FNP: Nonprofits object to Frederick County land-use plan rewrite

 

 

Nonprofits object to Frederick County land-use plan rewrite

Originally published September 07, 2011 

By Bethany Rodgers

Bumper-to-bumper traffic and tax increases could arise from a current effort to rewrite the county land-use plan, leaders of two local nonprofit groups said Tuesday.Estimating that more than 10,000 acres of farmland and open space could give way to housing if rezoned or reclassified under a new comprehensive plan, the organization Friends of Frederick County predicted the result would be an influx of cars on the roads and children in schools. The current comprehensive plan, adopted last year by the previous board of commissioners, doesn’t need an overhaul and offers ample space for growth, the nonprofit representatives said.

“This has everything to do with our quality of life,” Janice Wiles, executive director of Friends of Frederick County, said of the land-use plan. “Once things are rezoned É it just changes the whole nature of our county.”

The current effort by county commissioners to revisit the comprehensive plan began earlier this year.

Commissioners President Blaine Young said he wanted the rewrite because the 2010 land-use blueprint stripped value from a number of properties through “downzoning” them, increasing limitations on development of the land. Young has said he’s looking to restore the lost value as commissioners revise the plan.

While Young has said he’s not interested in rezoning properties left untouched by recent county comprehensive plans, all landowners were free to submit requests. The county reported receiving 196 applications for new zonings and land-use designations, with concentrations in the New Market, Urbana and Frederick regions.

Friends of Frederick County’s analysis of the applications showed that granting the requests could pave the way for construction of more than 23,000 homes, possibly translating into upwards of 12,700 school-aged children.

At a meeting Tuesday morning, Wiles and Kai Hagen — a former county commissioner and leader of the nonprofit organization Envision Frederick County — said the county doesn’t have the roads or schools to accommodate growth in all of the areas under consideration for rezoning or land-use designation changes. That means officials would have to raise taxes to fund infrastructure improvements, Wiles said.

The previous board’s 20-year growth plan allowed for the construction of about 36,000 new homes, covering what state population estimates indicate the county might need for that period.

Commissioner David Gray, who was the only board member to vote against a rewrite — although Commissioner Kirby Delauter was absent for the decision — said changing the document is unnecessary and happening too quickly. The current schedule has the board adopting changes in early 2012.

“I hope we will slow down,” he said at the Tuesday meeting with Hagen and Wiles, adding that there’s no pressing need to push through the revisions.

However, in a phone interview, Young said the previous comprehensive plan snatched money from landowners.

“They think it’s OK with a stroke of a pen to take away someone’s hard work and life savings, and they don’t think they should be compensated in any way, shape or form,” Young said of those who would stick with the 2010 document.

In addition, growth will inject money into the local economy by stimulating jobs. Far from worsening the problem of funding shortages for infrastructure, development can help provide a solution by generating money from fees and taxes, Young said.

Hagen takes issue with the claim that changing the comprehensive plan will encourage job growth. Just because a new plan would benefit developers doesn’t mean it is good for the entire business community, he said.

“Developing in the wrong place is not good job-creation,” Hagen said.

 

Express your opinion of PlanMaryland

Over the next 20 years, there will be nearly 1,000,000 more people, over 400,000 additional households and over 600,000 new jobs in Maryland.Where will all these people live and work, how will they get to their jobs?

Read more – and express your opinion to the local paper!.  Share this information.  It is the future of our bucolic county, its farmland, our water and air quality, our budget and overall quality of life.

 

05-20-2011 Gazette online: Frederick County to revisit zoning changes

Rezoning farmland for residential buildings requires that road construction (and maintenance), school space, sewer extension, water provision and emergency services are calculated into the cost of the development.  Keep your eyes on the budget – more often than not those costs are underestimated.  It is often touted that developers will pay those costs, but they rarely – if ever, pay even a fraction. Schools and roads are often greatly impacted by residential growth – affecting the quality of life, health, safety and welfare of your families.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Frederick County to revisit zoning changes

Commissioner Young says residents’ investments were ‘stolen’ by previous board

by Katherine Heerbrandt | Staff Writer

Frederick County property owners will soon have the opportunity to ask commissioners to restore development rights the previous board took away last year.

