8/24/13 FNP: New Market reconsiders annexation plans

 

New Market reconsiders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read entire article here.

Expert affidavits on New Market growth plans illustrate likely tax increases, congested roads, overcrowded schools and harm to environmentally sensitive areas

In 2011, Friends of Frederick County, the Audubon Society of Central Maryland and 13 residents filed a complaint in the Frederick County Circuit Court against the Town of New Market asserting that the Town’s Master Plan, the Municipal Growth Element, failed to satisfy the requirements of the State law.  (Friends of Frederick County et al. v. Town of New Market, Case No. 10-C-11-000410).  Friends of Frederick County, and other plaintiffs, filed the lawsuit out of concern that the deficiencies in the Town’s land planning process and in the Master Plan would authorize substantial growth which would give rise to innumerous adverse consequences to the Town and to its residents, including: congested roads; overcrowded schools; overstressed emergency services; degradation of environmentally sensitive areas; and higher taxes.  The higher taxes would be necessary to pay for the infrastructure and services necessary to accommodate the growth and otherwise mitigate its adverse impacts.

On March 28, 2012, three experts in land planning filed affidavits in the lawsuit on behalf of Friends of Frederick County and other plaintiffs fully supporting their concerns that the Plan failed to meet State law requirements and would result in adverse consequences.

1.  The Affidavit M Siegel, principal of Public and Environmental Finance Associates, concludes, for example:

  • In determining the amount of land needed for future growth, the Town failed to “consider its population growth and capacity analysis as required by statute,” resulting in authorizing “substantially more land” for annexation “than would otherwise be required.” P.2.
  • The Town has not considered the statutory requirement of “affordability, financing mechanisms, and the cost of public services and infrastructure, including the requirement for a ‘well maintained’ transportation system.” P. 2-3.
  • The Master Plan requires a by-pass road that would connect Boyers Mill Road with Route 75 to the North of the current Town limits.  This bypass road will cost millions of dollars.  The cost is so substantial that it is unlikely the full cost can be paid solely by the houses proposed for the Smith/Cline development.  Thus, all of the taxpayers of the Town could be burdened with taxes to fund costs associated with the bypass.  P. 3, ¶¶12-14; p.4, ¶¶15-18.
  • The amount of revenue generated by the housing units authorized by development on the Smith/Cline property, such as by property and income taxes, will not be sufficient to pay the costs of needed additional public services as well as capital costs.  The Plan fails to consider sufficient financing mechanisms or sources to pay for this deficiency in revenue. P. 4-5.

Friends of Frederick County and other plaintiffs have brought the pending lawsuit, in part, out of concern that the deficiency in revenue generated by new development compared to the costs of servicing that development will be paid for by higher taxes on Town residents.

2.  The Affidavit J Mehra, Transportation/Traffic Engineer concludes, for example:

  • The Town “has not considered the effects of its Plan on all affected roads.” P.2.
  • The impact of the thousands of car trips that will be generated by proposed development permitted on the Delaplaine property was not considered.  This will result, for example, in failing levels of service on Route 75.  P.2-3, ¶11, p.4, part v.i.
  • A proper road capacity analysis of Boyers Mill Road demonstrates that the road with the increased trips generated by new development called for in the Master Plan would operate during peak hours in a “failing road condition.” P.3-4, ¶¶13-20.

The Plan “does not contain estimates for the cost of constructing the proposed bypass or for any road improvements that will become necessary as a result of the proposed growth.” P.4, ¶22.

 

3.  The Affidavit Joseph Davis, land planning consultant, concludes, for example:

  • “In order to determine whether sufficient public schools could be provided to accommodate new growth [as required by State law], a planner would need to evaluate both capital costs and future operating costs associated with the schools that would provide service to the new growth area.  New Market’s Plan has not considered operating costs and the Plan reflects insufficient and incorrect capital cost data.” P.3, ¶b.ii.
  • “New Market’s plan does not include consideration of public services and infrastructure that will be necessary for public safety in the proposed municipal growth area.” P.4, ¶C.ii.  These services include emergency medical response, fire, and police. P.4-6.

State law requires that the Plan consider protection of environmentally sensitive areas that could be impacted” by development. Yet, “New Market has not considered how sensitive areas will be impacted” as “[i]ts Municipal Growth Element contains no consideration of the Fred Archibald Audubon Sanctuary when discussing sensitive areas.”  Similarly, the Plan contains no consideration of Hazelnut Run, which lies in a 100-year flood plain and runs through the Delaplaine property. P.10, ¶b.iv.

These affidavits were filed as exhibits with Friends of Frederick County’s response to New Market’s motion for summary judgment. The affidavits are attached.  Without a valid Municipal Growth Element, New Market cannot annex land into the Town nor rezone any land within its jurisdiction.

