10/5/22 Sugarloaf Alliance Newsletter

1. Council Holds the Line at I-270

 

The I-270 Boundary: Good news! At the County Council meeting last night, Mr. Dacey withdrew his motion that would have set the Sugarloaf Plan boundary at Rt. 80 and include the Thurston Road cut-out.  I-270 remains the Plan’s boundary. We haven’t reached the end of this process, though (see #2 below), so we aren’t toasting preservation’s victory quite yet.

 

The Page 54 language: Council Member McKay introduced an amendment deleting the language on page 54, as many of you and Sugarloaf Alliance requested. Mr. McKay’s amendment passed 4-3. (The now-deleted language reads as an invitation to reopen consideration of the Plan boundary or Overlay soon after the Plan’s approval.) The three Council Members preferring to leave the language in the Plan are Council Members Fitzwater, Keegan-Ayers, and Dacey.

The Overlay: There was no change in the Rural Heritage Overlay Zoning District (the “Overlay”).  Mr. Dacey's amendment to exempt Stronghold Inc. and Sugarloaf Mountain from the Overlay failed 1-6, and Mr. McKay’s amendment to exempt a smaller portion of Stronghold property from the Overlay was defeated as well.

Resource Conservation Zone: The other major decision last night was that the Council rejected the Resource Conservation zoning change proposed in the Plan package. The zoning proposal would have changed zoning in some of the area's steep slopes (25% grade or greater) from Agricultural (“Ag”) to Resource Conservation (“RC”). This proposal has been opposed by many affected property owners. Mr. McKay offered an amendment to delete this zoning change, and his amendment was approved 5-2. (Mr. Donald and Mr. Hagen dissented, preferring to keep the RC zoning change that would protect these steep slopes and waterways from development.)

 

2. *Public Hearings on 10/11 and 10/18*

 

Please plan to attend the Council Hearing on Tuesday, 10/11 to show support for the Council’s amended Sugarloaf Plan. As we’ve said before, this is a long and complicated process. The good news is that the deadline for the process is the end of October, so there are only four more weeks of showing up, writing emails and making phone calls. We’ve done well so far; let’s be the last to leave this shindig!

 

Here’s a quick and lite overview of where we are in the Council's process:

 

-The "Sugarloaf Plan” itself is not legislation, it’s a vision and guidance document for preservation in the Sugarloaf area. As of last night, a Council majority has been persuaded that I-270 is the best boundary for that vision.

 

-The Overlay district (Bill 22.25) is zoning legislation that would establish some legal requirements to support the Plan’s vision. As a practical matter, the Overlay doesn’t change current land uses, but it does add some prohibitions and some extra environmentally protective steps that folks have to go through when applying for some new land uses (not agricultural or residential within current zoning). The Overlay boundary could be drawn differently from the Plan boundary, or a majority on the Council could opt to reject the Overlay altogether. That would put the Plan in the category of being a land use ’suggestion' with no enforcement teeth. 

 

-There are two other related zoning tracks. One was the RC zoning for steep slopes, as described above. The other is Bill 22-24 that would establish a Private Park land use category that Stronghold could choose to apply for (or not). 

Please Plan to Attend the Public Hearing on Tuesday, October 11, 5:30pm. This is a hearing on the Council’s version of the Sugarloaf Plan, as amended. We will outline details and offer talking points in another newsletter later this week. (Note: If you’d like more detail now, there is a summary of the Council’s actions last night in yesterday’s 10/4 Frederick News Post.)  And….We will have Sugarloaf Alliance t-shirts available outside Winchester Hall, at 5pm on 10/11, before the hearing! *

 

 

3. Donations

A number of you have asked about making donations to Sugarloaf Alliance. We do have bills for our legal efforts pressing for transparency in Frederick County government, an effort that will continue long past October. We also have normal “business” expenses for insurance, our website and flyers. We’re all volunteers doing this “business," working hard with you to preserve our beautiful Sugarloaf area. If you’d care to donate, please send a check to our Treasurer, Nick Carrera, 2602 Thurston Road, Frederick, MD 21704. Thank you!

 

 

4. * SUGARLOAF ALLIANCE HAS T-SHIRTS! 

The Sugarloaf Alliance now has beautiful t-shirts, green of course! And perfect for supporting the Sugarloaf Plan at Council meetings and every day in public! You can get yours for a minimum donation of $20. We’re working on how to connect through the website; for now, please reply to this email to make arrangements to get yours. We have limited supplies left of sizes M, L, XL, and XXL.  If you have one already, please send us a photo of you wearing it!