Frederick County Council Considers Bill Setting Up Rustic Roads Commission

A hearing on the legislation was held on Tuesday.

Frederick, Md. (KM) The Frederick County Council heard testimony on Tuesday night on a bill to establish a Rustic Roads Commission.

If adopted, the seven-member panel  would identify and oversee the designation of rustic roads.   It would also consider candidates for rustic roads designation, and submit recommendations to the County Executive and the County Council. The Commission would also develop and encourage community efforts and resources for action on designated rustic roads. And it would consult with the County staff, County Council and County Executive as requested on specific road preservation issues and other related needs as they arise.

Sam Castleman, who lives on Mink Farm Road in Thurmont,  and served on the Frederick County Rural and Scenic Roads Advisory Committee, expressed his support for the bill. “I’m most grateful to the County Executive, {Jessica}  Fitzwater,  for her recognition of the cultural and historic value of these smaller roads, and the need to protect and preserve them, a county asset that if not preserved will be forever gone,” he said.

Susan Hanson spoke about some specific part of the legislation. “Separate maintenance practices for gravel and tar and chip roads. Check! Acknowledge that trees in the right of way in these roads are traffic calmers. DPW and the Streets and Roads Design Manual are coming up with wording that includes this, we hope,” she said.

While supporting the establishment of a Rustic Roads Commission, Jane Sacks with the advisory board of the Friends of Rural Roads, said it must not overrule the Division of Public Works. “What we do seek, however, are the opportunities, one, to learn before hand of proposed changes that are inconsistent with the Commission standards; and two, to be heard by the Council and Executive on occasions when we disagree with DPW,” Sacks said.

Roads are meant to get from one place to another. But Pam Burke, who lives on Bessie Clemson Road, said these roads do more than just that. “We live in car-centric country. But we also recognize that we don’t want to lose the precious places that tie us to our history, help us preserve safety for other uses, and exist in harmony with nature,” says Burke.

If this legislation passes, the Rustic Roads Commission would administer the Rustic Roads Program which is currently administered  by the County Roads Board. The Council also held held a hearing on Tuesday night on a bill to abolish the County Roads Board, but no one testified.

The Council is expected to vote on the measure to establish a Rustic Roads Commission at a later date.

By Kevin McManus