9/5/13 LTE: Environmental Good Stewardship

Environmental good citizenship

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 2:00 am

While Farrell Keough makes some good points on environmental decision-making authority in his Aug. 19 letter to the editor, I would add that the general public can also contribute to making our environment cleaner and healthier.

Recently I learned about a Friends of Frederick County project that engages citizens to take a look at streams and their condition (where visible, from public roads); if there is a problem with the stream such as trash, an erosive hillside, farming up to the stream bank or cows in the creek, the individual snaps a photo and sends it in.  Read the rest.

Register NOW to adopt a grid – 4 hours/year of volunteer time ONLY

DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM HERE!

It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s relaxing and only requires 4 hours of your time each year.  Moreover the help you give IS SO VERY IMPORTANT to collective efforts of many people and organizations working to help clean up our waters in Frederick County.

There is cause for concern about our streams’ health in Frederick County.  You can help change that.  Please start now.

Read more.  REGISTER NOW!

Thank you.

FNP article: adopt a grid and, using a smart phone, help clean our streams in Frederick County

Lear how to adopt a grid, volunteer a few hours to help save a stream

Friends of Frederick County begin stream adoption program

Originally published November 19, 2012

By Patti S. Borda 

Smartphones, shoe-leather investigation and satellites can all contribute to cleaning up polluted streams and creeks.In its new stream-adoption program, the Friends of Frederick County organization has tapped the resources of satellite mapping to get to the source of pollution, be it construction, agriculture or trash, said Janice Wiles, Friends executive director.

Frederick County has 1,434 miles of streams. The Friends, an environmental advocacy group, divided the county into 111 5-by-5-mile squares that can be adopted, each by one or more person or groups. The adoption program sends trackers to drive roads in their adopted grid areas using an application downloaded from the Friends website.

Trackers investigate waterways they encounter: If they see signs of pollution or erosion, they take a picture with their smartphones and a geographic information system maps the location and gets a satellite image.

“The system also allows those with admin-level access to update, comment on, analyze and share specific data,” Wiles said. “We have also incorporated the ability to track the status of each observation.”

The image is analyzed by an expert, who determines what course of action should be taken. If something needs to be done, the appropriate state or local agency is notified, Wiles said.

The tracker and Friends of Frederick County do not personally contact the property owner or suspected pollution source. Trackers are not to go onto private property to do inspections, Wiles said.–

“They just take a look. Then, they take a picture,” she said.

Friends has collected data on 71 places where stream pollution problems need to be addressed, she said: 14 are considered C-grade, 14 are D-grade and 10 are F-grade. Thirty-one others have yet to be graded.

Frederick County and Frederick city sediment inspectors have addressed a few of the worst construction site problems, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture has begun working with several landowners on their management practices, Wiles said.

Agricultural erosion is a major factor in stream pollution that can be observed, and remedied by changing farming practices, she said. The Maryland Department of Agriculture and state funding may be able to help farmers plant cover crops or trees, or change their practices.

“We know farmers don’t have a lot of extra money,” Wiles said.

Twenty-eight of the 38 graded sites are being actively investigated, she said, and sites with a C grade are being put on a list to address with the best land management practice education.

Most of the areas open for adoption are in the north, and nine of the squares form a horizontal row across the county’s middle, from Myersville to Libertytown.

Editorial on FoFC’s Healthy Streams Frederick County “adopt a grid”

Adopt a grid and participate!

manure piles along creek; creek banks totally destroyed yet the water still runs through the feedlot when it rains

streamside absent of buffer vegetation (tall and thick grasses, bushes and trees) that will protect it from runoff when it rains

Friends of Frederick County institutes Stream Monitoring Project

Originally published November 20, 2012By ed 

Friends of Frederick County has instituted a Stream Monitoring Project that combines high-tech satellite mapping with boots on the ground.Those boots will be worn by individuals or groups who “adopt” a 5-by-5-mile square of land, of which 111 were created countywide.We like this program for a couple of reasons. First, it helps address water pollution where it begins — in local streams and creeks. Second, the program will rely on residents who are interested in fighting pollution and enhancing water quality, here and downstream.

