A hearing on the plan is scheduled for Tuesday next week.
Frederick, Md (KM). It took the Frederick County Council about an hour and a half Tuesday night to approve 22 amendments to the proposed Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan. The amendments say that any participation by farmers and other landowners along the river in “best management” practices for their properties is voluntary.
Councilman Kai Hagen noted there are least 14 mentions of the word “voluntary” in the amendments. “I understand the motivation. But I think it’s overkill. I think it’s a bit much. I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said.
His colleague, Steve McKay, says he likes seeing the word “voluntary” in the amendments. “I am fully in support in being redundant and crystal clear in the voluntary nature of these changes,” he said. “And I have absolutely no problem with the number of times that we are going to state it and repeat it.”
Council President MC Keegan-Ayer, who sponsored many of these amendments, says this emphasis on voluntary participation follows numerous public comments on the plan. “I would agree with Councilmember McKay. We are doing it so that it is crystal clear to the public as well as to staff and to anyone looking at this document in the future exactly what the intent of this Council was.” she says.
One of the amendments states that the plan promotes a variety of community partnerships, public actions and private initiatives to encourage voluntary actions on the part of landowners when it comes to reforestation, environmental restoration, wetland enhancement, wildlife habitat improvements and river corridor land preservation. And another amendment says property owners will be incentived to perform these actions on their lands.
The document being considered by the Council is the 2017 Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan, which was strongly criticized by some landowners and other citizens. They claimed it would allow the county to take properties along the river through eminent domain for recreational uses, or allow hikers and canoeists to use privately owned land for recreation. Councilman McKay said that’s not what these amendments do. “We want to make sure that any proposed recreational use, A, is respective of private property rights, and B, doesn’t undermine the environmental recommendations in the plan,” he said.
A 2018 plan was put together which would address property rights, and call for a water quality study of the Monocacy River. That document was approved by the Carroll County Commissioners, but voted down by the Frederick County Council in favor of the 2017 plan.
The Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on the 2017 plan Tuesday evening of next week.
By Kevin McManus