November 16, 2011
Department of Planning and Development Review
Frederick County Planning Board
12 East Church Street, Frederick, Maryland 21701
Jim Gugel, AICP
Planning Manager, Department of Planning and Development Review
Frederick County Community Development Division
Reference: Global Mission Church (GMC) Requests for Zoning Classification
Change (UR 41 – UR 42)
Thank you for the opportunity to write in support of the Urbana Area Comprehensive
Plan in general. I am writing to you with the hope that you will deny Global Mission Church’s (GMC’s) appeal to change the classification of parcels on which they seek to build a large institution that is inadequate on many levels for their congregation and the surrounding communities in the vicinity of Sugarloaf Mountain. Rezoning the parcels would allow GMC to build a facility that could cause grave damage to Little Bennett Creek—a significant watershed that ultimately spans across state lines flowing into the Chesapeake Bay via the Potomac River. I respectfully oppose the reclassification of those parcels.
GMC’s original site plan was denied because of water and sewer considerations, and its threat to the Piedmont Sole Source Aquifer in 2009. The septic capacity was too small and was proposed to be built on fractured rock, alongside Little Bennett Creek—a significant watershed that ultimately feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. There was strong opposition to this site plan from the public at large, including us; Montgomery County officials, including County Executive Isiah Leggitt and Montgomery County Planning Board Official Callum Murray; and Maryland State Senators, Rob Garagiola and Kathy Dumas, who either sent letters opposing this site plan or testified at the planning board hearing in 2009. All this testimony are part of this voluminous public record.
I strongly believe that the 120-acre property on which GMC proposes to build a large institution should instead be included in the greenways (parkland) inventory. If possible, please make all necessary adjustments to zoning requirements in concert with the area master plans–to prevent institutional uses of these mega scale in this rural area.
The applicant, in their petition, describes the parcels as vacant. The truth is that the land is host to diverse plant and animal species and a community that depends the Piedmont Sole Source Aquifer. Sugarloaf Mountain is a park that millions of people drive a far as Downtown Washington, DC, and Alexandria, VA, to visit annually. As a matter of law and sound public policy, Frederick County is bound to integrate the protection of the environment in all public and private development and land use decisions to promote the health and safety of and enhance the quality of life for all its citizens.
The citizens of Frederick and Montgomery Counties are relying on you to protect the public and ecological health of the region and uphold state and federal law and do what is right for both parties. It seems to me that GMC, which does great things, could serve themselves and the community more effectively in a more urban area that has city public water and sewer services available.
Please do not approve the requested zoning classification change.
Dale and Eleanor Kotler
22404 Nicholson Farm Road
Dickerson, MD 20842
(sign up to speak at 5pm), Winchester Hall (12 E Church St, downtown Frederick).
Global Mission Church/David Severn, land use attorney, submitted two proposals: UR 41 (parcel 36) and UR 42 (parcel 109)
There are 2 pieces of each of these parcels that are currently zoned Resource Conservation.
- In UR 41: 8.5 acres are currently zoned Resource Conservation. Requested change of 3 acres (of the 8.5) from RC to Ag
- In UR 42: the request is to change all of the 78.87 acres to Agricultural Zoning (currently 6.3 acres of the total are zoned Resource Conservation)
Some points to consider
- parcel 36 is by the creek
- parcel 36 is 100% forested Pre-2010 zoning was about 60% RC and 40% Agricultural. The change made in 2010 was to add RC zoning to the northern portion of parcel 36.
- Parcel 36 has 1.1 acres of PFO1A wetlands: Palustrine, forested, broad-leaf deciduous, temporarily flooded wetlands. This type of wetland is rare in Frederick County, (historically most of the wetlands were cleared, filled and cultivated for agriculture.
- The Dept of Natural Resources shows a large swath of these forested wetlands along the entire length of Little Bennett Creek. The county added additional RC zoning on this property due to the wide, extensive forest buffers that exist along this creek system. RC zoning category is entirely appropriate and consistent for functional purpose of protecting the wetland and watershed. Additionally the Natural Resource land use plan designation (a change made in the 2010 plan supports the Resource Conservation zoning.
- To rezone a portion of this parcel back to Ag is contrary to county policies. The zoning ordinance definition of RC is totally consistent with the resources that exist on this parcel.
- Any changes from Resource Conservation to Agricultural Zoning may facilitate the construction of a road “driveway” for development of that land parcel.
