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6/6/23 Newsletter

In this newsletter:

1. Data Centers, Permit Violations, and a Petition

2. The Sugarloaf Plan and Overlay: Status Report
3. More Results from Sugarloaf Alliance Public Information Access Requests

4. You Make a Difference! 


Important Dates:

6/14 Planning Commission Meeting on site plan for a new electrical substation on Quantum Loophole property. Agenda not yet posted. See below.

6/15 Community meeting on Quantum Loophole and QLoop construction impact: Update on and discussion of the two large-scale development projects underway or proposed in the Ag Reserve and southern Frederick County. Sponsored by Montgomery Countryside Alliance, Sugarloaf Citizens Association and Sugarloaf Alliance.

Postponed: 6/22 Board of Appeals hearing on Quantum Loophole-related flood plain special exception: see below. New date is 7/27.

1. Data Centers, Permit Violations, and a Petition

See our FAQs for background info on the news below.


Damaging Creeks and Rivers

Quantum Loophole, a data center site developer, is in the process of preparing its Adamstown property for further construction. This area is the former location of the Eastalco aluminum smelting plant. A significant part of the current work involves mass grading and the installation of water and sewer lines. While these are standard activities in a large development, the brownfield status of this property requires additional care and compliance with special rules, called an Environmental Covenant.

In the last month, Quantum Loophole, has illegally dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of presumed- contaminated water into Tuscarora Creek, which flows directly to the Potomac River. They did this in direct violation of the Environmental Covenant put in place by the Maryland Department of the Environment to keep the people and ecosystems of the region safe. MDE inspection photos and reports can be read here.  Read Frederick News-Post articles here and here.  Read the WFMD interview with Sugarloaf Alliance President Steve Black here.

Quantum Loophole Site Plan for More Construction

Save the date: On June 14, the Planning Commission is scheduled to consider a site plan for construction of a new electrical substation on Quantum Loophole property. Given their track record of ignoring regulations for construction on the brownfield, we are inclined to recommend that Quantum Loophole must be required to fully comply with all MDE regulations before being granted any further approvals. The Planning Commission agenda is not yet posted to the county website, and we’ll share details as we learn more. 

Quantum Loophole Cited for Multiple QLoop Construction Violations

This recent illegal dumping into Tuscarora Creek of presumed contaminated water is in addition to Quantum’s earlier ecological damage during its ongoing Qloop project’s floodplain and river crossings. (The Qloop Poolesville site was inspected 19 times by MDE and multiple violations were recorded each time.) 


We have assembled the Environmental Covenant and MDE inspection reports for the Quantum Loophole here.

Sugarloaf Alliance suggests that the number of regulations Quantum Loophole has already violated, so early in the construction process, demonstrates a callous disregard for the environment and their neighbors.

Now Quantum Loophole Wants to Cross More Floodplain

Save the date: (UPDATED) On JULY 27 the Frederick County Board of Appeals will consider an application by Quantum Loophole for a special exception that would allow them to drill below floodplain in Frederick County to run QLoop cable. Sugarloaf Alliance opposes granting an exception at this time. There should be no consideration given to this application to drill and operate in the floodplains until the project is fully in compliance with all applicable regulations, Quantum proves that the river and floodplain crossings are the least risky points, and that changing their route to avoid sensitive areas would cause them “exceptional hardship.”

Click here now to sign the Sugarloaf Alliance PETITION, asking the Board


of Appeals to deny QL's special exception request at this time. 


Please note that will encourage you to make contributions. Be aware that those contributions go to Sugarloaf Alliance welcomes your tax deductible donations through our website,

Here’s what the Sugarloaf Alliance petition says:


In light of the illegal environmental damage that Quantum Loophole already has caused, we the undersigned call on the Frederick County Board of Appeals to deny Quantum Loophole "a Special Exception to allow Activity within a Floodplain.” Before a special exception is approved, Quantum Loophole must first:

·      come into full compliance with all environmental regulations;

·      demonstrate that the requested QLoop alignment is the ‘minimum needed’ and the lowest risk possible; and

·      prove that denial of the request would cause ‘exceptional hardship’.


The Board of Appeals hearing is scheduled for June 22 at 7pm in Winchester Hall. We’ll follow up with more details as the date approaches. 