“We are interested in those people who had their net worth, their retirement savings and their investment stolen, in my opinion

, by the previous board,” said Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R). “This was a very clear part of my campaign platform … and a lot of people have been waiting on this.”

Commissioners began the process to accept requests for zoning changes at Thursday’s meeting by a vote of 4-1. Commissioner David P. Gray (R) voted against the plan. An application for a review of zoning is expected to be posted on the county’s website late today and applicants have until July 15 to submit their requests.

As part of the comprehensive plan, a long-term blueprint for growth, the previous board of commissioners rezoned about 700 properties. In many cases, the zoning was changed from commercial, residential or industrial use to agricultural or resource conservation. The change meant that landowners could possibly lose millions of dollars because they cannot develop their properties.

The impetus for the change was to encourage landowners who live near towns and cities to ask for annexation, county planner Jim Gugel told The Gazette last year.

When the plan was adopted in April 2010, Gray, a member of the previous board, called it the “finest I’ve ever seen.”

After Thursday’s meeting, Gray, who spoke little during the meeting, was clearly disappointed.

“This invites everybody that wants to come in [for rezoning request] to come in,” Gray said. “And I don’t think this board has the competence and interest to do a comprehensive plan. I don’t imagine they will make smart decisions.”

Young countered that Gray forgets the previous board debated and voted on the rezoning in one morning. “Talk about incompetent,” he said.

The review will take between nine months and a year, depending on the number of people who request zoning changes. Based on those who have contacted him, Young conservatively estimates that between 80 and 100 will file applications.

According to Young, Gray is going too far in assuming this board wants to revisit the entire comprehensive plan. His board has no intention of changing 98 percent of the plan, and will not create new growth areas. Young’s sole interest, he said, is in a relatively small number of downzonings that resulted in financial hardship for property owners, even though the process must be open to any property owner in Frederick County.

Gray is not convinced.

“This is the beginning of a who-you-know zoning map. We will not be respected as a county with good planning. This board doesn’t want to talk about any of that,” he said.

He was also displeased that the agenda item was not open for public comment, and tried to bring up the issue during Thursday’s meeting, but was cut off by Commissioner C. Paul Smith (R), who made a motion to accept the review plan.

According to Young, there will be plenty of time for public comment in the next year on the process. And in his mind, the public has spoken on the issue.

“It was called an election,” he said.

For an application, visit www.frederickcountymd.gov. For information, call the county’s Department of Planning and Permits Review at 301-600-1138.

Staff Writer Sherry Greenfield contributed to this report.

kheerbrandt@gazette.net

Gazette article online here.

Jefferson citizens out in numbers to say Food Lion inappropriate for their community

The Jefferson Community wore red shirts and spoke well about the social, economic and environmental impacts of a big box store in their rural community.  A Village Center is meant to serve a rural agriculture or rural residential community – and hence the maximum footprint.

Frederick County zoning to allow bigger buildings

Originally published May 18, 2011

By Meg Tully

The Frederick County Commissioners were torn Tuesday night between helping property owners in Urbana and protecting the historic nature of Jefferson.

The commissioners opted to only slightly increase allowed building size in land designated with “village center” zoning — which includes properties in Urbana, Jefferson and other unincorporated areas such as Adamstown.

As part of a package of zoning changes, they had been considering a change allowing those properties to have building footprints exceeding the current 8,000-square-foot limit.

That change brought objections from Jefferson residents, who feared that without the footprint limit, development of a 30,000-square-foot supermarket could be approved.

In the end, the commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner David Gray opposed, to allow building footprints up to 10,000 square feet if the planning commission agreed that exceeding 8,000 square feet would be compatible with the area.

