FoFC questions who Frederick City leaders represent?

June 11, 2012

 

Meta Nash, Chairman

Josh Bokee, Vice Chairman

Elisabeth Fetting

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.

 

Thank you.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Frederick City Growth Plan Map – showing areas of interest for annexation and development

Frederick City growth area (Tier 3 shown in gray)

Sign citizen letter expressing your concern with Keller Farm development

Click here to read background information on the Keller Farm annexation and development plans.

CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLE GROWTH ALONG YELLOW SPRINGS ROAD

[Letter to Frederick City elected officials]

To whom it may concern:

As residents living in the vicinity of the Keller Farm, we are writing to express our concern with the annexation and development plans for this 302.67 acre property located along Yellow Springs and Rocky Springs Roads, west of Walter Martz Rd. The Keller Farm is part of a rural and agricultural community. To the south is another working farm (Hooper Farm), and to the north are homes at a density of one house for every two acres of land.

We wish to raise specific concerns with respect to the plans to build 500 single family homes and 350 townhouses and condominiums on the property (850 total), possibly including 100 moderately priced dwelling units.

 

Traffic

Yellow Springs Road/ Rosemont Avenue is the only road connecting the neighborhoods around the Keller Farm to downtown Frederick and to US-15. Rosemont is already overburdened with traffic, and is the site of frequent accidents. Most of the available jobs can only be reached by taking US-15 south, which is already disastrously overcrowded at rush hour. The 500 single family dwellings alone will put nearly 5000 additional car trips each week to these already dangerous and crowded roads.[1]

 

We understand that there are 1200 residential units to be built on the nearby Crum Farm, and there are others in the city’s Tier 2 municipal growth plan.  Will there be a combined impact analysis done so that plans can be made to avert overcrowding our roads even further?

 

Quality of Life

Yellow Springs vicinity is a rural community with little crime. Residents love the rural feel of the community and school and the safety of our neighborhoods. We love the farms, trees, creeks and rolling hills, with views of the mountains. Adding a large, overcrowded neighborhood along both sides of Yellow Springs Road will take away from the rural nature of our community and likely bring crime. The areas of Frederick County with the highest density of population also have the highest per capita crime rates. (neighborhoodscout.com/md/frederick/crime)

 

Schools

A school analysis was done and made available by the City of Frederick Planning Department. There is no information on who provided the analysis or when it was done. There has been no analysis provided from the Frederick County Public Schools or from Frederick County, the ultimate voice on school budgets and planning for new schools.

 

We are also concerned that there is virtually no Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) pertaining to schools in Frederick City. The city’s APFO does have a standard for capacity, however if a development project fails to meet that standard it only needs to wait 3 years before it automatically passes the APFO – regardless if it fails to meet the standard.

 

Emergency Services

We do not have data on the ability of our EMS services to handle the new families who would be dependent upon them. Will Frederick Memorial Hospital be able to handle these additional family demands, considering the other developments planned for this region?  It is the only hospital in the immediate community, and expansion of services and sites for the hospital is difficult and costly.

 

Taxes

It has been shown that “increased population generates less revenue for local government than the costs associated with providing infrastructure to the additional residences.  Because costs exceed benefits, tax rates actually increase as population increases, as each new home creates a larger gap between costs and tax revenues.”[2]  If the city officials insist on rapidly growing Frederick, they should require the developers to show, in detail, that the new development will pay for all of its costs to the city and county, so that current residents will not be left with increased taxes as a result of this development.

Public Water and Sewer

We are unclear about the need for an extension of the Potomac River Water Agreement to service this development. What are the criteria by which extension will be allowable?  Who will negotiate this, and when? What scientific criteria will be used to judge that there will not be irreparable harm to the Potomac River?

 

There are plans for significant growth in our area of Frederick City, namely the Crum Farm and other farms within the Tier 2 growth area. Is there an analysis of their combined impact on our local infrastructure, specifically water and sewer capabilities and environmental upgrades?

 

Environmentally sensitive areas

Little Tuscarora Creek, which runs through the Keller Farm property, is one of the few streams in the area to support brook trout, is suitable for public drinking supply, and is an important resource to conserve. Because of this it is classified as a class III-P trout stream. What will be done to mitigate impact upon this important creek habitat?

In Summary

Our summary concern is that there has been inadequate analysis of the impacts of the planned residential development on roads, schools, natural resources and sensitive areas, emergency services, safety – and all other impacts that adding potentially 850 families to our area will have. Subsequent to assessing the impacts we would like to see the plan and cost to mitigate those impacts and be informed by Frederick City about who will be held responsible to pay these costs. We as Frederick City and County residents do not want to be held partially responsible for the costs of these and other impacts for this development with increased taxes down the road.

