Hearing On Monocacy River Plan Draws Large Crowd To Winchester Hall

Most were opponents who felt it would violate property rights.


Frederick, Md (KM) It was a packed house at Winchester Hall Wednesday night as the Frederick County Council took testimony on a proposed Monocacy Scenic River Plan. Many  who showed up were in opposition, wearing red to show solidarity with each other.

Most of the  opponents were people who owned land along the Monocacy River, and believe that this plan, if it passes, would take away their property rights. “The initial river plan update called for the creation of a huge regulatory river buffer taking 8,000 acres of private property along the Monocacy to be under government control,” said Consee Myers of Frederick. “In essence, this was land confiscation through government regulation, also known as the Monocacy Land Grab among citizens.’

Stan Mordensky, the Chariman of the Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board, which created this plan, said the plan is a good start on creating a healthy river. “All aspects of this plan are voluntary. And some landowners who  sell their river access or create a forested stream buffer may be compensated.

In his testimony, Mordensky said the river is polluted and in poor health. He said much of the pollution comes from sediment and common fertilizers. Trees would act as a buffer to prevent runoff and keep the water cool.

But Tony Santos of Emmitsburg said the health of the Monocacy has been improving for years. “So when you hear public comments from folks wanting cleaner water in the Monocacy, and calling for larger river buffers, please know this is baseless,” he said.”The current buffers and regulations are already successfully improving the Monocacy.”

Greg Phillips, the President of the Frederick County Association of Realtors, called for revisions to the plan to protect property owners’ rights. “Add language expressly protecting landowners’ rights, and to remove a handful of clauses within the plan that conflict with those rights,:” he said.

The Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan was first released in 2016, but underwent some changes due to concerns raised by residents. The 2016 plan did call for a 300- to 500-foot buffersr, but that was removed from the plan in February, 2017. The new plan calls for the current forest buffers to be maintained, and critical gaps be filled in.

Maps that show where ecologically significant areas which are believed to contain rare, threatened or endangered species’  habitats have been removed.

It also says the goal of the plan is not to stop development, and impede agriculture, or infringe on landowners’ rights.

Matt Subert with Residents Against Landsdale Expansion took a shot at opponents to the plan. “I hope that the Council realizes that the Property Rights Coalition have become extremists,” he said. “For all their Constitutional rhetoric, they are behaving like a bunch of fascists. They tried to get {Planner} Tim Goodfellow kicked off the board for no reason other than doing his job. That’s censorship and that’s un-American. They attempted a coup to stop Chairman Mordensky from speaking here tonight  That’s despotic. They denied the irrefutable scientific evidence documenting agricultural runoff pollution in the water and the effectiveness of riparian buffers to mitigate it. That’s propaganda.”

The Council, after hearing more than two hours of testimony,  agreed to keep the record open on this issue until March 10th so that other citizens who couldn’t come out Wednesday evening can submit written testimony.


By Kevin McManus