Yes, There is A Vision
Growth is once again a hot topic in this county, not because we are growing, but because we are planning for prosperity. That's right planning which I thought was a good thing.
I always hear that we didn't plan and we need to do a better job of planning. Well, that is all the county is doing – planning.
Because the numbers speak for themselves, growth is still at all time lows. Even the previous anti-growth Board of County Commissioners agreed that 1,500 residential permits was the appropriate number per year. We should finally break the 1,000 threshold this year – if the economy holds, but this is after a 40-year low in permits. That is right we have been growing at the rate of the1960s, but the anti-growth people never want you to hear that.
So, you ask is there a vision? Yes, and I will give you mine and will not speak for the other commissioners.
Around 80 percent of our county is not planned for growth. And that’s okay. The major opportunities will be in and around our municipalities and especially in and around the City of Frederick.
Another major opportunity for our county is in the southern areas. The Jefferson Tech Park will present an excellent chance for economic development with jobs, commercial, retail and housing. The commissioners slapped the paddles to this dying project and revived it because of these opportunities for our community. The Route 85/Route 355 Corridor is the "Bread Basket" in Frederick County with jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs. If this attitude was embraced by previous anti-business groups of commissioners, Monocracy Boulevard may not have become a reality.
Former Mayor Jim Grimes recognized this opportunity for the City of Frederick and I was proud to be part of the Board of Alderman that seized that opportunity creating "TIF" tax increment funding, which is the same tool we are using with Jefferson Tech Park. All you have to do is drive down Monocracy Boulevard to see Jim Grimes’ legacy – jobs, jobs and more jobs. More taxpayers, not more taxes.
The future of Frederick County is from the Tech Park to Route 85 and Route 355 to Urbana, Monrovia and New Market.. It will set the tone for future generations as it will take decades to complete this vision with proper planning.
Whether people will admit it or not, we are an emerging, dynamic, diverse county. We have something special. It does not have to be protected by stopping growth, but by planning for prosperity for the future.
We are not the Montgomery County of tomorrow. First of all we have around 236,000 residents. Montgomery County has more than 1 million. So, we are around 24 percent of what Montgomery County is, where in the 1950s there were around 236,000 residents. Over 60 years ago, not 10 years ago.
The majority of people I have met from Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Howard counties are very good people and I welcome them as neighbors. I ask them to remember that there are more good people who want to move here who will only strengthen our community – not drag us down.
Frederick County has become a safe haven for those who are looking for an incredible community, with great neighborhoods that is safe, with plenty of open space and with a great school system.
Jobs is the key component we need more than ever – in all industries. The southern areas of Frederick County are ripe for growth when and if the economy rebounds strongly with jobs, well-planned communities, commercial and retails development.
This will include much needed infrastructure such as schools, roads, fire stations, police substations, water and sewer projects and much needed playing fields.
This is progress that will strengthen our community and it should be embraced as we need to plan for prosperity. I have lived all of my life in this area, and I will not allow my own selfish view stand in the way of what Frederick County could be. That wouldn’t be in the best interest of the entire county.
Even though my father and I have very different political views on many issues, this is the same type hurdle he dealt with as mayor of The City of Frederick 40 years ago. But he had a vision.
Look at what the City of Frederick has become – a recognized city nationally. While my vision is more suburban then urban, there is a vision and there is planning for prosperity in Frederick County. However, it will take decades – not days, weeks or months.
Will you be part of what we can be – or part of what we might have been?