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April 2, 2018

Livable Frederick Fact or Fiction?

Guest Columnist

Kirby Delauter


If you’ve heard about the new “vision” for Frederick County called “Livable Frederick,” you may have some questions on what it is to accomplish, or what its goals are.


What started out as a “vision” has now morphed into a new comprehensive plan with lipstick. I wonder if County Executive Jan Gardner ever would have stated that she wanted to place Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) lines on your private property, or try to take your land along the river for a future bike trail. This proposal completely destroy the comprehensive plan which has been in place since 1958. Do you think she would have ever had a shot at winning an election had she pointed out her true agenda and her goal of implementing these socialist “visions”?


When the county’s planning staff gave the County Council a briefing on this plan a few months ago, they were asked if it were replacing the existing comprehensive zoning plan that has been in effect for the last 60 years. Their answer was No, it will not replace the comprehensive plan.


Just a few weeks ago the county council received a second briefing from staff. This time, during their opening remarks, they stated that Livable Frederick will, in fact, replace the comprehensive plan. Why the change?


Here are some facts on Livable Frederick which – in my opinion – are very disturbing.


On page 9 of the document references future growth is discussed. Over the last 20-plus years (during which Jan Gardner has been an elected officials most of the time) the housing pipeline has produced at or about 21,000 – 24,000 units. Today, it’s in that same range. Livable Frederick doesn’t disagree with those numbers. So what will Livable Frederick change? Nothing.


On page 10 it references transportation challenges. The majority of major roads in the county are state roads. The remainder are county or local roads. We asked how the Livable Frederick plan will address road construction differently than we do today. The answer is, it won’t change anything, because it can’t change anything.


On page 11 it references the path forward with buzzwords such as lifestyle changes, healthy living, climate change and economic restructuring. When I asked planning staff how Livable Frederick would apply to any of these items, they had no answer.


On page 15 it references large area functional plans. In this there are (11) subcategories of the “large area plan.” Items such as historic preservation, water and sewer plans, the Monocacy River plan, bikeways and trails plan, an energy plan, land preservation and the Catoctin scenic byway.


These are not new ideas and all are already encompassed within the existing comprehensive plan. Several, (the bikeways, trails, Monocacy River plan and scenic byway) are all contentious issues that have stirred up the ire of many property owners in reference to private property rights. A lot of sewer and water service is provided by municipalities, we asked if the county planned on “taking over” those sewer and water services from the municipalities through this Livable Frederick Master Plan? All we got was a blank stare from staff.


On page 17 lies the biggest kicker of all – The Essential Implementation Principles – which clearly states that Livable Frederick is the primary policy guide for growth and development in the county. All future plans must conform to Livable Frederick. This is nothing more than a way to circumvent the existing comprehensive plan that has been the guide since 1958. It’s essentially a “living document” that can become whatever someone in power wants it to be at any given time for any given reason. It’s generic; it’s vague; and it’s dangerous.


On page 83 it references “green building” and affordable housing but neglects the fact that you can’t have both!


I could go on and on. Just let me say that this Livable Frederick plan is not a good document. It’s a very dangerous document for land rights and future planning in this county. Please read and understand this treacherous plan. Let your elected representatives in the county know that we shouldn’t be trying to fix what isn’t broken.


[Editor’s Note: Mr. Delauter is the County Councilman for District 5 and a Candidate for County Executive.]


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