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From the Desk of
County Commissioner David Gray

(11/09) Frederick County's Future Many Places, One Community

Above is the title of the Frederick County Comprehensive Plan Update now being worked on by the Board of County Commissioners. Why should you care about it?

1. Are you concerned about conserving our natural resources and areas that are sensitive to abuse from ill conceived development or use?

Chapter 3 of the plan attempts to identify, designate and protect key natural resources, sensitive environmental elements and unique habitats. Separate sections analyze the "green infrastructure", streams and their buffers, wetlands, floodplains, the Monocacy River, forestlands, steep slopes, habitats of rare or threatened species and areas of sinkhole prone limestone rock.

2. Do you feel we should protect and preserve our heritage?

Chapter 4 of the plan studies historic properties, scenic landscapes and heritage tourism. A vision is articulated - "The stories of our culture, and most importantly our families, are written across our landscape and continue to provide us with a rich sense of comfort and purpose. Our challenge for the next decades will be to deliver the County's preeminent historic structures, healthy and intact to future generations."

3. Do you believe we should protect our prime agricultural lands?

For the first time in the history of planning the county's Compressive Plan will contain Priority Preservation Areas. These are areas of rich agricultural soils whose boundaries are drawn to facilitate agricultural activity and to protect it from sprawl. The county has a goal of placing 100,000 acres of agricultural land in permanent preservation. We are almost halfway to that goal now. These areas are to facilitate acquiring the other half. Our agricultural heritage, taken for granted by some, will certainly have their value rediscovered in future generations. The rural landscapes and the rich soils will be essential for providing local and sustainable food, fiber and fuel. Chapter 5 analyzes how this is to be implemented.

4. Have you worried that we may never conquer the growing traffic congestion?

For tomorrow's citizens and employees of the county, solutions to the myriad transportation crises facing the region emerge primarily due to changes in patterns of land use. An important purpose of Chapter 6 is the consideration of all modes of transportation, not just autos, needed to create a balanced transportation system.

Long range improvements are needed for:

  • Highways
  • Public Transportation
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities

Reducing sprawl so that roads can be planned more on a corridor basis, providing increased telecommuting opportunities, creating mixed used neighborhoods, and generally integrating overall county and regional traffic planning into all land use decisions is the wiser way to plan. Previously the county had eight individual regional plans that often did not merge well one with the other. This was due to the fact that each region was updated at different times. Also they were not updated coincidentally with municipal plan. The current plan updates the entire county at one time and thereafter updates regions as municipalities in those regions update their plans.

5. Our demographics are changing. What are we going to do with the baby boomers? We need services. What about schools, parks, police, fire and rescue. Too many houses nearby may dry up my well.

Chapter 7 divides these issues into three categories:

  1. Community Facilities such as schools, parks, libraries, fire and rescue and health/senior needs.
  2. Public Utilities such Solid Waste Management and water/sewer service.
  3. Affordable Housing

Again our old enemy sprawl has distanced us from another - and made it hard to provide community services in an efficient manner. By defining Community Growth Areas (Chapter 10) the provision of services does not have to be spread all over the landscape. The plan presently defines 19 community growth areas - either bordering and integrated with a municipality or unincorporated. Some small areas are also designated as rural communities. The growth area limits are also defined for these areas to protect against our old and always present enemy - sprawl.

6. So how does this fit together?

Chapter 11 talks about links. We call it Corridor Planning. These growth areas need to be connected.

7. What about water and sewer? And what about runoff?

Glad you asked. Chapter 9 summarizes the county's Water Resources Plan. This plan coordinates growth management and water resources planning for the county.

It is divided into three parts:

  1. Drinking Water Assessment
  2. Wastewater Assessment
  3. Managing Stormwater and Non-point Source


It primarily addresses county operated water and wastewater systems although data is included for municipal systems and municipal growth areas.

The goals of this portion of the plan are:

  1. Maintain a safe and adequate drinking water supply to accommodate the needs of the current population as well as future generations.
  2. Protect and enhance the quality of Frederick County's surface waters, ground water resources, and wetlands.
  3. Invest in water and sewer infrastructure that will provide adequate treatment capacity and reduce pollutant loading in rivers and streams.
  4. Promote coordinated planning between jurisdiction and agencies responsible for drinking water, wastewater, and water management.
  5. Engage the public in watershed conservation and promote a stewardship ethic.

These are the highlights of the textual part of the plan - the principals and goals to be implemented over the next 20 years. The other part of the plan entails the drawing of Land Use and Zoning designations on the map of Frederick County. It also entails drawing the boundaries on the map of the Priority Preservation and Priority Planning Areas. Workshops will be held on the mapping of these areas at Winchester Hall, third floor on Oct 20, 22, 27, and 29 - all at 1:30 pm. You are always welcome to come and watch the process. They will also be live on Frederick County Channel 19 and videos of the meetings will be archived for a year as is true of all our meetings. When the map markups are done and any textual editing is finished, the whole package will be taken to Public Hearings in November/December for additional public input. We invite your participation.

Read other articles from Frederick County Commissioners