 

________

 

For more information please contact:

Janice Wiles, Executive Director, Friends of Frederick County  240-626-5209

Norman Knopf, Esq., Attorney, Knopf & Brown – 301-545-6100

 

 

FoFC’s testimony on the 2011 Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Review in their consideration of 193 rezoning applications

Response to Frederick County Commissioners Young, Gray, Smith, DeLauter and Shreve, ref:  the 2011 Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Review in their consideration of 193 rezoning applications

Date:  January 31, 2012

Due to a number of phone calls and emails from people wanting to know what is happening with respect to the rezonings, I thought it helpful to provide a summary:

 

Between 2008 and 2010 the Frederick County planners and Planning Commission had over 100 meetings, many workshops and expert testimonies on the development of the 20 year Comprehensive Plan for our future.  The Gardner BOCC and planners:

  • considered thousands of Frederick County’s properties
  • looked at extensive study on the impact of development on the environment, roads, schools and other public facilities
  • determined what would best promote the public interest and general welfare of all residents in Frederick County

 

They prioritized development to infill and redevelopment, a sustainability measure that favors the economic development and social welfare and lessens the environmental impact on our natural resources.

 

That document plans for:

  • development of over 36,000 new homes, and sets aside land for commercial, industrial and retail growth, and it
  • designates implementation of corridor plans and transit oriented development

 

Wouldn’t it be great  if the BOCC were spending their time focusing on redevelopment and JOBS along the 355/85 corridor?  Jobs is what we want, not impoverishment of our county.

 

The difference between the last BOCC and this one is the last one focused on making a great future for 233,000 people;  this BOCC focuses on making a future for 193 landowners their families, lawyers and developers – and damn the rest

 

The current BOCC reopened the process for comprehensive rezoning and are considering rezoning 193 properties for development, with total acreage over 15,000 – an area roughly equivalent to 1/3 the size of Washington DC.   That’s a huge loss of our nations’s most productive farmland, and a huge windfall for developers on the backs of Frederick County taxpayers.

 

In November 2011:

 

  • the Frederick County Planning Commission, citizens with over 30 collective years in county planning, and educated through a Maryland State planning program, voted to halt the rezoning hearings.  They “felt the entire process was seriously flawed, totally unnecessary (no facts had changed substantially since the previous review), a waste of taxpayer money and potentially illegal (possibly a false cover for piecemeal zoning without a change in the character of the neighborhood or a mistake in zoning)” (FNP, 12/11/11)
  • the Maryland State Department of Planning wrote a letter to Mr. Eric Sotor, Director of our county’s Community Development division.  In that letter the state took issue with the flawed process.
  • citizens sued the county over the flawed process, and the fact that the Board of County Commissioners has no authority to rezone for the purpose of increasing the value of selected properties

 

The process to many is seen as one requested by the BOCC to fulfill campaign promises to certain friends in the audience tonight (ie those representing parcels where there stands to be large financial gain).

 

Let it be clear that there has been no change to warrant more houses or commercial growth above and beyond what is already in our 20-year plan.  In fact there are two considerations that show even greater absurdity to these proposals:

  • a study released by the Washington Area Council of Governments last Fall 2011 shows that Frederick County residential projections are actually about 30% lower than they were when we were doing our comprehensive planning 2 years ago.  That report says we will need between 20,000-27,000 homes, not over 36,000.
  • PlanMaryland, the recently passed state planning document, clarifies that support for infrastructure will go to smart growth development, not sprawl.

 

With that in mind,  who will pay for the infrastructure demands that come with the proposed development?

 

Where are the studies that show we can afford to widen roads to accommodate  over 163,000 more car trips/day, afford new schools to teach to nearly 9000 new students, afford enough emergency service personnel and stations to accommodate over 17,000 new families, libraries, water and sewer, and all the amenities we require.  Where are those studies?

 

Thank you.

 

Janice Wiles

Executive Director

 

03-18-2011 Mayor Burhans reacts to citizens’ lawsuit in New Market

New Market mayor not threatened by lawsuit, says plan has town’s best interests in mind

New Market plan doesn't detail how FCPS will handle an additional 450 children.

Originally published March 18, 2011

By Patti S. Borda

Photo by Sam Yu

New Market Mayor Winslow Burhans III talks Wednesday about one of the areas he would like to annex to be part of New Market. The area is east of Md. 75 and includes the McDonald’s and Food Lion.

New Market Mayor Winslow Burhans III is not threatened by a Friends of Frederick County lawsuit that accuses the town of failing to plan properly for growth, traffic and school capacity.

