Large Crowd Attends Hearing On Proposed Overlay For The Sugarloaf Mountain Region

It would provide additional protection from development to the area around the mountain.

Sugarloaf Mountain (Photo from the Stronghold Corporation)

Frederick, Md (KM) A large number of people testified Tuesday night before the Frederick County Council on an overlay which is part of the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan. The overlay would add further protections for the area around Sugarloaf Mountain.

Ingrid Rosencranz told the Council  including this protection is essential. “It’s essential to provide regulatory authority and protection for the waterways, woodlands, soil and other natural resources. It’s essential to accomplish the urgent actions advised by the Frederick County Sustainability Commission and Climate Emergency Mobilization Work Group for protection of the county’s water supply, air quality, farmlands and forest,”: she said.

Buzz MacIntosh, who lives on Lillyponds Road,  said the overlay is not necessary because the area is already protected against development. “The current zoning protects the area, and it’s evident that this area cannot be developed now or in the future,” he said.

The County Council last year approved the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan, but remanded the overlay amendment back to the Planning Commission. On October 11th, the Planning Commission approved the overlay by a vote of 4-1, and sent it back to the Council.

The overlay would strengthen conservation and preservation of natural resources, open space, waterways, trees and undeveloped and fragile land in the Sugarloaf area. It would also prevent certain types of development around the  mountain. It would cover the 3,400 acre property owned by the Strronghold Corporation which includes Sugarloaf  Mountain, and the 16,300 acres to the north an east of the mountain. That area is mostly rural and agricultural with farms and low density housing.

Some persons who own land in the Sugarloaf area, such as Holly Lee who lives along Fingerboard Road, say it infringes on their  private property rights. “How dare a bunch of outsiders with an agenda confiscate  of one-third of my property, take away my property rights. I’m being asked to give that up,” she said. “The last meeting I attended a lady said she had a petition and all these people across the country signed. I am a property owner with rights and I ask you to deny this petition.”

Peter Blood, who has property in the area, supports the overlay. “If this area is not actively preserved, it will become overdeveloped,” he said. “It starts with cutouts, and exemptions; then one building at a time, the scenery is replaced with commercial buildings and data centers. We need to prevent this land grab.”

Many who spoke in favor of the overlay were concerned about the possibility of huge data centers coming to the Sugarloaf area. “When people talk about Maryland, they think about the Chesapeake Bay. They talk about the Eastern Shore. But that region around Sugarloaf Mountain all the way to the Potomac River is absolutely one of the most pristine and beautiful areas in the entire state of Maryland,,” said Joe Richardson. “It would be a travesty if some how or another, data centers could end up being constructed in that region.”

The Council needs to vote on this overlay amendment by January 21st, 2024.

By Kevin McManus