The concept is simple, but could be very effective in identifying the sources of pollution in local waterways, be they construction, agriculture, refuse, etc.

Volunteers — using an application downloaded from FoFC — will check the streams and creeks in their unit of the grid. If they find problems, they will photograph them by cellphone; a geographic information system will map the location and secure a satellite image.

This program is working as expected, having already identified more than 70 problem areas that need to be addressed — some of them so serious that they received D and F grades.

We also like this program because its volunteers do not go onto private property, nor do they personally contact property owners or others who may be the suspected sources of pollution. Cooperation, not confrontation, is the aim.

When pollution problems are identified, FoFC turns to officials of the jurisdiction or a local or state agency to address them.

FoFC Executive Director Janice Wiles says a substantial amount of stream/creek pollution is the result of agriculture, but FoFC understands that farmers have limited resources to make the needed changes. That’s where agencies such as the Maryland Department of Agriculture may be of assistance by working with farmers to improve their environment management practices.

This program has a lot of potential to help clean up Frederick County’s many hundreds of miles of streams. It is designed to encourage cooperation as opposed to pitting environmentalists against farmers or anyone else, and that’s the very best way to proceed.

FoFC says there are still areas in the county open for adoption. Anyone interested in participating in this clean-water initiative should go FoFC’s website at: www.FriendsofFrederickCounty.org and read all about it.

Controlling water pollution and addressing its causes are everyone’s business. Mutual goals, good will and constructive cooperation can make a real difference in this critical challenge.

Our Taste of History: call for volunteers September 8 and 9, 2012

FoFC builds volunteer corps to document stream pollution

Read about it here!

IMAGINE! Frederick Fall Film Festival 2010

Download IMAGINE! Frederick Fall Film Festival information here.

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.

Why DeAnnex the Crum and COPT/Thatcher Properties?

Download the Deannexation Petition for Charter Amendment Here!

Friends of Frederick County Position on Crum and COPT/Thatcher Annexations into Frederick City

We believe that our county and city should protect the Monocacy River corridor, productive farmland, scenic vistas, and a buffer between Frederick and Walkersville. At this time there is adequate development planned in the existing “pipeline” of future development in the city and we should develop that first, see that it is done in the most economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner, and evaluate its impact before bulldozing greenfields.  FoFC believes that existing roads to the north are inadequate, congested and dangerous, and there’s no financial plan to solve that anytime soon.

Background

In September 2009 the City of Frederick’s Mayor and Aldermen[1] voted to annex two farms (total 436 acres) along Route 15 north of Frederick City for 1200 new homes and approximately 2.3 million ft2 of non-residential (office, retail, manufacturing, hotel) space. 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.

Petition to DeAnnex the Crum and COPT/Thatcher Properties

For these reasons, on May 20th 6:30pm Frederick City Hall 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.This petition effort, to “de annex” these properties, when put on the ballot will give citizens the opportunity to vote their preference.   The petition can be downloaded off the Friends of Frederick County website (http://www.friendsoffrederickcounty.org/by-campaign/petition-deannexation-referendum/ ) and delivered or mailed to our office.  Petitions will be available at events;  petition drop off points will be announced during the petition drive.  Hear what citizens have to say.

Why deannex the Crum and COPT/Thatcher properties from the City limits?

