Sugarloaf Boundary Sleight of Hand?
The two maps begin to outline the history of the boundary of the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan.
The first map (Figure 1) presents the historic planning boundary (shown in green) between intensive development with water and sewer to the northeast of I-270 and the agriculture and resource conservation zoned area with low density housing to the southwest of I-270.
Figure 1: Historical I-270 Boundary, shown in green
The area in yellow dashes delineate parcels southwest of I-270 that are owned by the developer, located on the historically low-density side of I-270. One of these parcels, outlined by longer dashes was purchased by the developer in the late fall of 2021, quite recently, and while this plan was under review.
I-270 has been the dividing line between development to the northeast and preservation to the southwest for over 50 years. There’s water and sewer to the northeast of I-270 and there is no infrastructure to the southwest of I-270. If the I-270 boundary were to be approved by the County Council, the developer-owned property would be covered by the Sugarloaf preservation plan.
However, the early draft boundary circulated by the county to the Citizens Advisory Committee showed Route 80 as a portion of the northeastern boundary (the red line in Figure 2), creating the developer-owned Park Mills Road property cut-outs. When the boundary choice was challenged, Committee members were told that ‘the county can't change the maps now because it would require recalculating all the numbers in the Plan.’
Between the time of the Citizen Advisory Committee reviewed the Plan and when the July 2021 Plan was published, a large developer-owned, agriculturally-zoned parcel appeared as an additional exclusion from the Plan. This became known as the Thurston Road Cut-Out (yellow outlined parcel to the right in Figure 2).
Figure 2 shows the proposed boundary in the July 2021 Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan, the first draft published for official public review. This map shows parcel ownership; note that the developer-owned property would be excluded from the Sugarloaf preservation plan if this were to be the approved boundary.
Many have raised the issues around lack of transparency in these decisions, and Sugarloaf Alliance is engaged in ongoing litigation involving this lack of transparency.
However, the Frederick County Planning Commission clearly felt it was important to return to the historical I-270 boundary, to eliminate the Thurston Road cut-out and the Park Mills Road cut-outs, and that is
the boundary they recommended to the Frederick County Council.
The Sugarloaf Alliance supports the full boundary as recommended by the Planning Commission, which is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2: The Rt. 80 Boundary, shown in red, excludes developer-owned properties from Sugarloaf Plan environmental protections.
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Sugarloaf Mountain, looking across develop-owned owned property from Park Mills Road near Rt. 80. This property would be excluded from the Sugarloaf Plan environmental protections if the Rt. 80 boundary is adopted.