The Smarter Growth Alliance for Frederick County celebrates with a Gathering of Friends

It was a great afternoon in early June at the beautiful Hall’s Choice Farm near New Market. The Smarter Growth Alliance for Frederick County hosted an afternoon gathering for the members of the alliance and many friends who work in a variety of ways for a sustainable future for Frederick County.

We were honored to be joined by County Councilmember Jerry Donald, Senator Ron Young and Roger Wilson from County Executive Jan Gardner’s office.

The event was our first all alliance get-together to celebrate our first two years working together, to review our accomplishments and look to the future with good friends, great music and delicious food.

Two years ago, the alliance was being formed, and had its first meeting in September of 2015, bringing together organizations that care about smart growth, clean water and land preservation for information sharing, strategizing and coordinating advocacy efforts.

Representatives of fourteen different local and state organizations attended the first meeting of the new alliance, in Frederick, on September 24th.

Representatives of fourteen different local and state organizations attended the first meeting of the new alliance, in Frederick, on September 24, 2015.

Since then, we have had excellent attendance at our regular monthly meetings, with a good mix of those representing local organizations and others representing a number of statewide organizations.

Our first advocacy effort as an alliance was supporting legislation introduced by County Councilmember Donald to strengthen stream buffer protections, which are essential for clean water. That legislation passed in a 5-2 vote.

After that we supported legislation introduced by Council President Bud Otis to repeal an ordinance that encouraged the transfer of residential development rights to farm properties – exactly where housing developments should not randomly be developed. That repeal bill also passed.

With regard to some of the controversial Developer Rights and Responsibility Agreements (DRRAs) approved by the last Board of County Commissioners, we supported state legislation restoring residents’ rights to challenge DRRAs before the Frederick County Board of Appeals and in the appellate courts. And we supported local DRRA and rezoning process reforms so citizens would have more of an opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their community.

Among other things, we are now closely following the development of the new comprehensive plan for the county’s future, Livable Frederick. Several alliance steering committee members have served on a number of the Livable Frederick working groups. We’re excited by the prospect of a plan that charts a course for smart and responsible land use, healthy and prosperous communities, and improved protection of our environment.

And we are looking forward to our next Gathering of Friends!