint with the circuit court requires hiring an attorney, generally cost- prohibitive to citizens.
  • A BOA review allows for discussion that is not permitted in the circuit court.  The circuit court review is limited to the discussion that occurred with the planning commission and the board of county commissioners.
  • The existing Land Use Article (formerly Article 66B) provides that an aggrieved party must first go to the BOA in an administrative appeal. A party to the BOA proceeding who is dissatisfied with the BOA’s decision can then seek judicial review in the Circuit Court under the Title 200 of the Maryland Rules of Procedure.

On the DRRAs and why they require more discussion and the ability for citizens to appeal their local government’s decision (through BOA process):

  • Residential growth doesn’t pay for itself (ie will leave the county coffers short to cover infrastructure)  Any agreement that doesn’t thoroughly analyse the costs for roads, schools, emergency services, water, sewer and other services necessary for the residential growth is putting Frederick County taxpayers at risk of increasing public debt to provide those services.
  • The agreements are for long periods of time, binding the county/taxpayer to expensive infrastructure development and shielding the developer from any future growth laws that could be beneficial to the Frederick County community;    Landsdale is 25 years;  Jefferson Tech Park is 20 years; (I think there are 2 more, but I can’t recall) Westview is for 25 years and Monrovia Town Center is for 14 years.  Commissioner Young has said that he will approve 25 DRRAs before November 2014.
  • Galen Clagett’s proposal to eliminate a step in the process (by disallowing citizens to appeal DRRA) is a slap in the face to taxpayers.  Should Del Clagett characterize his bill as “pro-business” (whereby time is money for someone trying to get a project approved), FoFC believes that “Pro developer”, “developer friendly”, “pro special interest” or “anti-frederick county taxpayer” would be a more accurate characterizations of Del Clagett’s bill.