Council Discussed Bill To Set Up Sustainable Monocacy Commission

It would replace the Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board.


Frederick, Md (KM) The Frederick County Council on Tuesday got a look at a bill to set up a Sustainable Monocacy Commission. The legislation, sponsored by the County Executive, would  establish a nine-member panel to  offer advice and recommendations on ways to improve the health of the river and its tributaries, and protect its natural, cultural and scenic character.

Steve Horn, Planning Director for Frederick County, said this new panel will replace the Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board, which once had membership from both Frederick and Carroll Counties. “In the past year, both Frederick and Carroll Counties have approved separate Monocacy Scenic River plans,” says Horn. “On September 26th of this year, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners acted to establish its own separate scenic river board.”

The panel would consist of two owners of property adjacent to the Monocacy River; two owners property not adjacent to the Monocacy River; one elected official each from the City of Frederick, and the County, or their designees; one representative from the agricultural community; and two representatives with backgrounds or educations in the fields of biology, ecology, chemistry, earth sciences, or an environmental educator.

Councilman Steve McKay wanted the elected officials on the Commission to not have a vote. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a member on the Commission. I agree with that as well as a member from the City of Frederick,”: he said. “I probably rather see them non-voting members and make room for additional citizen membership.”

Councilman Kai Hagen wanted the Commission to be responsible for more than just the Monocacy River, but other waterways in the County. He also wants more scientific representation on the panel. “Listing all of the different science things under one category for two people. And when I look at it, i think wildlife, hydrology, biology. These are not the same disciplines. These are not the same areas of expertise. I would like as a Councilman considering potential legislation or whatever to have that breadth of expertise to be part of that discussion,” he said.

On another topic, Councilman Phil Dacey said this new Commission could be in conflict with a similar state board with the same responsibilities. “Whether or not this county executive, or a future county executive, appoints members to these boards, these boards are going to have the same duties: the state board and the local board,” he said. “So it doesn’t make sense to me to have two with largely similar although different make ups.”

But Councilman Jerry Donald says he doesn’t see any such conflict. “They don’t make policy. They come to us and we make policy,” he says. “So in the end, that’s where it’s really going to matter. They’re just making recommendations.”

Council President M.C Keegan-Ayer  reminded her colleagues that this is the County Executive’s bill, and any amendments will come after a hearing has been held. “At this point, I like it,” she said. “I think the fact that there is an emphasis of increasing the scientific nature of the people who are on there is a good thing.”

The bill is expected to be formally introduced to the Council next week. Then it will undergoing a public hearing, and the Council will have the opportunity after that to make amendments before taking a vote.


By Kevin McManus