Members of the Livable Frederick Coalition are raising objections.
Frederick, Md. (KM) – The Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan was adopted on Wednesday by the Frederick County Planning Commission.
While the vote to approve was not surprising, some members of the Livable Frederick Coalition say there were a lot of questions about the plan which remain unanswered. Hugh Gordon, Executive of the Frederick County Realtors Association, says one such question is the impact this plan will have on property values. He says that issue were brought up by a Commission member, but there was no answer. “If, in fact, they don’t remember that response, then they weren’t listening to the comments that were made during the hearing, I find that to be reprehensible, frankly,”: he said.
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Rick Weldon, agrees. “If, in fact, that inquiry was an honest attempt by a voting member of the Frederick County Planning Commission to answer a question as a predicate to a vote, why in the world take the vote if the question is not answered,”: he said.
Weldon said the Planning Commission should have postponed the vote until that and other questions are answered.
The plan would curb development on 20,000 acres of land between the Monocacy National Battlefield and the Montgomery County line. The western line of the preserved area follows the Monocacy River before reaching the battlefield. I-270 serves as the eastern line between the preserved land and development.
A number of property owners in the affected area are against this overlay. Gordon said this could result in some unattended consequences, such as properties which are “grandfathered” in what can occur on those lands which could lose that status. “I know there are questions about things like buildings that are in excess of 15,000 square feet. If they burn to the ground or there’s some kind of natural disaster, what’s the process to be able to build them back because the plan only allows for structures of 15,000 square feet,” he says.
When it comes to the Sugarloaf Mountain area, the concern is always raised about whether allowing some economic activity beyond agriculture will mean that part of the county will lose its rural and rustic characteristics. Weldon says most Frederick County residents believe in keeping the Sugarloaf Mountain area scenic. . “We can get to the point where we protect the resource that is Sugarloaf without unnecessarily burdening neighboring and adjacent property owners. And this coalition is committed to that,” he says.
The Plan now goes to the County Council which will hold its own hearing and take a vote. “There’s an election that going to be involved probably in the middle of this process,” says Gordon. “We may be talking to an entirely different cast of characters than are there right now.”
By Kevin McManus