The village center change was proposed along with six other zoning changes that came out of meetings with the business community. The commissioners had sought input regarding how to make the zoning ordinance more business-friendly. The seven unrelated changes were identified as a priority and proposed as a package.

On Tuesday night, the commissioners’ vote — which takes effect in 10 days — included the change to village center and the six other changes — including one allowing private entities to build parks in the agricultural zone.

In discussion, the commissioners also vowed to re-examine the zoning of parcels in Urbana as part of a comprehensive rezoning consideration slated to be discussed Thursday morning.

That move came in response to property owners and the volunteer fire department in Urbana, who had wanted the commissioners to change the village center footprint requirement to make it more desirable to develop their properties.

The village center change would also affect Jefferson’s village center properties, including one parcel near Md. 180 and Holter Road where a developer had tried to change the zoning in order to build a Food Lion or other supermarket.

Jefferson residents packed the first-floor hearing room in Winchester Hall on Tuesday night, wearing red shirts to signify their opposition to such a change.

Mike Middeke, a Jefferson resident of the Cambridge Farms development, said he was not against developing the land as zoned.

“However, to change the guidelines in order to line the pockets of developers and ruin our quality of life is not acceptable,” Middeke told the commissioners.

Many residents said they did not think Urbana and Jefferson should be treated the same. They expressed support for Hood Geisbert, an Urbana property owner who hopes to sell his land and retire.

“Give our friends in Urbana what they need and deserve and give the Jeffersonians what we need and deserve,” Jefferson resident Patrick Allen said.

Many Jefferson residents brought up concern for the small businesses in Jefferson. They said they were happy with the Jefferson Market, the Jefferson Pastry Shoppe and Hemp’s Meats.

Susan Hanson, who owns Catoctin Pottery at the Lewis Mill building off Poffenberger Road, said her business would be negatively affected by a big-box store.

“Obviously people are not going to drive down an old gravel road, which they often do, when they can go to a big store and get a box of candy and some flowers,” Hanson said. “I know that other businesses in Jefferson do feel the same way.”

Residents said the town’s roads and limited water supply also posed challenges to larger development. They urged commissioners to preserve the community feel of the small town.

After listening to several hours of public testimony, several commissioners said they agreed that development at a larger scale in Jefferson was inappropriate.

But they said they didn’t agree that property owners in Urbana should be subject to the same restrictions.

Commissioner Kirby Delauter said he wanted to be able to help Geisbert, who has had trouble selling his 31Ú2-acre parcel in Urbana because of the restriction. Geisbert said the footprint requirement was added a few years ago — his existing buildings are actually bigger.

Delauter said he’d like to allow Geisbert to be able to build a building with a 20,000 square feet footprint. But he didn’t want to see the same thing in Jefferson.

“We’re pretty much in a dilemma,” Delauter said. “It just aggravates me to sit here and not be able to help someone that I want to help.”

But Gray argued that the commissioners needed to protect the integrity of planning policy for the entire county.

“We have 230,000 residents in Frederick County, not two landowners,” Gray said. “We don’t tear apart the zoning code because somebody’s in front of us tonight.”

Link to online FNP article.

03-09-2011 (9:30am Winchester Hall) Planning Commission to discuss land use text ammendments

What are the impacts of the revision in these text amendments  – to be discussed that the Mar 9 Planning Commission meeting:

- adding more, possibly inappropriate, uses in Ag zones;

- loosening and removing existing rules for farm remainders, ag lots and ag clusters;

- allow public and private schools in ag zones (would promote the building of such facilities as as Global Mission Church);

- re-instituting the recently deleted provision for “farm lots” (allowing large estate lot subdivision);

- allowing “floating zone” type development without the need for floating zone approval;

- reduce lot size in resource conservation zones from 10 to 5 acres;

- reduce or eliminate special restrictions in Village Center zones;

- increase the allowable use of unsightly outdoor storage in GC and LI zones;

- loosen restrictions on building on flooding soils;

- loosen restrictions on the amount of on-site storage of flammable and combustible materials;

Please see this synopsis of each of the proposed zoning ordinance text amendments and chart.

