Most who spoke said they were a step in the right direction.
Frederick, Md (KM). The 22 amendments to the proposed Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan received some positive feedback during a public hearing Tuesdays night before the Frederick County Council. Most residents said the amendments would protect the water quality of the river, but not interfere with the private property rights of landowners along the Monocacy.
A plan developed in 2017 ran into strong opposition from a number of citizens, who felt their property rights were under attack, and it would amount to a “taking” by government. The 22 amendments approved last week by the Council emphasize the protection of private property rights, and that participation by landowners in “best management” programs for the properties is voluntary.
Those who testified on Tuesday said this was a step in the right direction. “There are many excellent amendments based on language taken from the 2018 management plan. People are now appreciative of the positive momentum coming from the Frederick County Council,” said Harold Forney of Littlestown, Pa.. He says his community is within the Monocacy River Watershed.
David Barrow of Myersville, the Chairman of the Sierra Club, said the plan strikes a balance between private property protection and preserving the water quality of the Monocacy. “We commend the Council for working to find a compromise position that takes into consideration the environmental community’s concerns while also addressing landowners’ concerns for property rights,” he said.
Following the uproar over the 2017 plan, the Monocacy Scenic River Advisory Board drafted a new plan in 2018 which emphasized private property rights. Sam Rook, Chairman of the Farm Bureau, said the agency he represents still supports the 2018 plan, but would like to wordsmith some of the amendments. “And some of the things I would be interested in is working with you all about is some language of some of the amendments that’s in concern,” he said.
The 2018 plan was approved by the Carroll County Council, but rejected by the Frederick County Council.
Bill Fisher from Taneytown felt the Council was bringing back the 2017 plan with these amendments. . “The 2017 has already been rejected by the same body before. And Carroll County rejected it. And now you resurrect the flawed plan,” he said.. “I think this is a slap also in the face to the Monocacy River which has worked for over two years. And I cannot imagine how they feel. This is really an insult.”
But Jason Miller of Mount Airy says the language in the 22 amendments to reform the 2017 makes him feel “optimistic.” “We hope the plan can get as close to the concept of the successfully revised 2018 which so many citizens support,” he said. “We have optimism going forward.”
By Kevin McManus