You may contact Lesli Summerstay when that information is available and we will ensure that it gets circulated. Thank you.

Sincerely,

LIST OF NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF CONCERNED CITIZENS

Please email Lesli Summerstay (jsummerstay@gmail.com) with your name, address and  neighborhood if you would like to sign the letter. The letter will be presented to Frederick City officials at a public meeting on June 11, 2012.

 

CIty of Frederick considering annexation of 302 acre Keller Farm, could build over 1000 new homes

The following entities  have petitioned the city (annexation petition) to annex the 302 acre Keller Farm into its boundaries for development, and on which 4 houses/acre are proposed for build out:

Rand D Weinberg, Esquire, Law Offices of Rand Weinberg, LLC, the Keller Corporation, the Martha W Keller Family Partnership LLLP, Yankee Land Trust, Edward M Johnson and Jeanette W Johnson, Great Southern Investment, LLC (Marvin Ausherman), Julie Ann Castillo and Albert Castillo, the Charles E Keller III Qualified Personal Residence Trust (E Daniel Bittle Jr, SUsan T Bittle, Lexington T Bittle, Kelsie G Bittle).  (Note that Castillo is joining petition as an accommodation to the petitioner but city shall not impose city taxes on Castillo’s property.)  These signatories also represent no less than 25% of the persons who reside in the area to be annexed and who are registered as voters in Frederick County elections.  Those who signed are the owners of not less than 25% of the assessed valuation of the real property located in the area to be annexed.

 

The Farm is located along Yellow Springs Rd and Rocky Springs Rd, west of Walter Martz Rd

The following documents will help citizens understand more about this proposal.

Annexation Petition

  • Pg 2 section 5 of the annexation petition states that the Second Tier follows the boundary of the Potomac River Water Supply Agreement.  When will that PRWSA be extended, and how can citizens be sure that it the amount will be adequate to support this plus the other additional development planned for Frederick County?
  • Pg 4 section 9:  ”the property is subject to the City’s APFO”.  How will the city and county deal with ensuring adequate school space, since the city APFO has a loophole that allows all development to go forward in Frederick CIty (even after failing the APFO for schools) as long as the developer waits 3 years before proceeding?

Comprehensive Plan Analysis

Fiscal Impact Analysis

School needs

Traffic impacts

Water and Sewer Planning Study //Water and Sewer Planning Study – appendices

Christopher Crossing Rds Traffic Study

Additional area traffic studies for Frederick City

Efforts to preserve the brook trout in Little Tuscarora Creek (that runs through the Keller Farm)

Outline for extension of services

Letter given to NAC3 residents on 4/16/12 (page 1)

New Market’s supplement to their growth plan and FoFC’s response

April 2011 New Market’s mayor and town council released a New Market Supplement to their Municipal Growth Element and Comprehensive Plan along with an analysis of traffic.  In July 2011   Friends of Frederick County submitted comments on the supplement to Mayor Burhans, as did the Maryland Department of Planning.  In October 2010 Dr Reid Ewing, formerly with the National Center for Smart Growth, provided FoFC with an independent traffic analysis of the planned municipal growth.

 

Send us your thoughts and comments.

03/13/2011 FNP letter to the editor: Friends or not Friends — an easy call for taxpayers

Evidently in his Feb. 28 letter to The Frederick News-Post Mark Koehler was following the wisdom of Harry Truman, who once said, “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

The issue in New Market is not the activities of Friends of Frederick County, but the town’s sprawling growth plan that will, in some form or another, ultimately impact every resident of Frederick County through crowded schools, traffic gridlock and higher taxes to subsidize the services and infrastructure needed to support growth.

Everyone can agree that economic vitality is needed, and now. But with over 5,300 vacant houses sitting on the market in Frederick County, annexing farmland to build even more is a road to nowhere.

Friends of Frederick County is a coalition of concerned citizens, farmers and business people who have brought a refreshing mandate of accountability to locally elected officials which is simply this: Follow the law. The sprawling, costly, unhealthy, environmentally and socially destructive growth planned for New Market is not only contradictory to the town’s own stated objectives but also out of compliance with state law.

Town leaders did not analyze and plan, as required by law, for the costs of services and infrastructure, such as roads, schools, emergency services, water and sewer service, and the impact of growth on environmentally sensitive areas. The law requires this assessment for a good reason: because taxpayers are often left footing the bill for future costs of residential and commercial sprawl. Unfunded mandates are routinely foisted on the public by many developers in Frederick County, where for years citizens have unwittingly paid higher taxes to cover the cost of more schools, more roads, sewer and water services, and more pollution.

