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.

 

07-26-11 One Frederick, Many Voices Rally

Information on privatization rally last week and what’s up for this week.

Effort renewed to de-annex properties

by Katherine Heerbrandt | Staff Writer
Two controversial annexations that played a major role in the City of Frederick’s election last fall may play an encore in the county election this year.

Citizens Call For a Charter Amendment to Halt Costly Sprawl Development Along our National Scenic Byway

Friends of Frederick County launches a petition drive  for a charter amendment to change the boundaries of the City of Frederick, MD to exclude the Crum and Thatcher properties.

In September 2009 the City of Frederick’s Mayor and Aldermen[1] voted to annex two farms along Route 15 north of Frederick City for 1200 new homes and approximately 2.3 million ft2 of office space. Click to download the Annexation Resolution for the Crum Farm (09-18) and Resolution 09-19 Thatcher Annexation.

During the Fall 2009 citizens made a good faith effort to gather 20% of city voter signatures to put these annexations to referendum but fell short of our target due to the 45 day time allowed. Judging from overwhelming citizen involvement in that effort and interest in signing the petition for referendum it was clear that citizens of Frederick City do not agree that the development plans for the Crum and COPT/Thatcher properties promote the health, safety and welfare of our city nor county.   Read more details on the annexations, organization positions and related issues here and on the Frederick County government website.

This petition effort, to “de annex” these properties, allows unlimited time for signature gathering and when put on the ballot will give citizens the opportunity to vote their preference.

Download the Deannexation Petition for Referendum Here!

Please return the petition as soon as possible:

  • mail it to:  Friends of Frederick County,  4 E Church Street, Frederick MD   21701
  • call us at:  240 529 1655
  • drop off points to be announced

Contact us:  deannexation@friendsoffrederickcounty.org


[1] Frederick City Elected Officials at time of annexations:  Mayor Jeff Holtzinger and Aldermen Marsha Hall, Alan Imhoff, Kip Koontz, Donna Kuzemchak and Paul Smith

Growth and Higher Taxes in Frederick County: 1995-2010

FoFC Takes a Look at Residential Growth in Frederick County and how it has impacted Taxes, Schools and Roads

Decades of poor planning and rapid growth have left us with higher tax bills and big problems to solve

  • An increasing number of dilapidated and overcrowded schools, which make it nearly impossible to provide safe and modern facilities to educate and care for our children.
  • Growing traffic on our already overcrowded and dangerous roads, with little or no funding for improvements or additional roads.

A Call for Volunteers and Support:

  • Help us with outreach:   Do you belong to an organization, church or neighborhood group we can talk to?
  • Forward this to a friend who might be interested or want to become involved;  spread the word on facebook http://bit.ly/friendsoffrederickcounty
  • We need support for printing and materials,  please donate – even a small sum is a big gift!   http://www.friendsoffrederickcounty.org/you-can-help/donate/

Call with questions or to offer your help:

friends@friendsoffrederickcounty.org

240 529 1655

Referendum Lessons and Laws

As a volunteer for the referendum on the recent Frederick city annexations I wish to share a few thoughts with my fellow residents. At least 70 percent of our city voters oppose the proposed development despite the unmatched campaign by the current and former city officials aiming to change our mind.

The annexation controversy highlights the need for direct democracy. The purpose of a referendum is to enable direct democracy when the representative democracy fails to vindicate important public interests.

To fulfill this purpose, referendum provisions should be designed to serve legitimate grass roots initiatives. The existing provisions we have just encountered, however, seem to be designed to block any grass roots initiatives. The requirement of obtaining the signatures of 20 percent of all registered city voters in 45 days is onerous. The state law that establishes this particular requirement for municipal annexations needs to be amended. For comparison, a referendum petition against an act passed by Maryland General Assembly requires 3 percent of the votes that were cast at the last election.

The Frederick City Code also needs to be amended so that an annexation cannot be approved within the six months of the next City election. This would eliminate the expense associated with a special election for a referendum.

Having spent much time with my fellow residents–in the process of collecting signatures, I wish to express my appreciation for their well-informed, helpful and polite participation and for newly formed friendships.

MALGO SCHMIDT 

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/archives/display_detail.htm?StoryID=103148

Have you signed?

Residents of Frederick and Frederick County are out in droves collecting signatures to take the Thatcher, Crum and Summers Farm annexation agreements to referendum so that city residents can have the final say. Maryland State Highway Administration, Maryland Department of Planning and the Board of Frederick County Commissioners have advised against these agreements that will add vehicles to unsafe roads, children to an overcrowded school, and costly demands on infrastructure that will fall on taxpayers to pay. It is hard to imagine 15,000 more vehicle trips each day to U.S. 15.

Registered city voters are eligible to sign. A volunteer may have knocked on your door but you weren’t home. Our goal is to get 8,000(!) signatures by Oct. 18. Please seek out a place to sign the petition for referendum.

In The Street: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Friends of Frederick County table between Church and Second streets.

