FoFC testifies against the Monrovia Town Center

upright FoFC logoTestimony about the Planned Urban Development Amendment for the Monrovia Town Center (PUD R-12-02);  Public Hearing before the Planning Commission 10/23/2013

 

 

Good evening Frederick County Planning Commissioners:

 

I am Janice Wiles, Executive Director for Friends of Frederick County, a working to protect taxpayers and citizens through good planning, and environmental protections in economic growth, and pushing for transparency in local government.  We believe in sound planning. We want to believe that the Frederick County Planning Commission does too.

 

So, let’s start from the beginning.  The Monrovia Town Center is COMPLETELY unnecessary.    In 2010 a plan was approved based on Maryland Department of Planning 20 year housing forecast demand;  the plan called for building 36, 264 new homes to meet projections AND WE MET THOSE PROJECTIONS WITHOUT the Monrovia Town Center.

 

As an aside on projections, and as planners I’m sure you are aware that  the WashCOG and MDP have since lessened their 20-year projections for Frederick County by at least 20%!

But as the story goes, the political will of our county has changed from leadership for the entire citizenry to helping a few who help you and your Board of County Commissioners.  In this case all of these citizens here, many more families in Monrovia, and all taxpayers in Frederick County stand to lose because Roy Stanley, Howard Payne and Rand Weinberg want the Monrovia Town Center?

Well here’s what we want.

We  want to believe that the Frederick County Planning Commissioners have carefully read the application for the Monrovia Town Center.

We want to believe that you have explored the area and thought long and hard about what it means to put 1500 homes on agricultural land.

We want to believe that you have studied the FCPS plans and the traffic impact analysis.

We want to believe that you have considered why this project was removed during the 2010 comprehensive process.

We want to believe that you are considering the needs and demands of the Frederick County community over the special interests and profits of the landowner, developer and attorney: 75/80 Properties LLC, Payne Investments LLC, and their attorney Rand Weinberg.

Let’s talk about our families and something we all care about – family values, like education.

 

Green Valley Elementary School sits across the street from the proposed MTC.  And right across from the proposed – yet “mythical” – high school.  At present day 82% state rated capacity afternoon pickups are a mess. Cars line the entire parking lot and loop out to the bus lanes under the new pickup policy.  Parents and school officials there are nearing a grid-locked situation.  As Planning Commissioners do you consider this a problem?

 

And then, what is your proposal to ensure that the development complies with Section 500.3 (J) of the zoning ordinance:

 

“Planned developments shall be served adequately by public facilities….  Additionally, increased demand for public facilities … created by the proposed development … shall be evaluated as adequate or to be made adequate within established county standards.”

 

While as Planning Commissioners I’m certain you know the following, but I will say it just in case there is doubt.

 

On May 22, 2013 the Frederick County Board of Education’ Educational Facilities Master Plan presentation projected the need for four new elementary schools to service the development in Linganore, New Market and Monrovia.  Only one (1) new elementary school is planned for and budgeted.  Moreoever that new school, the East County Elementary School, will not seat a single student for 8 years minimum.  Planning Commissioners:  where will the other 2100 kids go?

 

The problem is no better at the middle school level.  Windsor Knolls Middle School is at its designed capacity.  The BOE has stated that there are no plans to make it larger.  There are also no plans, either budgeted or envisioned to add another middle school in this part of the county.  Even after Urbana Middle is expanded, this part of the County is projected to be 108% of state rated capacity.  There are no options put forth by either the county or the BOE to adequately deal with the 220 projected new middle school students from the proposed development. Planning Commissioners:  what is your plan?

 

In closing we would like to clarify a few incompatibility issues with the MTC:

 