Re-imagining Urban Sprawl (Gazette 08-19-2010)

Re-imagining Urban Sprawl

Frederick County’s southeast corridor, bordered by two major highways and a national battlefield, may be a shopper’s Mecca, but it can also be a motorist’s nightmare. And its acres of parking lot and shopping centers are distinctive in their lack of distinctiveness, according to Commissioner Kai J. Hagen (D).

“It could be Anywhere, U.S.A.,” Hagen said. He and his colleagues believe that the corridor can be re-imagined, reconfigured and redeveloped into a place not only where people want to shop and eat, but where they want to live and work.

Though the vision is not fully fleshed out in the county’s recently adopted Comprehensive Plan (a land-use plan for the future), the framework is in place for big changes.

The county defines the southeast corridor as 1 mile from the Monocacy MARC station, bounded by Grove Road to the north and Md. Route 85 to the west. The land-use designation was changed to “mixed use” in the April 2010 comprehensive plan.

“The successful redevelopment, over time, of the 355/85 corridor is an ultimate win-win, in land-use planning,” Hagen said. He is one of two commissioners who approved the Comprehensive Plan who is running for re-election this year.

David P. Gray (R) is the other. Gray told The Gazette in previous interviews that one primary reason he is running for re-election is to ensure that the Comprehensive Plan he helped approve gets carried out.

He and Hagen hope the next Board of County Commissioners will take steps to implement the revised vision of one of Frederick’s busiest areas.

Increasing the density in what appears to be an already over-developed area makes more sense, Hagen said, than allowing growth to happen on “virgin territory” that requires massive investments in infrastructure and services. Focusing on vertical development and more compact design, realigning streets into a grid pattern, expanding the road network for easier access and creating a central square are all possibilities for a more dynamic and vibrant mixed-use corridor between Routes 355 and 85.

“Overall, it makes county services a lot more efficient and makes it easier to support public transportation and bicycle connections,” Hagen said.

According to the county’s land-use plan, the 355/85 corridor represents the county’s “most significant opportunity for redevelopment.”

“Future corridor and community plan efforts should focus on the unique opportunities this corridor has to integrate mixed-use development, particularly residential, maximize public transit options around the Monocacy MARC and compliment the southern gateway into the city,” the plan states. Currently there are few residential areas along the 355/85 corridor. The county’s land-use plan shows 36 acres of undeveloped residential space, with no housing units in the pipeline.

To ease congestion and make it easier to navigate the area, the plan calls for connections, primarily the extension of Spectrum Drive over Interstate 270 to Shockley Drive. The plan also shows possibilities for connections between Crestwood Boulevard over I-270 to Grove Road and Industry Lane.

Hagen is adamant that business owners would not be forced into changes and suffer no penalties or consequences for not participating, but would be offered incentives to get on board with the plan. He points to plans for Frederick’s East Street corridor, with its history and diverse mix, that will help create a new identity for that side of town. He talks about the character of downtown, a successful model for mixed land uses.

Redeveloping the corridor successfully, Hagen said, would reduce sprawl and increase tax revenue much more effectively than building on green, open space.

“We don’t need 14-story buildings, but can give mixed-use and density bonuses,” he said. “Two [thousand] to 5,000 people could live in that area over time because they want to, because it will be a desirable place to live.”

kheerbrandt@gazette.net

FNP Letter: Balance and perspective called for in land-use decisions

Originally published June 13, 2010

In his May 23 commentary, Thomas Lynch attempts to cast illusions, build straw men and further polarize growth and development issues — the very things he suggests we rise above.