Compliance with the law is something we should demand of all elected officials, along with a healthy dose of fiscal common sense. New Market’s plan throws that all overboard and reaches far beyond their own growth projections of 468 houses by the year 2030. The Smith Cline annexation alone plans for 925 homes. With 5,300 vacant homes in the county, you have to wonder why.

The “if you build it they will come” mentality of the past is simply not viable in the wreckage of vacant subdivisions dotting the countryside. But reality has not yet reached the leaders of New Market who cling to the notion that bulldozing and building creates jobs, even if no one happens to be buying. The New Market plan is not about progress or smart growth, it is a desperate attempt by developers and special interests to go back to the bubble economy days when real estate speculators could turn a profit selling futures in massive, budget-busting subdivisions — the public interest be damned.

Moving the county economy beyond its dependence on real estate speculation is why Friends of Frederick County came into existence more than seven years ago. That is why Friends is supporting a citizens initiative to prepare a plan for New Market that will meet New Market’s stated objective for “orderly, compact, phased and compatible growth as an alternative to suburban sprawl, automobile-dependent development that has consumed hundreds of thousands of acres of valuable land across our county” (see p. 5 New Market Municipal Growth Element addendum June 9, 2010).

The consequences of land-use decisions almost always fall on the shoulders of citizens. It is reasonable for them to have a voice in these affairs. That’s not demagoguery, or “meddling,” as Mr. Koehler puts it, it’s democracy.

Janice Wiles is the executive director of Friends of Frederick County; Amy Farber is a member of the board of directors of FoFC

Originally published March 13, 2011

03-05-2011 FNP: Friends of Frederick County wrongly vilified by New Market-area resident

Cline Farm, New Market (Harry Richardson, artist)

This letter is in response to Mark Koehler’s Feb. 28 letter titled “Not Friends …” in which he takes to task Friends of Frederick County’s involvement in the politics of New Market. I, too, have a New Market mailing address, albeit not in the Town of New Market; however, I live very close to the town and have had the opportunity to attend their Town Council and planning and zoning meetings. I have followed very closely many discussions and decisions by the New Market elected officials as they pertain to the surrounding environment in which the residents of New Market live.I am a concerned citizen who is writing to factually rebut Koehler’s accusations against Friends of Frederick County. HB 1141 is a clearly defined law that outlines how municipalities are to address their Municipal Growth Element (MGE). After the town submitted their MGE, the Maryland Planning Department’s, as well as the State Highway Administration’s, response to the town’s submittal outlined in very clear terms how poorly this document was executed and provided very distinct recommendations for aligning the town’s MGE with HB 1141.

Town officials chose to ignore the majority of these recommendations. During their Nov. 17, 2010 meeting an individual who was providing guidance to the town officials stated that “if the Maryland Planning Department doesn’t write their response in bold then we don’t need to worry about it.” Perhaps it would have been more helpful to suggest that the Maryland Planning Department, as well as the State Highway Administration, were much more versed in the requirements of HB 1141 and as such their comments should be taken seriously.

Friends of Frederick County has not been “frequently meddling in New Market’s affairs” as stated by Koehler, but rather became involved once it became apparent New Market town officials chose to ignore the recommendations made by the Maryland Planning Department with regard to their MGE.

The fact of the matter is, had town officials worked with the State Planning Commission, as well as the State Highway Administration, to design their MGE to meet the requirements of HB 1141, the Town of New Market would not now find themselves in the position of being sued. I would also venture a guess that if town officials would be willing to reconsider the wording of their MGE so that it unequivocally met the requirements of HB 1141, no monies would be have to be spent defending a plan that appears to be fallible.

I would invite all concerned citizens to visit the Maryland Planning Department’s website to gain factual insight into this situation.

Vitriolic rhetoric accomplishes nothing. I believe if everyone comes to the table with an open mind we would understand that everyone is seeking quality of life. This is not about stopping development but rather about developing our community in a smart, well-thought-out way that does not force us to live in an extended Montgomery County. If we all try to work together I believe we can all achieve that which matters most to us.

Brenda Harlow lives near New Market.

Originally published March 05, 2011

Homes in more traditional communities tend to hold value better than those built as sprawl

  A new report released from Smart Growth Maryland has findings that may surprise you…     homes inside the priority funding areas (PFAs), located in more traditional communities and designated growth areas, fared better economically than the homes that were built

Costs to county taxpayers for school needs in New Market growth plan: $10 million for school construction and $7 million/year for operations

Recently approved New Market Plan includes 3 Annexations that will double town size and triple its population

With the approval of the New Market Municipal Growth Element (MGE), the Town of New Market is now able to annex the Delaplaine, Ganley and Smith/Cline farms.  These annexations would more than double the size of the Town  from about 434 acres to about 880 acres.  The 925 residential units proposed for Smith/Cline alone will almost triple the population of the Town by adding approximately 2,451 people and increasing the number of residents from 1443 residents (at full build-out of existing subdivisions) to 3,894 residents.

