Why the New Text on Page 54?
The following mystery sentence appears for the first time in the Sugarloaf Plan right before its adoption by the Planning Commission on July 13, 2022:
"The scale and scope of future planning for the Urbana Community Growth Area or the I-270 corridor may determine the degree and extent of examination of lands within the Sugarloaf Planning Area, if any, and may result in a limited plan amendment to the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan."
This mystery sentence is so contrary to the discussion and actions of the Planning Commission on the master plan up to July 13 one has to wonder where it came from. Did someone high in the Frederick County Government direct its inclusion or did someone from the development community insist that it be added so that it would be much easier to gut the Sugarloaf Plan later?
This mystery sentence was not in the Sugarloaf Plan or even discussed by the Planning Commission when it considered the Sugarloaf Plan on June 15, 2022. In fact this mystery wording was contrary to several previous actions of the Planning Commission including:
1. At the very first Workshop of the Planning Commission on the Sugarloaf Master Plan on September 15, 2021, when the Planning Commission consciously voted to move the boundary back to I-270. This was after the “Natelli Cutout” suddenly appeared in the Sugarloaf Plan boundary, without explanation, following the publication of the February 19, 2021, Sugarloaf Plan Briefing Booklet.
2. At the third workshop of the Planning Commission November 10, 2021, the Planning Commission voted logically to extend the northern boundary up to the Monocacy National Battlefield.
Why is it important? Because it creates a loop-hole in the Sugarloaf Plan boundary big enough to drive an Amazon data center complex and/or another Villages of Urbana right into the heart of the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape. Break the I-270 wall now and the Sugarloaf Valley will be flooded forever.
It has been suggested that this mystery sentence originated from the letter dated May 6, 2022, from the Maryland State Department of Commerce in their comments on the Sugarloaf Plan. The letter stated that land along the west side of I-270 should be reserved for economic development.
Is it a coincidence that this land was the subject of an April 19 meeting held 17 days earlier at the Maryland State Department of Commerce in Baltimore. At this meeting, Tom Natelli, owner of Natelli Communities, owner of the original “Natelli Cutout” and most of the land on the west side of I-270 between Bennett Creek and the Monocacy National Battlefield, met with:
- Mike Gill, Secretary, Maryland Department of Commerce
- Kyle McClogan, Chief of Staff, Maryland Department of Commerce
- Heather Graham, Assistant Secretary, Business and Industry Sector Development , Maryland Department of Commerce, and,
- Jonas Jacobson of Perry White Ross Jacobson a Baltimore based advocacy firm..
According to the records of the meeting, disclosed under the Maryland Public Information Act the subject of the meeting was “Topic: Frederick County Planning Commission is considering a preservation overlay (Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan) that is an OVERREACH* (emphasis added) that would prevent economic development occurring along the west side of I-270 in Urban. Mr. Natelli will provide a briefing.”
SO WHAT CAME FIRST, THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG, NATELLI’S PLEADINGS OR COMMERCE’S CONCERNS?
If you read the Maryland Department of Commerce’s letter of May 6, 2022 it looks like Commerce was sending a definite mixed message. The letter also states the following:
“Commerce recognizes that the area around Exit 26 [MD 80] to the WEST* of I-270 lies outside of the currently-designated Priority Funding Area , and that it is classified in the County’s 2013 Growth Tier Map as either Tier III (no water and sewer services planned) or Tier IV (areas that are planned for PRESERVATION* and CONSERVATION* uses only. Commerce also recognizes that the current Frederick County Comprehensive Plan shows that much of the undeveloped area EAST* of I-270 is zoned for Office/Research Industrial use and that the Growth map shows that these areas are listed as either Tier I (areas with water and sewer service) or Tier II (areas with planned future water and sewer service). THESE CLASSIFICATIONS WOULD GENERALLY DIRECT DEVELOPMENT IN THE AREA TO THE EAST SIDE OF I-270.*” (*emphasis added)
It is noted that Maryland Department of Commerce’s concerns about the potential loss of employment land in the Urbana area seem to be limited to Mr. Natelli’s land on the west side of I-270 in the Sugarloaf Planning Area:.
- Commerce raised no objection when Montgomery County rezoned 4 MILES of land on the west side of the famed I-270 Technology Corridor between Clarksburg and Hyattstown to Agricultural Reserve with only a jail and a cemetery.
- Commerce raised no objection when Mr. Natelli, citing a lack of demand for employment land, rezoned 250 acres on the east side of I-270 in Urbana from employment to residential foregoing 4 MILLION SQUARE FEET of employment development, or FORTY, 100, 000 SQUARE FOOT BUILDINGS.(Emphasis added)
It seems the Maryland Department of Commerce is quite selective about its concerns.