Wiles fan sorry to see Friends leader stepping down

Frederick News Post
Peter Currer
11/14/2103
I was sorry to read in The News-Post that Janice Wiles will no longer be the executive director of Friends of Frederick County. I would like to publicly thank Janice for her many years of dedication and service to Frederick County. Janice has been a staunch advocate of thoughtful and controlled growth in Frederick County. This approach would allow us to develop and support growth with adequate infrastructure (roads, schools and public services). I will miss seeing Janice at the many Board of County Commissioners and Frederick County Planning Commission meetings that she has historically attended. Should she move to a new community, they will indeed be fortunate to have such a thoughtful and dedicated member of their community.

Development and death in Monrovia

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
11/08/2013
Commissioners President Blaine Young says he doesn’t remember telling a woman concerned about a 1,510-home development in Monrovia that she shouldn’t be worried because “you’ll be dead by the time everything comes together.” But Monrovia resident Kathy Snyder (the woman who was supposed to take consolation from her limited life span) says she recalls the conversation clearly. Snyder offered her version of events Wednesday, when she joined dozens of others at a public hearing on the Monrovia Town Center. According to Snyder, her March interaction with Young went something like this: She and her husband walked up to the county commissioner during a building industry exhibition at the Frederick Fairgrounds. Snyder said she wanted to ask Young to keep an open mind about the Monrovia Town Center, since many area residents opposed it. “How old are you?” Young asked (according to Snyder). Snyder paused, was taken aback, didn’t know what to say. “He said, ‘Listen, you don’t have to worry about all this development. … You’ll be dead by the time everything comes together,’” Snyder, 50, recounted. Snyder said she walked away from the conversation insulted and troubled by Young’s attitude.

Arguments heard in comp plan lawsuit against county

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
10/23/2013
A legal challenge to the county's long-range growth plan should be tossed out of court unless commissioners made an error of constitutional proportions, county attorneys argued Tuesday. On the opposite side of the courtroom, attorneys contended that judicial oversight of local government extends beyond the limits of the state and federal constitutions. During a court hearing that stretched into early afternoon, debate centered on whether a judge should dismiss a lawsuit filed against the county. The plaintiffs, including a number of county residents and the nonprofit Friends of Frederick County, take issue with how and why commissioners changed the comprehensive plan, a document officials use to map a 20-year course for local growth. Rather than considering the county as a whole, commissioners simply eased development restrictions on a handful of properties, the plaintiffs argue. The underlying reason for making the changes was to increase land values, an improper motivation, according to the complainants.

New partners in county stream improvement

Frederick News Post
08/27/2013
John Smucker recently partnered with the Potomac Conservancy as part of a project to remove a fish barrier, an outmoded dam and control bank erosion in Tuscarora Creek. He planted 55 native hardwood trees along with cocoa matts. Brook Hill United Methodist Church helped complete the field and leg work. Ray Locke, coordinator of the Friends of Frederick County Clean Streams Initiative, is seeking to use similar techniques to improve the health of other streams in Frederick County. Frederick County has 20 different watersheds of which 11 are in poor condition. He is looking for groups to Adopt-A-Grid and install erosion stabilizers to improve water quality. Friends of Frederick County is organizing a Clean Streams Initiative, whereby individuals or groups can Adopt-A-Grid and monitor where a stream crosses a road. This will take two hours and be done twice a year, in October and March. A phone or Internet app will help report apparent pollution sources. For details, or to Adopt-a-Grid, visit the display in the lobby of the C. Burr Artz Public Library, 110 E. Patrick St., Frederick, visit www.friendsoffrederickcounty.org or email ray_locke@hotmail.com.

Planning commission approves Urbana development

Frederick News Post
Kelsi Loos
06/13/2013
Urbana will soon be a lot more developed or a little less green, depending on your point of view. The Frederick County Planning Commission approved the development of 701 homes Wednesday in the Landsdale development along the west side of Ed McClain Road, north of Md. 80 and to the west of Md. 75. The project will add to the first phase of the development plan, which was approved in January and included 200 townhouses.