  1. 1.    The zoning ordinance (sections 500.3 (C) and 100.4 (A)(4) dictates that the development be compatible with the existing community, or that “mitigation of the differences” are implemented.  Please explain to the citizens of Monrovia how 9 homes/acre looks at all like what is there now – and thus compatible with the existing community.
  2. 2.    Section 500.3 (H) dictates requirements for incorporating the existing natural features into the development.  On page 12 of their staff report on the zoning amendment, the County states that “a previously approved Forest Stand Delineation associated with the prior PUD rezoning effort on this site has expired and must be updated and submitted prior to approval of this application.”  We have seen no evidence of the Applicant meeting this requirement and, therefore, the zoning amendment should not be approved.
  3. 3.    Perhaps the most revealing incompatibility is with the County’s Comprehensive Plan, that reads:
  • the county shall focus a higher proportion of development within Community Growth Areas to protect green infrastructure land (Goal #13 , page 03-2)
  • that “beyond the role of agriculture as part of the County’s economy is the effect agriculture has on how the County looks, its rural landscape of rolling hills and open vistas and its rural communities.  For many residents and visitors, the County’s rural landscape and small towns are a defining contribution to the perception of the County as a unique place.”
  • That we work to “minimize the development in areas of our best agricultural lands to preserve critical masses of farmland” ( Preserving our Agricultural and Rural Community chapter policy #2 (page 05-2)

 

We request that the Planning Commission do its job and thoroughly review Monrovia Town Center PUD R-12-02 in the context of the county plan, the county’s residential needs, the impacts on infrastructure, the county’s citizen’s interests and quality of life.

 

9/5/13 Glendening sees discrepancy between houses we are building and the type buyers want

Governor Glendening described exactly what FoFC has been saying.  The infrastructure needs for a community that is more dense and walkable is less.  And that there is a disconnect between what will sell and what we are building in Frederick County.  FoFC inserted the photos below (they are not part of the FNP article).

Glendening describes mismatch between housing supply, demand

By Bethany Rodgers News-Post Staff | Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 2:00 am

The American dream is changing, and community design must keep up with it, former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening told a Frederick group Wednesday.

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Downtown Frederick City, a place to live, work and play.

In a talk focused on smart growth, Glendening said an increasing number of people are eschewing large, single-family houses in the suburbs and instead settling in dense, walkable communities. However, there’s a growing disconnect between the types of housing people want and what’s available on the market, he said.

“Keeping our downtowns strong and keeping our communities economically vibrant in the long term will require a different approach to growth than we have been doing for the last 60 years,” he said during the event at Frederick City Hall.

Two population trends are driving changes in the types of housing people want. For one thing, the nation’s senior population is on the rise, and by the year 2030, almost one in five Americans will be older than 65, Glendening said. Increasingly, older Americans are less inclined to head to Florida or a nursing home upon retirement and are more interested in aging in place. Seniors are now looking for communities where they wouldn’t have to drive and where they’re near stores, activities and health care services.

A large millennial population, made up of people between the ages of 18 and 30, is also shaping the housing needs of the future, Glendening said. These people are starting families later and are driving less, he said. The millennial generation tends to like small-lot homes or attached dwellings that are close to their workplaces and served by transit systems.

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Demand is waning for this typical strip mall in a non-walkable community.

In addition, rather than choosing their place of residence based on a job, an increasing number of these individuals are selecting the communities they like and then seeking employment in those areas.  Read the story…

COMING SOON: 1735 new homes in Linganore, more cars more new students; are we prepared?

Tuesday June 18th, 2013 Public Hearing on Eaglehead Planned Urban Development (PUD) and 25 year DRRA with Board of County Commissioners, Winchester Hall, 12 E Church St. Frederick

Wednesday May 22nd, 2013  Public Hearing on Eaglehead PUD and 25 year DRRA with Planning Commission, Winchester Hall, 12 E Church St. Frederick

Find out more…

OLD NEWS

March 4, 2013  ”Town Hall Meeting” 5-8 PM Windsor Knolls Middle  School informational session on development in south county.   

There is more to life than lower taxes.  If people want the lowest tax rates in the country they should move to Mississippi and enjoy their school system, poverty rate, and level of public service.    - Anonymous Frederick County Resident

September 2012

Frederick City to hold final Public Hearing on Keller Farm annexation

Thursday, September 6, 2012 7:00pm City Hall  Agenda for Public Meeting, including the staff report

Frederick County to hold final meetings

September 13, 2012  Winchester Hall on Comprehensive Plan rezoning map :   approving 160 rezoning applications that could lead to development of some 9,000 acres and 12,600 homes, over and above those homes already planned for in the 2010 Comprehensive Plan.  See FNP report of meeting

September 18, 2012 Winchester Hall:  BOCC Public Hearing on Landsdale PUD Phase I plan and Developers Rights and Responsibilities Agreement  The Planning Commission, after hearing questions from citizens on illegalities of the PUD and DRRA, inconsistencies with the comprehensive plan, voted in favor of the Landsdale PUD and DRRA - and sent it onward to the BOCC for their vote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in February 2012 the Young Bocc gave thumbs up to 163 rezoning proposals (out of 204). They recently added 9 new proposals to the 193 that were requested in Summer 2011.

