Email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor Glendening described exactly what FoFC has been saying. The infrastructure needs for a community that is more dense and walkable is less. And that there is a disconnect between what will sell and what we are building in Frederick County. FoFC inserted the photos below (they are not part of the FNP article).
By Bethany Rodgers News-Post Staff | Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 2:00 am
The American dream is changing, and community design must keep up with it, former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening told a Frederick group Wednesday.
In a talk focused on smart growth, Glendening said an increasing number of people are eschewing large, single-family houses in the suburbs and instead settling in dense, walkable communities. However, there’s a growing disconnect between the types of housing people want and what’s available on the market, he said.
“Keeping our downtowns strong and keeping our communities economically vibrant in the long term will require a different approach to growth than we have been doing for the last 60 years,” he said during the event at Frederick City Hall.
Two population trends are driving changes in the types of housing people want. For one thing, the nation’s senior population is on the rise, and by the year 2030, almost one in five Americans will be older than 65, Glendening said. Increasingly, older Americans are less inclined to head to Florida or a nursing home upon retirement and are more interested in aging in place. Seniors are now looking for communities where they wouldn’t have to drive and where they’re near stores, activities and health care services.
A large millennial population, made up of people between the ages of 18 and 30, is also shaping the housing needs of the future, Glendening said. These people are starting families later and are driving less, he said. The millennial generation tends to like small-lot homes or attached dwellings that are close to their workplaces and served by transit systems.
In addition, rather than choosing their place of residence based on a job, an increasing number of these individuals are selecting the communities they like and then seeking employment in those areas. Read the story…
Gazette editorial published on Thursday, January 24, 2013
Pay now, or pay later for Frederick County development
The scene is a familiar one in Maryland: a “bedroom” county with lots of available open space attracts developers who see dollar signs, while elected officials see an easy way to expand the tax base and pay for needed services.
On the other side, advocacy groups and residents who are worried about crowded roads and schools, and the possible higher taxes needed to improve both, draw a line in the sand to fight what they view as unfettered growth.
The developers and elected officials, with zoning law on their side, usually win in the end, with the developers getting rich, and the elected officials moving on to higher office. But years later, their legacy is sometimes urban sprawl that is virtually impossible to undo.
By then, the debate is about “smart growth” vs. “dumb growth,” or the need to impose a building moratorium because development has outstripped a jurisdiction’s ability to accommodate it with the needed infrastructure.
Thoughtful elected officials and residents who witnessed such a gradual erosion of the quality of life in their communities then ask, “How did we get here? What were they thinking a decade ago when they allowed this to happen?”
That crucial time when the future is decided is being played out in Frederick County here and now. Read more…
Skirting open meetings
Originally published January 18, 2013
We’re glad New Market’s attorney, William Wantz, put the brakes Wednesday night on two massive annexations, but not because we support or oppose them — that’s a matter for the town to decide.What concerns us are some of the maneuvers by town leaders that make it look like they’re trying to skirt the Open Meetings Act, a state law dedicated to ensuring we all have full and thorough access to government officials when they make decisions, most of which involve spending our tax money.
At issue in this case are two parcels of land — the 262-acre Smith-Cline and 134-acre Delaplaine properties — that, added to New Market’s boundaries, would double the town’s size and could add nearly 1,000 new houses.
New Market’s leaders know annexation proposals are controversial. In a 2007 referendum, in a vote of 148-105, residents shot down plans to annex the Smith and Cline farms after the public objected. The process dragged out over months and was extremely controversial; tempers flared on both sides. That was a tough, open and necessary debate, one that seems to be missing in this latest push to expand the town’s limits.
Take two examples where New Market’s leadership walked a fine line about notifying its residents and other interested parties.
On Jan. 10, the day of the planning commission hearing, the annexation discussion was added to the agenda at 10 a.m. The hearing was at 7 p.m. — and the planning commissioners voted to support the annexations that night. If you were interested in attending and making your opinion known, pro or con, but worked out of the county or had some other commitment, you were probably out of luck.
