Is poorly planned growth what you wanted from your county leaders?

The Frederick County Commissioners have approved or are discussing approval of over 7000 new dwellings, in many cases without appropriate plans for schools, roads, emergency services and other key infrastructure. We believe that our public officials should follow existing laws; in a growing number of cases that is not happening.

FoFC is using the option of last resort to protect your quality of life: litigation. As recently quoted in the Frederick News Post “We turned to the courts after finding that citizen concerns were ridiculed and dismissed …These lawsuits will determine whether the county follows state law, whether growth proceeds at a reasoned pace that does not increase taxes, traffic, school overcrowding and water and air pollution.”over 7000 new dwellings proposed or approved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FoFC is currently challenging:

* Crum and Thatcher (Frederick City north)

* New Market Municipal Growth Element in Maryland Court of Special Appeals(read letter from FoFC)

* Frederick City Comprehensive Plan in Frederick County Circuit Court

* Landsdale (Monrovia) at the Board of Appeals

* Landsdale Storm Water Management Administrative Waiver at the Board of Appeals, March 28, 2013 7pm

Landsdale in Frederick County Circuit Court

* Jefferson Technology Park at the Board of Appeals

* Frederick County’s 2012 Comprehensive Rezoning in the Frederick County Circuit Court

 

If school overcrowding is your concern, it is with good reason. Read this published letter from one Monrovia citizen who gives us the facts.

 

FoFC asks state to calculate their share of costs for public services and facilities in Frederick County

Frederick News Post report:  Group wants growth costs calculated

 

Details on Global Mission Church rezoning request: public hearing Thursday Nov 17th 6pm

(sign up to speak at 5pm), Winchester Hall (12 E Church St, downtown Frederick).

 

Global Mission Church/David Severn, land use attorney, submitted two proposals:   UR 41 (parcel 36) and UR 42  (parcel 109)

GLOBAL MISSION PROPOSALS

There are 2 pieces of each of these parcels that are currently zoned Resource Conservation.

  • In UR 41:   8.5 acres are currently zoned Resource Conservation.  Requested change of 3 acres (of the 8.5) from RC to Ag
  • In UR 42:   the request is to change all of the 78.87 acres to Agricultural Zoning (currently 6.3 acres of the total are zoned Resource Conservation)

Some points to consider

  • parcel 36 is by the creek
  • parcel 36 is  100% forested   Pre-2010 zoning was about 60% RC and 40% Agricultural.  The change made in 2010 was to add RC zoning to the northern portion of parcel 36.
  • Parcel  36 has 1.1 acres of PFO1A wetlands:  Palustrine, forested, broad-leaf deciduous, temporarily flooded wetlands.  This type of wetland is rare in Frederick County,  (historically most of the wetlands were cleared, filled and cultivated for agriculture.
  • The Dept of Natural Resources shows a large swath of these forested wetlands along the entire length of Little Bennett Creek. The county added additional RC zoning on this property due to the wide, extensive forest buffers that exist along this creek system.  RC zoning category is entirely appropriate and consistent for functional purpose of protecting the wetland and watershed.  Additionally the  Natural Resource land use plan designation (a change made in  the 2010 plan supports the Resource Conservation zoning.
  • To rezone a portion of this parcel back to Ag is contrary to county policies. The zoning ordinance definition of RC is totally consistent with the resources that exist on this parcel.
  • Any changes from Resource Conservation to Agricultural Zoning may facilitate the construction of a road “driveway” for development of that land parcel.

Letters to Frederick County Planning Commissioners

  • John McClurkin, Chair, samjbm@verizon.net
  • Richard Floyd, Vice-Chair, rmfloyd1@aol.com
  • Robert Lawrence, Secretary, Boblawrence5753@comcast.net
  • Catherine Forrence, 404westmain@comcast.net
  • Robert White Jr., bobwhitejr@mac.com
  • Audrey Wolfe, al_wolfe@verizon.net
  • Cc:  Jim Gugel, Chief Planner      jgugel@frederickcountymd.gov

 

Map showing potential land use change in Urbana

 

 

 

 

Number of proposals:  46

Agriculture/open space acreage under discussion:  2769 acres

Agriculture/open space properties requesting reclassification and rezoning

for residential development:  2380.7 acres

Approximate number of homes to be constructed:  5189

Approximate number of new school children:  2818

Approximate number of additional car trips each day on local roads:  49,667

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10-10-11 Seven citizen groups address 194 land use change proposals with letter to the Frederick County Planning Commissioners

Download letter as pdf file here.

 

 

 

Proposals for land use change in Frederick County

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
ADAMSTOWN 13 3203.0 99.9 293.0 159.1 2804.0
BRUNSWICK 7 339.4 321.4 737.0 400.2 7053.1
FREDERICK 33 2358.0 2169.6 3172.7 1722.8 30362.7
MIDDLETOWN 18 518.7 505.9 1215.6 660.1 11633.3
NEW MARKET 43 3691.0 2331.4 7505.1 4075.3 71823.8
THURMONT 19 486.0 434.3 452.0 245.4 4325.6
URBANA 46 2769.0 2380.7 5189.9 2818.1 49667.3
WALKERSVILLE 15 2014.0 1857.3 4847.0 2631.9 46385.8
194 15379.0 10100.5 23412.3 12712.9 224055.7

 

FNP: Nonprofits object to Frederick County land-use plan rewrite

 

 

Nonprofits object to Frederick County land-use plan rewrite

Originally published September 07, 2011 

By Bethany Rodgers

Bumper-to-bumper traffic and tax increases could arise from a current effort to rewrite the county land-use plan, leaders of two local nonprofit groups said Tuesday.Estimating that more than 10,000 acres of farmland and open space could give way to housing if rezoned or reclassified under a new comprehensive plan, the organization Friends of Frederick County predicted the result would be an influx of cars on the roads and children in schools. The current comprehensive plan, adopted last year by the previous board of commissioners, doesn’t need an overhaul and offers ample space for growth, the nonprofit representatives said.

