City reverses Citizens-Montevue subdivision

Some now hope county will reconsider sale
Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
11/27/2013
The Frederick County Board of County Commissioners will need to retrace its steps when pursuing the privatization of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living facility. The city's Zoning Board of Appeals voted Tuesday to reverse the city Planning Commission's decision to subdivide the land. The land the centers sit upon must be subdivided from the rest of the parcel they are on in order for the county to sell the land and privatize the centers. The Board of County Commissioners voted this past summer to privatize the centers. A planned sale to Millersville-based Aurora Health Management, which is now operating the centers, is not yet final. The plan has faced opposition from residents and members of the centers' former board of trustees, who think the centers should continue to serve as public entities serving low-income residents. The board of trustees was dissolved in June when the county commissioners voted to move forward with the sale of the two facilities. In its decision Tuesday, the board agreed with the one former board member and two residents who appealed the Planning Commission's decision in a few ways, stating that the county's application was not complete, and the commission should have considered the intent of the subdivision and how the county's plan for the land would affect city residents. The commission erred when considering the incomplete application, erred in failing to evaluate whether the plan conflicted with the city's comprehensive plan, and erred when thinking that that they were restricted from asking the county its plan for the land, said Jim Racheff, zoning board chairman. The zoning board voted unanimously to vacate the approval of the subdivision, and remand it back to the planning process.

Vote set on Citizens, Montevue land next week

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
11/19/2013
Frederick County commissioners could be forced to take a step backward in their mission to privatize Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living facility. The city of Frederick’s Zoning Board of Appeals is to make a final decision Nov. 26 on whether the city’s Planning Commission was justified in May when it approved the county’s request to subdivide the centers’ land. The county asked to split the 41-acre site into two parcels — one with Citizens and Montevue, and the other with the remaining buildings. The land must be subdivided to move forward with the sale of the centers. After the Planning Commission voted to subdivide the land, commissioners voted to privatize the centers. A planned sale to Millersville-based Aurora Health Management is not yet final.

Frederick city officials limit LLC campaign donations

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
11/08/2013
Business owners will now all be limited to the same standard when they make donations to candidates in city of Frederick elections, whether they own corporations or LLCs. The Frederick Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance Thursday that limits the amount of money an owner of multiple business entities may donate to a mayoral or aldermanic candidate. The limit is the same as it is for individuals and corporations that donate: $2,500 to an individual mayoral candidate, and $1,000 to an individual aldermanic candidate. The change comes after owners of multiple LLCs used the LLCs to donate beyond the maximum corporate donation to two mayoral candidates, Delegate Galen Clagett and Alderwoman Karen Young. When noticing the donations, the city's Board of Supervisors of Elections and the aldermen asked city staff to draft an ordinance, calling it a loophole in the law. When drafting the ordinance, the city's legal department mirrored the language in a new state law. The General Assembly passed a law this year that limits the owners' donations. It takes effect in 2015. The city decided Thursday expand the law even further than the state, at the suggestion of Alderman Michael O'Connor.

Russell, O'Connor lead field in aldermanic race

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
11/06/2013
Four Democrats and one Republican led the field in Tuesday’s contest to become the next five aldermen in the city of Frederick, according to unofficial election numbers. With all 12 polling precincts reporting, the top contenders included two incumbents, one former alderwoman, an attorney and a director of government affairs. However, with hundreds of ballots yet to be counted, the highest five vote-getters didn’t have large enough leads to put them out of reach of other contenders. If Tuesday night’s standings hold, the partisan balance on the city board will remain unchanged when the next batch of aldermen take office Dec. 12. Preliminary totals from the general election showed Alderwoman Kelly Russell and Alderman Michael O’Connor finishing ahead of the other eight candidates, with 4,212 and 4,169 votes, respectively. Tuesday’s unofficial tally put Democrat Josh Bokee in third place with 3,789 votes. Republican Philip Dacey and Democrat Donna Kuzemchak took fourth and fifth place, earning 3,781 and 3,656 votes, respectively.