A planned vote on the annexations, listed innocuously enough as a “discussion,” was added to Thursday’s Town Council agenda only the day before the 7 p.m. meeting. That’s where Wantz, who is apparently listening to residents worried about the annexation, told council members, “We want to do this right, and we want to do this in a way that doesn’t cause harm.”
These meetings were not advertised even remotely adequately. In the case of the vote, the lack of notification was particularly egregious. Another public hearing has been scheduled for next month.
Scheduling the discussion suddenly on the day of the hearing or day before by adding it to the agenda at the last minute is government’s cowardly end run around the law to mute opposition in sometimes controversial decisions. Sadly, under the Open Meetings Act, it’s not illegal. But it’s certainly not within the spirit of the law. We’re not sure if an intentional suppression of opinion was what happened in the case of the annexations, or whether it was an overly hasty attempt to move this issue ahead. Either way, we’d urge Mayor Winslow F. Burhans III and the Town Council to consider the importance of allowing enough time for the public to be present at and speak at the next hearing.
Taken alone, the lack of notification could be considered just an oversight. But there are a couple of more points of concern.
Burhans says he has been meeting with anyone who wants to learn more. They have been one-on-one meetings in private homes. They were set up using his private business email, which he includes on nearly all of his town correspondence, and not the email he has through the town.
Why private email? Presumably because government emails are public information and subject to public information requests. Using a private email to communicate is the 21st-century equivalent to meeting in a smoky back room behind closed doors. Meeting one-on-one is similarly questionable.
Finally, in an explanation of the late notice to one of our reporters, Burhans indicated that letters from him and other council members were sufficient notice — except they didn’t contain a time, date or address for the meetings. This is hardly the “reasonable advance notice” required by the law. In fact, the Open Meetings Act manual published by the Maryland attorney general (and available on his website) clearly states: “Unless some unusual circumstance makes it impracticable to do so, the public body should give a written notice that includes the date, time, and place of its meeting.”
We hope these aren’t intentional strategies to subvert proper public comment and avoid the kind of divisive — but necessary — public debate that took months to resolve in 2007 and led to that special election referendum. But that’s how it appears, and in politics, even small-town politics, appearance is everything.
Hearings on this have not allowed for a full and thorough debate. We doubt a majority of residents’ voices have been adequately heard. That needs to happen before a decision as monumental as doubling the town’s size is voted on by the council.
over 50 people turned out to learn more about the annexation plans. The mayor and council made no presentation for the crowd, and told people to submit their questions in writing. Read about the hearing in the Frederick Newspost: Dozens turn out for New Market annex debate
FoFC presented Mayor Burhans and the Town Council with a letter detailing the legal issues with the annexation proposals, and made the following points in testimony:
|Handouts to the elite development set
Originally published November 11, 2012
County Commissioners President Blaine Young often says that Frederick County is not business-friendly and that the county has been anti-development. The problem with Blaine’s views is that the facts do not accommodate his empty arguments.From 2000 to 2010, Frederick County grew at a rate of 19.5 percent. Only two other counties grew at a faster rate. The state of Maryland grew at a rate of 9 percent. Twenty percent in 10 years is not enough for Blaine Young, because there is so much more money to be made — consequences be damned.
He is not business-friendly, but business-obsessed, and irrationally supportive of welfare for developers, caring little about the consequences his development-at-all-costs policies will have in the future. Frederick County has not been anti-development, and if the county is so hostile to developers, then how did the developments of Spring Ridge, Glenbrook, Brunswick Crossing and countless others occur? If developers are victims of bad policy, then how were they able to accommodate the housing needs of over 30,000 new residents from 2000 to 2010?
Why is Blaine Young so adamant about taking the same exact path that neighboring counties have when it comes to development? When people are sitting in miles of traffic years from now, they will know whom to thank. He seems to care little about current and future traffic congestion, which was highlighted when he decided to lower the tax developers had to pay, which went into a transportation infrastructure fund. The goal for Blaine is to make Frederick County look more like Tysons Corner, and then future generations will have to play catch up 30 years later for transportation needs, as we are seeing in Tysons right now.