Worman’s Mill gazebo: noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Referendum Office, 4 E. Church St: 9 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, 3 to 5 p.m. Monday, 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to noon Sunday.

Baker Park gazebo: 3 to 6 p.m. every Sunday until Oct. 18.

Monocacy MARC train station: Every Tuesday evening until Oct. 18.

Frederick City MARC train station: Every Friday evening until Oct. 18

Spread the word!

JANICE WILES

Friends of Frederick County

Frederick News Post

Letter to the Editor

September 30, 2009

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=95866

Thanks to all annexation referendum volunteers!

October 18, 2009

Dear Annexation Referendum Volunteers, Supporters and Friends,

On behalf of Friends and Frederick County, I would like thank everyone who brought their energy, spirit and dedication to this burst of grassroots movement for a petition drive to bring the issue of annexation to a citizen vote.  As I write this letter, unpaid volunteers are still out in their neighborhoods trying to collect the  7,289 signatures needed by Monday (10/19) to bring to citizen vote the issue of annexation.   Yet, it is with a heavy heart that, despite the best efforts of all the dedicated foot soldiers, we will fall short of our main goal.

Petitions by origin were created in the spirit of democracy.  The process offers the opportunity for every Frederick resident to put one voice, one vote, to an issue that can impact their daily lives.   A referendum in this case, regardless of the outcome, would assure participation by Frederick voters who are the most impacted by the actions of their elected officials.   Yet, sadly, this petition  drive has been subverted by a host of factors, not the least of which is a  near impossible time frame of 45 days.   To be successful volunteers would have to collect over 160 signatures a day.  Despite our dedicated army of unpaid volunteers working to gather signatures and educate voters, time was against us.  Given that 9 out of 10 people signed the petition once they learned about the annexation, I have little doubt that additional time would have brought about the successful outcome of a referendum —  a simple vote.   But the time allotment of 45 days to gather signatures for referendum is an outmoded form of democracy in large cities like Frederick, which spans over 20 square miles.  Residents interested in signing the petition not only had to find out about us, but learn where our volunteers were located.

As this effort gathered steam, nearly one hundred (100!) of you – unpaid volunteers –  took the time out of your very busy lives to hit the streets, talk to your neighbors, and gather signatures.   I must thank you for your commitment, energy, and hard work.  I also want to thank the Frederick County Board of Commissioners (BOCC), the Maryland State Highway Administration, Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services Division and the Maryland Department of Planning for their thoughtful concerns raised about the annexation development agreements.  As we’ve noted  previously, these annexations will add millions of square feet of office and commercial space, and over 1500 homes on farm land located near U.S.  15  and Route 40.   The BOCC  and other state and county officials offered their distinguished voices to educate citizens about the impact of the annexation development on traffic and other public services. Most Frederick residents with whom we met and spoke during our grassroots efforts not only did not understand how annexation would impact them, but also opposed the  action and signed the petition so that they could vote.  This is the way democracy is supposed to work –through public participation, education, and outreach.

FOFC became involved in this effort to ensure the voices of Frederick voters were heard by their elected officials, the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen.   We are independent, nor funded by outside special interest groups.   Our members are citizens who have a strong interest in the quality of life in Frederick and the surrounding counties because they either live in the city or in the county.   Most importantly, none of us profit financially from the decisions of any elected governing body in Frederick or Frederick County. We are proud of our role in advocating that land use decisions, including annexations, benefit all residents of Frederick – not just a few.

Thank you so very much for your support and enthusiasm.  And a special thanks to Malgo who – by far-  collected the most signatures, and to Elaine who took a lead role in organizing volunteers.  Also special mention of gratitude goes to the Catoctin Sierra Club for lending us their office space that we converted to the Referendum Office, and to E End USA for lending us a copy machine!

We’ll be back in touch soon with final numbers and more updates.

Sincerely,

Janice Wiles, Executive Director  240 529 1655/ 240 626 5209

Looking back:

Friends of Frederick County (FOFC) was a driving force behind the coalition of Frederick County citizens concerned about sprawl.  On September 4th 2009 we   set out to collect 7,289 signatures by October 18th to bring to citizen vote a move by the Board of Alderman to annex more than 500 acres of farm land targeted for residential and commercial development. The annexations of the Thatcher, Crumland and Summers farms will add millions of square feet of office and commercial space, and over 1500 homes on farm land located near U.S.  15 and Route 40.   Annexation is a process used to expand municipal boundaries by adding land.   Planners and environmentalists cite annexations as a source of urban sprawl in rural areas because the growth is directed outward from urban centers.    FOFC launched the petition drive to educate citizens about the impact of the annexations on the quality of life in Maryland.