Challenging county growth decisions soon to cost $1,200

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/06/2013
Local residents now will have to put up $1,200 if they want to charge Frederick County commissioners or the planning commission with erring on development decisions. Commissioners last week established the fee in what officials said is an attempt to offset the cost of dealing with these grievances. But some say the change is an attempt to suppress the public's concerns about county growth planning. "The vote is yet another roadblock to the democratic process," Janice Wiles, director of Friends of Frederick County, wrote in an email. "This $1,200 fee is so high that almost no one could afford to appeal."

Commissioners seek answers to Gray's tie to Friends of Frederick County

Frederick News Post
Daniel J. Gross
06/06/2013
Frederick County Commissioner David Gray is under scrutiny from other commissioners over ties to a county land-use nonprofit that has filed numerous lawsuits against the county. Commissioners President Blaine Young sent Gray and other county officials an email Wednesday morning stating that Gray Enterprises was the documented tax preparer that handled the 2011 tax filings for Friends of Frederick County, a land-use and cultural preservation nonprofit that has been in near-constant litigation with the county over land-use issues in recent years. When reached by phone Wednesday night, Gray said his wife, Sharon, owns the business, and that she prepares Friends of Frederick County’s tax documents without pay. “I don’t get involved in that. I separate myself from those things,” Gray said. “My wife is free to volunteer for them. As far as I know, she’s never received any compensation.”

Commissioners seek answers to Gray’s tie to Friends of Frederick County

Frederick News Post
Daniel J. Gross
06/06/2013
Frederick County Commissioner David Gray is under scrutiny from other commissioners over ties to a county land-use nonprofit that has filed numerous lawsuits against the county. Commissioners President Blaine Young sent Gray and other county officials an email Wednesday morning stating that Gray Enterprises was the documented tax preparer that handled the 2011 tax filings for Friends of Frederick County, a land-use and cultural preservation nonprofit that has been in near-constant litigation with the county over land-use issues in recent years. When reached by phone Wednesday night, Gray said his wife, Sharon, owns the business, and that she prepares Friends of Frederick County’s tax documents without pay. “I don’t get involved in that. I separate myself from those things,” Gray said. “My wife is free to volunteer for them. As far as I know, she’s never received any compensation.”

Bill limiting appeals of Frederick County developer pacts passes

Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
04/18/2013
A bill making it more difficult to undo binding agreements between developers and the Frederick County Board of Commissioners that will allow construction of hundreds of new homes and businesses passed the Maryland General Assembly minutes before the legislative session ended April 8. The bill, proposed by Del. Galen R. Clagett (Dist. 3A) of Frederick, will prevent opponents from asking the five-member Frederick Board of Appeals to overturn what are known as Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreements, or DRRAs, signed between the commissioners and a builder. Currently, the law allows opponents of an agreement to take their case to the appeals board for an administrative review and decision. If the appeals board votes to stand by the agreement, opponents can take their case to Frederick County Circuit Court. The new bill, which is expected to go into effect Oct. 1, now forces opponents to go directly to a circuit court judge.

Frederick lawmaker pushes bill to limit appeals of developer pacts

Anti-growth group calls proposal ‘outrageous’ attempt to negate safeguard
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
02/19/2013
A state legislative committee could make a decision as early as this week on a bill that would make it more difficult to undo binding agreements between developers and the Frederick Board of County Commissioners to build hundreds of new homes and businesses. The bill, proposed by Del. Galen R. Clagett (D-Dist. 3A) of Frederick, had its first hearing on Feb. 14 before the 24-member House Environmental Matters Committee in Annapolis. Clagett presented the bill to the panel, explaining that, if passed, the measure would prevent opponents from asking the five-member Frederick County Board of Appeals to overturn what are known as Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreements signed between the commissioners and a builder.

Frederick lawmaker’s bill would limit challenges to developer pacts

Opponents couldn’t take cases to appeals board under Clagett’s proposal
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
02/05/2013
A state delegate wants to make it more difficult to undo binding agreements between developers and the Frederick Board of County Commissioners to build hundreds of new homes and businesses. Del. Galen R. Clagett (D-Dist. 3A) of Frederick has introduced a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would prevent opponents from asking the five-member Frederick County Board of Appeals to overturn what are known as a Developers Rights and Responsibilities Agreements, signed between the commissioners and a builder.

