Frederick County Council To Hold Public Hearing On Sugarloaf Plan On Tuesday

Residents can testify in person, or phone in their comments.

Frederick, Md (KM) The public will get the chance this week to comment on the proposed Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan. The plan covers 20,000 acres of land from the Monocacy National Battlefield to the Montgomery County line. It would prohibit certain land uses which would overburden the rural roads in the area, or diminish the area’s  natural resources through development.

It would put an overlay on the land to keep development away from the area. There would be rezonings on portions of 163 properties in the area. Certain land uses, such as carnivals, shooting ranges, rodeos and outdoor sports facilities would be prohibited.  .

Homes and buildings used for agriculture would be exempt from the overlay.

There will also be rezonings of certain properties from agriculture to resource conservation, with fewer uses permitted on the properties.

The Sugarloaf Citizens Association supports the plan which it says would protect the rural nature of the area. . “Given the unique beauty and significance of it, if any county were ever to protect an area, this is an area to be protected for all the people who live around here: the Frederick County residents, the Montgomery Count residents, anybody,” says Lauren Greenberger, the Vice President of the Sugarloaf Citizens Association.

Opponents have said the plan, with its proposed rezonings, would infringe on private property rights, and devalue the lands. Greenberger disagrees. “This improves  property values for people who live there,” she says. “The only people it doesn’t improve property values for are speculators who have brought properties, hoping to turn it into a commercial development. Then, clearly, it becomes a liability for them.”

Greenberger includes Developer Tom Natelli in that group, who has purchased property in the area, and wants it removed from the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan. Other critics have called these situation “carve outs.”

The Stronghold Corporation, which owns Sugarloaf Mountain, has also expressed opposition to the plan. It wants its property removed from the proposed overlay, and has threatened to close the mountain to visitors if the plan is adopted. Greenberger calls that comment from Stronghold “reprehensible.” “Stronghold has been a pretty good steward. They’ve had completely free reign They actually have had no oversight by the county, and there are things that they do that are non-conforming to county regulations. But they’ve kind of been given free reign, and I think they’re a little spoiled in that regard,:” she says.

“They have not  given any specific reasons for what it is that they would like to be doing that they won’t be allowed to do under the plan,” says Greenberger.

The public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, September 27th beginning at 5:30 Citizens can show up at Winchester Hall and testify in person, or call in their comments. The number is 1-855-925-2801, and enter meeting code 8365. Residents can leave a recorded comment, or be placed in a queue for live public comments.

By Kevin McManus