It updates one approved in 1990.
Frederick, Md (KM) After years of meetings and discussions, the Frederick County Council on Tuesday approved the Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan. The vote was 6-0. Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater was absent.
The plan, which is advisory, calls for protecting the river’s water quality and natural and cultural resources without trampling on the private property rights of landowners along the river. It also calls for voluntary cooperation among property owners when it comes to issues such as reforestation, protecting wildlife habitats, riverband stability, flood attenuation and viewsheds.
Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer said moving forward with this plan was a long haul. “I likened it at one point during the discussions last year to an elephant giving birth,” she said. “It has taken a long time for gestation, but I think we’re finally ready to deliver this thing.”
There was often a lot of heated discussions as this plan was being developed, with some landowners fearing the plan drafted in 2017 would take away their private property rights. But this plan, which is a revision of the 2017 document, emphasizes that it does not advocate the public use or compromise of private property rights., or recommends specific zoning changes.
Councilman Phil Dacey praised his colleagues for getting past the testy feelings and come up with a good plan. “I do appreciate everybody working together this,” he said. “We’ve been able to show that we can all work together to meet common goals.”
Councilman Kai Hagen had similar comments. “It’s been a long and winding road. There’s been some controversy; things have been a little testy at times. But I do appreciate the way this board has worked together to try to find a good compromise and to work on it,” he said.
Following the controversy over the 2017 plan, the Monocacy Scenic River Advisory Board put together a new plan in 2018 which strongly emphasized private property rights, and called for a water quality study of the river. The Carroll County Commissioners adopted that plan, but the Frederick County Council voted it down.
Councilman Steve McKay hopes the two counties can come to an agreement. “I look forward to taking the next step now, engaging with Carroll County, and see if we can come to one final document to cover both counties,” he said.
Prior to taking a vote, the Council approved four amendments to the plan, including one which defines a river corridor.
By Kevin McManus