Friends of Frederick County has analyzed the 194 proposals available for public reading at: Frederick County Government website, Community Development page. Here is a summary of our findings:
|Municipality||Number of proposals||Agriculture/open space properties requesting reclassification and rezoning (acres)||Agriculture/ open space properties requesting reclassification and rezoning for residential development (acres)||approximate # of homes to be constructed||approx # of new school children||approx # of additional car trips/day on local roads|
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.
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.”
The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) threatens to change Village Center zoning that currently allows appropriate development in historic communities. The change to our Village Center zoning category will allow giant footprint building – like big box stores or – for example – a **Food Lion in Jefferson** (an average Food Lion is 33,000 sq. ft). The change will destroy the entire Village Center concept. On May 17th 7pm at Winchester Hall the Board of County Commissioner will hear out the public on this.
Please note that instead of reviewing individual cases the BOCC will be voting on seven different text amendments bundled together in this package…which will be voted up or down in one vote. This is wholly inappropriate for such a diversity of text amendments.
Two other sections in this text amendment need serious review and modification:
IF you have questions please write to: <email@example.com>. We will help answer them.
June 5, 2008
Dear Elected Official,
The community of Jefferson MD has been chosen as a proposed site for peak gas compressor station by Dominion Transmission, Inc. (DTI) on the parcels of land between RT180/RT340/and Gene Hemp Road. Jefferson residents are in firm opposition to the building of this facility in our community, and have formed the Jefferson Maryland Community Association (JMDCA). JMDCA is serving as the main liaison for the Jefferson Community in regards to the proposed DTI compressor site. I am writing to you on behalf of all five committee members for JMDCA. We would like to request your support in opposing the building of the DTI facility in Jefferson. We would especially appreciate your filing any opposition(s) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) docket number PF07-12.
DTI originally proposed the gas compressor station for Middletown, MD off of Marker Rd. Many of the same concerns that the residents of Middletown have about the facility in their location hold true for the Jefferson site. However, there are also some additional concerns that are unique to the proposed Jefferson site. Please see the following list for just a sampling of our concerns and their supporting points.
1.) Geological Predisposition
a. There is a fracture line that is visible at the proposed site. This is a significant difference between the proposed Middletown and Jefferson sites. Please reference the following source for the document entitled, “Source Water Assessment for the Copperfield Water System Frederick County, Maryland”.
On the very last page examine “Figure 6: Fracture trace map for Copperfield.” The fracture line shown is for only part of the site. What about the rest of the site not visible on this map? It is my understanding from a person well versed in construction that a site with a fracture line on any part of it should not be considered for building a compressor station as it can be costly to build on with specific structural design and can be a potential disaster.
There is a strong possibility that a sink hole could develop near the fracture line. If that happens, both the facility and the pipeline would be in jeopardy as well as RT340 and RT180. A rupture could occur in the pipeline.
b. There is a second significance to the presence of fracture lines. One primary way that ground water moves is through fracture lines. The fracture trace map specifically shows that the fracture lines going through the proposed site are interconnected with other fracture lines throughout Jefferson including the Copperfield & Cambridge Farms Developments. Therefore, fracture lines could potentially bring contaminates to existing well head areas for immediate residents, Copperfield, and Cambridge Farms from the site.
Additionally the current land owner has already drilled residential wells on the proposed site which could increase the chance for contaminants to be introduced into the water source.
2.) Direct Impact on Catoctin Creek, Potomac & Chesapeake Bay
a. Our primary focus with this point of concern is the Catoctin Creek which feed directly into the Potomac approximately two miles downstream. The creek has shown signs of declining health, and the added stress of building a gas compressor facility in the
2 immediate vicinity would be environmentally irresponsible. Please refer to
http://dnrweb.dnr.state.md.us/streams/pubs/ea05-5_county.pdf. where Frederick
County’s results run from page 191 to 205. It specifically lists most of Catoctin Creek as “poor on macroinvertebrate health.” Also reference Maryland Biological Stream Survey (MBSS) www.dnr.state.md.us/streams/mbss/). Most importantly, this stream is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and has potential to impact the Bay.
b. A stream runs through the southwest corner of the proposed site, and under Gene Hemp Rd. The source of this stream needs to be verified, and the impacts of the proposed facility on the stream need to be determined.
3.) Impacts on existing land uses
a. This is the second inappropriate agricultural/residential location DTI has chosen for their site. Industrial site options do exist in close proximity to the existing gas pipeline. DTI should be made to pursue Industrial site options only.
b. FERC states that DTI would STILL have to follow and go through the zoning regulations for the county. Please reference http://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/indus-act/blank- cert/blanketcert.pdf. Also reference Questions and Answers in the Citizens guide http://www.ferc.gov/for-citizens/citizen-guides/citz-guide-gas.pdf. By allowing rezoning of this land to Industrial, and allowing this industrial facility into a completely agricultural/residential area, it is opening the door to further industrialization of our area.
c. Also, this is in direct opposition Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program and the “Ag Zoning Text Amendment” passed by the Frederick County Commissioners in December 2007. The purpose of that text amendment was to further protect the fragmentation of farmland and to protect existing farmland. Two farms in the Agricultural Preservations Program are within 400 meters of the proposed site, and a third parcel is within 900 meters.
