Oath of office?

Frederick News Post
Russell Harris
11/22/2013
In my senior year at Virginia Tech, I joined the Order of the Engineer. As part of joining this group, I took an oath that states, “I am an engineer, I have an obligation. My obligation has become my desire. My desire is to apply the Golden Rule, our code of ethics, to the technical knowledge of the world by persuasion. My desire becomes the yardstick of my professionalism and lastly that my professionalism means to me that I will never again ask myself the question, ‘How much do I get out of it?’ but rather I will ask myself the question, ‘How much can I give?’ The symbol of the desire to be a giver is the Engineer’s Ring. The ring will say to all who see it, ‘Here is an engineer, possessed of a publicly avowed dedication to his profession and the public it serves.” Now I may be wrong, but I would imagine that public officials, such as the planning commissioners and the Board of County Commissioners, would take a similar oath in which they are appointed to serve the public and not themselves. As I watched and participated in the public hearing for the Monrovia Town Center, it did not seem that the planning commission was thinking about what was best for the public that they were appointed to serve, but perhaps what was best for them.

Realtors oppose real estate transfer tax

Frederick News Post
Michael Kurtianyk
11/20/2013
We read with interest Saturday’s editorial (“Underrepresented on growth”), and we want to make clear that the Frederick County Association of Realtors opposes a real estate transfer tax because it would hurt homebuyers and sellers of existing homes — as well as buyers of new homes. In a typical transaction involving existing real estate, the buyer and the seller split the cost of a transfer tax. In a new-home sales contract, the buyer typically shoulders the full cost of a transfer tax. However, impact fees, like all construction costs, are reflected in the sales price of the home. Thus, they are financed through the buyer’s mortgage over years or decades. A transfer tax is due as cash at property closing, and in this fragile home market, both buyers and sellers would be greatly affected.

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.

Proud of citizen involvement

Frederick News Post
Jan Gardner
11/10/2013
Congratulations to the hundreds of residents from the Monrovia area who have participated in the planning commission public hearings on the proposed Monrovia Town Center. This is “democracy in action.” Citizens have a right to be heard. Monrovia residents are raising their voices loudly but thoughtfully. They have done their homework, raised legitimate issues, asked honest questions and deserve to have their concerns discussed and addressed. I watched the planning commission meeting on Wednesday and was embarrassed and saddened by the mistreatment and rude behavior toward these citizens by the planning commission, specifically during cross-examination. Citizens deserve to be treated with dignity and respect even if they are presenting an opinion that planning commission members and the developers disagree with. Citizens should be welcome and encouraged to participate in their government. Unfortunately, citizens were ridiculed, shut down mid-sentence, and actively discouraged. I have watched hundreds of public hearings over the past 20 years and have never witnessed such negative treatment of the participating public.

Planning Commission hearing a debacle

Frederick News Post
Catherine Forrence
11/06/2013
Developers and their attorneys expect certainty in the land development process. Fair enough. We all like to know the rules of the game. Part of the zoning and subdivision process involves appearing before the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission’s Rules of Procedure provide certainty, and are issued to assist in the “orderly and efficient conduct of all matters with which the Commission is concerned.” Before the second public hearing on the Monrovia Town Center rezoning, I sent an email to the Frederick County Planning Commission and staff highlighting two sections of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure: §6.2 “Any person is entitled to appear and be heard by the Commission before it reaches a decision on any matter” and asked how cross-examination will be handled, as permitted by §6.9 “The Chairman will allow reasonable cross-examination of witnesses at a time and in a manner considered reasonable by the Chairman under the circumstances.” Prior to the Oct. 30 Monrovia Town Center hearing, I provided a copy of the Planning Commission’s Rules of Procedure to the Planning Commission’s chair, and asked whether the commission planned to follow their rules? No response. The county attorney announced the Planning Commission would not allow cross-examination, even though it is permitted by their rules! During the hearing that evening, a number of speakers asked and received no response from the commission when asked to follow their Rules of Procedure.

Speaking out against Myersville compressor station plans

Frederick News Post
Ann Nau
11/03/2013
Energy giants like Dominion Resources, a Virginia-based multi-billion dollar corporation, benefit when communities like ours don’t connect the dots between their plans and our health. In the case of Dominion’s $3.8 billion plan to liquefy and export natural gas from its Cove Point facility on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, you can bet they hope Frederick County residents don’t, because we could pay a particularly high price. As The News-Post has reported, a recent MIT study found that Maryland has a higher death rate due to air pollution than any other state, resulting in the premature deaths of 113 out of 100,000 people per year. In Baltimore, that number jumps to 130 per 100,000, and Frederick has similarly high rates. While I applaud the state’s efforts to improve Maryland’s air quality, as noted in the recent letter from Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert Summers, I am gravely concerned about the consequences if state and federal regulators allow Dominion to move forward with its toxic emissions-spewing export facility. The Cove Point terminal in Lusby, currently designed as a gas import facility, is already in an area that exceeds federal limits for ozone pollution, which triggers asthma attacks and worsens respiratory illnesses. The facilities that Dominion wants to add at Cove Point to liquefy gas for export would spew more ozone pollutants, belching 279.5 tons per year of nitrogen oxide and 33.2 tons per year of volatile organic compounds. But how does this connect to Frederick County? As Dominion and other companies race to export natural gas to overseas markets, driving up domestic prices, they’ll need a massive new network of infrastructure — pipelines and compressor stations — to transport gas from fracking operations to Cove Point. In fact, Dominion Transmission Inc. (DTI), a subsidiary of Dominion Resources, has proposed building a 16,000-horsepower compressor station in Frederick — within the town limits of Myersville, where I live, and less than 1 mile from our elementary school.