Results significant to land use, zoning, environment, good governance, transparency

BOCC Work Sessions on 193 rezonings scheduled for February 2012

How much of the over 15,000 acres will be zoned from agriculture for development?

The Young Board will decide in their upcomingPublic Work Sessions

The sessions are open to the public though any public comment will only be taken at the very end of each day’s session not after the discussion of an individual request. Any votes taken on individual requests are considered preliminary decisions at this time. All work sessions will be held in the 3rd Floor Meeting Room, Winchester Hall.

1. Tuesday Feb. 14 8:30 am to noon: Overview of 2010 County Plan and Adamstown, Brunswick and Middletown region requests // 1:00 to 4:00 pm: Frederick, Thurmont and Walkersville region requests

2. Tuesday Feb. 21 9:00 am to noon: Town of New Market Draft Plan overview, and New Market region requests

3. Thursday Feb. 23 1:30-5 pm: Urbana region requests

4. Tuesday Feb. 28 9:00 am to noon: Reserve for carry over or follow-up issues to discuss analysis of Requests

Following the work sessions where the BOCC will be making preliminary decisions, staff will then prepare a review and analysis of the requests that received preliminary approval by the BOCC. The analysis will be provided to the BOCC for their review and consideration at a subsequent work session. **What you can do:** * PLEASE ATTEND. * Write letters to the editors of the Frederick News Post and the Gazette. For more information contact: Jim Gugel, Planning Manager, Community Development Division, 301-600-1144 or jgugel@FrederickCountymd.gov.

BOCC Hearings on 193 rezonings scheduled for January 2012

Board of County Commissioners Public Hearings

All of the hearings will be held in Winchester Hall, 1st Floor Hearing Room, starting at 6:00 pm. Speaker sign-up sheets will be available at 5:00 pm for each hearing. There will be separate speaker sign-up sheets for each planning region. Each speaker, whether it is an applicant or individual citizen, will be allowed 5 minutes.

Tuesday, January 10 - AdamstownBrunswickFrederick regions

Wednesday, January 18 - Urbana region

Tuesday, January 24 - MiddletownThurmontWalkersville regions

Tuesday, January 31 - New Market region

Wednesday, February 1 – snow date

 

November 2011 Planning Commission Hearings CANCELLED

The Planning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend that the BOCC follow the existing Comprehensive Plan (and it’s supporting land use/zoning maps)

Between June 1 and July 15, 2011 a majority of Frederick County’s Board of Commissioners accepted requests from land owners to in red. change their zoning or land use designation. The county received 194 proposals that, if accepted, would forever alter up to 15,000 acres of open space and farmland.

You have the opportunity to express your opinion at the Planning Commission’s scheduled public hearings on these land use change requests. Please do.

When? Wednesday, November 16th, 6pm | Topic: New Market Thursday, November 17th, 6pm | Topic: Urbana  THE  PLANNING COMMISSION VOTED 4-2 TO RECOMMEND THE BOCC STICK WITH CURRENT 2010 COMPREHENSIVE PLAN, AND IT’S SUPPORTING LAND USE /ZONING MAP – AND DISCONTINUED THE PUBLIC HEARINGS.  READ MORE HERE.

October 2011:

Become aware of the potential rezoning and land use changes proposed near your home:

  • Open House October 19, 4:00 – 7:45pm Urbana Public Library, Small Community Room
  • Open House October 25th, 4:30-8pm Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick,  4880 Elmer Derr Rd, just off 15 south of Frederick.

Keep your eyes on the Partnerships and Efficiencies Committee:  Monday, Oct. 24 at 3 p.m. in the third floor meeting room in Winchester Hall. It will also be televised live on Channel 19.

September 2011:  Rezoning discussions to start

Take a look at the acreage proposed for rezoning (map coming soon).  If you’d like more specifics click here.

June 2011:  Citizens be damned month!

The BOCC  is accepting rezoning applications until July 15th to address grievances expressed from the ratification of the 2010 county rezoning map.

