Take advantage of your opportunity to participate in the Livable Frederick process

Over the past several decades, Frederick County has developed several “comprehensive plans.” These documents, required under state law, were typically general policy document focused on land use and physical development.

The plans were often driven by individual requests for zoning changes by property owners, with the comprehensive plans developed to create a plausible narrative to support the requested changes while meeting state requirements and the priorities set by elected officials.


County staff would reach out to stakeholder groups, as well of offer public meeting opportunities across the region to gather feedback regarding the draft comprehensive plan. Most often these groups and public attendees represented parties interested in land use issues, or a specific proposed zoning change. These plans were good plans for their time and context, meeting regulatory requirements and helping to describe the long-term infrastructure needed to support the zoning plan.

Like many disciplines, however, comprehensive planning has evolved considerably as our knowledge and experiences have increased and our conditions become better understood. Planning for sustainability is the defining challenge of the twenty-first century. As the leading policy document guiding the long-range development of local jurisdictions across the country, the comprehensive plan can play a critical role in meeting challenges such as resource depletion, climate instability, and economic and social disparities.

Last year, County Executive Jan Gardner launched “Livable Frederick”, to develop a such a plan for Frederick County. Both the Livable Frederick website and the County website have additional details regarding Livable Frederick.


Below are four aspects of the Livable Frederick effort that I’d like to highlight:

Livable Frederick will be mindful of the inter-relatedness of aspects of our community.

These experiences have shown us that comprehensive planning and land use decisions are inter-related to other essential aspects of prosperous community. Housing impacts educations resources, education attainment impacts economic activities, economics is supported by transportation networks, and transportation options can substantially impact the health of residents. Livable Frederick recognizes the interconnections between the different elements of our community “system”.

Livable Frederick will leverage the successes and experiences of previous comprehensive planning efforts.

Over the years, our county and municipal staffs, appointed boards and commissions, and land use organizations and interest groups have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience. Livable Frederick aims to take full advantage of this experience and expertise, and extend it to consider the inter-related systems that support our community.

Supported by quantitative data and analytics.

Livable Frederick will have more data, from more and varied sources, available to us than ever before. More importantly, we have tools that will allow us to relate and aggregate data related to different aspects and characteristics our community that lets us build and test the effects of complex “scenarios”. Given the increase in complexity that will arise from Livable Frederick’s “systems approach”, scenario modeling will be an essential addition to the experience of staff and community planners drafting plan elements.

Livable Frederick will be driven by a proactive, collaborative conversation to form Frederick County’s first “Community Vision.”

During previous comprehensive planning efforts, county staff reached out to established organizations in Frederick. The general public was also given opportunity to give input at public meetings or in writing. Based on these inputs and their own experience, staff would typically draft a vision statement that reflected and supported the drafted plan.

Livable Frederick aims to “flip” this approach, developing the vision first and then having the plan decisions support the realization of said vision. In this way we will have a plan to achieve our vision, rather than a vision that supports our plan.

In addition, Livable Frederick has broadened outreach, not only making it easier for citizens and other stakeholders to comment, but to allow them to engage in an on-going conversation that improves both the comprehensive plan and the comprehensive planning process as we go forward with this effort.

It is our goal that every Frederick County resident and stakeholder have an opportunity for genuine, authentic participation in the Livable Frederick process.

With that in mind, I’d like to encourage you to CLICK HERE and take a few minutes to complete the Livable Frederick survey!

AND, finally, PLEASE SHARE this blog entry and/or the link to the survey. It will be available until September 16th.


Jim Racheff serves as Chair of the Livable Frederick Steering Committee.

Frederick County Press Release about Livable Frederick (October 29, 2015):
Executive Gardner Launches Dynamic Approach to Long-Range Planning Called “Livable Frederick”

Public Information Briefing with County Executive, Jan Gardner: Livable Frederick (VIDEO)


Livable Frederick on the web

Livable Frederick on Facebook

Livable Frederick on Twitter

Frederick News Post
Frederick County’s future to begin with public survey
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
By Patti Borda Mullins