June 11, 2012
Meta Nash, Chairman
Josh Bokee, Vice Chairman
Richard L. Stup
William Ryan - Alternate Member
Alderman Kelly Russell – Secretary
Dear Frederick City Planning Commissioners:
I am speaking tonight because we believe the citizens and taxpayers of Frederick City and County who are concerned with the Keller Farm annexation and its impacts should have a factual and clear understanding of the history of development and politics here – and perhaps can begin to understand just who in city government represents the families, neighbors and taxpayers of this city, and alternatively who represents special interests – those who will stand to make money off you and me and forever alter our quality of life.
- In 2008, then Mayor Holtzinger lifted the moratorium on development after there was an agreement for the city to obtain more water from the Potomac River. At that time the Mayor solicited proposals for annexation and development.
Also at that time, Friends of Frederick County wrote to the mayor with a request that the City of Frederick defer consideration of any future annexation requests until completion of the Municipal Growth Element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. FoFC argued that action on any annexation requests must come after the comp plan was revised, and that to annex before planning for it would preempt the City’s comprehensive planning process and undermine new state initiatives to prevent municipal annexations from overburdening public services and facilities.
We pointed out that the State of Maryland had recognized that annexations have led to enormous and unanticipated impacts on the quality of life in cities and their surrounding communities. That was why the state passed House Bill 1141 – to ensure that no further annexations occur until a detailed, fact-based comprehensive plan is in place for addressing the impacts of that development on roads, schools and other public services and facilities.
Mayor Holtzinger and the Frederick City Aldermen and the Frederick City Planning Commissioners chose to ignore FoFC’s suggestion.
- In 2009 Frederick City officials annexed the Crum and Thatcher farms into the city for 1200 homes and office space -despite the concerns expressed by hundreds of citizens, 5 county commissioners, Maryland Department of Planning, State Highway Administration, Frederick County Public Schools, the Walkersville Fire Department, and a petition signed by over 4000 citizens to bring the annexation to referendum. There was never an annexation plan prepared for the development of those properties, the impacts of those developments, what it would cost to mitigate those impacts and who will pay. Despite all the concerns expressed by experts at every level, the city chose to ignore them and annex the properties.
- In 2010 FoFC prepared an analysis for the County/City meeting on the city’s growth plan that showed at least 80% of the cost burden of city growth would fall on county taxpayers (as well), to pay for schools, roads and emergency services. At that time the county leaders were concerned about these issues: we’ve since had a change of county leadership and to put it mildly, the current leadership no longer shares these concerns.
County taxpayers – note that even though what is under discussion tonight is city growth, it will most definitely impact your taxes!
These examples, as well as results from public surveys about our growth and quality of life, show a tremendous disconnect between our public officials and the citizens. In other words, the observed record and a strong body of factual evidence clearly shows that our public officials do NOT represent your interests but instead are beholden to special interests.
I hope at this juncture that you, the Planning Commissioners for Frederick City, will listen to the citizens of Frederick County and City as they express REAL concerns, that will impact not only those here but, all the citizens of the county whose taxes will increase to pay for this development, and more immediately the thousands in the area whose kids go to the local schools, whose families drive on the 2-lane roads, and whose communities depend upon services, safety and a healthy environment.
Testimony submitted by Janice Wiles, Executive Director, Friends of Frederick County and delivered to the Frederick City Planning Commissioners on June 11, 2012 with respect to the Keller Farm annexation request and development proposal.