Frederick County Council Considering Bill To Set Up Rustic Roads Commission

It would take over the current Rustic Roads Program.

Frederick, Md (KM) Legislation to establish a Rustic Roads Commission in Frederick County came before the Council on Tuesday. The measure would set up the seven-member panel to determine which roads would be classified as rustic. “This new commission would function like the Planning Commission where they would review nominations  to the program, and then make recommendations. Those recommendations would be forwarded to the Council for a decision,”  says Kimberly Gaines, Director of the Livable Frederick Planning and Design Office.

While there is a process for admitting roads into the program, Councilman Steve McKay said there is no  way to remove the rustic road designation for a specific road. “It may not be our overall goal. Our overall goal may always be to enhance our inventory of these roads,” he said. “But the situations will arise and right now this is developed  to exclude that possibility.”

The existing Rural Roads Program was created in 2002. In 2021, then County Executive Jan Gardner established a board to review the current program and design a better program. In September, 2021, the Scenic Roads Advisory Committee began its study of the program, and come up with recommendations. Its report was completed in September 2022.

One of the Committee’s recommendations was the establishment of a Rustic Roads Commission. Its task is to administer the Rustic Roads Program established by then-Commission Gardner on November 29th, 2022. The Rustic Roads Program is the successor to the Rural and Scenic Roads Program.

County Attorney Bryon Black said this new Commission  takes its authority from a resolution from former County Executive Gardner, and there’s no mention of a process to remove roads from the Rustic Roads Program. “I think you may have a hard time making the argument that an open-close- alter process will fall under the Rural Roads Program purpose. Be sure we don’t go too far afoul of the original resolution that is adopted into this new piece of legislation,”: he said.

Black said he would research whether this provision could be added to this bill.

Two residents who testified before the Council wanted Buck Lantz Road removed. Russell Rice lives on that road. “Dust storm when it’s dry. When it’s rains, it’s slop,” he said. “They put calcium on it on the six-day weather event back in May. So all the calcium runs  into a ditch. There’s more calcium on my driveway on blacktop than on the road.”

Penny Price also lives on Buck Lantz Road. “I grew up in the country also, and I’m with you sir.  it’s beautiful; it’s gorgeous. However, the road isn’t,” she said “You come around a turn and you pray something isn’t coming. I call it suicide turn.”

Montevue Residents

A number of citizens have questions about the transition expected to take place at the Montevue Assisted Living Center. Last week, about 35 residents at the center were told they needed to find another place to live by June 30th, 2024 because the second floor was scheduled for renovations. The work is expected to transform the area from assisted living to skilled nursing occupancy

Council President Brad Young says he and his colleagues have been asking for additional information from the County Executive. “Next week at our workshop on Tuesday, August 29th, staff will be here to update the Council and give us information about what’s going on at that transition. And it will our opportunity to hear and ask some questions. So we’re looking for hearing that update,” he said.

In late May, County Executive Jessica Fitzwater announced the transition taking place at Montevue.

By Kevin McManus