Lynch unfairly characterized the recently adopted comprehensive plan, and Frederick County government in general, as being unfriendly toward the business community. As a business owner who moved to Frederick County specifically to start a business, I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

The hundreds of properties that Lynch refers to as being “downgraded” constitute less than 1 percent of the properties covered under the comprehensive plan. In addition, within that 1 percent, a large number of the properties were reevaluated as a result of new, updated flood-zone maps issued by FEMA. Most reasonable people would agree that properties in a flood zone are not good candidates for development.

Furthermore, the county commissioners specifically acknowledged that some of the rezoned properties could still be developed if annexed by the adjacent municipalities as part of their growth plans. This ensures that new development can be serviced by adjacent municipal infrastructure.

In the end, there were only a handful of property owners out of the approximately 230,000 residents in Frederick County who were adversely affected. Little consolation for those individuals for sure, but not a bad track record for elected officials trying to balance the desire of individuals with the best interests of the community at large.

The business community in Frederick County is diverse and made up of more than just developers. For example, Frederick County has more farms than any other county in Maryland. The number of farms in Frederick County is also up 13 percent from 2002, unlike many other counties.

Those counties that focused on development as the main engine of growth have suffered the most as a result of the bust in the construction industry.

The industry was premised on people continually upgrading to the next most fashionable neighborhood or floor plan. Studies have shown that land zoned agricultural puts money in the bank for local governments. They pay more in taxes than they consume in services. The opposite is true for new development, which costs existing taxpayers more than it brings in.

The county commissioners spent two years and countless public meetings updating the comprehensive plan. The process was fair and open. All voices were heard. The final comprehensive plan does exactly what it is supposed to do. It accommodates the population growth that is projected to occur in Frederick County over the next 20 years. It aligns growth with existing infrastructure, minimizing the cost to existing residents and taxpayers.

If developers are looking for something to do, look no further than the Golden Mile or any other half dozen communities in Frederick County that are in desperate need of redevelopment.

William Morrow

writes from Whitmore Farm, Emmitsburg

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/opinion/display_lte.htm?storyid=106102

City and County Officials to Continue Cost Discussions of City’s Twenty Year Growth Plan

06-14-2010 City Hall    Mayor McClement asked the City’s Planning Commission to remove the Tier 3 growth area and the North/South parallel road from the Municipal Growth Area map.  The Planning Commission denied his request.

06-16-2010 7pm City Hall  City’s Mayor and Aldermen met with Board of County Commissioners to discuss costs of 20-year municipal growth plan;  the plan is to continue discussions.

What will the planned development cost citizens of this county and city?

The following cost analysis of Frederick City’s Municipal Growth Element was prepared by FoFC for the April 13, 2010 workshop with City and County officials.

Frederick City Officials decided to do a thorough cost analysis of the projected growth and present those costs to the Frederick County Board of Commissioners on June 7th.

Will there be a Big Red Road?

A road that will connect north Rte 15 with I 70 SE of Frederick, and go through over 160 properties – in some cases houses would need to be remove

Municipal Growth Element Fact Sheet

County’s Role in the Development of “Municipal Growth Elements”

wedrawthelineMandatory Adoption

Every municipality in Maryland is required to adopt a “municipal growth element” as part of its comprehensive plan.  The initial deadline for meeting this requirement was October 1, 2009.  For good cause shown, the Maryland Department of Planning may grant up to two six month extensions of this deadline — to either April 1, 2010 or October 1, 2010.

The Maryland Legislature has provided for the suspension of zoning authority in any municipality that fails to adopt a municipal growth element within the prescribed time limits.  By establishing this extraordinary penalty, the Legislature has underscored its commitment to sound planning at the municipal level.

Download the Municipal Growth Element Fact Sheet here.

Purpose

In developing its growth element, a municipality must, among other things, evaluate and disclose the potential impacts of its planned growth on county-wide services and facilities (e.g. roads; schools; water and sewer; parks; fire and emergency services etc.).  This information, in turn, will enable the county to project the likely costs of accommodating proposed municipal growth plans.