Frederick re-elects Mayor Randy McClement

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
11/06/2013
Mayor Randy McClement will lead Frederick for four more years. In the city’s general election Tuesday, residents chose McClement, a Republican, over his two challengers, Democratic Alderwoman Karen Young and former Mayor Jennifer Dougherty, who ran as an unaffiliated candidate, according to unofficial city results. McClement received nearly half the votes, with 3,714 votes, or 48.75 percent; Young received 2,407 votes, or 31.59 percent; Dougherty received 1,480 votes, or 19.43 percent. Of the city’s 35,498 registered voters, 7,648 residents cast a ballot Tuesday, for a turnout of about 21.5 percent.

City Notes: State says Frederick is a sustainable city

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
10/27/2013
After a couple of years working hard to prove to the state how "green" it really is, Frederick is now certified as a sustainable city. The city was one of eight in the state to receive the Sustainable Maryland Certified award at the Maryland Municipal League conference last week. Joe Adkins, the city's deputy director of planning, has been working with staff and volunteers since 2011 to complete requirements for the certification. The city was ahead of the curve when it started to work on this. It had created a Sustainable Practice Action Plan back in 2009. Most of what the city needed to do was already done: farmers markets, mixed-use paths and bicycling initiatives, stormwater management, forestry preservation, housing elements, stream cleanup and buy-local initiatives. Other than that, Mayor Randy McClement just needed to establish a Green Initiative Team, which he did last year, Adkins said.

City's appeal board reconsidering Citizens, Montevue subdivision

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
10/23/2013
The members of Frederick’s Zoning Board of Appeals are considering whether to reverse the city Planning Commission’s decision to subdivide Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living Facility. Subdividing the land allows the Board of County Commissioners to proceed with selling it and privatize the centers. On Tuesday night, the board heard a May 7 appeal of the Planning Commission decision from Frederick law firm Powell Flynn, filed on behalf of Janie Denn and Kathleen Murphy, who live near the centers, and Charles Trunk III, former chairman of the Citizens and Montevue board of trustees. But no decisions were made Tuesday; the board continued the item to another hearing. About 40 residents attended the appeal hearing, often scoffing when the county and city attorneys spoke. On behalf of the appellants, attorney Paul Flynn of Powell Flynn said Tuesday that when considering the subdivision request, the Planning Commission should have considered the potential sale of the land, and should have realized the impact the subdivision and sale would have on the community. The county’s application was also incomplete at the time the commission approved it, making it defective when filed, Flynn said. When approving the subdivision, the Planning Commission members stated that, because they were approving a subdivision request only, the potential sale and use of the land were not in their purview. The Planning Commission made several errors regarding their analysis of the case, Zoning Board of Appeals chair Jim Racheff said. Racheff said the commission never bothered to ask the intent of the subdivision, and it seems from their testimony that they did not feel they were allowed. Because they did not think they could ask of the intent, “they just simply didn’t consider any of these elements” of whether there are mitigating factors on the impact of the land. Racheff said that the Planning Commission erred when considering the code. There should have been a lot more delving into the issue, said board member Gail Colby.

Frederick’s Next Dead Mall

Frederick Gorilla
Matt Edens
09/30/2013
Well, that’s settled: We’re getting another Walmart. In July, the Board of Aldermen approved the controversial rezoning that will make way for a new Walmart Supercenter in the middle of what was once Frederick Towne Mall. Opinions varied widely in the often acrimonious debate leading up to the vote. The most outspoken proponents promised that the big box retailer would be the boost the area needs to reclaim its past glory as a shopping destination. Meanwhile, the direst opponents painted the supercenter’s grand opening as a dark day that would bring the Golden Mile — and maybe America — one step closer to oblivion. By and large, I doubt either prediction will come to fruition. In fact, that’s primarily why I opposed the rezoning. Choosing general commercial over the mixed-use model that’s been the key component of at least half a dozen successful shopping center makeovers in the region essentially preserves the status quo. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that in 10 years the Golden Mile will remain what it is today: a struggling retail strip, albeit one with a Walmart. I doubt it will have a Kmart, however.