Pay now, or pay later for Frederick County development

Gazette
01/24/2013
The legal costs of the battles that could take place in the future over inadequate roads and schools, public safety and irresponsible decision-making make current litigation look like a minor inconvenience. So, let the debate run its course. Let the courts get involved; that’s why we have them. If we don’t, we could end up losing the very place everyone is trying to save in their own way — without having asked all the tough questions in the first place.

State rejects parts of Frederick County water, sewer plan

Young blames politics, not growth plan inconsistencies for decision
Gazette
07/26/2012
Frederick County Board of Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R) is blaming politics instead of state law for Maryland’s recent rejection of portions of the county’s 2011 water and sewer plan because planners found it inconsistent with the area’s own growth plan. The plan includes revisions that extend water and sewer service to properties outside the county’s 2010 Comprehensive Plan, a blueprint for growth updated every 10 years. The county is in the process of changing its growth plan to allow more development. The Maryland Department of Planning, which reviewed the Maryland Department of the Environment’s evaluation of the county’s water and sewer plan, said in a May 31 letter to MDE that while some of the plan’s revisions “strengthen the relationship” between the county’s growth and water and sewer plans, other revisions are inconsistent.

Frederick County officials to hold public hearing on rezoning 8, 824 acres of farmland

Commissioners have given preliminary approval to proposal
Gazette
Sherry Greenfield
07/25/2012
A proposal to rezone 8,824 acres of farmland in Frederick County could lead to the construction of 12,688 homes, a majority of which would be built in the Monrovia, New Market and Urbana areas.

Group wants growth costs calculated

Leader estimates county could see 50,000 new residential units by 2032
Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
07/12/2012
The leader of a local anti-sprawl group wants the state to calculate the impact Frederick County's proposed land-use plan will have on taxpayers. In a letter to the Maryland Department of Planning, Friends of Frederick County Executive Director Janice Wiles wrote that it would be wise to figure out how much growth will cost if it gets approved

Annexation passes to mayor, aldermen with approval

Frederick News Post
Patti S. Borda
07/12/2012
There is no legal reason to keep 500 acres from being annexed by the city this year, Frederick planning commissioners concluded Wednesday.

State again condemns county's land-use plan

Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
05/01/2012
The state continues to disagree with Frederick County's decision to push forward with its land-use review, according to a letter from the Maryland Department of Planning. In the letter received by the county Thursday, a state planning official expresses concern that the county did not give the public enough time to respond to proposed changes to the comprehensive plan and zoning review

State again condemns county’s land-use plan

Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
05/01/2012
The state continues to disagree with Frederick County's decision to push forward with its land-use review, according to a letter from the Maryland Department of Planning. In the letter received by the county Thursday, a state planning official expresses concern that the county did not give the public enough time to respond to proposed changes to the comprehensive plan and zoning review

City needs more details on Crum annexation

Frederick News Post
Patti S. Borda
05/15/2012
The Frederick city planning commissioners agreed unanimously Monday that they want more details about Crum Farm Land LLC's request to annex an additional 250 acres before they make a recommendation to the mayor and Board of Aldermen. The proposed annexation cannot change the 2009 terms of Crum Farm Land's 285-acre annexation of adjoining property, but it does open the door for new negotiations concerning the additional land, staff said. For the conservation group Friends of Frederick County, the original Crum annexation and its conditions do not adequately address the impact the annexation will have on schools and roads. The proposal, for 1,200 houses and 1.3 million square feet of nonresidential development, includes a 15-acre school site, a 22-acre park and improvements to Willowbrook Road.

Potomac named most endangered river

Group says agricultural and urban factors are contributing to pollution
Frederick News Post
Courtney Pomeroy
05/15/2012
The Potomac River has been named the most endangered river in the country. American Rivers, a nonprofit environmental group headquartered in Washington, annually releases a list of the nation's top 10 at-risk rivers. The 2012 list, released today, says agricultural and urban factors are contributing to the Potomac's pollution. Hedrick Belin, president of the Potomac Conservancy, noted that the federal Clean Water Act of 1972 has helped the river come a long way in the last 40 years. "But now is really not the time to turn our backs," he said. "Now is (the) time to finish the job."