Frederick City’s Decisions on Growth
On September 3rd Frederick City officials approved annexation of three farms and development agreements. These 3 farms (Summers, Crumland and COPT/Thatcher) total 500 acres and development plans include 1500 homes and 2.5 million square feet of office and commercial. As approved these developments will add 15,000 vehicle trips each day to Route 15. Maryland Department of Planning, State Highway Administration and the Frederick County Board of Commissioners have all recommended that the city not annex until there is assurance there can be provision of safe road, sewer, school and emergency services.
The COPT/Thatcher and Crumland Farm annexations and developments will raise our taxes, congest our roads and either overcrowd our schools or drain our personal coffers to pay for a new school ($25 million dollars!).
Friends of Frederick County does not support urban sprawl which is exactly what the US15 annexation and development agreements propose to do. For the past two decades the sprawl development model has consumed more than 14 million acres of land in the U.S and vastly changed the land around us in Frederick County. We cannot grow our way out of problems and in fact will create new problems and headaches for Frederick County residents under this outdated development model. Not only does development on such scale fragment and destroy wildlife habitat, pollute our streams and pave over rich and productive farmland, it has a direct impact on our lives by creating more traffic and higher taxes to support the growth we can no longer afford.
Most important, surveys reveal that this is exactly what citizens do not want. Surveys conducted in 2001 (Aspire Frederick) and 2009 (Comprehensive Plan) on growth revealed that citizens are demanding a more common sense approach to growth that preserves open spaces, natural resources and farm land, promotes local businesses, and fosters modes of transportation that do not clog our roadways and create smog.
Would there be some benefit from these annexation developments? The benefits would accrue to a few developers and two farm families (Crum and Summers; Thatcher has already been purchased by COPT), at the expense of everyone else. The costs far outweigh the benefits, and by doing this we aren’t doing what we should be doing – working with the development community to change rules and make it easier for them to revitalize the (already built) parts of our city that need it. Revitalization for local businesses development would benefit the residents of this city and be far less costly! Please see our specific responses to our opponent positions for additional insights on why and how.
The costs of providing community services skyrocket when homes and businesses are built farther apart and where local governments are forced to provide for widely spaced services. Owners of these sprawl developments seldom pay the full government costs of serving them, forcing the rest of us to subsidize them with higher taxes at the local, state and federal level. Take a look at this evaluation done for New Jersey’s master plan: “a look at conventional sprawl growth patterns against a mix of “infill” development, higher density concentrated new development and traditional sprawl. The projected differences are large. Infill and higher density growth, meaning growth that occurs within an urban setting, would result in a savings of $1.18 billion in roads, water and sanitary sewer construction (or more than $12,000 per new home) and $400 million in direct annual savings to local governments. Over 15 years, it amounts to $7.8 billion. This does not take into account reductions in the cost of other public infrastructure that result from “infill” growth: decreased spending on storm drainage, less need for school busing (and parent taxi service), fewer fire stations, and less travel time for police, ambulance, garbage collection, and other services.” (http://www.cwac.net/landuse/index.html)
How You Can Help
As advocates for the quality of life for residents within Frederick County and City we recognize that sprawl growth does not pay for itself and that residents will see their taxes go up to foot the bill for roads, emergency services, water, sewer and a school.
Please join us in our fight against costly development in favor of development that will bring jobs, tax revenue, social and cultural benefits and a healthier place for our families and friends! Email us: friends@friendsoffrederickcounty and join our campaign!
We will keep you informed of important dates on the horizon.
Continue to send letters to:
Frederick City Hall Mayor and Alderman