Members will be considering some adjustments to the proposed overlay for the area.
Frederick, Md (KM) The Frederick County Council is expected to vote next week on the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan. The board had scheduled a decision on Tuesday night, but unanimously agreed to consider some recommended changes to the proposed overlay.
Councilman Kai Hagen put forward a proposal to place the overfly on all land within the Sugarloaf Region except for those already zoned resource conservation. “Resource conservation is the most restrictive zoning category that we have in Frederick County,” he said. “I am extremely familiar with it. I have been working with it for 20 years. I live in a resource conservation zoned land. I’m intimately familiar. That does not mean it is protected as it would be under the overlay zone.”
He also said it didn’t appear the plan as it currently stands has at least four votes for passage by the Council, and he came up with this compromise. “I think this compromise actually still provides the highest level of protection on the areas within the plan that are most at risk of the kinds of development that would be disruptive for all of the reasons they were included on the list in the first place,” Hagen said.
Among the activities which are prohibited in resource conservation are recreational storage facilities, shooting ranges, carnivals, circuses, aircraft landing, borrow pit operations, industrial waste and rubble landfills.
Councilman Steve McKay expressed his support for the plan, calling it “a really elegant solution.” He urged his colleagues to adopt the plan with this proposal “We can’t tie the hands of the next Council,:” McKay said. “We might be able tie the hands of the Planning Commission. But we’ll never be able to tie the hands of the next Council, and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take. So I want to get this done, and I want to get this done in our term.”
McKay also said this would answer some of the concerns of the Stronghold Corporation which owns Sugarloaf Mountain. It has threatened to close the Mountain to the public if the Treasured Landscape Management Plan and the overlay are adopted.
Councilman Hagen said he will have his ideas put on paper for his colleagues and the public to view.
The Council also took testimony on an ordinance to set up the overlay which would restrict the uses, activities and design standards within the Sugarloaf Mountain region. Karen Russell testified in support, and urged the current Council to take action before the November election. “Passing the Sugarloaf overlay district shows your commitment to preserving the Sugarloaf area,”: she said. “Please do not kick the passage of this overlay amended or not over to the next county council.”
Tina Brown with the Sugarloaf Citizens Association also testified in support. “It you vote for the overlay to apply to the entire area, this provides protections that assure that the lad slippers, the orchids and fringe trees will blooming in May when the wood thrush is singing in the forest at dusk,” she said.
And Johanna Springston said this overlay will protect the land’s natural beauty from development. “We do not live here so that every few years we can fight off gun ranges, mega-churches, and now data centers. These are all inappropriate land uses,”: she said. “The overlay will provide some measure of protection from these uses, and from development. It will further help to protect the environment without placing onerous regulations on residents, including farm owners like myself.”
During this process, the Stronghold Corporation has come under fire for its opposition to the Treasured Landscape Management Plan, and the overlay. Developer Tom Natelli spoke on their behalf at the public hearing. “Whether we agree or disagree with their point of view, I think we’ve got to respect the fact that they’ve done an incredible job for the community for 70 years and to try to find a path forward with them. Clearly, the overlay for them is not the answer.”
Natelli also said the overlay is not the answer for the property he owns in the Sugarloaf area.
The Council is expected to vote on this ordinance at a later date.
By Kevin McManus