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|
In September one county board will consider whether the PATH project is consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan; another will consider a zoning exception to permit a substation near Mount Airy. This “Kemptown” substation will be the terminus of a 275-mile transmission line from a coal-burning plant in West Virginia.No PATH energy is for us; it will pass through the county, headed farther east. But we’ll pay in loss of scenic views, lowered property values, and runoff from its 200-foot-wide right of way. Over 1,300 households near the Kemptown substation may also lose peace of mind, worrying that their water wells would be ruined if fire should cause a transformer meltdown.
We will pay plenty out of pocket, too. Federal law gives Allegheny a 14.3 percent return for PATH, paid by all customers, not just PATH users. It’s also ironic that we’re all paying already, through add-ons to our bills!
For example, Allegheny is recovering $2.1 million from us for its ads in 2008 and 2009 to sell us on PATH! So we’re paying to be lobbied for something that gives us no benefit — some deal!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
|Originally published November 15, 2009|
|I commend the Mount Airy Town Council’s vote against the annexation of the Rigler property. The council’s decision is even more significant in light of the recent report from the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, where scholars found that in over a decade, smart growth has not made a dent in Maryland’s war on sprawl.Much of the discussion between council members prior to the vote revolved around the opposition of the Summit Ridge neighborhood, abutting the Rigler property. It is, however, worth noting that there are town residents who do not live in Summit Ridge who also opposed the annexation and accompanying proposed use of a sports complex at this particular location.
Friends of Frederick County invited residents Monday to hear Russell Frisby Jr., a representative of the PATH Education and Awareness Team, present plans for the high-voltage interstate electric transmission line through Kemptown.
The meeting was moved from 4 E. Church St. to Winchester Hall after about 15 minutes, in order to accommodate those who showed up.
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding of what PATH Education and Awareness Team is and where we are going,” Frisby said. “Our mission is to educate residents to make informed decisions.”
Simply put, the need for more electricity is desperate, he said.
“Unless new transmission lines are built by 2014, we would probably have blackouts and brownouts,” Frisby said. “Right now, we’re at 100 percent capacity. By 2014, we would be over capacity.”
Maryland’s electricity needs have increased 30 percent to 40 percent over the years, but the state is relying on the same grid, he said.
Residents were adamant the lines would pose health and safety risks and affect aesthetics for hundreds of houses in the area.
The residents said Allegheny Power did not include them in its decision to build a substation so close to their homes. Part of the plan — pairing 500- and 765-kilovolt lines together — would pose health problems, they said.
“You are essentially ruining the lives of 1,300 people,” Richard Ishler said.
Others expressed similar concerns.
“We don’t mean to be confrontational, but there’s a lot of emotions surrounding this issue,” Ricky Young said. “I’m an electrical engineer and very familiar with power. I live 800 feet from the path of the proposed electric line. Please take this map back to your folks and let them see they’re placing this substation in dead center of homes.”
Several residents cited Allegheny Power’s inaccessibility. For some questions, Frisby didn’t have answers.
“Is there a way to get answers?” asked Frederick resident Bob White, who moderated the meeting.
“You hit the nail on the head,” Young said.
He said he tried to get answers from Allegheny on three separate occasions without luck.
“Allegheny Power has been the most arrogant and least forthcoming,” White said. “They do not like to talk to people. Are they set with what plans they have or is there a way for the public to be involved for an amicable solution?”
Frisby said a Public Service Commission process allows input from residents.
“The PSC is more transparent than it used to be,” Frisby said.
Frederick resident Doug Kaplan disputed Frisby’s claim that burying the transmission line was cost-prohibitive.
“Allegheny has had information that shows the cost would be much less than 10 to 20 times more to bury the lines from West Virginia to Mount Airy,” he said. “Allegheny was asked to do this study and Allegheny refused. It’s a matter of trust in the community when it comes to Allegheny.”
Public hearings will be held in Western Maryland that will allow testimony, Frisby said.
Joanne Ivancic urged attendees to insist that Leadership in Energy Efficient Design requirements are implemented in their communities.
“Get your homeowners associations to require wind and solar and share your experiences here,” she said.
Conservation measures won’t save enough power soon enough, Frisby said.
When he was chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission, Frisby said people used wind and solar during times of high electricity prices, but stopped when prices dropped.
Frederick County Commissioners President Jan Gardner was impressed by the participation.
“There really is a lot of interest here. A community meeting with Allegheny would be very useful,” she said.
The construction of a substation is within control of the county board of appeals, Gardner said, to applause.
Originally published November 04, 2009By Ike Wilson