4.) Effect on wildlife and farm animals regarding noise, air pollution, and contamination Please reference: http://www.earthworksaction.org/noiseresources.cfm
5.) View-shed issues (the visual impact of the aboveground facility on surrounding areas)
The building of this facility would seriously detract from the current bucolic view of Jefferson, including the South Mountains and the Harpers Ferry Gap. This facility will also affect the view-shed from Crampton’s pass, a major turning point of the Civil War, Gathland State Park, and National War Correspondent Memorial.
6.) Impacts on cultural (historical) resources Jefferson had its own place in the Civil War. We may not have the Rural Legacy or Civil War Battlefields, but there is historical significance to our area.
a. Rt 180 is a civil war marker trail for the Gettysburg Union Trail.
Refer to http://map.mapnetwork.com/destination/frederick/regional/
b. Also encampments were common during the Civil war all along Rt 180.
Refer to http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=2100 3
7.) Public safety and potential hazards associated with the transport of natural gas and the proposed compressor facility
As with the Middletown location there is an increased risk of accidents from gas leaks, explosion, and terrorist attacks. We also only have a volunteer fire department in place and do not currently have the emergency resources available to handle the above situations.
However there is one major distinction between the proposed Middletown site and the proposed Jefferson site. The Jefferson site is located directly between the US highway RT 340 and the one main road for Jefferson RT 180. The implications of a potential closure of RT340 or RT180 for any length of time short or long would impact not only Jefferson, but surrounding areas near and far. Both routes are well traveled. They both have high traffic volumes for commuters, trucks, vacationers, and those that simply need to get from point A to point B. Over the past twelve years there have been five significant wind events in the area of the proposed Jefferson site, three being tornadoes and two downbursts. A tornado was the cause of the explosion at a gas compressor station in Tennessee.
8.) Impacts on ground water
a. Well contamination: According to DTI this will be an unmanned station. So, the chance of a leak from the turbine engine coolant or other sources being caught in a timely fashion before any real damage is done is highly questionable.
b. Livestock and Crop Contamination: Any contamination to the soil could easily leach into local wells and the neighboring farms causing contamination of the crops and animals, which in turn could harm the public. Hemps is one of the major working farms in immediate proximity of the site. They have had their business in Jefferson for over 150 years. Their beef products are a mainstay in the diet of not only the Jefferson community, but many other surrounding communities both near and far. First and second hand contamination in the products sold by Hemps and other farms could occur.
9.) Impacts on local air and noise quality associated with construction and operation
a. RT 180 is the main road that runs through the town of Jefferson. Access to the site during the construction phase needs to be determined. Either way to the site deals with narrow spots on RT 180, and leaves little room to maneuver. Additionally there is an older bridge that needs to be evaluated for load capacity and structural integrity.
b. There is a very strong probability for more then one construction site at a time when Smith Farm Single Home Family Community begins construction and the Streetscape Project begins. The citizens of Jefferson and all the construction sites would be in the midst of a traffic nightmare. It would not only be a mess with the dust and noise levels, but would cause commuter delays, school bus delays, and delays in general for traveling RT 180.
c. The tunnel on Gene Hemp Rd can intensify sound and may retain heat and/or pollutants.4
10.) Environmental Justice
Jefferson is a small rural community and is being looked to bear an unfair burden of industrial operations that could negatively affect the environment. The Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities defines Environmental justice as,”……seeks equal protection from environmental and public health hazards for all people ……..additionally, environmental justice means that no group of people including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups should bear a disproportionate share of negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, land-use planning and zoning, municipal and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local and municipal program and policies.”
Jefferson is already hosting a gas pipeline, gas measuring facility, 230kv electrical lines, highway maintenance barns, and salt domes for the county. Adding a compressor station forces Jefferson to carry more of the load for the surrounding communities. The citizens of Jefferson will not gain any benefit from the facility.
Dominion has a history of industrial incidents. They recently paid fines of $850,000 Dominion for several incidents at other compressor stations in Potter County, Pennsylvania (Genesee and Stewardson Townships) for soil and ground water contamination. This past performance should be considered when placing a facility in a residential/agricultural area.
In closing, the above points are just a sampling of the concerns for the proposed Jefferson site. It doesn’t take an expert to understand that this type of facility does not belong in a residential area, with a high concentration of farmland; an Elementary School and large Childcare center within _ of a mile on either side of the facility; and one, soon to be two, major housing developments within a mile of the facility. Industrial needs to remain in Industrial. For all the above reasons specified and more, Jefferson should not be considered the optimum site by either DTI or FERC.
We would like to request your support in the opposition to the building of this facility at the proposed Jefferson site. In show of that support, we kindly request that you file a letter with FERC before the deadline of June 23rd, 2008 to express your concerns regarding docket PF07-12. You are invited to attend both the Site Visit and Scope Meeting on June 19th, 2008. The Site Visit is at 12pm at the corner of RT180 and Gene Hemp Rd. Later that evening the Scope Meeting will be at the Jefferson Ruritan Center at 7pm. We thank you in advance for your time and prompt consideration of the above concerns, and we look forward to your continued support on this important issue facing the Jefferson Community.
Cc: Lori Henry, Committee Member JMDCA
Ron Kaltenbaugh, Committee Member JMDCA
Aaron Henry, Committee Member JMDCA
Gary Stone, Committee Member JMDCA