Who's paying attention?

Frederick News Post
Susan Hanson
10/25/2013
Last month we got the news (The News-Post, Sept. 18) that the MIT test of the air quality in Frederick is dismal. Frederick is almost as bad as Baltimore. Some officials are blaming the coal-fired power plants in the Midwest. Frederick County already pays a fee (called an offset) because of its poor air quality levels. This is before we have started adding the stuff that will come out of the incinerator once we start burning the trash and tires at this proposed facility. Is anyone out there paying attention and saying hmm, we’re going to have to pay a lot more for all of this additional smog? And this toxic stuff cannot be blamed on our neighbors.

Gray: More of the same coming from this BoCC

Frederick News Post
David Gray
10/08/2011
We are coming to the end of the third year of a developer-controlled majority of the Board of County Commissioners. You might think their anti-environment, anti-education and budget-depleting gifts to their friends and contributors would begin to subside. Not so. There’s more coming — and soon. ----- There is one year left for this BoCC majority to undermine good planning and give county funds away for developer interests, and other special friends like Aurora healthcare. As a commissioner now for 19 years I have never seen a group of elected commissioners who so blatantly favor their personal and special interests over the citizens and future well-being of this county. I am disgusted to witness these and prior actions of the last three years that leave a legacy of environmental neglect, growing bills and future tax increases, in the millions, to be shouldered by Frederick County taxpayers.

Incinerator will add to air pollution

Frederick News Post
Ellis Burruss
10/1/2013
The letter in Sunday’s Frederick News-Post from Maryland Secretary of the Environment Robert Summers clearly describes the difficulty of cleaning the air we breathe while it’s being polluted from neighboring states. As the Sept. 18 editorial pointed out: Air pollution in Frederick County is at a dangerous level and can affect the health of all county residents. However, while Mr. Summers’ concern for stopping pollution from other states is very important, it should be noted that his agency is currently reviewing permit applications for a trash incinerator that will add a significant amount of pollution to our already burdened local atmosphere. The incinerator, which is planned to be built right off English Muffin Way in south Frederick, will burn 1,500 tons a day of mixed trash, old tires and sewage sludge. Despite “state of the art” pollution controls, incinerators are major sources of highly toxic pollutants and carcinogens, chemicals that form ozone (smog), and fine particles that are so small that they can reach the deepest parts of the lung and cross directly into the bloodstream. Because our local air is already so polluted, the hundreds of tons of nitrogen oxides emitted from the incinerator will require us (the taxpayers) to purchase pollution offsets from other communities. We will still breathe the pollution and we’ll have to pay for the privilege!

Jan Gardner on her board's budget achievements

Frederick News Post
Jan Gardner
09/26/2013
Citizens deserve the facts. A recent letter to the editor by the Young Board of County Commissioners (absent Commissioner David Gray) provided inaccurate information about the county budget. The Gardner board managed the county budget responsibly, controlled spending and earned the first AAA bond rating for Frederick County. By contrast, the Young board has increased spending, raised taxes and redirected significant taxpayer dollars to subsidize new development projects while cutting services to the community’s neediest residents. These are the facts: Fact: Over the four years of the Gardner board, the budget grew from $436.7 million to $438.3 million, an increase of $1.6 million. Over only the first three years of the Young board, the budget grew from $438.3 million to $516.3 million, an increase of $78 million. If the fire tax budgets are separated out, over three years, the Young board increased the budget from $438.3 million to $474.1 million, an increase of $35.8 million. Fact: The Young board raised taxes when the fire tax districts were shifted into the operating budget.

Jan Gardner on her board’s budget achievements

Frederick News Post
Jan Gardner
09/26/2013
Citizens deserve the facts. A recent letter to the editor by the Young Board of County Commissioners (absent Commissioner David Gray) provided inaccurate information about the county budget. The Gardner board managed the county budget responsibly, controlled spending and earned the first AAA bond rating for Frederick County. By contrast, the Young board has increased spending, raised taxes and redirected significant taxpayer dollars to subsidize new development projects while cutting services to the community’s neediest residents. These are the facts: Fact: Over the four years of the Gardner board, the budget grew from $436.7 million to $438.3 million, an increase of $1.6 million. Over only the first three years of the Young board, the budget grew from $438.3 million to $516.3 million, an increase of $78 million. If the fire tax budgets are separated out, over three years, the Young board increased the budget from $438.3 million to $474.1 million, an increase of $35.8 million. Fact: The Young board raised taxes when the fire tax districts were shifted into the operating budget.