Election supervisors want to cap LLC donations

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
09/26/2013
Frederick's law regarding how much business owners can donate to candidates in elections should mirror the state's law, the city's Board of Supervisors of Elections decided Wednesday. The board will recommend to the mayor and Board of Aldermen that they pass an amendment to the city's election law that limits the amount a person who owns multiple business entities, such as limited liability corporations, is able to donate to each candidate. Anne Leffler, the board's president, said the change is long overdue. The business owner would be limited to the same amounts allowed to a resident or corporation — $2,500 to one mayoral candidate and $1,000 to one aldermanic candidate — no matter how many business entities that person owns or is making donations from.

City board: Clagett broke electioneering rules

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
09/26/2013
Delegate Galen Clagett broke electioneering rules during Frederick's primary election Sept. 10, according to the city's Board of Supervisors of Elections. Clagett, District 3A, lost the Democratic mayoral primary to Alderwoman Karen Young, who will be on the Nov. 5 general election ballot. The elections board voted at a Sept. 18 meeting to pursue legal action against Clagett, who illegally entered polling places and displayed campaign material on Sept. 10, according to the board's meeting minutes. Clagett said he was within his rights when visiting the polls and never violated any electioneering rules. Anne Leffler, the board's president, declined to comment. Multiple election judges told the board that Clagett violated city code by "entering numerous polling places, introducing himself and conversing with the judges," the minutes state. Clagett "refused to leave when asked to do so."

Changing faces

Frederick News Post
0924/2013
Any resident of Frederick who hasn’t noticed the increasing diversity of the city’s residents must be either a very unobservant person or doesn’t get out much. Everywhere one goes in town — shopping districts, neighborhoods, the workplace, schools, parks — one sees increasingly significant racial and ethnic diversity. According to The News-Post’s Sept. 19 story “New data: Frederick city more diverse,” that diversity continues to increase. We think that’s a good thing that strengthens the community in a number of ways. As we would have expected, during the last five years both Frederick and Frederick County have grown, with the county making the most gains. When it comes to diversity, however, the city is a veritable melting pot compared to the county. The Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey found that in the city of Frederick one of every three residents are a member of a minority group. In the county, only two in 10 are minorities.

County hears input on transportation priorities

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
09/23/2013
County staff members and representatives from the State Highway Administration met with the commissioners last week to go over transportation priorities for Frederick County. Transportation projects tend to develop slowly, so many of the items on the county priorities list were carried over from earlier years. The overall top priority remains widening U.S. 15 between I-70 and Md. 26. However, three key changes were made possible by state funding. Planners secured construction funding for the U.S. 15, Monocacy Boulevard interchange and a streetscape project on Main Street (Md. 144) in New Market. Streetscapes generally involve improving or adding sidewalks and upgrading roadways to make them more navigable.

New data shows Frederick is growing, city remains more diverse

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson and Kelsi Loos
09/19/2013
Moving to Frederick was pure economics for the Hughes family. “Honestly, the rent was a lot cheaper here,” said Shontez Hughes, who moved with his wife and two children to Frederick in January after considering Montgomery County, where he works. The Hugheses, an African-American family, are part of the city’s diversifying population. As more people move into Frederick County, the area is increasingly becoming a melting pot — especially the city, according to data released today in the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey. Frederick County’s population grew by 2,837 from 2011 to 2012, to 239,582 people. Frederick city’s population grew 225 residents, to 66,390, according to the data. In the last five years, from 2007 to 2012, nearly 15,000 people have moved into the county and nearly 5,000 people have moved into the city. The community survey data is less accurate than data from the U.S. Census, and the margin of error can be higher than 5 percentage points in some categories. In the city, one in every threeresidents is now a minority, about 33.4 percent of residents, according to the data. Step outside the city limits, however, and the diversity diminishes. About eight in every 10 county residents are white, or about 81.6 percent of residents, the data states.

Aldermanic candidates mix of old, new faces

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
09/11/2013
wo sitting aldermen and two former aldermen are among the 10 candidates who are poised to face off against one another in the city of Frederick’s general election, according to unofficial primary results. On the Republican side, city voters Tuesday chose Philip Dacey, Katie Nash, Alan Imhoff, Dave Schmidt and Daniel Cowell to move on to compete in the city’s Nov. 5 general election, according to the preliminary totals for the primary election. The top five Democratic vote-getters were Alderwoman Kelly Russell, Alderman Michael O’Connor, Josh Bokee, Donna Kuzemchak and John Daniels, according to the preliminary numbers.