June 2 1o am Winchester Hall:  BOCC passed the FY2012 budget. Read FoFC’s position on the FY2012 budget.

June 16  1pm, Winchester Hall:  Privatization discussion based upon a 30-page report prepared by consultant, Oliver Porter, for $25000.  Report is unavailable to public until that meeting – although the county will have it the day before the meeting. Read FoFC’s position on privatization here.

June 29 7pm, Winchester Hall:  Public hearing before the Planning Commission on Mitigation Fees for school construction.  Read FoFC’s position on mitigation fees for school construction here.

May 2011

5/19  BOCC to discuss changing the county comprehensive plan, public meeting 10am Winchester Hall, item G

5/17 Village Center Zoning under threat of change: would allow Jefferson Food Lion!

March 2011

3/9  Planning Commission to discuss land use text ammendments

3/1  at 7pm Public Hearing on Repeal of Countywide APFO for schools, vote by BOCC  Citizens must come to speak out!  Read more in this bulletinYour child’s public education vs developer private interest BOCC voted 401 to repeal the APFO for schools county wide on annexed land after June 23, 2009.

 

February 2011

2/23  1pm Planning Commission on Repeal of  County wide APFO for schools:  Planning Commission voted 4 against the new APFO ordinance, which is essential a repeal of the county wide ordinance (McClurken, Forrence, White, Floyd),  and 3 for the new ordinance, or repeal of county wide APFO for schools (Lawrence,  Wolfe, Shreve)

Privatization trip to Sandy Spring Georgia:  read about towns that are voiding contracts with the same privatizing company – and why.

2/18  FoFC files request for all information on individual zoning map amendment or floating zone reclassification filed with the Zoning Administrator pursuant to Code §1-19-3.110.2.

2/18  FoFC files request for all information on Comprehensive Plan Zoning since Nov 1, 2010.

January 2011

1/31 FoFC files request for information on exchange between BOCC and Blickenstaff option or rezoning.

December 2010

December 21 8:30am: Agenda Briefing for Public Hearings Scheduled for Tuesday, January 4, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.   PUBLIC HEARING

* Zoning Text Amendment #ZT-10-05, Proposed Ordinance to Amend Certain Sections of the Frederick County Code Regarding Floodplain, Commercial and Business Schools, Public and Private Schools and Boarding Stables – Larry Smith, Planning Division

December 20 7pm: Public Hearing PATH Request – Board of Appeals Meeting regarding the PATH Request for Reconsideration, Winchester Hall

December 16 3pm: CANCELLED to be rescheduled BOCC to meet with municipalities:  discussion to include the APFO county-wide school test;  learn more about the significance of this decision to taxpayers and school renovation, and check out this fact sheet on the impact of residential growth on schools in Frederick County.

December 15: BOCC agreed to fund special study on costs for running sewer to northern annexation properties.

December 14: BOCC voted 3-1-1 (Blaine Young voted against, David Gray absent) to repeal the ethics law.  Public Hearing on January 4th 7pm, Winchester Hall.

December 11 Winchester Hall 1st floor:  Proposal to repeal ethics legislation

December 9/10 at Pine Cliff Park: strategic planning with department heads starting at 9am Thursday (all day Thursday and half day on Friday)   Commissioner Young announced creating a new position for a Special Project Manager to work directly with the BOCC, and filed the position with Mike Marschner, former DUSWM Director.  The Young Board had the option of cutting the Assistant County Manager  position – as it was left vacant by the previous BOCC (acknowledging that this BOCC wanted to CUT government) – but announced they had instead filled the position with David Dunn (Solid Waste Advisory Committee and strong proponent of WTE).  We are investigating another position created to explore privatizing government departments and tasks.

