1. PLANNING COMMISSION LISTENING SESSION 1/18
On Wednesday, January 18, beginning at 6:30pm, the Frederick County Planning Commission (FCPC) will hold a special meeting to begin its "new phase of work on the Overlay.” It has been suggested that this is an “everybody needs to show up” moment. The development interests certainly will attend and are expected to continue fighting against Overlay restrictions intended to preserve the rural character of the area. Sugarloaf Alliance is preparing strategies and support documents (talking points) for those of us who support the Overlay and speak for preservation. Please let us know if you plan to attend; you can reply to this newsletter.
Last November, the County Council passed an amended Sugarloaf Plan, but they remanded the legislative Overlay to the Planning Commission. The 1/18 meeting begins the new public phase of consideration. The “Overlay" is the legislation that would add “teeth” to the advisory Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan. Click here to read the Plan, the Overlay text and more.
What will happen on 1/18
According to information sent by Kimberly Gaines* (Livable Frederick Director in the Planning Office), the 1/18 meeting will begin in the first floor hearing room at Winchester Hall (12 E Church St, Frederick) with a brief presentation of the Overlay. The large-group session will then be adjourned and participants will break into small groups for discussion.
The small group conversations will be based on the county’s summary document of the Overlay legislation. Read the Sugarloaf Rural Heritage Overlay Summary (scroll down on the county page to get the download link). Copies also will be provided at the meeting on Wednesday.
According to Ms. Gaines, each small group will begin by going around the table, with each person able to offer their general comments. After that, small group participants may comment on each of the three main focus areas outlined in the summary document - design standards, prohibited uses, and forestry. Other topics may be raised as well. Ms. Gaines emphasized that the conversations are intended to be informal - very different from the formal Commission and Council workshops and meetings.
What you can do now
Participants are asked to register with the county so that they can assure adequate meeting space, although they will accommodate anyone who shows up and wishes to participate. Here’s the link to register. Technically, today (1/13) is the deadline to register with the county, but it’s ok to just send Sugarloaf Alliance an email (or not) - c/o SueTrainor@aol.com - if you plan to come.
*Kimberly Gaines was formerly known as Kimberly Golden Brandt.
In more news....
2. Re: Call-In Comments - County Council Responds
On 12/20, the Frederick News-Post (FNP) reported that the County Council considered a proposal to discontinue all public call-in comments during Council meetings, but postponed a decision until a later date (tbd). Continuing live call-in comments but discontinuing recorded voicemail comments also was discussed.
Sugarloaf Alliance emailed the Council in support of continuing both pre-recorded comments and call-in comment opportunities generally. We believe more residents will participate in Council proceedings if the the call-in option is available.
Council President Brad Young said, "Thank you for your email. The council did discuss at our [December 20, 2022] meeting phone in public comment and decided to not make any changes. We all are very respectful of our constituents and encourage their input."
Mason Carter responded, "After lengthy discussion, the council moved to table this idea and to track public comment via phone for a few months. I expect this topic to be revisited again around April-June (4-6 months), however no date has been set."
3. Sugarloaf Alliance Finance Report
As we’ve said many times, Sugarloaf Alliance is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization. All funds are used in service of educating the community about issues affecting preservation in the Sugarloaf area and to take action on issues affecting preservation. The Board received an annual budget report this week from Treasurer Nick Carrera:
Report for the year 2022
Sugarloaf Alliance resumed activity June 30, 2022, in connection with the Sugarloaf Plan.
June 30, 2022, balance 791.25
Donations during 2022 24,739.17
Expenses during 2022 15,324.18
Balance at end of 2022 10,206.24
*T-shirts were designed and purchased with a donation targeted toward raising the visibility of preservation advocacy in county meetings and in public generally. So far the t-shirts have earned more than 60% of their cost in additional donations.
It’s easy to donate to Sugarloaf Alliance. Every little bit helps. Here’s a link to our website donation button. We also have a few t-shirts left - large and x-large.