In 2011, Friends of Frederick County, the Audubon Society of Central Maryland and 13 residents filed a complaint in the Frederick County Circuit Court against the Town of New Market asserting that the Town’s Master Plan, the Municipal Growth Element, failed to satisfy the requirements of the State law. (Friends of Frederick County et al. v. Town of New Market, Case No. 10-C-11-000410). Friends of Frederick County, and other plaintiffs, filed the lawsuit out of concern that the deficiencies in the Town’s land planning process and in the Master Plan would authorize substantial growth which would give rise to innumerous adverse consequences to the Town and to its residents, including: congested roads; overcrowded schools; overstressed emergency services; degradation of environmentally sensitive areas; and higher taxes. The higher taxes would be necessary to pay for the infrastructure and services necessary to accommodate the growth and otherwise mitigate its adverse impacts.
On March 28, 2012, three experts in land planning filed affidavits in the lawsuit on behalf of Friends of Frederick County and other plaintiffs fully supporting their concerns that the Plan failed to meet State law requirements and would result in adverse consequences.
1. The Affidavit M Siegel, principal of Public and Environmental Finance Associates, concludes, for example:
- In determining the amount of land needed for future growth, the Town failed to “consider its population growth and capacity analysis as required by statute,” resulting in authorizing “substantially more land” for annexation “than would otherwise be required.” P.2.
- The Town has not considered the statutory requirement of “affordability, financing mechanisms, and the cost of public services and infrastructure, including the requirement for a ‘well maintained’ transportation system.” P. 2-3.
- The Master Plan requires a by-pass road that would connect Boyers Mill Road with Route 75 to the North of the current Town limits. This bypass road will cost millions of dollars. The cost is so substantial that it is unlikely the full cost can be paid solely by the houses proposed for the Smith/Cline development. Thus, all of the taxpayers of the Town could be burdened with taxes to fund costs associated with the bypass. P. 3, ¶¶12-14; p.4, ¶¶15-18.
- The amount of revenue generated by the housing units authorized by development on the Smith/Cline property, such as by property and income taxes, will not be sufficient to pay the costs of needed additional public services as well as capital costs. The Plan fails to consider sufficient financing mechanisms or sources to pay for this deficiency in revenue. P. 4-5.
Friends of Frederick County and other plaintiffs have brought the pending lawsuit, in part, out of concern that the deficiency in revenue generated by new development compared to the costs of servicing that development will be paid for by higher taxes on Town residents.
2. The Affidavit J Mehra, Transportation/Traffic Engineer concludes, for example:
- The Town “has not considered the effects of its Plan on all affected roads.” P.2.
- The impact of the thousands of car trips that will be generated by proposed development permitted on the Delaplaine property was not considered. This will result, for example, in failing levels of service on Route 75. P.2-3, ¶11, p.4, part v.i.
- A proper road capacity analysis of Boyers Mill Road demonstrates that the road with the increased trips generated by new development called for in the Master Plan would operate during peak hours in a “failing road condition.” P.3-4, ¶¶13-20.
The Plan “does not contain estimates for the cost of constructing the proposed bypass or for any road improvements that will become necessary as a result of the proposed growth.” P.4, ¶22.
3. The Affidavit Joseph Davis, land planning consultant, concludes, for example:
- “In order to determine whether sufficient public schools could be provided to accommodate new growth [as required by State law], a planner would need to evaluate both capital costs and future operating costs associated with the schools that would provide service to the new growth area. New Market’s Plan has not considered operating costs and the Plan reflects insufficient and incorrect capital cost data.” P.3, ¶b.ii.
- “New Market’s plan does not include consideration of public services and infrastructure that will be necessary for public safety in the proposed municipal growth area.” P.4, ¶C.ii. These services include emergency medical response, fire, and police. P.4-6.
State law requires that the Plan consider protection of environmentally sensitive areas that could be impacted” by development. Yet, “New Market has not considered how sensitive areas will be impacted” as “[i]ts Municipal Growth Element contains no consideration of the Fred Archibald Audubon Sanctuary when discussing sensitive areas.” Similarly, the Plan contains no consideration of Hazelnut Run, which lies in a 100-year flood plain and runs through the Delaplaine property. P.10, ¶b.iv.
These affidavits were filed as exhibits with Friends of Frederick County’s response to New Market’s motion for summary judgment. The affidavits are attached. Without a valid Municipal Growth Element, New Market cannot annex land into the Town nor rezone any land within its jurisdiction.
For more information please contact:
Janice Wiles, Executive Director, Friends of Frederick County 240-626-5209
Norman Knopf, Esq., Attorney, Knopf & Brown – 301-545-6100