They disputed contentions that the previous plan would lead to a ‘land grab.’
Frederick, Md (KM). Revisions to the Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan were not well received Tuesday night by the Frederick County Council.
The plan is a revision of one drafted in 2017, the Monocacy Scenic River Local Advisory Board removes a number of provisions from the original document. “The River Board removed the word corridor from the entire plan, and substituted various other terms and words for corridor,” says Planner Tim Goodfellow, who worked on the 2017 plan. “The word voluntary was added to just about every initiative and recommendation and suggestion in the plan.”
He also says references to scientific studies and potential archaeological sites were also removed the plan. There is mention of protecting private property rights of landowners along the river, and promises not to use eminent domain or regulatory measures on private property.
The River Board made these revisions to the plan because of concerns expressed by property owners along the Monocacy that their lands would be taken for parks and trails under the 2017 plan. . Councilman Kai Hagen said the county has never done that when it comes to acquiring land for recreational uses. “I sat on the Parks and Rec Commission for eight years, and have been part of or followed every comprehensive planning process in the county for last 20 years. There has never been, to my knowledge, an incursion into that for sake of taking lands for trails, public access on private lands, anything like that, ever,”: Hagen said.
Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater said the 2017 plan specifically states that eminent domain will not be used to acquire land for recreation. “It said the establishment of trails and paths along the river should be on publicly owned property obtained through a purchase of private property from willing sellers, not eminent domain,” she said.
And Councilman Steve McKay said no one on the board would use eminent domain for that purpose. “I personally would never, ever support anything that came close to the county….suggesting that we could go in and take someone’s private property, use eminent domain. The county’s never done that in terms of using eminent domain. I would never support it. This document doesn’t even do it, or even suggest it,” he said, referring to the 2017 plan.
Citizen Matt Suebert spoke against the revised plan during the public comment portion of the meeting. “This river plan is supposed to be about the river; it’s supposed to be a stewardship document. The changes that were made by River Board, which is dominated by Carroll County, are not in the interests of stewardship. And they’ve even admitted to it at the Planning Commission, their own comments,” he said.
Suebert said the River Board rewrote the plan without any input from Frederick County. He urged the Council to part ways with the Board. “They have not included us in it. I think we should go our own way, and we shouldn’t have anything further to do with this River Board because they’re not rational, reasonable people,” Suerbert said.
The revised plan was the subject of a public hearing last month by the Frederick County Planning Commission. The panel is expected to vote on the plan on February 13th.
By Kevin McManus