Community Meeting on Data Center Development

6/15 Community meeting on Quantum Loophole and QLoop construction impact: Data center development is a regional issue, and this is an opportunity to learn more about this major industry moving into the area. Sugarloaf Alliance is coordinating with community partners in Montgomery County and Northern Virginia. Please join us for an update on and discussion of the two large-scale development projects underway or proposed in southern Frederick County and in the adjacent Montgomery County Ag Reserve." The meeting -  sponsored by Montgomery Countryside Alliance, Sugarloaf Citizens Association and Sugarloaf Alliance - will be held from 7-9pm at the SCA Gothic Barn at Linden Farm, 20900 Martinsburg Road in Dickerson. For more info and to RSVP, click here.

2. The Sugarloaf Overlay District: Status Report


The saga continues…. The Sugarloaf Overlay language is back in the hands of Maryland state agencies for a 60-day review. 


On May 17, the Planning Commission voted to move on to next steps with the amended Overlay language and the existing Overlay map, which retains the I-270 boundary (excluding only those few existing commercial properties at the 80/270 interchange). The amended language includes and strengthens forestry provisions, which Sugarloaf Alliance supported. The Frederick County legal office advised that ’next steps' meant submitting the Overlay for another 60-day state review. 


More next steps: After the 60-day review, the Planning Commission will hold a hearing for public comment on the current language and map. (Planning Office staff guess-timated that the hearing might take place in late July or early August). Following that hearing, the PC may workshop again and/or vote to recommend (or not) the Overlay and map back to the County Council. Since the Overlay is a zoning text amendment, the County Council is required to have three readings and a public hearing before they vote on this legislation.  SA will alert you to opportunities to email, testify and otherwise support the Overlay that will implement the Sugarloaf Plan.

3. More Results from Sugarloaf Alliance Public Information Access Requests


One of the primary missions of Sugarloaf Alliance is government transparency. The need for citizen pressure in this regard became clear early in our Sugarloaf Plan advocacy process, as we began to realize that county and state government officials were secretly maneuvering to bring Amazon Web Services to property that is now within the Sugarloaf Plan boundary.


1.       Frederick County has not been forthcoming with information, as required by state law. Sugarloaf Alliance filed suit. We expect the decision 6/8. Our legal bills for this effort are substantial. Please visit our website to donate! Don’t allow the people’s business to be conducted in secret!


2.       The state is very cooperative with public information access. By asking the right questions there, we got a concept plan that was filed with the state for 8 data centers and two power substations on the Thurston Road cut-out site. Click on the link and notice the date. This is the same time (March 2021) that the draft Plan was pulled from publication, revised, reissued in July 2021 with the boundary redrawn to show the Thurston Road cut-out. Would anyone admit to why the boundary was redrawn? Would anyone admit to conversations with Amazon? No and no. 


3.       Aside from going to court, there is an ombudsman, working for the state, who can help with public information access requests at the state and county levels. Through that process, we got access to the Amazon non-disclosure agreement signed by Frederick County with Amazon Web Services.    


4.       We have an interesting response from the county legal office. Several of us filed public information access requests to learn more about the meeting that Governor Moore and many Cabinet Secretaries had with Quantum Loophole earlier this spring. County officials were there. Some non-elected and non-appointed folks were there, too, (photos were published online!), but the meeting was closed to the rest of the public and to the press. Those of us who asked about the meeting received this from County Attorney Ford: 


“... it appears that Sugarloaf Alliance has directly or indirectly orchestrated an attempt to circumvent the law.”


We’re lawbreakers because we asked for public information. We’re considering putting up “Wanted” posters of ourselves around Winchester Hall…. 🤣

4. You Make a Difference!  


As you can see from the news above, Sugarloaf Alliance community involvement with the Sugarloaf Plan and Overlay has exposed a number of urgent concerns that affect the entire county.  Together, we have focused attention on:

1.   the inappropriateness of commercial and industrial development of west side   of I-270; 

2.   the attempt to circumvent comprehensive land use planning with piecemeal zoning requests;

3.  the consistency of the Overlay District provisions with Sugarloaf Mountain and the adjacent 93,000 acre Montgomery County Ag Reserve;

4.  lack of transparency in county government;

5.  the need for improved land use protection and oversight for conservation/forest/waterways/farms; and

6.  the urgent need to update and strengthen zoning requirements and restrictions for data center development. 

Thank you!


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.


Steve Black, President

Sue Trainor, Vice President

Nick Carrera, Treasurer

Johanna Springston, Secretary


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