Frederick County Council Approves Amendments To Sugarloaf Plan

One would remove some proposed rezonings for properties with the Plan area.

Frederick, Md (KM) An amendment to change some proposed rezonings in the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan was adopted Monday night by the Frederick County Council.

Proposed by Councilman Steve McKay, it  would remove all proposed land uses changes for individual properties  in the area from agriculture to natural resources, and the zonings  from agriculture to resource conservation. This would affect about 114 rezoning cases.

McKay says the proposed land use changes and rezonings have generated the most opposition to the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan. “Individual  landowners who feel that this change will affect the value of their land, and the future uses of their land, and the future potential to subdivide their land, even for the provision of lots to family members,” he said.

Councilman Kai Hagen said he could support this amendment if the change didn’t include those properties with slopes of 25% or less. McKay said he wouldn’t entertain it.

The vote for this amendment was 5-to-2 with Councilmembers  Hagen and Jerry Donald in opposition.

Councilman Phil Dacey withdrew two of his amendments which  also generated strong opposition. One would have aligned the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan more closely with the Livable Frederick Master Plan which does not list Interstate 270 as a boundary between growth in the east, and preservation in the west. The other one that was removed from consideration would have exempted a 30-acre property at 2613 Dixon Road from the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan.

Steve Black, the President of the Sugarloaf Alliance, called for just that during the public comment portion of the meeting. “These have the subject of enormous public consternation, legal proceedings. They put the plan in legal peril as you were explained last week,”: he said. “And we think there is no place in this plan for moving that boundary back away 270.”

A public hearing on the amended  plan will take place on Tuesday, October 11th beginning at 5:30 PM.

The Council also approved amendments for legislation establishing a Rural Overlay District  within the Sugarloaf Plan area. An overlay would prohibit or restrict certain activities from taking place as a way to preserve the Sugarloaf area’s rural and agricultural nature. One proposed by councilman McKay would remove rodeos and outdoor recreation facilities from the list of prohibited activities within the Sugarloaf Plan area. “Both require site plan review,”: he said. “Rodeo requires both site plan and is treated as an exception. So an additional layer of review there.”

McKay also said this is a way for farmers in the Sugarloaf Region to bring in some extra revenue.

But Councilman Hagen said it would draw large  crowds, mostly from outside of the community. “Who has a rodeo they don’t try to draw a lot of people to,:” he said. “There’s noise, traffic, cars. I just think it’s a small percentage of the county. It’s a use that really isn’t intended for the residents of that community.”

The vote to approved the amendment was 4-to-3 with Councilmembers Hagen, Jessica Fitzwater and Jerry Donald opposed.

The Council also approved amendments to include a definition of private parks.

Both of those bills will be the subject of public hearings on Tuesday, October 18th beginning at 7:00 PM.

By Kevin McManus