“We took the issues straight on,” he said in an e-mail. “We spent a lot of time with cost calculations, yields and financing, and growth staging mechanisms.”

Burhans said the town plans to make the most of its geographic fate along major metropolitan roads such as Md. 144 and I-70.

“It’s automatically going to have growth pressures,” he said.

When the first brick was laid in the Baltimore National Pike from the Port of Baltimore to head westward to Ohio, running through downtown New Market, “that meant change was coming,” Burhans said. “You have to be able to embrace the fact that change is coming.”

Janice Wiles, Friends of Frederick executive director, said in a telephone interview the New Market plan contains comments from state and county officials that indicate the plan is inadequate.

Wiles, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the county board last year, said the lawsuit is not politically motivated, and is based on deficiencies in the town’s plan.

“We are concerned about development when the community can’t afford it,” Wiles said. “We have to come up with a new way to grow.”

Burhans defends his plan as one with the town’s best interests in mind, but said it is “just a plan.” Details are worked out as studies are completed, he said.

“When you are seventh generation to a town, it is pretty clear that no one, not even FoFC, should underestimate the care one has about all aspects of the town, because whatever the town does wrong becomes a reflection of me,” he said.

Burhans’ vision includes a grid of roads to serve traffic in and around town and new employment bases to give residents a place to work without having to drive so far.

“We want people to be able to live here, work here,” Burhans said. “We want to create a community, a traditional neighborhood.”

He stresses that the town took worst-case scenarios to build its plan.

“We didn’t want to be accused of painting a favorable growth scenario,” he wrote. “We didn’t hide behind anything.”

Part of Burhans’ plan will depend on annexing land, some of which could yield 925 houses.

The residential component would cost more in infrastructure than it would bring in revenue, Wiles said, and “the jobs that they’re proposing do nothing to resurrect downtown.”

Burhans said the town has traffic problems already because previous Boards of County Commissioners blocked all corridors. Roads north of Md. 144 and south of Gas House Pike funnel east-west traffic through New Market, and the town would like to do something about it, Burhans said.

“The previous board made it a thoroughfare for commuters,” he said. “I think this board will talk roads. They are unlike any other Board of County Commissioners” in their willingness to work with municipalities, he said.

Commissioners President Blaine Young said the board will have a meeting with Burhans to discuss his concerns and the county’s disapproval of the town plan.

“We will address it,” Young said by telephone.

In place of the official town planning, Friends of Frederick implemented a community-driven process called the New Market Tomorrow initiative, which will culminate in a comprehensive vision for the town of New Market.

“We have the best interest of the greater Frederick community at heart,” Wiles said.

Updates about the initiative will be available at www.friendsoffrederickcounty.org.

More than a dozen landowners and the Audubon Society of Central Maryland Inc. joined Friends as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. A proposed bypass and development on the Delaplaine and Smith/Cline properties would harm the adjacent Fred J. Archibald Audubon Sanctuary, according to a Friends statement.

03-05-2011 FNP: Friends of Frederick County wrongly vilified by New Market-area resident

Cline Farm, New Market (Harry Richardson, artist)

This letter is in response to Mark Koehler’s Feb. 28 letter titled “Not Friends …” in which he takes to task Friends of Frederick County’s involvement in the politics of New Market. I, too, have a New Market mailing address, albeit not in the Town of New Market; however, I live very close to the town and have had the opportunity to attend their Town Council and planning and zoning meetings. I have followed very closely many discussions and decisions by the New Market elected officials as they pertain to the surrounding environment in which the residents of New Market live.I am a concerned citizen who is writing to factually rebut Koehler’s accusations against Friends of Frederick County. HB 1141 is a clearly defined law that outlines how municipalities are to address their Municipal Growth Element (MGE). After the town submitted their MGE, the Maryland Planning Department’s, as well as the State Highway Administration’s, response to the town’s submittal outlined in very clear terms how poorly this document was executed and provided very distinct recommendations for aligning the town’s MGE with HB 1141.

Town officials chose to ignore the majority of these recommendations. During their Nov. 17, 2010 meeting an individual who was providing guidance to the town officials stated that “if the Maryland Planning Department doesn’t write their response in bold then we don’t need to worry about it.” Perhaps it would have been more helpful to suggest that the Maryland Planning Department, as well as the State Highway Administration, were much more versed in the requirements of HB 1141 and as such their comments should be taken seriously.

Friends of Frederick County has not been “frequently meddling in New Market’s affairs” as stated by Koehler, but rather became involved once it became apparent New Market town officials chose to ignore the recommendations made by the Maryland Planning Department with regard to their MGE.

