Stronghold Says It Will Close Sugarloaf Mt. To The Public If Treasured Landscape Management Plan, Overlay Are Adopted

A decision on the plan by the Frederick County Council is expected next week.

Sugarloaf Mountain.  (Photo from Stronghold Corporation)

Frederick, Md (KM) Apparently, the Stronghold Corporation will be making good on its threat to close Sugarloaf Mountain to the public. During a public hearing Tuesday night before the Frederick County Council, Attorney Noel Manello, who represents Stronghold, said his client will close the mountain to the public if the Sugarloaf Landscape Management Plan and the rural overlay are adopted. “And I understand from our general counsel, Mr. Clay Martz, that he’s in discussion with the County Sheriff’s Office as to the optimal locations to posting no trespassing on the property and enforcement of same,”: he said.

Manello said Stronghold was disappointed in last week’s decision by the County Council to vote down an amendment to the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan which would not change any zoning or land use designations to the holdings by Stronghold. And the County would work with Stronghold to establish a “viable zoning category” that accommodates Stronghold’s needs.

Stronghold owns Sugarloaf Mountain, but currently allows visitors to hike its trails and enjoy the woodlands  It has objected to the Treasured Landscape Management Plan because it says it infringes on private property rights, and prevents it from advancing its vision for the mountain.

The proposed overlay for the Sugarloaf area would prevent any development of the nearly 20,000 acres, and prohibit uses such as carnivals, and shooting ranges. An amendment to the plan adopted last week by the Council would remove proposed  zoning changes on several properties from  resource conservation back to agriculture. There is also an amendment to the bill setting up a rural overlay to remove rodeos and other outdoor sports activities from prohibited uses.

During public testimony, several citizens objected to Stronghold’s proposed actions. Steve Black, the President of the Sugarloaf Alliance, said Stronghold had every opportunity to offer input as the plan was being drafted. “If at this juncture any stakeholder is unhappy with the plan, it is not because they were unable to voice their concerns,:” he said. “After all, there is an enormous difference between not being heard, and not having people agree with you.”

Sue Trainor, who lives on Fingerboard Road, supports the plan and the overlay, and urged the county not to bend under this threat. “I’ve heard nothing that suggests to me that Stronghold is open to negotiation, and I don’t think the county should be in the business of capitulation, or else,” she said.

Similar comments were expressed by Steve Poteet. “The Planning staff and the County Council have made great efforts to accommodate Stronghold’s demand. But Stronghold has rejected those efforts,” he said. “Now it is time for Stronghold to compromise and join the County Council on the preservation side of this issue by supporting the Sugarloaf Plan and the overlay zone.”

The County Council is expected to vote on the plan next Tuesday.

By Kevin McManus