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Advertise on the Tentacle

August 4, 2003

Citizens Zoning Review Committee Work Is Done! Comments?

Al Duke

If you are looking here for some meat on what the Citizens Zoning Review Committee is reporting and recommending to the Board of County Commissioners, then I'm sorry. That information will not be found in this article. The CZRC's Report will be released to the public at the same time it is presented to the BOCC.

My main purpose in writing this article is to inform readers of The Tentacle that the CZRC will present the Final Report on Monday, August 18, at 7 P.M. in the first floor hearing room at Winchester Hall.

The CZRC, the staff, and the BOCC all want a good turnout for this meeting, so put it on your calendar now!

To refresh your memory, the CZRC was charged by the BOCC to review the current Zoning Ordinance, the "Public Hearing Draft Zoning Ordinance" that was written by a contractor, and reports from previous zoning ordinance update efforts. Additionally the CZRC was to get public comments on a wide range of zoning issues. This was done in a series of four public forums, by providing for public comment during our frequent committee meetings, and in written comments via email and letters.

Ten separate position papers were written on a variety of issues. These include Zoning Districts, Floating Zones, Environmental Regulations, Design Guidelines, Historic Preservation, and the Use Table.

The members represented a wide spectrum of Frederick County including The Farm Bureau, the Builders Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Pomona Grange, the League of Women Voters, the Catoctin Group - the Sierra Club, the Frederick County Civic Federation, and the Committee for Frederick County. The Frederick County Planning Commission was represented by Rick Stup, and by me, after Rick resigned. There were also five at-large members.

I came into the discussions about halfway through the process. One thing that struck me immediately was that this diverse group was very focused on getting the job done. While there were disagreements and lengthy discussions on a number of issues, eventually, in most cases, we came up with language that we could all support.

We got along very well as a group. One wag suggested it might be the Stockholm Syndrome at work. I truly think, though, that we all recognized that this was a job that needed doing and a successful effort on our part would lead to a new state-of-the-art amended zoning ordinance in due time. (Jim Shaw, the once-retired, now Interim Acting Director of the Division of Planning, observed at one point that the 1977 Zoning Ordinance was state-of-the-art - in 1977 - but not in 2003.)

I would be remiss if I closed without observing that the two facilitators from the University of Maryland's Institute for Governmental Service accomplished an amazing task. They kept us on track and moved us along in our discussions, gently but firmly. The CZRC would not have accomplished its work as effectively without them.

One of the facilitators observed that if you multiplied the number of committee members times the number of meetings and their duration, that 1,600 person hours were taken up with meetings. This is not even including preparation time or staff time.

Lastly, the county staff did an incredible job in supporting the CZRC with new information, updated documents, and presentations on various topics. The CZRC also owes them a great debt.

Finally, let me just say that I hope to see you all on the 18th of August at 7 P.M. at Winchester Hall. Let's fill up the room. Put it on your calendar. Be there.

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