Reactions mixed on revised plan for growth

Sherry Greenfield
No issue has elicited as much controversy in Frederick County in recent years as the New Market Region Plan. The Frederick County Division of Planning unveiled a revised plan for the first time to residents and property owners at an open house June 21 at Oakdale Middle School in Ijamsville. Due to the new plan, 12,200 homes that were slated for the New Market area have been reduced to 5,400, said Tim Goodfellow, project planner with the planning division. The reduction has left some unhappy property owners who were hoping to make a profit off their land.

GOP hopefuls debate in forum

Frederick News Post
Clifford Cumber
In the closest thing to a real debate in this campaign season, Republican candidates took the stage Thursday in front of a GOP audience.Republicans are crowding the field leading up to the Sept. 12 primary; the forum, held by the Republican Women of greater Frederick, was a rare chance for GOP candidates to reach out to their base. The format allowed candidates to respond to points made by others, or expound on questions. Candidates for Frederick County State's Attorney had their moment, as did four GOP candidates for sheriff. One of the most contested GOP primaries is between 14 Republicans to be one of five who will go to the general election to compete for seats on the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Mike Cady and former Commissioners President David Gray disagreed over the number of houses allowed by the present board of county commissioners through rezoning. Mr. Cady has been upbeat in his campaign, touting the achievements of his four years in office to counter what he said are the efforts of some candidates to frighten voters. "Don't be scared into voting for a no-growth, anti-business slate," he warned. Reiterating a point he's made several times, Mr. Cady said an average of 1,825 new homes a year had been built during his term, 20 percent less than the previous board, presided over by Mr. Gray. That fact defied the "pro-growth" label commonly attached to three of the sitting commissioners, Mr. Cady said.

Housing development still faces many hurdles

Frederick News Post
Pamela Rigaux
Urbana developer Natelli Communities has received approval from the county commissioners to build up to 500 homes on 181.42 acres just north of Urbana on Md. 355. The commissioners voted last week to allow the tract between the community park and Park Mills Road, previously designated an employment corridor, to be developed with new dwellings -- condos, townhomes, apartments and senior housing. The vote was 4-1, with Commissioner John L. Thompson the sole dissenter. "The rezoning will worsen school overcrowding," Mr. Thompson said in an interview later. "Frederick County's going to be a laughingstock, when people in the state look at research parks and there's nothing but garden apartments." Erik Soter, the county's assistant planning director, predicted it would be two years before Natelli breaks ground and an additional four or five to complete the project because of all the government approvals the developer will need. One approval may be particularly hard to come by, he said. The county mandates that new homes must not generate more students than the local schools can accommodate, and Urbana High School is filled.

County residents have few options in annexation proposal

Ingrid Mezo
The community shouldn’t wait in opposing the annexation of the 235-acre Myers farm into Thurmont town limits, according Frederick Regional Action Network executive director Kai Hagen. Hagen, a Thurmont area resident, is also running for a seat on the Frederick Board of County Commissioners. "...Our government functions better, and represents our broader community interests better, when more people are more informed and more involved,” Hagen said in an e-mail to The Gazette. "In this instance, working to inform more people, and encourage them to get involved, is not something that starts on the day the developer submits a formal request for annexation. And it’s not something that distinguishes whether or not someone lives and votes in town.” Once a formal annexation request is made, those opposing the annexation will have 45 days to get 668 signatures from town residents on a petition to force a referendum. Those who live near the Myers farm, but outside town limits, will not be able to sign a petition for referendum or vote on it.

County approves senior development

Frederick News Post
Liam Farrell
The graying baby boomers in Frederick County are getting another community just for them. On Tuesday night, the Frederick Board of County Commissioners approved a change in zoning to allow construction of the Monrovia Town Center, an age-restricted development of more than 1,600 units south of Monrovia. About 50 acres of the area, near Urbana, will be donated for public use and will eventually house a fire and emergency medical service substation and a Frederick County Sheriff's Office substation.The developer, 75-80 Properties L.L.C., will also put $10,000 for each market value unit, or about $14 million, toward improving neighboring roads such as Md. 75. Any new development of 25 or more dwelling units must make at least 12 percent of its units affordable for middle-income residents.

Waste-to-energy on agenda

Frederick News Post
Liam Farrell
The day trash from Frederick County residents powers their houses is still years away, but county commissioners are investigating that possibility. The board unanimously passed a resolution Thursday to begin formulating a strategy on creating a facility that would generate power from recycling solid waste. The resolution was a formal declaration of the county's interest in pursuing a waste-to-energy option. "It's a little bit different than what we've looked at before," Commissioner Jan Gardner said. "It is, I believe, kind of the ultimate in recycling." Commissioner John Lovell Jr. has a similar opinion about turning waste into energy. "It's certainly what I consider to be the long-term solution we've been looking for," he said. R.W. Beck and Associates completed a study of Frederick's potential for such a facility in October 2005. According to that study, which considered the planning period from 2011- 2031, building its own waste-to-energy facility could be as cost-effective for the county as shipping waste to a regional facility. Now that the county has acknowledged formal interest, it will be able to consider serious proposals from waste to energy providers.

County races mostly funded by developers

Frederick News Post
Sean Barry
Companies involved in land development, along with their owners and employees, have poured more money into the Frederick County Commissioners election contest than all other contributors combined, according to a review of the final pre-election campaign finance reports. The real estate and building industries, generally unhappy with the two incumbents who are running for re-election, have supplied about $40,000 for a group endorsing several challengers and largely bankrolled some individual campaigns as well, the reports show.