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As Long as We Remember...

August 7, 2014

Development Issues Off The Table for Foreseeable Future

Blaine R. Young

I want to try again. No matter how hard I try, the message does not seem to get through to certain media outlets in this county.


On September 26, 2010, candidates Kirby Delauter, Billy Shreve, Paul Smith and I published in The Frederick News-Post what we called “… our position on growth and development in Frederick County.”


In that statement we said that property owners whose zoning or comprehensive plan designations had been taken from them by the Board of County Commissioners headed by Jan Gardner should have the right to petition the government to have their property rights restored. We also stated that we agreed with the comprehensive plan projections approved by the Gardner Board, which called for 1,500 homes to be built in Frederick County every year.


In 2010 we were still mired in a deep economic downturn. We were doing nowhere near 1,500 homes per year, and struggling to get to even half that number. To this day, we have not had a single full calendar year since 2010 in which we even approached 1,500 new homes constructed in Frederick County.


Since the Young Board took office, we have restored the property rights of a number of property owners who petitioned us. The large projects that you have heard and read so much about uniformly are located in areas that previously had been planned for development. In some cases, those plans for new residential neighborhoods go back over 40 years.


Nothing that has been done by the current Board of County Commissioners is likely to increase the number of building permits issued for residential dwellings in Frederick County this year, next year, or in the foreseeable future. In fact, if anything, this board has taken action which likely will slow the pace of development, by raising the required infrastructure contributions and fees required of developers and builders before they can break ground on new homes.


Instead, what we have done is give certainty to our residents and our business people. The areas that have long been planned for development will now be in a position to be developed when the market dictates. By approving projects to be built out in the future, we have accomplished a task which I think will be most beneficial for the new county executive and county council. We have taken land use and zoning off the table for the foreseeable future. The new council will not have to deal with rezoning issues as there is no need to zone any more land for residential growth.


The current board has spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with zoning and land use. It is time for the county to move on; and, with any luck with the tough decisions made by this board, we may one day approach the 1,500 homes per year approved by the Gardner Board in the 2010 Comprehensive Plan.


What we will not have in the foreseeable future is continued handwringing and complaining about development projects that were planned and placed on approved county maps years ago, some before I was even born. We can sit back; let the market take its rightful place as the arbiter of when and where homes get built with the assurance that developers and builders are now paying considerably more for the privilege of building a house in Frederick County than ever before.


I, for one, am tired of all the hearings and discussions on land use and zoning. But it was necessary. And because of these tough decisions, the new county council and county executive should be free to focus on the many other issues that will need to be confronted as we move forward as a county.



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