Monrovia Town Center now in the hands of the county council (please contact them!)

On April 21, the county council will decide how they will handle the Monrovia Town Center case, now that the court has remanded it to Frederick County.

There are still many unanswered questions about precisely what the remand means for the Phase 1 approval, as well as the Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) and Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance Letter of Understanding (APFO LOU). Nonetheless, the council will be pressing forward to do something … and therein lies our challenge.

The council will be pressured to conduct a narrow review and to get it done quickly. We all know who will be putting on the pressure, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Blaine is in the mix. A narrow review may take several forms. They could take a perfunctory review of whether the FACT letter had any impact on the BoCC’s decision. Or, they could review the record as it stands, without the FACT letter, and then make a decision. Neither of these options will be satisfactory and we need to tell the council that this situation demands a full and thorough review.

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I’m writing to encourage you to do just that: Tell the council to hold a full and complete review of MTC.

I know that there isn’t much that I need to tell you all at this point, but there is a lot that you can tell the Council. Here are a few suggestions:

The council needs to understand that the MTC zoning approval is now THEIR responsibility and theirs alone. As responsible, elected officials they have a duty to make their own well-informed decision. They can’t do this by relying on someone else’s record. The BoCC didn’t ask the questions that these Council members would have asked. Regardless of what transpired in the past, MTC is now their problem and their decision will decide whether this development goes forward or not. They will decide whether MTC is approved despite the many hundreds of residents who testified against it. They will decide whether MTC is approved despite the dangers that it will create on MD 75, despite the over-crowded schools, and despite the harm it will do to our community.

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The council also needs to understand that whether they approve the development or not, that decision will probably be appealed – either by RALE or by the developer. They owe it to the County and to themselves to make a full and informed decision. It is their fiduciary responsibility as elected officials to make this decision with all the information at their dispose because, at some point, a judge will be looking over their shoulder to see how they did.

The council also needs to understand that this is their opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. Tell them about all the problems with the BoCC hearings – the back room deals, the rude and dismissive behavior by the BoCC, and their audacity to think they could do whatever they wanted when they introduced the FACT letter at the end of the last public hearing. The adequacy of the transportation system was a key approval criterion for the zoning decision. Tell the council members that the county commissioners never allowed Ron Burns to testify once during any of the zoning hearings. There were so many questions left unanswered. When we asked questions about roads during the zoning hearing, they told us to ask them during the APFO hearing, later. But when we asked the questions then, the answer was usually to ask still later, at Phase 2!

I know you’ll each have your own thoughts and insights to include in your letters but keep this thought in mind. We want a different kind of conversation with the council than we had with the last Board of County Commissioners.

Forget about Billy and Kirby for a moment. There are five new elected officials on that Council. Let’s reach out to them in a respectful dialogue. We don’t want to yell at them. We want to give them solid reasons to agree with our position. After all, that’s how it is supposed to work! What we experienced over the prior years, being bullied by our own elected officials, that’s not how our government is supposed to behave. For my part, I plan on reaching out cordially and respectfully, providing a good reasoned argument. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and I hope you will too.

I strongly encourage you to write the council members individually. All seven members need to hear what you have to say.

Clearly, however, there are two key people in this discussion.

First, there is Council President Bud Otis. I recommend that you emphasize that this will be his decision and his legacy. Let him know how this will impact our community. Share your concerns about safety on MD 75. Bud is in a tough spot. He’ll get a lot pressure from the development community. Ultimately, however, I think he is an honorable man and knows what’s right and what’s wrong. Give him that argument for MTC.

Second, there is council member Tony Chmelik. Make sure that you emphasize that he represents YOU on the council. MTC is an overwhelmingly unpopular issue in District 2. We are his constituents and he owes it to each of us to listen to our concerns. He went through the campaign without really talking about MTC. He took money from Roy Stanley and allied himself with Blaine Young during the election. Now the decision is his and it will affect each and every one of us. He lives right on MD 75 so he ought to know how bad this development is for the community. Make sure he knows your opinion on that point.

Here are the email addresses for the Council members:

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Bud Otis: BOtis@FrederickCountyMD.gov
MC Keegan-Ayer: MCKeegan-Ayer@FrederickCountyMD.gov
Tony Chmelik: TChmelik@FrederickCountyMD.gov
Jessica Fitzwater: JFitzwater@FrederickCountyMD.gov
Jerry Donald: JDonald@FrederickCountyMD.gov
Billy Shreve: Billy@FrederickCountyMD.gov
Kirby Delauter: KDelauter@FrederickCountyMD.gov

I also recommend that you copy County Executive Jan Gardner in your correspondence:

Jan Gardner: JGardner@FrederickCountyMD.gov

It’s been some time since we’ve had to work hard on this issue. I hope that you are all rested and energized for the hearings that will come. As we get hearing dates, we’ll have some signs made up – stay tuned. I’ll also be reaching out to you soon with another message about fundraising for our legal expenses. For now, focus on the Council and help them make the right decision for a full and complete review of the MTC case.

Best regards,

Steve McKay
President of RALE (Residents Against Landsdale Expansion)


Please see this piece from a month ago for some background in the issue that led the court to remand this issue back to the county: FACT-Gate and Monrovia Town Center, by Steven McKay (March 7, 2015)

Also, click here for a page that includes (at the top) a March 18th “Eye on our Community” interview about this issue, with Steve McKay, President of RALE (Residents Against Landsdale Expansion)

More information

The complete letter from FACT

RALEpressreleaseaboutFACTletterPress Release from Residents Against Landsdale Expansion

“RALE CALLS FOR STATE PROSECUTOR TO INVESTIGATE FREDERICK AREA COMMITTEE FOR TRANSPORTATION LETTER”

(click the small image to open a larger, readable version):

Frederick News Post
FACT letter supporting Monrovia Town Center sent without group vote
June 3, 2014

Frederick News Post
Group calls for investigation of Monrovia transportation letter
May 31, 2014

Frederick News Post (with the Rand Weinberg quote)
County OKs Monrovia Town Center
April 24, 2014

EXCERPT:

Rand Weinberg, an attorney for the developer, said the letter was a significant piece of evidence that spoke to residents’ concerns about road safety.