December 7 BOCC meeting: discussion on base budget, revenue projections, ethic ordinance and public ethics law, Md Open Meetings Act and Md Public Information

  1. Commissioner Young started a new 15 minute program to be aired at 5:30 and 8:30 pm on channel 9 called “This week in Frederick County”.  Commissioners and department heads are encouraged to be on the show.  Robin Santangelo also noted that there are other shows on Channel 19 FCG TV “inside Frederick County, “Health” and the “Best Kept Secrets”
  2. Budget discussion:  with county’s primary source of revenue, property taxes, falling with decrease in assessments (up to 26% decrease from 3 years ago), 11 million needs to be cut from budget.  BOCC to lobby delegation for more from highway user fee and lobby MACO for state school pension money – which could be as much as 9 million for the county.
  3. Commissioner Shreve suggested that Frederick County doesn’t need the Ethics Ordinance, The Frederick County Ethics Ordinance prohibits all covered persons from acting in their County positions in any matter that would have a direct financial impact on them or on a close relative or business associate. Both Commissioners Smith and Shreve made comments about repealing the ethics legislation.  No motion was made on said comments.

December 2 BOCC meeting:

December 1 BOCC meeting: Robert’s Rules changed to allow the president of the BOCC to make motions.  From John Mathias, Frederick County Attorney:  ”The parliamentary rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order cover many different types of group meetings from small entities of 3 or more members up to large organizations of thousands of members.  Some of the rules are more intended for the large organizations than the smaller ones.   The general rule prohibits the Chair from making a motion (although the Chair can ask the vice chair to preside temporarily while the Chair makes a motion).  The purpose of the rule is to allow the chair to focus more on the role of presiding at the meeting and making objective, impartial rulings on any parliamentary procedures.  Though not worded this way, the logic of Robert’s Rules seems to be that the Chair has plenty to do running the meeting without having to also make motions.    These concerns are much more prominent with a large society.  In fact, Robert’s Rules provides that for a board with fewer than a dozen members present, the Chair may make motions (as well as speak in debate and vote on motions) subject to the rule or custom of the particular board.  (Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised 10th ed., Section 49, p. 471).    At the December 1 meeting, the BOCC, in effect, adopted a rule indicating that it would follow the Robert’s Rules guidance for a small board and allow the Chair to make motions.”

05/14/13 With more wind energy, PJM could save us $7 billion per year

A study by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid and Synapse Energy Economics shows that Wind Energy may not be as “expensive” as what is generally thought: “PJM Interconnection (the power grid Maryland and 13 other starts are a part of) could save its customers $6.9 billion if it more than doubled the amount of wind energy it currently plans to build.”

“By the end of 2012, about 3.4 percent of PJM‘s total installed capacity was generated from wind. Over the next 13 years, with the advent of renewable portfolio standards, states within the PJM system (including Maryland) will expand their wind energy capacity to 11 percent of their total installed capacity.”

Read the Full Article Here

Also, check out where Maryland gets it’s energy, how it’s used, and more from at the Maryland Energy Association website: http://energy.maryland.gov/energy101/

4/24 Planning Commission to discuss Westview South MXD

 

WESTVIEW SOUTH MXDNew development planned for the north and south sides of Executive Way, south of Frederick, between Buckeystown Pike and New Design Road.  There will be 122,500 square feet of employment use and a maximum of 615 dwelling units (approx. 255 single-family and 360 multifamily) type products (apartments, two-over-twos, condos), or any variation of dwelling unit mix such that the intensity of total peak hour vehicle trips or the school student generation is not increased above that analyzed in the “Westview South Land Bays 2, 3, and 4″ memorandum prepared on behalf of the Applicant by Wells and Associates, LLC, dated February 22, 2013 (the “Project Memorandum”) or the student projections referenced here.

See the former LOU  and the DRAFT LOU in progress.

3/13/13 Tomorrow: join the biggest fracking rally Maryland has ever seen!

From the Maryland League of Conservation Voters:

As some of you already know, the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee voted narrowly 6-5 last week against the Maryland Hydraulic Fracturing and Right to Know Act of 2013.  However, this is not the end of the movement.

If we’re going to win a moratorium on fracking for natural gas in Maryland next year, one thing is certain: we need you. To come out on top, we need to take our statewide grassroots movement straight to the doorsteps of legislators in Annapolis.  We need you to maintain the momentum and join us in Annapolis this Wednesday:

RSVP: Join the biggest fracking rally Annapolis has ever seen on March 13th.

Marylanders deserve legal protections against drilling now, while the state investigates the risks to our air, water and climate. We can’t afford the toxic, undrinkable tap water, rural towns overrun with industrial truck traffic and supercharged climate emissions already linked to fracking activity in other states. Also- Center for Health, Environment, and Justice Executive Director and movement hero, Lois Gibbs, just confirmed she will be speaking at the rally!

