Shades of Green

Saving the Planet Touches Almost Every Area of Frederick County Living, and it Comes with a Price Tag
Frederick Magazine
Linda Norris-Waldt
Save the Bay. Buy recycled. Reduce your carbon footprint. Conserve water. The list goes on and on. And so does the number of programs and projects that aim to improve Frederick County’s environment— and with them, the debate about where lies the responsibility: Who pays, who is inconvenienced by change, and how much habit-breaking is practical when the returns aren’t immediately evident. A myriad of regulations, public education programs and businesses have brought environmental initiatives to our doors. The new programs, like mandating rain barrels and rain gardens for new subdivisions, roll in with great fanfare like ocean waves, supported by public demand. And then they are either delayed or abridged because of cost, impact or feasibility. A constant rebalancing is always taking place. Kirby Delauter, a Frederick County commissioner whose work in construction takes him into the field where he has direct encounters with environmental regulations, has been no fan of the feasibility of government programs regulating the environment. They have “grown exponentially and for no good reason other than to expand the role of government in our lives,” he says. “Stormwater has been ruled by courts to not be a pollutant, yet we still seem to have governing bodies that can’t let go of the power and control of regulating the lives of personal property owners.” Kai Hagen, a community activist and former county commissioner known for championing environmental causes, has a differing view. “If people knew the real environmental and economic costs and benefits associated with the choices we make—as a community—I’m convinced we would be making a lot more responsible choices than we are now,” he says. Here’s how current environmental programs in Frederick County touch water, land and lives.

Frederick County to continue, possibly expand municipal recycling program

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
Bottles and cans might soon have to cover less distance to land in a recycling bin near Brunswick or Thurmont. The Board of County Commissioners decided Thursday to continue and possibly expand the county's municipal recycling program. Middletown, Walkersville and Emmitsburg each have the recycling drop-off sites, and under the pilot program, have received county dollars to reimburse them for running the centers. Commissioners on Thursday unanimously opted to make the recycling incentive program permanent and set aside $50,000 to fund the current sites and support Brunswick and Thurmont if they join the program. "This is a program we started. It's been very, very popular. So this is to take it to another level," Commissioners President Blaine Young said. The fiscal 2014 funding levels represent a reduction from last year, when the program was budgeted for up to $100,000. However, Phillip Harris, the county's superintendent of solid waste management, said the three participating municipalities together used only about $12,300 of the available funds.

Myersville considers mandatory recycling to save money

Connor Adams Sheets
Following in the footsteps of Thurmont and New Market, Myersville's mayor and town council are considering a mandatory recycling ordinance aimed at reducing trash output by residents. Such an ordinance would benefit the county, as well as the town, according to Myersville town manager Kristin Aleshire. "I think it would provide two distinct benefits," he explained. "One is keeping recyclable material out of the county landfill, and two is reducing the amount and cost of trash hauling on the town contract. If those two directives could be achieved, I think it will lead to other benefits down the road as well."

Thurmont commissioners deny Myers Farm annexation

Jeremy Hauck
Thurmont commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously not to annex 210 acres north of town, known as the Myers Farm, ending a yearlong negotiation with a developer that wanted to build 350 houses and commercial space on the land Commissioners said residents’ opposition to the annexation played a crucial role in their votes. A survey written by Mayor Martin A. Burns and mailed to residents in December found that 66 percent of the 1,487 respondents did not want the town to annex the farm. Burns on Tuesday also cited the results of the town’s Oct. 1 election for two commission seats in voting against the annexation petition. Incumbent Commissioner Glenn D. Muth, who had said he would vote against the Myers Farm annexation, and newcomer Robert E. Lookingbill, who campaigned on slow growth, won the election over four other candidates.

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.