Mandatory Consultation

A municipal corporation is required to consult with the county in developing a municipal growth element.  In the course of this consultation, the county may provide the municipality with information related to the cost to the county of accommodating proposed municipal growth.

Mandatory Period of Review and Comment

A municipal corporation is also required to provide a copy of its proposed municipal growth element to the county and, for a period of 30 days thereafter, to accept comments from the county.  In its comments on the municipal growth element, the county may request additional information on the impacts of planned growth on county-wide services and facilities.  The county may also request that the municipality decrease the size of its planned growth area where (i) county-wide services and facilities are not sufficient to accommodate municipal growth plans; and (ii) the county will not in the foreseeable future have the resources to expand its infrastructure to accommodate this planned municipal growth.

Mandatory Meeting of County and Municipal Officials

Within 30 days following the close of the comment period, the county and the municipal corporation “shall meet and confer regarding the municipal growth element.”

This meeting provides the county and municipality an opportunity to resolve differences of opinion regarding (i) the likely costs to the county of municipal growth, as proposed; and (ii) the appropriate size of the planned growth area.  According to the Maryland Department of Planning, “HB 1141 mandates that jurisdictions meet and confer on this subject before the municipal growth element can be adopted.”

Mediation by the Maryland Department of Planning

Following this meeting, “on the request of either party”, the county and the municipality shall employ the mediation and conflict resolution office of the Maryland Department of Planning to resolve any remaining differences of opinion.  The Maryland Department of Planning has stated that:

Good planning dictates that the municipality and county agree on those land areas that will someday become part of the municipality.

Citizens Write Mayor about Failure to Comply with Growth Policy

Mayor Randy McClement

City of Frederick

101 North Court Street

Frederick, Maryland 21701

Re:         The City’s Municipal Growth Element

Dear Mr. Mayor:

Based on information that only recently came to our attention, we believe that the City of Frederick failed to comply with Maryland law in its adoption on November 19, 2009 of a “municipal growth element” to its comprehensive plan. In particular, we understand that the City, under the prior Administration, did not fulfill its obligation to “meet and confer” with the county, as required by Section 3.05(e)(6) of Article 66B.  We therefore write to request that the City’s municipal growth element be rescinded and made subject to further proceedings, as required by state law.  We ask that you respond to this request within 10 days so that we may consider further appropriate steps at that time.

We would also note that under Article 66B, a municipality’s zoning authority is suspended by operation of law after October 1, 2009, unless a valid municipal growth element has been adopted by that date, or an extension of the October 1, 2009 deadline has been granted by the Maryland Department of Planning. Section 3.05(f)(3).  If, as we believe, the City’s process for adopting its municipal growth element was deficient, any zoning actions taken by the City thereafter would appear to be subject to successful legal challenge, absent an extension of the initial statutory deadline.  Our views in this matter are more fully explained below.

Section 3.05(a)(x)(1) of Article 66B requires that every municipality in Maryland adopt a municipal growth element which, among other things, depicts planned growth, including annexations.  A primary purpose of this growth element is to fully disclose the potential impacts of proposed annexations on county-funded public services and facilities, such as schools, water and sewer, parks, law enforcement, and fire and emergency medical services.

In the past, these impacts have largely been ignored and resulted in both a severe decline in the adequacy of county services and facilities and dramatic increases in the tax burden on county residents.  To ensure that these “hidden costs” of annexations and sprawl are no

longer overlooked, state law now requires “a far more detailed and quantitative analysis of future growth” and an “examination of the effects of growth on infrastructure [both] within and adjacent to the present municipality and on future growth areas that may be annexed.” (Maryland Department of Planning, “Managing Maryland’s Growth: Writing the Municipal Growth Element to the Comprehensive Plan”, May 2007, p.1.)