Letters to Frederick County Planning Commissioners
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January 20th 1pm at Winchester Hall - Attend the Board of Zoning Appeals hearing!
Send letters in advance to the BOA, their website: http://www.frederickcountymd.gov/index.aspx?NID=176
Read more on the issue blogs: http://www.friendsoffrederickcounty.org/category/by-campaign/mega-churches/
01-19-2011 Public hearing on GMC: large church impacts upon public health, safety and the environment
In 2008 Global Mission Church, with current perish in Silver Spring, announced its plan to expand to Frederick County , clear forest and farmland, to build a 140,000 ft 2 complex at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain. This megachurch would be built on well and septic; local residents and professionals alike have expressed concern that this development would greatly impact the area’s wetlands, the Little Bennett Creek and the Piedmont Sole Source Aquifer.
In October 2009 the Frederick County Planning Commission voted to deny the Global Mission (GMC) Site Plan because, according to the Health Department’s regulation GMC’s plan would exceed the septic capacity of 4,999 gallon per day. GMC had time to bring their plan into compliance but did not do so.
In March 2010 the Frederick County Board of Appeals (BOA) voted 4-1 to send the GMC site plan decision back to the Planning Commission for further proceedings and to give the GMC additional opportunity to discuss their site plan with county staff.
In July 2010 Judge Dwyer, Frederick County Circuit Court, GMC July 2010 Dwyer decision.
On January 19, 2011 2pm Frederick County attorney, Wendy Kearney, will present the county’s appeal to the BOA March decision and support the Planning Commission’s 2009 decision in the Frederick County Circuit Court . Please try to attend; if you can’t make it check our website afterwards for a report.
Thanks to all Frederick and Montgomery County residents, specifically the Montgomery Countryside Alliance (http://mocoalliance.org/2010/11/global-mission-church-update/) for participation and excellent testimony at the many public meetings on this issue. Please continue to speak out on behalf of clean air, water, public health and safety, open space and the flora and fauna that depend upon it.
Frederick Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Planning Commission Decision to Deny Water/Sewer Plan for Mega-Church on Farmland
Global Mission Church, with current perish in Silver Spring, wants to expand to Frederick County , clear forest and farmland, to build a 140,000 ft 2 complex at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain. This megachurch would be built on well and septic; local residents and professionals alike have expressed concern that this development would greatly impact the area’s wetlands, the Little Bennett Creek and the Piedmont Sole Source Aquifer.
In October our Frederick County Planning Commission denied the Global Mission Church (GMC) site plan. Their denial was based primarily on Frederick County public health and emergency professionals’ legitimate concerns about having this large complex septic sytem-dependent and the on inadequacy of planned fire precautions.
GMC has appealed that decision – and were heard before the Frederick County Board of Zoning Appeals on hold a special hearing on case B-09-16 on Wednesday, January 20th starting at 1PM in the 1st Floor Hearing Room at 12 E. Church St. [Winchester Hall] in Frederick.
GMC lawyers are working to discredit Frederick County health and emergency safety staff opinion, and have complained that they were not permitted to cross examine citizens who attended the public hearing in October. GMC is also proposing to pave a road to access Dr. Perry Rd and satisfy emergency issues. The road would require woodland clearing and paving across a floodplain, Little Bennett Creek and just feet away from an existing home.
Why is the Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to uphold Planning Commission decision relevant?
“This case affirms that GMC must work within the 5,000 gpd septic capacity. With the size of their buildings and congregation, this seems impossible without seriously scaling down their proposed footprint and programming, no such backtracking has happened in the 2+ years of hearings on this issue. With this decision it seems more likely than ever that the site plan will be denied.
The court case challenging the FredCo Board of Appeals ruling is still pending, we can expect it to begin in earnest in September. The full Petition for Judicial Review of the BOA decision can be found here.. Read Full court decision here.
To read all past posts on the GMC issue, click here and scroll down.” Source of information: Montgomery Countryside Alliance website.
WRITE A LETTER
in support of an Environmental and Natural Resource Reserve in Southern Frederick County – that will protect agricultural land, fragile sole-source aquifer and area wells and prohibit large scale industrial development in that area.
This proposal for an Environmental and Natural Resource Reservewould protect land east of the Monocacy, west of I-70 and North of the Montgomery County line. It would protect the Sugarloaf Mountain, the Monocacy Battlefield, hundreds of acres of farms, prohibit large institutional development, protect areas around the Monocacy River and foster the continuation of agricultural preservation contiguous with that in Montgomery County. Click here for a rough rendition of the proposed area (courtesy of Montgomery Countryside Alliance).