Developers may strongly support Young’s policies. The problem is most people in Frederick County aren’t developers and he is accountable to all county residents, not just those responsible for much of his campaign support. Wealthy developers get a tax cut, yet those in need get their services cut.
The future success of Frederick County growth does not depend on the policy of build now, pay for infrastructure later. The county is in an advantageous position because of its location in one of the wealthiest states in the country, its proximity to the base of the federal government and three of the wealthiest counties in the country: Loudoun County, Va., Howard and Montgomery. But that doesn’t mean we have to travel down the same road of growth.
The desirability of Frederick County will be a result of a well-thought-out approach to growth and development, not one in which Blaine Young and developers have free rein, as they have no incentive to combat future traffic and school congestion, but only make money off new construction and do everything in their power to increase their profit margins. I never realized that developers were so impoverished to begin with.
In the next 10 years, do we want a growth rate of 20 percent? Blaine seems more supportive of 40 to 50 percent growth, and radically altering the landscape and character of the county. But as long as his developer cronies are making more money, it’s fine with Blaine.
A growth rate of 19.5 percent is business- and developer-unfriendly? Since when? Of course, for Young, government intervention is necessary not to help the most vulnerable, but for developers looking to increase their profit margins.
For Blaine, benefits for developers are also more important than raises for teachers in Frederick County. Frederick County is the eighth wealthiest county in the state, yet the teachers pay is ranked 22nd out of 24. Doesn’t a successful business environment depend on the recruiting and retention of high-quality educators? Once again, Blaine fails to make the connection. Compensating teachers what they deserve is simple fairness, yet Blaine prefers corporate welfare and developer handouts over providing Frederick County Public Schools teachers with what they deserve.
One would think by looking at neighboring counties that chasing revenue via mass development is not a well-thought-out strategy, unless appropriate transportation infrastructure and uncrowded schools can be realized. By slashing the fee developers had to pay for future infrastructure needs, Young unapologetically indicates that the only thing that matters for this county is more development, and everything else, including teachers pay, school crowding, and well-thought-out infrastructure, will continue to take a back seat to Blaine’s building buddies.
Frank Clements writes from Knoxville.
|Originally published October 11, 2012
By Danielle E. Gaines
NEW MARKET — Town leaders introduced two annexation proposals Wednesday night that could expand the town by more than 397 acres.The owners of a 134-acre plot northeast of town want to annex into the town’s new economic development flex zoning designation. The zoning classification, which became law Oct. 3, allows newly annexed areas to be used for a wider variety of uses than the county currently allows. Development on the land, which is known as the Delaplaine property, could include commercial, office, technology, retail, service and other businesses, according to the law. Additionally, the owners of a 262-acre plot northwest of town want to annex into a medium-density residential zone.
Together, the two plots of land would almost double the size of New Market and allow the creation of a northern route across town by extending Mussetter Road to Md. 75, Mayor Winslow F. Burhans III said.
Burhans said the annexations will increase economic development, ease traffic congestion and add enough residents to build a new elementary school. He said he’s been going door to door to speak with residents about the annexation and answer any questions they might have.
“I’ve met with as many residents as I could possibly get to in the last month,” Burhans said after Wednesday’s meeting.
For several months, the mayor has argued that New Market needs to create a more diverse economy, particularly on county land adjacent to the town. He cites businesses such as the Food Lion and CVS on Md. 144, which are in the county, when arguing that development just outside the town is stifling New Market’s economy.
“We’re a town that’s rapidly becoming a small town surrounded by a larger county town,” he said. “That’s a threat because we don’t get any economic benefit from that.”
The annexation agreements were signed by the landowners this week, and the introduction of the resolutions was added to the council agenda less than five hours before the meeting. No one who attended the meeting spoke against the introduction of the resolutions.
