RALE: Town center study underestimates increased traffic

A report commissioned by Monrovia residents states that a transportation study for a proposed 1,510-home development in the area is riddled with flaws and underestimates the traffic that would be created by the new housing.

The group of residents who oppose the Monrovia Town Center project has sent the analysis to officials with the Maryland State Highway Administration. The group, Residents Against Landsdale Expansion, also requested a meeting with state transportation officials before Frederick County commissioners begin deliberating on the town center project planned near Md. 75 and Md. 80.

Read the full article…

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.

 

10/17/13 editorial: Dredging Lake Linganore

Dredging Lake Linganore

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 2:00 am

It appears as though Frederick, Frederick County and the Lake Linganore Association may be sharing the cost of a much-needed project — dredging tons of silt that have accumulated in the lake since it was created in 1972.

LLA has been talking about this project for years, but the cost, estimated at between $4 million and $8 million, has been prohibitive for the development near New Market to bear alone.

It’s encouraging that these three potential partners in this enterprise met recently to discuss their interest in financing the project.

County special projects manager Mike Marschner presented the following three-way split on the project’s cost: Frederick County, 25 percent; the city of Frederick, 50 percent; and LLA, 25 percent.

Frederick Mayor Randy McClement and LLA representative Robert Charles seemed amenable to Marschner’s cost-sharing proposal. The city’s share is greatest because the lake, which Frederick uses for water storage, is a component of its water management system.

And while the county no longer relies on Lake Linganore for any of its water needs, that could change in the future. To ensure access to the lake’s water if it is needed, the county is willing to contribute to the cost of the dredging operation.  Read the entire editorial.

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…

Register NOW to adopt a grid – 4 hours/year of volunteer time ONLY

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Thank you.

8/24/13 FNP: New Market reconsiders annexation plans

 

New Market reconsiders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read entire article here.

Discussion of public/private partnerships and who will pay for infrastructure?

Join the discussion group and ask questions, share you views and concerns!

Click here.

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/

CBF backs “rain tax”

In a Frederick NEws Post letter to the editor the Chesapeake Bay Foundation supports the rain tax…

 

Bay Foundation backs ‘rain tax’

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013 2:00 am

More pollution goes into Frederick County creeks and rivers than into the waters of any other county in Maryland, according to Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) data. About 20 percent of that comes from storm water — a swill of dog feces, lawn fertilizer, oil and gasoline residue and water that flashes off streets and parking lots when it rains.

This type of pollution is the only source of water pollution increasing in the region, especially in growing counties such as Frederick. Farmers, sewage plants and other sources are discharging less pollution than years past.

Frederick understands the value of investing in streets, water filtration plants and sewage plants. But some county officials don’t seem to want to invest in another county utility: the system of ponds, pipes and culverts that drains its landscape. As a result the antiquated system gets more expensive to upgrade each year, like a leaking roof we refuse to patch.

Contrary to a recent News-Post editorial there are no storm water “plants” that treat polluted runoff as there are plants to treat sewage. The polluted runoff mostly goes into a storm drain and straight into local creeks.

How polluted is Frederick County? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and MDE have declared most of the waters of the county officially “impaired,” including the Monocacy River, Double Pipe Creek and Catoctin Creek. Residents are cautioned not to come into contact with the water for a full 48 hours after a summer thunderstorm. How’s that work for convincing businesses to relocate to Frederick County?

This isn’t a new problem. But there is a new urgency to fix it. In fact, soon Frederick and other Maryland counties will receive new storm water permits under the federal Clean Water Act that require them to do a better job.

How to pay for it? About 1,300 jurisdictions around the country have approved some form of “storm water utility fee,” determining such fees to be the fairest and most efficient way to address this problem.

Despite popular rhetoric, these fees aren’t “rain taxes” but a fair assessment on polluters (you and me) that pays for a service the county provides. It’s fixing our parking lots, streets, driveways and other surfaces that turn rain into toxic soup.

The benefits would be substantial. In Anne Arundel County where county commissioners have approved a storm water fee, for example, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center estimates that for every $100 million the county invests in improvements, the county will gain $220 million in economic benefits and almost 800 jobs.

By state law, Frederick can decide how much of a utility fee it wants to raise from each resident and business to begin to meet its responsibilities. Unfortunately, Frederick County Commissioners have decided their constituents can live with dirty water. They have said they will collect only 1 cent from each resident for the job. That ploy might make for a fine protest, but Frederick County will get what it pays for — likely continued unhealthy water and flooded basements. And an ever larger bill to be paid by the children and grandchildren of the county.

Alison Prost

is Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

4/16/13 – COMMENTS SOUGHT ON OVERSIGHT OF “DUAL USE” BIO RESEARCH

Members of the public are invited to comment on the feasibility and desirability of various forms of institutional oversight at federally-funded institutions that perform research involving certain pathogens or toxins.

“Certain types of research that are conducted for legitimate purposes may also be utilized for harmful purposes. Such research is called ‘dual use research’,” said a Notice filed in the Federal Register Friday by the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“Dual use research of concern (DURC) is a smaller subset of dual use research defined as life sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, or national security,” the OSTP Noticeexplained.

The term “dual use research of concern” should not be taken in a pejorative sense, OSTP said.

“Research that meets the definition of DURC often increases our understanding of the biology of pathogens and makes critical contributions to the development of new treatments and diagnostics, improvements in public health surveillance, and the enhancement of emergency preparedness and response efforts. Thus, designating research as DURC should not be seen as a negative categorization, but simply an indication that the research may warrant additional oversight in order to reduce the risks that the knowledge, information, products, or technologies generated could be used in a manner that results in harm. As a general matter, designation of research as DURC does not mean that the research should not be conducted or communicated.”

In the February 22 Federal Register Notice, OSTP posed a series of questions concerning potential oversight arrangements for dual use research of concern and solicited feedback from interested members of the public.

Please send Beth Willis (mcbeth@mac.com) the following if you want to sign on to these comments.  They will be submitted to the Office of Science and Technology Policy on April 19. 
Name, title, (if relevant)
Organization,(if relevant)
City and State
You can sign on for an organization, or as “member, (name of organization).” or just as yourself.
PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY SO WE CAN GET AS MANY SIGNATURES AS POSSIBLE.  I will put my name and contact info on, others do not need to.  
DEADLINE:  Thursday April 18th.
Thanks for considering this sign on comment document and apologies for the short time frame.
Beth Willis
Frederick Citizens for Biolab Safety
Frederick, MD