“FACT cares strictly and solely about funding for transportation,” Weinberg said. “If you want to fix … the existing problems in this corridor, it’s got to happen by way of private sector contribution.”

Video of the letter being read into the record by Blaine Young (beginning at 04:11:45 in this link):
http://frederick.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=4365

Video of the FACT candidates forum, with comments on MD 75 (beginning at 01:35):
http://frederick.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=4337


RALE – Residents Against Landsdale Expansion on the web.

RALE – Residents Against Landsdale Expansion on Facebook.

@RALEMonrovia on Twitter.

Some previous Guest Blog entries about this issue:

RALE subpoenas Paul Smith and two others about unauthorized “FACT” letter
January 20, 2015

Open Letter to the Frederick County Planning Commission
November 20, 2014

Going, going…gone!? Is Frederick County’s future for sale?
November 2, 2014

FACT meeting ignores the elephant in the room
June 9, 2014

When is a FACT NOT a Fact?
June 5, 2014

Monrovia Town Center Phase 2 Hearing (Wednesday): Patronage or Planning?
November 16, 2014

Final Monrovia Town Center Public Hearings: April 23rd & 24th
April 20, 2014

A citizen speaks out about the Monrovia Town Center and the county commissioners
April 12, 2014

Won’t Back DOWN! (video)
April 4, 2014

Controversial Monrovia Town Center comes down to final…and vital…public hearings
April 3, 2014

New Monrovia Town Center Hearings Start on Wednesday, March 19
March 16, 2014

$77,000,000.00
March 7, 2014

Say NO to the Monrovia Town Center! Say no to sprawl, congestion, overcrowded schools and massive subsidies to developers
January 12, 2014

Monrovia Town Center Public Hearings Postponed to Jan. 14 & 15, at Urbana High School
December 11, 2013

BOCC hearing on Monrovia Town Center next week matters to all county residents and taxpayers!
December 5, 2013

‘Friends of Frederick County’ testimony regarding the Monrovia Town Center
October 31, 2013

MDP letter corrects misstatements from Monrovia developers and Planning Commission members
October 26, 2013

Make Your Voice Heard on October 23rd (oppose the Monrovia Town Center)
October 19, 2013

Open Letter to the Frederick County Planning Commission
October 2, 2013

Fighting for our community by fighting against the Monrovia Town Center
September 17, 2013

Some of the other media coverage about this issue:

Monrovia project opponents scrutinize Young’s campaign donations
Frederick News Post
Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A missing balance
FNP column by Fred Ugast
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Proposed Monrovia Town Center draws crowds to county hearing
Frederick News Post
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Maryland planning official says state not responsible for town center density
Frederick News Post
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dozens speak out on Monrovia Town Center
Frederick News Post
Thursday, October 31, 2013

Development and death in Monrovia
Frederick News Post
Friday, November 8, 2013 2:00 am

Proud of citizen involvement
FNP Letter to the Editor by Jan Gardner
Sunday, November 10, 2013

Monrovia residents say impact fee elimination would be developer boon
Frederick News Post
Sunday, November 17, 2013

Commission votes favorably on Monrovia Town Center rezoning
Frederick News Post
Thursday, November 21, 2013

RALE: Town center study underestimates increased traffic
Frederick News Post
Thursday, November 28, 2013

Traffic study’s flaws need addressing
FNP Editorial
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It pays to pay attention to local government
FNP Letter to the Editor
Thursday, December 5, 2013

Development burden
FNP Editorial
Saturday, December 7, 2013

Monrovia Town Center hearings begin tonight
Frederick News Post
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hundreds show up at Monrovia Town Center hearing
Frederick News Post
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Monrovia Town Center: Round 2
Residents voice concerns during second hearing with county
Frederick News Post
Thursday, January 16, 2014

Scaled-back Monrovia Town Center passes commissioners
Frederick News Post
Friday, January 17, 2014

Not impartial
FNP Letter to the Editor
Sunday, January 19, 2014

Blaine Young’s full transparency
FNP Editorial
Monday, January 20, 2014

Frederick County’s one-man band
FNP column by Bill Pritchard
Sunday, January 26, 2014

Surprise! Surprise!
FNP Letter to the Editor by William Bugg
Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Monrovia Town Center developer meets with public
Frederick News Post
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Commission OKs revised zoning map for Monrovia Town Center
Frederick News Post
Thursday, March 20, 2014

Planners OK Monrovia Town Center plan
Frederick News Post
Thursday, March 27, 2014

Habitat…For Humanity
Frederick Gorilla column by Matt Edens
March 28, 2014

On the record inconsistencies during Monrovia hearing
Frederick News Post
Letter to the Editor by Steve McKay
Sunday, March 30, 2014

Blaine’s boondoggles
Frederick News Post column by Boyce Rensberger
Monday, March 31, 2014

‘Just plain arrogance’
Frederick News Post Letter to the Editor by Amy Reyes
Friday, April 4, 2014

Traffic concerns raised at Landsdale development hearing
Frederick News Post
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Commissioners hear testimony on Monrovia Town Center plan
Frederick News Post
Thursday, April 10, 2014

Night 3: Monrovia Town Center opponents question county staff
Frederick News Post
Friday, April 11, 2014