October 11, 2022

Sugarloaf Alliance Comments to Frederick County Council

 

 

Good evening,

 

The Sugarloaf Alliance supports the draft Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan as amended in conjunction with enactment of the overlay legislation.

 

While there are parts of the plan for which we have little enthusiasm, we are confident we can address any future negative developments related to these shortcomings. We intend to remain fully involved in addressing any possible future problems resulting from these deficiencies.

 

The plan process has given all stakeholders ample opportunity to comment on and suggest edits to the plan. In fact, some stakeholders even had opportunities not available to the general public to lobby in private staff and other government officials.

 

Through this 2 1/2 year process many ideas and views have been expressed. Significant time has been invested in the drafting process.

 

The first Advisory Board meeting was on February 19, 2020.  That group held seven lengthy meetings

 

There were Eleven meeting of the Planning Commission.

 

And I think this is the fourteenth meeting of the Council to take up Sugarloaf Plan issues.

 

Also most importantly there have been many public hearings and open houses involving hundreds and hundreds of Frederick citizens, with many taking the time to prepare and present written and oral testimony.

 

If at this juncture any stakeholder is unhappy with the plan it is not because they were unable to voice their concerns. There is after all an enormous difference between not being heard and having people not agree with you.

 

This Council, and the planning Commission before you made significant efforts to improve acceptance of the plan through refinements and amendments.

 

There will be, clearly are, participants unhappy with the results of this plan writing process. After all, the struggle between development and preservation can, unfortunately, be a zero sum battle. A given piece of land cannot be both preserved and paved over.

 

 

Some of the people still opposed to the plan seem to be simply opposed to planning and zoning as a concept. No matter how well crafted, a land management or zoning plan will never be ok for them.  ‘Middle ground’ in this situation is a mirage.

 

Others who still oppose the Sugarloaf plan sound as if they would prefer no rules at all, at least no rules for them. Through their statements and threatened actions they suggest that the anonymous unelected board members of a private corporation should have a veto over County land planning efforts.  This kind of policy through extortion has no place in public affairs.

 

There is I suppose a final “group” opposed to the plan. Their motive is profit and the passage of this plan will deny them financial gain. This group of speculators gamble with land. Nowhere in this world is a gambler entitled to win.

 

The Sugarloaf Plan has traveled a long and bumpy road. For a few short weeks even the plan’s name changed to the Monocacy - Sugarloaf Plan. There have been awkward hearings over Zoom and unfortunate meetings in smoky back rooms. It’s now time to take the last steps and complete the first area plan of the Livable Frederick process.

 

The Sugarloaf Alliance, the over 3000 signers of our petition, the 16,000 Frederick County members of the Smarter Growth Alliance organizations, and the many many citizens who have given public comment, all urge this council to preserve the sugarloaf region by passing this plan and adopting the protective overlay.

 

Thank you