Prior to adopting a municipal growth element, a municipality is required to “meet and confer” with the county in regard to proposed annexations.  As noted by the Maryland Department of Planning,

HB 1141 [amending Article 66B] mandates that jurisdictions meet and confer on this subject before the municipal growth element can be adopted. (Id. at p.3)

As part of this meeting, a county may request additional, detailed information on the impacts of proposed annexations on county-funded public services and facilities.  Based on this information, the county may also request that a municipality decrease the size of, or even eliminate, proposed annexations from planned growth areas.  Such a request would be particularly appropriate where (i) existing county-wide services and facilities were not sufficient to accommodate these proposed annexations and development; and (ii) the county was not prepared to accept a decline in the adequacy of its public services and facilities or to require that county taxpayers further subsidize the infrastructure costs of municipal growth.  As the Maryland Department of Planning has put it,

Good planning dictates that the municipality and county agree on those land areas that will someday become part of the municipality. (Id.at p.3)

Where agreement on proposed annexations is not reached at this meeting, a municipality and county are required, “on the request of either party”, to employ the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office of the Maryland Department of Planning.  A municipality may not adopt a municipal growth element prior to the conclusion of this process.  Article 66B, Section 3.05 (e)(6)(ii).

As you know, the Board of County Commissioners strongly opposes municipal annexations which pose risks to the public health and safety or may impose additional tax burdens on the residents of Frederick County.  In her letter to the City dated September 2, 2009, for example, Jan H. Gardner, President of the Board of County Commissioners, expressed Frederick County‘s opposition to the  COPT/Thatcher and Crumland Farm annexations on grounds that they would (i) “only exacerbate an already dangerous situation” on U.S. 15; (ii) “worsen school overcrowding”; and (iii) jeopardize the adequacy of county fire and emergency medical services.  Ms. Gardner also noted that “it is premature to assume that sewer capacity for these properties will exist.”

Finally, in closing, Ms. Gardner requested that the Mayor and Board of Alderman “set aside time to discuss these issues” with the Board of County Commissioners. That request was never honored.

Under HB 1141, a municipality may no longer simply refuse to “meet and confer” on its plans for future growth.  In this case, the county was already on record in opposition to two of the City’s proposed annexations.  The county had also expressed on many occasions its concerns generally about plans for municipal annexations and the financial hardship that annexations may impose on county taxpayers.

Despite the express requirements of Maryland law, however, and the clear disagreement over issues of municipal growth, the City’s prior Administration ignored its responsibility to “meet and confer” with the county and thereby circumvented its obligation to submit any unresolved conflicts to Maryland’s Office of Mediation and Conflict Resolution.  We believe these failures to comply with state law will have a direct bearing on the amount of taxes assessed by the City and county in future years.

In these circumstances, we believe that the municipal growth element adopted on November 19, 2009 is legally invalid and that the City’s zoning authority has  been suspended by operation of law. To remove this legal cloud over its zoning authority, and forestall judicial challenges to its zoning decisions, the City must rescind its municipal growth element and proceed to comply fully with the requirements of  Maryland law.  We respectfully request that it does so.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Richard Wiles, 22 Clarke Place, Frederick MD  21701

Ed Hinde, 601 Magnolia Av, Frederick MD  21701

Felix Flanagan, 1033 N Market St, Frederick MD  21701

Ken Eidel, 425 N Market St, Frederick MD  21701

Aaron Valentino, 412 N. Market St. Apt. 12, Frederick MD  21701

Amy Farber, 1600 Marker Rd, Middletown, MD  21769

Kate Carter, 10696 Oakridge Ct., New Market, MD 21774

Marcel Aillery, 3710 Tuck Avenue, Point of Rocks MD   21777

As individual property owners and taxpayers of the City and County of Frederick  and as representatives of Friends of Frederick County.

cc:         The Board of Alderman: Shelley Aloi, Carol Krimm, Michael O’ConnorKelly Russell, Karen Young