  • Route 15 is one of the most dangerous roads in Maryland – and there is little funding for improvements.  The northern annexations will add 12-15,000 car trips/day to Route 15 and arterial roads.[2] The Maryland State Highway Administration strongly recommended that the cost of planning, design and construction of the Biggs Ford Road interchange be included in the annexation agreements, that cost is estimated at $75-80 million. It was not. The Monocacy Boulevard completion (to cost $75-$80 m) is not even funded yet.[3]
  • There are 3500 homes and millions of square feet of commercial space within Frederick City that should be built first before expanding outward.  These approvals include Brick Works, Northgate, Clemson Corner, Market Square, the Ballenger Creek Center and the SAIC-Frederick/NCI facility.  For a complete list of commercial projects see:  http://www.businessinfrederick.com/site_selection/development.htm
  • The annexation agreements for Crumland Farm and COPT/Thatcher do not adequately address sewer, schools and fire and rescue services. There is no planned sewer service for the Crum and Thatcher properties at this point [4] and no detailed plans for school and emergency services.
  • This farmland has excellent soil for growing food.  If the properties are under Frederick County jurisdiction they will be in an Agricultural Priority Preservation Area (PPA), according to the recently signed Frederick County Comprehensive Plan.

Positions from Voices of Authority

Maryland Department of Planning[5] (7/22/2009) Asks the city to look into potential sewer constraints, the expansive floodplain and the road network impacts in light of the I270/Rte 15 Multi Modal Study.

State Highway Administration[6] SHA strongly recommends that the cost of planning, design and construction of the Biggs Ford Road interchange and park and ride lot be included in the requirements for annexation, as well as dedication of Rte 15 right of way and plans for arterial roads that will need to be constructed once Sunday’s Lane is closed.

Frederick County Board of Commissioners[7] letter dated 9/2/2009 2, 2009:  Without concurrent construction plans for an interchange and the elimination of the at-grade crossings “will only exacerbate an already dangerous situation and jeopardize the safety of City and County residents.” “The Crumland Farm Agreement (pg 5) does not obligate Petitioners (meaning the developer) to fund any portion of the US 15/Biggs Ford Road interchange. The County Commissioners and the State Highway Administration believe the developers, rather than the taxpayers, should pay for this interchange.”  There is no planned sewer to either property.  Absent private funding for a new school this development will worsen school overcrowding.

Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services Division[8] (5/5/2009)on Crumland Farm annexation:  “With the potential increase in traffic traveling to the site, thus requiring vehicles to cross Route 15, the potential for accidents will increase. An increase in accidents on Route 15 may have an effect on the fire and rescue services, therefore, the Biggs Ford Road interchange should be constructed and operational before the first Use and Occupancy permit is issued for the proposed site.”

Town of Walkersville[9] (8/31/2009)  The Walkersville Burgess and Commissioners voted 3-2 in opposition to both the Crum and COPT/Thatcher annexation proposals and urged the Frederick City Board of Alderman to vote to deny them.

Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board River Board (5/11/2009) expresses concern about the proposed alteration of the natural landscape in the 100-year floodplain on the COPT/Thatcher property and the disruption of environmental processes and functions that follow from grading, filling, and building in a floodplain—mainly the natural storage and conveyance of flood waters.

Does your organization have a position?  If so, please send it to deannexation@friendsoffrederickcounty.org.


[1] Frederick City Elected Officials, September 2009 (Mayor Jeff Holtzinger and Aldermen Marsha Hall, Alan Imhoff, Kip Koontz, Donna Kuzemchak, Paul Smith), Frederick City MD.

[2] Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Trip Generation Manual, 7th Edition, pp 268-269.

[3] Thomas, John B. (Pers Comm May 2010).  Cost for Biggs Ford Road interchange at Route 15, and the Monocacy Boulevard interchange, Frederick County Division of Planning.

[4] Tax map 57 and 48 at: http://www.frederickcountymd.gov/index.aspx?NID=1326.

[5] Conrad, Peter G., Director, Local Government Assistance, Maryland Department of Planning.

[6] Slater, Gregory I, Director, Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering, State Highway Administration

[7] Board of County Commissioners, September 2009 (Jan Gardner, David Gray, John L Thompson, Kai J Hagen and Charles Jenkins), Frederick County MD.

[8] Dmuchowski, Michael P, Battalion Chief/Fire Marshall, Frederick County MD

[9] Hauver, Susan J, Planning and Zoning Administrator, Walkersville MD

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