The Board of County Commissioners is poised to move ahead with the proposal by the end of June. Please send them letters expressing your support for the Environmental and Natural Resource Reserve as soon as possible:
Jan H. Gardner: jgardner@FrederickCountyMD.gov
David P. Gray: dgray@FrederickCountyMD.gov
Kai J. Hagen: khagen@FrederickCountyMD.gov
John L. Thompson, Jr.: lthompson@FrederickCountyMD.gov
Blaine R. Young: byoung@FrederickCountyMd.gov
Please send a copy of your letter to email@example.com.
The recently ratified Frederick County 20-Year Comprehensive Plan mandates increased protection for environmentally sensitive areas, and those – like this – that are under pressure to change. This proposal is the first initiative to implement the action item NR-A-14 in Chapter 3 – Conserving Our Natural Resources and Green Infrastructure.
Letter via email to Rick Brace, Frederick County Planning and Zoning, December 7 2009
I live on the corner of Peach Tree and Comus Road in Clarksburg, Maryland. Our home is a 1920s Cape Cod style farm house situated on just over two acres of land with a perfect birds-eye view of Sugar Loaf Mountain. There is a home down the road built in 1835. It is an area that’s relatively quiet with the roads designated Rustic/Rural by the Montgomery County Government. A six and one half story tall structure would diminish the bucolic setting this area provides to both Frederick and Montgomery County residents.
Our area has fought hard to protect other past proposed development projects including a garbage dump as well as a golf course more recently. Each of these developments was rejected on the grounds of insufficient road capacity, inadequate water supply, and not keeping in harmony with the Agricultural Reserve’s landscape while protecting its precious natural resources.
The well water supply from our aquifer in this same area is very fragile to say the least. Our home’s well yields a water flow (replentishment) rate of 2 & 1/4 gallons per minute with some neighbors getting an even smaller yield. The property next to ours does not perk so they are unable to even build a house.
There’s a four way stop on our corner that frequently has cars running through the stop sign narrowly missing pedestrians and the bicyclists that pass this same corner. It’s hard to imagine receiving a large majority of the cars associated with a church congregation that contains over 1,300 members. Our road(Comus Rd) and Old One Hundred Rd. are the two most direct roads that give east/west access from both I270 and Rt.355. Most of the secondary roads that feed Comus and Old Hundred are so narrow that you practically have to hug the shoulder when meeting on-coming vehicles.
Although the Global Mission Church would fall within Frederick County property, it would by far impact Montgomery County’s roads and residents the most. We deeply appreciate the fact that Frederick County took this fact as well as others into consideration when recently rejecting this development proposal and hope this will not change when their decision is appealed.
Jeffrey G. Garrard
Frederick Gazette, November 5, 2009
I am writing in response to The Gazette’s article about the Global Mission Church (“Church to appeal decision,” Oct. 22).
I live in the neighborhood where the church made its application to build, I attended the planning meeting where the application was denied, and I am a developer by occupation. What seems clear to me is that the church relied on a technical loophole created by poor drafting of the zoning text for exempted uses in a residential area.
Behind this, the truth is that the church officials have also exhibited exquisitely poor judgment from day one when they decided on an under-the-radar strategy designed to sneak their application past the public, a decision that has now cost them in wasted time and money. Who in their right mind would risk the bad public relations of cross-examining a retired housewife sharing personal feelings at a public hearing? Global Mission Church did. Pure hubris.
Instead of using the three months of continuance the church was granted by the Planning Commission to adjust the size and scale of their project so it would conform to Health Department and Office of Life Safety regulations and fit in the surrounding farm community, the church made no adjustments at all other than to choose yet another arrogant ram-rod approach of intimidation through litigation by filing a lawsuit before the planning meeting and then demanding cross-examination of the public speakers during the meeting.
Church officials should accept the offer they have to buy back the land for what they paid for it.
Bennett H. Goldberg, Frederick
Global Mission Church filed to appeal Frederick County’s Planning Commissions denial of their site plan
Global Mission Church takes issue with the Health Department and Fire and Safety staff recommendations for denial to the Board of Appeals. Read their appeal here.
Mark your calendars: Appeal to be heard on December 17th at 7pm. GMC is second on the agenda and may be continued to December 21st.
Please send letters in advance to the BOA, their website: http://www.frederickcountymd.gov/index.aspx?NID=176