(12/2017) County Reviews Developer Rights & Responsibilities Agreements
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner that agreements made by the former Board of County Commissioners do not provide required public benefits and she has proposed legislation to correct this problem in the future.
"The Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreements are supposed to provide public benefits in exchange for limited security for the developer," Executive Gardner commented. "Unfortunately, citizens did not see their interests reflected in the agreements because the prior administration made bad deals."
Executive Gardner today shared a newly compiled summary showing that only two of the 14 contracts signed with developers by the last Board of County Commissioners included any public benefits beyond what was required by law. The citizens of Frederick County did not receive any infrastructure improvements or benefits as a result of these agreements. Officials gave away the
county’s legislative capability for up to 20 to 30 years, and froze some fees in exchange for nothing.
According to a chart compiled by the Frederick County Attorney’s Office, in 12 out of the 14 cases, developers were guaranteed the right to build while schools are overcrowded. The developments also will not be impacted by any changes in county laws or regulations for up to 20 to 30 years. The chart shows what was required through zoning and the adequate public facilities
ordinance and compares them to the benefits required by the developers’ agreements.
To protect the public’s best interest, legislation Executive Gardner recently submitted to the County Council would limit the use of these agreements to developments of 1,500 homes or larger, limit the amount of time that these contracts can offer guarantees, require enhanced public benefits and prohibit the freezing of the fees.
The County Council has not yet introduced the bill.
County Receives $2 Million Rural Legacy Grant
Frederick County was recently awarded $2 million in grants for its Rural Legacy Program, which will allow the county to preserve an additional 300 to 350 acres of agricultural land in the Mid-Maryland Frederick-Carrollton Manor Rural Legacy Area. The grant was part of $23.3 million awarded statewide. Frederick County’s award was the third largest in the state.
"Preserving our rich agricultural heritage is a priority so that Frederick County can continue to provide food and fiber to our nation," County Executive Jan Gardner said. "The Rural Legacy Program is an important tool in our preservation efforts."
Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program provides funding to protect and preserve large, contiguous tracts of rich land from sprawl development. The program preserves large tracts of agricultural and forested lands by partnering with local governments and private land trust sponsors across the state who work with willing property owners to acquire conservation easements.
To date, over 5,439 acres have been permanently preserved in Frederick County through the Rural Legacy Program. In total, the Frederick County Agricultural Land Preservation Program has permanently preserved more than 57,000 acres of land in the County. That is an increase of 6,500 acres, or 12.9 percent, since July 1, 2014.
Information about the Rural Legacy program and all of the agricultural preservation programs in Frederick County may be found by visiting www.FrederickCountyMD.gov
Nominees Sought For Sustainability Awards
The Frederick County Sustainability Commission is accepting nominations for its 2018 Sustainability Awards. The honorary awards are presented annually to one employee or office of Frederick County Government, one organization (municipality, non-profit, or private) and one member of the general public that lives or works in Frederick County.
Award recipients have made an outstanding contribution in helping Frederick County advance sustainability efforts, for example by implementing energy efficiency, encouraging renewable energy, improving air and water quality, building green or creating land use sustainability.
Nominations must be submitted by December 3. Applications are reviewed by the Frederick County Sustainability Commission, which will select awardees at its meeting on January 17.
For more information, contact Shannon Moore at 301-600-1413. Copies of the forms are available from www.FrederickCountyMD.gov