“Frederick County citizens need to know the tremendous impact these annexations will have on traffic congestion, schools, and on municipal services,” said Janice Wiles, executive director of FOFC.  “There is a world of difference between growing, and growing right.  Spreading Frederick City outward to the rural landscape along a stretch of overtaxed highway produces little or no benefit to tax payers living in the city and in Frederick County.  They are the ones who will ultimately bear the cost of the infrastructure improvements that will need to be made.” Among those also raising concerns about the annexations are the Maryland State Highway Administration, Maryland State Department of Planning and County officials, including the Board of County Commissioners, who are concerned about the developers’ commitment to major infrastructure improvements to roads, sewer capacity and schools.

Opponents of the recent City of Frederick annexations  have 45 days to secure the signatures of at least 7,289 city voters.  The law requires 20 percent of municipal voters sign a petition to force the issue to referendum.  Volunteers gathering signatures are all over the city knocking on doors and talking to people at public events.  ”Over forty concerned citizens have collected about 2000 signatures.  We have a long way to go yet thankfully new volunteers are showing up daily offering to help.  We can meet our goal if more volunteers offer their support”  said Elaine Reinhold who is coordinating volunteers to staff places people can go to and sign the petition (see locations below).

Recent data suggests that sprawl and urbanization are consuming land at an alarming rate.  Between 1982 and 1992, 14 million acres of the U.S. became developed land, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.   In the past, cities were compact and efficient, but over the past 30-50 years, the density of land used per person has declined drastically.  Although the U.S. population grew by 17 percent from 1982 to 1997, urbanized land increased by 47 percent during the same 15 year period.   The developed acreage per person has nearly doubled in the past 20 years, and housing lots larger than 10 acres have accounted for 55 percent of land developed since 1994, according to the American Farmland Trust.

Where to Sign

  • Greenleaf Park – Whittier & Walnut Ridge (near pool and soccer field) 9/26 9:30 – noon
  • North End Block Party, 9/26 1-4pm
  • IN THE STREETS, 10/3 11-5 Friends of Frederick County table between Church & Second St.
  • Referendum Office, 4 E Church St, M 3-5pm, T/R 3:15-4:15, M-F 9-11am, SUnday 10-12noon
  • Baker Park gazebo Sunday 3-6 pm
  • Monocacy MARC train station – Tuesday evening
  • Frederick CIty MARC train station – Friday evening

For additional information

To Contact us

email:  frederick.referendum@gmail.com

240 626 5209

240-405-2536

Monrovia residents urge BOCC to keep the Monrovia Town Center PUD off map

Monrovia Residents express strong concern that the Monrovia Town Center Planned Unit Development is contrary to the goals of the County’s Growth Management Initiative and would overwhelm the infrastructure and destroy the rural and historic character of their community.  Over 200 citizens signed the letter to the Board of County Commissioners in strong support of the Planning Commission’s recommendation to remove the town center from the County’s Comprehensive Plan.  Their specific concerns are detailed in a letter dated January 12, 2009 to the Planning Commission.   Read both letters here.

Grass-roots democracy

It didn’t take long for the opponents of the recent annexations by the City of Frederick to get mobilized. There appear to be several possible avenues for local government to pursue in an attempt to nullify the annexations, but a separate grass-roots movement has already sprung into action with the same goal in mind.

Opponents of the annexations have mobilized and are proceeding on their own — without the official help of Winchester Hall. They have a daunting challenge, and it will be interesting to see how they fare.

By securing the signatures of 20 percent of city voters, annexation opponents can bring the question to referendum. In this case, that would mean a minimum of more than 7,000 signatures — and they would have to be secured by Oct. 17. This will be no small task.

Janice Wiles, director of Friends of Frederick County, says, “It’s a huge undertaking.” Nevertheless, she says, the corps of volunteers she and others are organizing will be going door-to-door to collect residents’ signatures. They have established a downtown office and have an e-mail address (frederick.referendum@gmail.com).

Even if the signatures are collected, the question would still have to pass muster with city voters.

Of all official and public options available to annexation opponents, we like the one that is initiated by private citizens. This is the real thing, grass-roots democracy at its best, at work addressing an issue that directly affects the lives of those involved.

It may be inevitable that these properties eventually end up as part of the City of Frederick, but if there is enough dissatisfaction or concern among city residents with the current annexation agreements to reverse these decisions, so be it.

Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak was the sole board member to vote against the Crumland Farm annexation. She says she did so because she was in favor of further meetings between the Frederick County Commissioners and the Frederick Board of Aldermen.

In the days preceding last Thursday’s vote, the commissioners, speaking as one, voiced a number of concerns about the details of the annexations and the agreements with developers that the city had struck.

Those concerns were discounted by Mayor Jeff Holtzinger and the aldermen who, with the exception of Kuzemchak’s dissenting vote on the Crumland property, were unanimous in their decisions to annex all three properties.

As we said in a recent editorial on this subject, we were a bit confused how two bodies of public officials could have such diverse interpretations of the same set of facts surrounding the Crumland annexation and development.

Let the people decide. If there is enough interest in reversing these annexations, the law permits rank-and-file residents to do so. And that is as it should be.

Originally published in the Frederick News Post on September 11, 2009

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/archives/display_detail.htm?StoryID=101497