Sugarloaf Alliance Newsletter, 10/20/22
Thanks for showing up to the Overlay Hearing Tuesday night and for all your written and phoned-in comments! It made a positive difference in a difficult negotiating situation. The Council looked out on another roomful of green shirts (though, sadly, the photo in the Frederick News Post was taken before you all arrived.)
1. UPDATE: County Council Delays Vote on Sugarloaf Plan
Tuesday night, the County Council was scheduled to vote on the Sugarloaf Plan (the guidance document) and take public comment in a hearing on the Overlay District (which would be the preservation zoning “teeth” in the Plan area). The hearing came first, and the Council heard an hour of 3-minute testimonies in favor of the Overlay, with only one objection.
Next, when the Sugarloaf Plan agenda item was introduced, Council Member Fitzwater moved to delay the vote on the Plan for a week; Mr. Hagen seconded. They explained that Council did not yet have four votes to pass both the Plan and the Overlay District. However, Mr. Hagen had floated a compromise idea that that might succeed and they need the week to work through it. The justification for further compromise is Stronghold’s continued insistence that they will close Sugarloaf Mountain if their property is included in the Sugarloaf Plan.
The proposed compromise would exclude Resource Conservation (RC) zoning from the Overlay zoning requirements. Sugarloaf’s RC zoning already is the most restrictive zoning designation in the County. The compromise effectively excludes Stronghold’s 3,000 acres from the Plan’s requirements. The other 7,000 acres of RC in the 20,000-acre Plan area are located mostly around the mountain and along the Monocacy River. Under this compromise, the Overlay preservation requirements would apply to the Plan's 10,000 acres of agriculturally-zoned land (Ag), which includes the developer-owned land along I-270 and in the Thurston Road area.
2. ACTION: What We Can Do This Week
The Sugarloaf Alliance Board supports this compromise, with regret. We regret that the County Council has not seen its way clear to pass the Sugarloaf Plan and Overlay as currently amended, but this is a political process. We believe that this compromise is the win that may be achievable, and we thank Ms. Fitzwater for creating the opportunity, and we thank Mr. Hagen for crafting a potential solution. It is by no means a done deal, however, and one thing we can do is write to Council Members ASAP assuring them of our support IF Stronghold agrees to the deal.
The Council meets again on Tuesday, 10/25, at 5:30 in Winchester Hall. This is the last scheduled date possible for their consideration of the Plan. According to their agenda, Council Members will consider and possibly act on the compromise, vote on the Plan, and vote on the Overlay. The specific language of the compromise has not yet been linked to their agenda. Check back for agenda updates.
Your New Email Talking points:
See below for Council Members’ contact information.
- Thank Council Members for supporting the I-270 boundary.
- Thank Council Members for removing the page 54 invitation to reopen the Plan.
- Note that the Plan’s proponents already compromised significantly when the Council eliminated the rezoning of steep slopes from Ag to RC.
- While our hope was that the entire Plan area would be protected to the full extent proposed, you would prefer the compromise of excluding RC zoning to the option of a no-vote or a vote to remand the Overlay back to the Planning Commission.
- In the event that Stronghold refuses to compromise and continues to insist they will close Sugarloaf Mountain, urge the Council to pass the Sugarloaf Plan and Overlay as currently amended. One landowner should not have veto power over County land use policy.
Sign the New Petition
We’ve created a new petition* - expressing the talking points above - as another way to quickly demonstrate to the County Council that Sugarloaf Plan proponents will support this compromise. Please sign the petition and add your comments NOW.
COUNTY COUNCIL CONTACT INFO
Email your comments to the County Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email or call your Council Member, the At-Large Members, and County Executive Candidate Fitzwater:
Steve McKay (District 2), SMcKay@frederickcountymd.gov, 301-600-1034
Michael Blue (VP, District 5) MBlue@FrederickCountyMD.gov, 301-600-1034
Jerry Donald* (District 1), JDonald@FrederickCountyMD.gov, 301-600-2336
Jessica Fitzwater (District 4), JFitzwater@FrederickCountyMD.gov, 301-600-2336
M.C. Keegan-Ayer (Pres., District 3), MCKeegan-Ayer@FrederickCountyMD.gov, 301-600-1101
Kai Hagen (At Large), KHagen@FrederickCountyMD.gov, 301-600-2336
Phil Dacey (at Large), PDacey@FrederickCountyMD.gov, 301-600-1034
* The Sugarloaf Plan area is within Councilman Donald’s district.
If you can't be at the 10/25 County Council meeting to watch the last votes, you can watch the meeting online, starting at 5:30pm: https://www.frederickcountymd.gov/1225/FCG-TV
Let’s hope this last effort carries us over the finish line!
The Sugarloaf Alliance represents over 400 stakeholders in the Sugarloaf region. The Alliance’s mission is to protect the unique natural and historical aspects of the Sugarloaf Mountain area and its environment through education and initiatives in support of watersheds, streams, meadows, forests, and historic sites. Working with volunteers, civic groups, and local, state, and federal agencies, the organization’s primary goal is to preserve the unique character and serenity of the area for future generations. Sugarloaf Alliance is a 501(c)(3) organization. Sugarloaf-Alliance.org
Steve Black, President
Sue Trainor, Vice President
Nick Carrera, Treasurer
Johanna Springston, Secretary