The fact of the matter is, had town officials worked with the State Planning Commission, as well as the State Highway Administration, to design their MGE to meet the requirements of HB 1141, the Town of New Market would not now find themselves in the position of being sued. I would also venture a guess that if town officials would be willing to reconsider the wording of their MGE so that it unequivocally met the requirements of HB 1141, no monies would be have to be spent defending a plan that appears to be fallible.

I would invite all concerned citizens to visit the Maryland Planning Department’s website to gain factual insight into this situation.

Vitriolic rhetoric accomplishes nothing. I believe if everyone comes to the table with an open mind we would understand that everyone is seeking quality of life. This is not about stopping development but rather about developing our community in a smart, well-thought-out way that does not force us to live in an extended Montgomery County. If we all try to work together I believe we can all achieve that which matters most to us.

Brenda Harlow lives near New Market.

Originally published March 05, 2011

Download Flyer Showing How New Market will Double in Size

Click here to download the one page flyer for distribution.

Contact Friends of Frederick County to find out more about the Municipal Growth Plan process:  friends@friendsoffrederickcounty.org ref:  New Market MGE

County officials and New Market leaders to go to mediation over growth plan

Monday, September 20, 2010 – 7pm  – Winchester Hall

Mayor and Council of New Market  complied with their mandate under HB1141 to “meet and confer” with Board of County Commissioners over New Markets Municipal Growth Element (plan).  The result was a decision for the two groups to go to mediation to discuss the growth plan and concerns about impacts and lack of adequate infrastructure to accompany the development.

Image of Harry Richardson's rendering of farm to become houses (Smith-Cline annexation), New Market

Read FoFC’s flyer and map summarizing the growth plan here.

In a July 26, 2010 letter to the Maryland Department of Planning Friends of Frederick County evaluates the Town of New MarketMunicipal Growth Element’ proposal to annex the Delaplaine, Ganley and Smith/Cline farms  (Click here to see areas to be annexed -in purple cross-hatches on map.).  These annexations would more than double the size of the Town  from about 434 acres to about 880 acres.  The 925 residential units proposed for Smith/Cline alone will almost triple the population of the Town by adding approximately 2,451 people and increasing the number of residents from 1443 residents (at full build-out of existing subdivisions) to 3,894 residents.   Read the facts.

Frederick County Commissioners formally request  the New Market Municipal Growth Element to begin the process of review and “meet and confer” as mandated in HB1141.

How many residential units can be built in Linganore before roads fail?

The Revised (December 2007) Traffic Study for the New Market Region concludes that, even if reduced by 1000 residential units, development authorized in the April 2007 Draft Region Plan would result in widespread failure and near failure of critical roadway links throughout the Region. On December 18th, 2007 FoFC asked the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to determine what further reductions in development are required to ensure that road service remains at acceptable levels (<a href=’http://friendsoffrederickcounty.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/traffic_study_comments-dec-07.pdf’ title=’FoFC Traffic Study Comments’>FoFC Traffic Study Comments</a>).

On January 7th FoFC asked the BOCC to include considerations in their analysis and to reduce the number of residential units in Linganore to avoid failure of the road network in the New Market Region (<a href=’http://friendsoffrederickcounty.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/jan-7-08-letter.pdf’ title=’Linganore Traffic Analysis’>Linganore Traffic Analysis</a>). Attend the January 14th Administrative Session (1 pm Winchester Hall) for discussion of this issue. Please let the BOCC hear from you. (<a href=’http://friendsoffrederickcounty.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/frederick-county-delegati.pdf’ title=’Board of County Commissioners contact information’>Board of County Commissioners contact information</a>) Resurrection of the Smith/Cline annexation proposal, soundly defeated by residents last year, has been reintroduced. The Concerned Neighbors of New Market express their opinon <a href=’http://friendsoffrederickcounty.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/concerned-neigh-nm-ltr-1_08.pdf’ title=’in this letter’>in this letter</a> to the BOCC.

Once and future plan for New Market

Originally published July 24, 2007 FNP

Consensus has it that the election of the current Board of Frederick County Commissioners was a response to the previous board’s pro-growth decisions and what they spelled for the county in coming years.Two slow-growth candidates from the previous board, John L. Thompson Jr. and Jan Gardner, were joined by like-minded Kai Hagen and David Gray. Throughout the campaign, the previous board’s decisions concerning future growth of the New Market region were a central issue. The slow-growth incumbents and their soulmates made it clear that, if elected, one of their first orders of business would be revisiting — and rewriting — the New Market Region Plan hammered out by their predecessors.

County Traffic Studies Underestimate Traffic Volumes

Friends of Frederick County consultant, Reid Ewing, PhD, investigates the degree to which the county accurately assessed the traffic impacts of rezonings and other decisions in the New Market Regional Plan update.  Read assessment here.