On March 13th, we’ll stand tall as a movement in Annapolis, and show the General Assembly the need to protect our communities.

Hope to see you there!

03/05/13 LTE – Will they pay?

I read with interest last week’s article about Friends of Frederick County lawsuits. I am a taxpayer living in Frederick County and highly supportive of Friends’ hard work to keep our elected officials working within the law.

 

The local government could save lots of money by not defending plans that are ill conceived and burdensome to existing taxpayers. When the building is done, are the developers going to stick around to pay for additional roads besides those in the developments to accommodate the increased commuter flow, or build a new water treatment plant when existing wells go dry?

 

Hardly. They’ll be on to the next project and we’ll be left with new towns connected by two-lane, overcrowded roads going nowhere fast.

 

Dottie Drake

Ijamsville

 

(Letter to the Editor – Frederick News Post

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/opinion/display_lte.htm?storyid=147569#.UTUoCjd5mc0)

2/20/13 Citizen majority bay wide support clean up efforts and clean water

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Marylanders support bay cleanup

Originally published February 20, 2013

Recent letters have commented about efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Stephen Seawright, past president of the Frederick County Building Industry Association, pointed out that an 80 percent majority of our current elected county commissioners are disinclined to support these local efforts. But he failed to account for the 70 percent of Marylanders who support bay efforts.Every one of us, regardless of domicile or occupation, has bay impacts and needs to be part of the changing practices to alleviate bay pollution. But the voices we often hear now are those with a complaint about a single regulation that affects their personal business or lifestyle.

Mr. Seawright suggests that because some efforts are lower cost per projected improvement impact, that we simply buy more of that mitigation while ignoring the ones that his industry needs to integrate into their development process. This is sophistic logic.

Bay pollution is costly and problematic, and efforts are spread across a wide spectrum of practices and public actions. Because of its nature, there is no single source or cause, no magic wand to health.

The problem is not simply solved by planting all trees and ignoring the variety of other causes, including the impervious surfaces that Mr. Seawright objects to mitigating. No matter how much of Frederick County we covered in streamside forest buffers, the water runoff from impervious surfaces, in velocity and heat and carrying an array of pollutants such as oil and chemicals and fertilizers, would impair the stream water quality, erode stream banks, and ultimately still diminish the Chesapeake Bay.

The 70 percent of Marylanders for bay cleanup know that as we spend to improve agricultural practices, change builder practices for impervious surfaces, and plant riparian trees, and the variety of other directives toward bay cleanup goals, it is ultimately all of us who really end up paying the difference. And we agree that clean water, for drinking, supporting the farmers of the bay, and sport and recreational uses, not to mention our obligation to our children and grandchildren’s future, is worth the effort.

I call upon our Board of County Commissioners, homebuilders, our farmers, and ultimately our individual lifestyle choices, to make every effort possible to sustain our environmental qualities.

 

JACK LYNCH

Frederick

2/14/13 Environmental Groups Stand Together Against HB 256

* 1000 Friends of Maryland * Maryland League of Conservation Voters * Clean Water Action * Citizens for the Preservation of Middletown Valley * Friends of Frederick County * Montgomery Countryside Alliance *

* R.A.L.E Monrovia * Audubon Naturalist Society * Maryland Conservation Coalition * Eastern Shore Land Conservancy *Envision Frederick

 

February 14, 2013

Testimony on HB 256

        Land Use – Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreements – Direct Judicial Review

Environmental Matters

 

Position: Unfavorable

 

HB 256 would remove a critical point of engagement for the citizens of Maryland by forcing them to go to Circuit Court instead of their current ability to appeal a development rights agreement at the appropriate level – the Board of Appeals.

 

By forcing action directly to the courts a number of problems arise:

  • New expenses for citizens – Board of Appeal is free Circuit Court requires lawyers filing fees and more
  • Problems in creating a solid record of critical facts.  At the Board of Appeals critical information can be brought to the attention of the hearing officer but in Circuit Court the record is based only on actions at planning commission and Council hearings.
  • 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.

In Frederick County the developer right agreements are for long periods of time, 20 – 25 years, 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.

 

Hampering citizen engagement only serves to anger citizens, potentially ties up already crowded courts and blocks an opportunity to find real solutions during the development process.

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.