Town attorney William Wantz said the annexation agreements cannot be finalized until a public hearing is held. The council did not decide on a date for the public hearing Wednesday.
The council did debate whether to have more workshops about the proposed development, and Burhans said he opposed too many meetings about the issue.
The 262-acre plot under consideration, which is known as the Smith Cline property, was set to be annexed into the town in 2007, but that annexation was voted down by town residents in a referendum led by Friends of Frederick County.
Burhans said the town had several workshops before that proposal and the meetings devolved into a “circuslike” atmosphere.
In 2011, Friends of Frederick County, a smart-growth advocacy group, sued the town over its expansion plans. In late September, Wantz asked a Frederick County Circuit Court judge to dismiss the lawsuit. A written decision is expected in the coming weeks, Burhans said.
(Frederick News Post, Sept 23, 2012)
The traffic snarl and resident complaints regarding the Tough Mudder race held at Crumland Farms last weekend are not the story of an organizer who misled anyone. It is the story of incompetency among Frederick city and Frederick County officials. On Sept. 5, an article inThe Frederick News-Post quoted Tough Mudder media representative Ashley Fallick as stating the event is expected to attract approximately 27,000 people. In that same article, Frederick city Economic Development Director Richard Griffin remarked, “Having 27,000 folks here for the Tough Mudder Race this weekend is sure to increase hotel room nights and sales at restaurants and other retail establishments.” He goes on to say, “Additionally, it highlights Frederick to folks from other places as a great place to live, invest and do business.”
Were these individuals misquoted? I doubt it. Regardless, Mayor Randy McClement and Police Chief Kim Dine claim they were caught off-guard and the debacle was a result of poor planning on the part of Tough Mudder LLC. When an organization from outside of Frederick applies for a permit and the city grants it, should they not assume the officials would understand the implications of said permit? Are McClement and Dine unaware of the issues we face on U.S. 15 every day? Were they shocked that 27,000 people going to a parking area off Willow Road could pose a problem? Should it have been their responsibility to recognize the possible problems more than an out-of-town organization that is bringing its business to Frederick? And why is the local government being so difficult about revealing the details of the permit to the public? It is laughable that Alderwoman Karen Young, an elected city leader, was, by her own admission, not even aware that two major events were scheduled for Frederick on the same weekend. What about County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, who seemed to sense there might be work involved? He made sure to keep the mud off his hands.
But this was only one event on one weekend that went wrong. What is more frightening is that several of these individuals are behind the annexation of several farms in the area, including the race venue, Crum Farm, so that the lands can be developed heavily. These are the people that claim issues regarding school crowding, congested local roads and highways, and public safety will be addressed satisfactorily once thousands more housing units are added to the area.
How many portables are already on our public school grounds? How often is traffic congested on 15 and other main roads in the area? How well-staffed are our police forces and other emergency response organizations? Last weekend, Frederick city’s leadership proved they were incapable of ensuring a decent quality of life for residents of the city and county. Sadly, I am glad this weekend’s events wreaked so much havoc on Frederick. Consider it training. It is the kind of discomfort we will need to get used to in the coming years. As Commissioners President Blaine Young stated in the Sept. 7 edition of The Frederick News-Post, the annexation and further development of local Frederick farms “supports the best aspects of Smart Growth,” the urban development plan initiated in Maryland under Democratic Gov. Parris Glendening in the ’90s. That is a rather ambiguous remark, for it overlooks the worst aspects of the Smart Growth initiative. A week ago Saturday was just a taste of what is to come in the all-too-near future of Frederick, and I fail to see anything smart about it — or the elected officials behind it.
writes from Frederick.
Thursday, September 6, 2012 7:00pm City Hall
Mayor McClement and the Board of Aldermen (O’Connor, Russell, Young, Krimm and Aloi) will meet to hear citizens speak about the Keller Farm Annexation and development.
Read more about the annexation proposal.
Read citizen opposition.