“This has everything to do with our quality of life,” Janice Wiles, executive director of Friends of Frederick County, said of the land-use plan. “Once things are rezoned É it just changes the whole nature of our county.”

The current effort by county commissioners to revisit the comprehensive plan began earlier this year.

Commissioners President Blaine Young said he wanted the rewrite because the 2010 land-use blueprint stripped value from a number of properties through “downzoning” them, increasing limitations on development of the land. Young has said he’s looking to restore the lost value as commissioners revise the plan.

While Young has said he’s not interested in rezoning properties left untouched by recent county comprehensive plans, all landowners were free to submit requests. The county reported receiving 196 applications for new zonings and land-use designations, with concentrations in the New Market, Urbana and Frederick regions.

Friends of Frederick County’s analysis of the applications showed that granting the requests could pave the way for construction of more than 23,000 homes, possibly translating into upwards of 12,700 school-aged children.

At a meeting Tuesday morning, Wiles and Kai Hagen — a former county commissioner and leader of the nonprofit organization Envision Frederick County — said the county doesn’t have the roads or schools to accommodate growth in all of the areas under consideration for rezoning or land-use designation changes. That means officials would have to raise taxes to fund infrastructure improvements, Wiles said.

The previous board’s 20-year growth plan allowed for the construction of about 36,000 new homes, covering what state population estimates indicate the county might need for that period.

Commissioner David Gray, who was the only board member to vote against a rewrite — although Commissioner Kirby Delauter was absent for the decision — said changing the document is unnecessary and happening too quickly. The current schedule has the board adopting changes in early 2012.

“I hope we will slow down,” he said at the Tuesday meeting with Hagen and Wiles, adding that there’s no pressing need to push through the revisions.

However, in a phone interview, Young said the previous comprehensive plan snatched money from landowners.

“They think it’s OK with a stroke of a pen to take away someone’s hard work and life savings, and they don’t think they should be compensated in any way, shape or form,” Young said of those who would stick with the 2010 document.

In addition, growth will inject money into the local economy by stimulating jobs. Far from worsening the problem of funding shortages for infrastructure, development can help provide a solution by generating money from fees and taxes, Young said.

Hagen takes issue with the claim that changing the comprehensive plan will encourage job growth. Just because a new plan would benefit developers doesn’t mean it is good for the entire business community, he said.

“Developing in the wrong place is not good job-creation,” Hagen said.

 

Jefferson citizens out in numbers to say Food Lion inappropriate for their community

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.

Frederick County zoning to allow bigger buildings

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.”

Link to online FNP article.

PATH Project withdraws plans to build high power electric power lines across southern Frederick County

Please read Notice of Withdrawal and the Sugarloaf Conservancy’s press release.

Congratulations to the many many citizens throughout the region who worked hard for 2.5 years to point out the fallacies and issues with the PATH project.  Notably:  Doug and Peg Kaplan and Chad and Karen Baker.

01-19-2011 Public hearing on GMC: large church impacts upon public health, safety and the environment

In 2008 Global Mission Church, with current perish in Silver Spring, announced its plan to expand to Frederick County , clear forest and farmland, to build a 140,000 ft 2 complex at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain.  This megachurch would be built on well and septic;  local residents and professionals alike have expressed concern that this development would greatly impact the area’s wetlands, the Little Bennett Creek and the Piedmont Sole Source Aquifer.  

In October 2009 the Frederick County Planning Commission voted to deny the Global Mission (GMC) Site Plan because, according to the Health Department’s regulation GMC’s plan would exceed the septic capacity of 4,999 gallon per day.  GMC had time to bring their plan into compliance but did not do so.

In March 2010 the Frederick County Board of Appeals (BOA) voted 4-1 to send the GMC site plan decision  back to the Planning Commission for further proceedings and to give the GMC additional opportunity to discuss their site plan with county staff.

In July 2010 Judge Dwyer, Frederick County Circuit Court, GMC July 2010 Dwyer decision.

On January 19, 2011 2pm Frederick County attorney, Wendy Kearney, will present the county’s appeal to the BOA March decision and support the Planning Commission’s 2009 decision in the  Frederick County Circuit Court .    Please try to attend;  if you can’t make it check our website afterwards for a report.

Thanks to all Frederick and Montgomery County residents, specifically the Montgomery Countryside Alliance (http://mocoalliance.org/2010/11/global-mission-church-update/) for  participation and excellent testimony at the many public meetings on this issue. Please continue to speak out on behalf of clean air, water, public health and safety, open space and the flora and fauna that depend upon it.