Green acres, not greenbacks

Frederick News Post
Chuck Honse
09/04/2013
The Monrovia and Green Valley areas are about to change. The folks living there are about to lose the lifestyle for which they moved into the area — lots of green space instead of blacktop and concrete; lots of peace and quiet instead of the sounds of traffic and emergency equipment; lots of fresh country air, the smell of freshly cut grass and hayfields instead of the fumes generated by huge volumes of traffic; lots of peaceful living instead of living in fear of increased crime, which is often the result of densely populated areas; lots of space around their homes instead of having to listen to their neighbor snoring, sneezing or their radio/TV program; lots of sounds of children at play in their spacious backyards, birds chirping and singing instead of the sounds of honking horns and screaming sirens. Head puppeteer Blaine Young and his three puppets (Billy Shreve, C. Paul Smith, Kirby Delauter) are about to change it all.

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.

Facts on county budget, please

Frederick News Post
Bob White
08/04/2013
Enough misdirection is enough! Citizens deserve facts about the county budget, not hazy self-serving propaganda. ... The Young board has cut over 200 fees and taxes — primarily to benefit of the development and building industry. Most county taxpayers will not experience a benefit from these fee reductions. In many instances, there are still county costs to cover development review and inspection of projects. These costs have been shifted to the backs of county taxpayers. This means the taxpayer is now paying for the cost of permits and inspection for development projects that previously have been covered by user fees. The public deserves facts, not fiction about the budget and taxes. Look at your recently mailed property tax bill. Look at the annual county budget summaries. Spending and your tax bills have gone up! I guess this is the Young board just doing what it promised!

Head Start not in a better place

Frederick News Post
Shannon Aleshire
07/28/2013
The editorial in the Sunday, July 14 edition of the Frederick News-Post reflects on the end of the county’s privatization and used the “spin-free” example of the Head Start program. The editorial states that the Head Start program covers the same number of children in a reliable operation without county funding. This is true. The YMCA is federally mandated to serve the same number of children with the funds they receive. The question is: Does our community want to use the number of children served as the singular measure of success for a critically important early childhood program? If we used the same type of thinking for our pubic schools then we would say they served the same number of children as last year, therefore, they must be successful. Instead, I would suggest that the community look a little deeper. The early childhood community applauds the YMCA for stepping up to take on this valuable program. It is unrealistic to think that a program receiving $2 million less in financial support can offer the same programming and produce the same results.

Smith’s simplistic commentary

Frederick News Post
Jack Lynch
07/08/2013
Recent commentary by Frederick County Commissioner Paul Smith exposes the simplistic political logic of the current Board of County Commissioners and of the statewide Chesapeake Coalition. At its base, it rejects firm science and portrays the problem as an out-of-state boogeyman to deflect attention from our real-life issues and responsibility for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. The citizens of Frederick County, and of Maryland, deserve better from our local elected leaders. As one dedicated over many years towards the careful practice of environmental stewardship and water quality while respecting history and economics and sustainability, I demand better deliberation, thought and action in these responsibilities from us all.

Smith's simplistic commentary

Frederick News Post
Jack Lynch
07/08/2013
Recent commentary by Frederick County Commissioner Paul Smith exposes the simplistic political logic of the current Board of County Commissioners and of the statewide Chesapeake Coalition. At its base, it rejects firm science and portrays the problem as an out-of-state boogeyman to deflect attention from our real-life issues and responsibility for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. The citizens of Frederick County, and of Maryland, deserve better from our local elected leaders. As one dedicated over many years towards the careful practice of environmental stewardship and water quality while respecting history and economics and sustainability, I demand better deliberation, thought and action in these responsibilities from us all.

Ivory tower government

Frederick News Post
Linda Norris-Waldt
07/05/2013
I just read yet another letter to the editor from a local elected official who says he finds it good policy to walk out of meetings when he is afraid he’ll get mad. I suppose he and those he learned it from consider it adult behavior to walk out of every uncomfortable situation because he is afraid he will lose his temper. Is this “counting to 10,” or is it simply a way of putting your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes and chanting “nah nah nah nah” because you don’t want to listen? People elect county-level representatives — those closest to the people — expecting them to seek opinions and alternatives on issues, weigh them equally, and come up with the best possible answer for the most possible people. Instead, we see...
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Let’s follow Carroll County’s lead on incinerator

Frederick News Post
Patrice Gallagher
07/04/2013
The No Incinerator Alliance wholeheartedly supports the recent decision by the Carroll County Commissioners to withdraw from the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator project. With this decision, those commissioners are recognizing the fact that the old technology of burning waste is not a good business plan when less costly alternatives are available. The NIA encourages the Frederick County Commissioners to take this opportunity to re-examine the assumptions on which the incinerator project was based. The financial projections made by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority are unrealistic and not a basis on which to commit Frederick County to decades of burdensome debt (see no-incinerator.org for details) and exorbitant operating costs.