The location of these farms are shown in purple cross-hatching on the Land Use map below. These proposed annexations are contiguous or very near to the Meadows, the Orchards, Brinkley Manor, Royal Oaks, Sponseller’s Addition, New Market West and New Market Farms.  They are also contiguous or very near to municipal recreational facilities, parks and open space; and an Audubon Bird Sanctuary (there may be a few alterations on the road location but FoFC doesn’t have the new map yet.  Even though the plan was approved last night citizens/residents still haven’t been able to actually SEE the plan that affects their home values, quality of life etc).

The Town proposes that Delaplaine and Ganley be developed for commercial and industrial purposes which, under the Town’s development regulations, include heavy manufacturing, heavy vehicle repair, truck stops, public heliports, recycling and storage, public works yard/garage, warehouses, fast food drive-thru restaurants, motels, commercial parking lots and gasoline stations.  The heavy traffic, air pollution, noise, dust, glare, smoke, toxic chemicals and visual impacts associated with these uses would severely impact the surrounding communities, recreational facilities, parks, open space and sanctuaries.

The 925 residential units proposed for Smith/Cline would generate about 9,000 additional car trips per day, greatly worsen traffic on Boyers Mill Road, lead to far more “cut-through” traffic in adjoining neighborhoods, and exacerbate traffic congestion and safety hazards on narrow, winding road segments and local intersections.

The Smith/Cline development would yield 583 pupils. As a result, Smith/Cline would  severely exacerbate school overcrowding and require the construction of at least one new public school whose cost would exceed by $10 Million the revenues generated by developer impact fees. According to the Frederick County Public School System, the cost of educating each public school student is about $12,000 per year.  These costs would amount to a total of $6,996,000 annually for the Smith/Cline development.  For these and other reasons, the Frederick County Board of County Commissions recently classified and zoned these properties for agriculture use only in its 2010 Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map.

Read the review comments:

Maryland Department of Planning’s comments on New Market MGE and cover letter

Frederick County Division of Planning

Maryland Department of Transportation

New Market Citizen Comments on MGE

Friends of Frederick County Comments on MGE

To become involved or express your concern please contact: friends@friendsoffrederickcounty.org

FNP: City, county assess growing pains

Frederick city and county officials gathered Wednesday to discuss 30 years into the future: the city’s prospects for development; a north-south road around it; and how to pay any or all of the associated costs.

They concluded that they need to talk more. Mayor Randy McClement made a list of topics to discuss at future meetings: the city’s adequate public facilities ordinance; the income tax projections from the prospective new residents of 10,000 houses; the phasing of development and road needs.

The two governing bodies agreed to collaborate on how to provide housing, schools and jobs for the people who are predicted to move to the city over the next 20 years.

The meeting was the state-mandated conference between the two bodies to discuss the municipal growth element section of the city’s updated comprehensive plan. The plan was approved in November as a guide to development over the next 20 years.

The municipal growth element section divides the development potential into two tiers: Tier 1 is for infill and redevelopment; tier 2 is for planned growth in the northeast and covered by the Potomac River Water Supply Agreement.

A swath of land in the county that borders on the city’s north and east boundary, designated as Tier 3, is shown on the land use map in the plan. Tier 3 land is not projected for city annexation or development for more than 30 years and is not part of the official growth element, said Joe Adkins, the city’s deputy director for planning.

County Commissioners President Jan Gardner disputed whether Tier 3 land could be included on the map if the city did not officially account for the cost of its potential development. A long-discussed but not officially planned north-south road lies in that swath.

Gardner said that if Tier 3 is included on the map the city must provide economic analyses of potential development of the land, as it had for Tiers 1 and 2.

Tiers 1 and 2 are predicted to be built out in 20 years. Over that time they are estimated to generate an average of 500 houses per year; 300,000 square feet of commercial development per year; 18,000 employees; two elementary schools, one middle school, and three-quarters of a high school; school impact fees worth $150 million, or 60 percent of the cost of those schools; a need for 54 police officers; an additional $4.5 million in revenue for the fire tax.

County commissioners David Gray, Kai Hagen, John L. Thompson Jr. and Gardner told city officials all taxpayers bear the burden of the cost to provide the schools, roads and fire-rescue services of development. City aldermen Michael O’Connor, Karen Young and Shelley Aloi said job growth would provide revenue that had not been included in the analysis.

“There’s no single-bullet answer to this,” O’Connor said.

“There’s a lot of minutiae to discuss,” Hagen said.

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=106259

Originally published June 17, 2010

By Patti S. Borda

News-Post Staff