McClement, Young clinch mayoral nominations

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
09/11/2013
Mayor Randy McClement and Alderwoman Karen Young each clinched their party’s nomination Tuesday and will move on to the Nov. 5 general election, according to unofficial election results. In the Republican race, McClement defeated Alderwoman Shelley Aloi and former Mayor Jeff Holtzinger. He brought in 49 percent of the total with 808 votes; Aloi had 32 percent with 534 votes; and Holtzinger had 19 percent with 317 votes. In the Democratic race, Alderwoman Karen Young defeated Delegate Galen Clagett and newcomer Carol Hirsch. Young brought in 50 percent of the total with 1,168 votes; Clagett had 40 percent with 925 votes; and Hirsch had 10 percent with 237 votes.

City officials pass ordinance to fight blighted properties

Frederick News Post
Jen Bondeson
09/07/2013
The city now has a bigger hammer to help it fight its most habitually blighted and vacant properties. Frederick's Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Thursday to pass an ordinance that would allow the city to set up a receivership program. With receivership, the city could take the owner of a habitually vacant, unsafe and nuisance property to court. The court could either force the owner to make upgrades, or take the property from the owner and sell it to a qualified owner, with requirements attached to fix up the property in a set time frame. Alderman Michael O'Connor said the city does not believe receivership to be "the magic solution." The city would use the tool sparingly, if at all, said Alderwoman Carol Krimm.

Glendening describes mismatch between housing supply, demand

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
09/05/2013
he American dream is changing, and community design must keep up with it, former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening told a Frederick group Wednesday. In a talk focused on smart growth, Glendening said an increasing number of people are eschewing large, single-family houses in the suburbs and instead settling in dense, walkable communities. However, there’s a growing disconnect between the types of housing people want and what’s available on the market, he said. “Keeping our downtowns strong and keeping our communities economically vibrant in the long term will require a different approach to growth than we have been doing for the last 60 years,” he said during the event at Frederick City Hall.

City of Frederick can’t plan in a vacuum

Frederick News Post
Jack Lynch
08/19/2013
We need to change our way of thinking about the demands upon the City of Frederick's planning. While the city's authority comprises only the area within its metes and bounds, its urbanized area (a census term, built by contiguous census tracts with population densities of 1,000 person or more each) extends much farther, meaning that the City of Frederick does not control what happens in these areas, but they have great impact upon its outcomes for roads, schools and services. These combined areas are different than the rest of Frederick County. We need to start thinking about how these factors contribute to our decision-making and the impacts of the future growth of the city in conjunction to these broader areas. Planning in a vacuum, as we prepare the next rendition of the City of Frederick Comprehensive Plan, will likely result in a failure to adequately guide the city through the next 20 years.

City of Frederick can't plan in a vacuum

Frederick News Post
Jack Lynch
08/19/2013
We need to change our way of thinking about the demands upon the City of Frederick's planning. While the city's authority comprises only the area within its metes and bounds, its urbanized area (a census term, built by contiguous census tracts with population densities of 1,000 person or more each) extends much farther, meaning that the City of Frederick does not control what happens in these areas, but they have great impact upon its outcomes for roads, schools and services. These combined areas are different than the rest of Frederick County. We need to start thinking about how these factors contribute to our decision-making and the impacts of the future growth of the city in conjunction to these broader areas. Planning in a vacuum, as we prepare the next rendition of the City of Frederick Comprehensive Plan, will likely result in a failure to adequately guide the city through the next 20 years.

Frederick leaders consider city’s role in incinerator project

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
08/13/2013
Questions about the county’s waste-to-energy project are starting to smolder among officials in the city of Frederick. Though most decisions about the incinerator project have happened at the county level, at least two aldermen believe city leaders have a role to play. In an email sent to fellow board members last week, Alderwoman Karen Young recommended calling an optional evening meeting to hear from both sides of the debate over the incinerator. “I do believe that this is a City issue because City participation will be needed to make this project viable. In addition, if it is a major concern to our residents, then it becomes a City issue,” she wrote. Her email came in response to a message from an incinerator opponent who had detailed his concerns about the project and urged the aldermen to look into it more deeply.