Sample Emails to the Planning Commission
Here are two letters, composed by residents in the Sugarloaf area, who wrote to the Frederick County Planning Commissioners in support of the Sugarloaf Overlay. Please feel free to use any or all of their ideas and text.
To the Planning Commission of Frederick County:
I am writing as a homeowner on *** Road... to let you know of my concern about the county's commitments to preservation in the beautiful Sugarloaf Mountain region. I have been living in this area for over six years, and bought a home last summer because I believed that Maryland's commitment to environmental preservation was strong and steadfast. I very much hope that this trust is not misplaced.
The Frederick News reported on January 27th that the County had been in secret talks with Amazon with the objectives of carving up the Sugarloaf Plan to allow Amazon to build data centers for its billion dollar enterprise. Not only is the ultimate end of such talks totally unacceptable, but the lack of transparency around a public policy issue (land use and conservation) is unjustified and wrong.
My position as a concerned resident of this region:
I-270 should remain the long-recognized boundary and the best line for planning purposes when your commission meets to discuss on February 15th. No high-density development should occur west of I-270 in the Sugarloaf Plan area.
Allowing the I-270 boundary to be crossed for development purposes would be the beginning of the end for conservation in our region, and a decision that could never be reversed. Any development would affect the wetlands and the quality of the water that flows into the streams (and resident's drinking water), as well as impact upon the wildlife that currently know this region as their home and shelter.
The approved Sugarloaf Plan and its proposed Overlay District are preservation plans, not development plans.
Any development west of I-270 will threaten the Monocacy Civil War Battlefield, a national historic treasure and place of memory.
The Sugarloaf Plan and Overlay are designed to protect the mountain, its rural environment, its natural resources, for now and the future - including after the land trust expires in 2046.
Please take all of these considerations into account in your coming discussions on February 15th in the Planning Commission. And do not accept or allow any more secretive conversations about the resource use of our precious Sugarloaf region. I will be closely following the deliberations of the Planning Commission.
To the Frederick County Planning Commission:
I have lived on **** for over 15 years. I write because I am concerned about the county's apparent lack of commitment to the preservation of the Sugarloaf Mountain area. I had been under the impression that the county's commitment to environmental preservation was strong, but learned that was unfortunately not so on 27 Jan 2023, when the Frederick News Post broke the story that the county, in violation of state open meetings law, had participated in secret talks with Amazon to carve up the Sugarloaf Plan area, move the decades-long honored development boundary of I-270, and allow Amazon to build several data centers here. I further understand that the alleged benefits to the county that Amazon promised were greatly inflated and unreliable. The desire to develop this area, utter lack of transparency, and outright illegal secrecy is outrageous, unjustified, and unacceptable.
When the Commission meets on Feb 15, I urge you to keep the following points in mind:
SECRET CONVERSATIONS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE and likely violate state open meetings law. Do not accept or allow more secret meeting or conversations about the future of this area.
THE PROPOSED OVERLAY NEEDS TO COVER THE ENTIRE SUGARLOAF PLAN AREA because the overlay is the teeth that implements the approved Sugarloaf Preservation Plan. It must cover the entire plan area because the area which Mr. Natelli wishes to "cut out" needs the MOST protection, not the least.
DON'T LET LAND SPECULATORS DICTATE THE AREA'S FUTURE. Mr Natelli took a risk when he bought property west of 270 knowing commercial development would be opposed by local residents, but we the people who live here SHOULD have more say in the future of the place we live than land speculators.
THE SUGARLOAF PLAN/OVERLAY ARE PRESERVATION PLANS, NOT DEVELOPMENT PLANS. They are designed to protect the mountain, its rural environment, and the surrounding area. As such, the overlay needs to be approved NOW, not later, and not be weakened by discussing the Sugarloaf Plan in combination with the I-270 Corridor Development Plan.
MAINTAIN THE DEVELOPMENT BOUNDARY AT 270 WHERE IT'S BEEN FOR DECADES. Resist efforts to move the boundary to Route 80. High-density and commercial development should be prohibited west of I-270. Crossing the I-270 boundary is an irreversible decision that would cause a cascade of developments that would threaten the area's character, adversely impact wildlife habitats, and likely impact wetlands and residential drinking water.
DON'T LET WHAT HAPPENED TO GATLINBURG, TN HAPPEN HERE. The FNP called the 80/270 interchange .... the "Gateway to Sugarloaf." Similarly, Gatlinburg, TN is called "The Gateway to the Smokies" but Gatlinburg was not adequately protected. When an area outside a preserve is not protected, overdevelopment is guaranteed. Gatlinburg, immediately outside Smokey Mountains National Park, was made ugly with over-development, motels, and amusement parks, not all at once, but one development at a time. Similarly, the Sugarloaf Gateway is under great development pressure. Mr Natelli wishes to "cut out" this area from the overlay so it can be developed as well. Don't let that happen. If this area is not proactively protected, it will become overdeveloped. Learn from Gatlinburg.
PREPARE FOR THE SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN LAND TRUST TO EXPIRE IN 2046. The trust has been operated with care by Stronghold Inc for years but we must prepare for the inevitable day when they no longer protect the Mountain. The mountain area is vulnerable and its beauty cannot last without county protection. Protect the Mountain and the surrounding area.
PROTECT THE MONOCACY BATTLEFIELD AREA. Development around I-270 threatens the Monocacy Civil War Battlefield. My great-grandfather, a private in the 1st Wisconsin infantry, was stationed there during the Civil War. It is not just a national historic treasure but a place of memory. I imagine the Battle of Monocacy every time I drive by. Don't spoil the memory with development.
Please honor these concerns when you discuss the area on Feb 15th. I will closely follow the Planning Commission's deliberations.