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January 31, 2006

Rezoning Where?

Norman M. Covert

Forgive my apparent ignorance, but the accompanying computer aided design map of a neighborhood in the City of Frederick had me a bit befuddled at first. It took some effort to orient the map. The city planning department sent the drawing January 23 to certain property owners, who may adjoin two properties seeking to be rezoned.

Once upon a time the U.S. Army taught me how to read maps and, if necessary, call in artillery or air strikes on targets identified by numbered coordinates, or – more mundanely – to report our squad’s location. It is important that combat units use the proper maps in order to coordinate operations.

Today ground positioning satellite (GPS) systems have nearly done away with such things as the magnetic compass, which needs no batteries and can be manufactured from fairly rudimentary tools to help find magnetic north – if you are in the northern hemisphere.

(ED: The Boy Scout Handbook has full instructions to fashion a compass or to find north using the sun)

My maps of the Appalachian Trail provide a legend to help identify locations and they always clearly indicate north to help orient it to what you are seeing with your eyes.

This drawing, now that I understand it, points north-north-east. Once the outline of Fort Detrick’s boundary was determined from the big blank space at the upper left, we began to identify locations. The only identifying marks are two stars that apparently indicate the location of the two sites, which have applied for rezoning.

The planning staff, crammed in the basement of Frederick’s City Hall, has been criticized at times for an overbearing attitude toward some citizens and institutions in actions of recent years. It has shown some flashes of wisdom, too, but we understand heavy workloads sometimes force short cuts.

We do applaud the staff’s effort to inform those with an interest in the rezoning of the properties at 900-1200 Taney Avenue and 1200-1418 Taney Ave. from medium density (R-8) to high density (R-16). It is yet another change for the apartments built, I guess, about 40 years ago abutting Frederick Shopping Center.

If you are interested in the application, the City of Frederick Planning Commission will first hear it Feb. 13, 2006, at the meeting beginning at 6 p.m. The commission also will hear it March 13 and the mayor and board March 22 and April 6, 2006.

No doubt Mayor Jeff Holtzinger knows the challenges the planning staff faces and may already be working towards a solution to help them work smarter. They had no hiatus between mayors and the workload promises to grow as the City of Frederick continues to prosper.

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