The Council approved two amendments to the legislation on Tuesday.
Frederick, Md (KM) Another public hearing will take place next week on a bill establishing a Sustainable Monocacy Commission. That’s because the County Council on Tuesday approved two amendments to the legislation.
One came from Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater which would expand the number of members from nine to 11. Two members would have property adjacent to the Monocacy River. Three would be citizens who do not have property along the river. Another three members would have education expertise or experience in the fields of biology, ecology, chemistry, earth sciences, environmental education or related fields. Rounding out the membership would be one each from the City of Frederick, the County Council and the agricultural community.
Her colleague, Councilman Steve McKay, proposed an amendment to Fitzwater’s amendment to reduce the number of those who don’t own property along the river from three to two, and that another individual just be a citizen registered to vote in Frederick County. “That person could be a riverfront property owner; could not be a riverfront property owner; could be an ag property owner.. It could anyone the Executive deemed appropriate for that appointment. So that’s the purpose of that change,” said McKay
Councilwoman Fitzwater was agreeable to that change. “It still gives us the nine voting members. Seven is, in my opinion, just too small for a volunteer board. It gives us the nine. It maintains the additional individual with scientific expertise,” she says.
The amendment was approved unanimously.
Also approved was an amendment adding a preamble to the bill setting up the Commission. It was sponsored by Councilman Kai Hagen. “In this particular case, we’re just not talking about adding a law to the county code. We’re talking about the creation of a commission with a broad set of duties and a desire to motivate and inspire people to participate,” he said. “So I do think that’s a little different than just a one-sentence description of a new law.”
An amendment to set up a Watershed Quality Advisory Commission which would cover all waterways in Frederick County, not just the Monocacy River, was voted down. It was proposed by Councilman Phil Dacey, who felt that the establishment of a Sustainable Monocacy Commission would need a change in state law, which lists a Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Commission with members from Frederick and Carroll Counties. He also wasn’t too happy with the current composition of the proposed Sustainable Monocacy Commission. “The only way I can read the composition of the board, both currently, and with the amendment, is designed to intentionally dilute the property owners voices along the Monocacy River,” He said.
During the meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Rick Harcum, speaking for County Executive Jan Gardner, asked the Council to vote on the original bill as it is, with the nine-member commission, and make changes at a later date. “This is has been a torturous process to get us to this point. And I think the overarching kind of plea here is ‘can we please stop talking about it and start doing something about it,'” he said.
Councilman Hagen responded. “None of this is capricious or quick. It’s been thought out and discussed Three amendments total have been submitted out of all of that, and deserve a fair hearing and should not get less than that,” he said.
The Sustainable Monocacy Commission was proposed after the Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board went out of existence due to a disagreement between Frederick and Carroll County on how best to manage the river.
By Kevin McManus