Posts Tagged ‘ downzoning ’

The Real Estate Recession and Ms. Wiles

While the sky has fallen over the real estate industry, it seems the relevance of anti-growth voices have met the same fate.

Maybe it’s an expression of some repressed childhood anger, or is it about trying to remain relevant after an embarrassing defeat in the last election?

Whatever it is, the local wanna-be mover and shaker named Janice Wiles has been shaking her angry fist at anything that has the finger prints of her victorious former opponents – more notably the Honorable Blaine R. Young, President of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners.

Now, she probably would not refer to Mr. Young as “honorable”, but that is how one is supposed to refer to an elected official who has earned that capacity.

What would this have to do with a world that has suffered from a catastrophic economic recession, where real estate values have been in a tail spin and land development has come to a screeching halt?

There is an irony here. It seems that the relevance of the Executive Director of the Friends of Frederick County and her organization is directly related to the waves of the real estate economic cycle.

This not only holds true for her, but also her conspiring collaborator former County Commissioner Kai Hagen, who now heads the recently formed “non-profit, non-partisan organization” known as Envision Frederick.

Ironically, it was back at the peak of the real estate boom in 2006 that Mr. Hagen rose to a position of power with a victory in that year’s county commissioner election.  Much of his platform was bolstered by the ruckus that Wiles and her “friends” rose over what they claimed as poor County Commissioner comprehensive planning in New Market, among other regions.

The fear that was cast into the electorate at the time was that “the county’s rapid growth during the past decade was not inevitable, but instead was caused by approvals for far more houses than the market demanded during that time period,” according to Wiles.

In other words, she claimed that by building houses, land developers create demand. In fact, what really happens in a real estate economic cycle is that buyers create demand.

As it turned out at the time, Frederick County was issuing permits in the early 2000’s at an annual rate of about two-thirds of what occurred over the previous 20 years.

Even still the irony was that demand for developed real estate was strong.

With the victory of achieving a pro-no-growth board of commissioners under her belt and law suits being filed against anything having to do with real estate development in Frederick County, Maryland, Wiles and her friends threw their anger at a number of annexations that the City of Frederick approved.

Her friends in Winchester Hall at the time, supported her with an extremely rare reversal of city-county government etiquette by opposing the annexations.  Meanwhile, Hagen supported Wiles in her unsuccessful petition drive to overturn the City’s decision.

Ironically, that was 2009 and the housing market was in full decline mode.

In keeping with evaporating real estate values, the relevance of the “not so friendly” Ms. Wiles waned as well.

Just prior to the 2010 county elections, a new comprehensive plan was passed by the Honorable Jan Gardner, President of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners, and her pro-no-growth majority that included Mr. Hagen.

The plan down-zoned nearly 500 properties throughout the county with what the Board believed was just cause.  In addition, using their own version of “Fuzzy Math”, the Commissioners figured out how the county would be able to meet the State’s mandate of providing for about 34,000 housing units for the next twenty years.  This is a task that is unlikely to be fulfilled when one considers what is proving to be a very slow housing recovery.

In her effort to remain relevant with the next election around the corner, Wiles climbed on board of the Kai Hagen Express. The anticipated unbeatable slate laid out a goal “to continue to fight against costly sprawl development, tax increases, traffic jams, a strained school system and the degraded environment that come with it.”

Ironically, with the real estate market in the tank, it seemed that voters are more concerned with getting rid of wasteful government actions, finding jobs and preserving what equity they had in their real estate.

Not surprisingly, the Hagen Express was not the “Little Engine that Could.”  It was stopped in its tracks with a load of angry poultry that renewed their rants that the Young Board will make the sky fall over Frederick.

Behind the scenes, refusing involvement in the petition drive to overturn the Commissioner appointed Charter Board, Wiles and Hagen threw their anger into authoring fear-mongering and intellectually dishonest statements in material claiming the group is heavily tied to land developer interests.

Their controversial approach to garnering signatures ended in rejection and another law suit, which will likely die like the others- thereby wasting taxpayer money.

With all her defeats mounting, the real estate market remains stagnate.

Unrelenting, there is yet another battle to wage for Wiles.

The latest is over Young’s desire to fulfill a campaign promise allowing those 500 land owners to have their down zoned property “reconsidered” by the new board.

Her fight comes at the same time the Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley formally introduced his version of a “Dream Act.”  Known affectionately as Plan Maryland, it stakes out a goal to have all land use decisions stripped from local jurisdictions and placed in the hands of the State.

And who said we don’t need a Big Brother?

Pulling out her “Fuzzy Math” calculator and her experience at being intellectually dishonest, Wiles and more of her Friends recently sent a plea to Mr. O’Malley to use his powers to stop Young, who “vowed to reclassify and rezone thousands of acres of farmland and open space …”

Ironically, while she continues to claim that the sky is falling, residential real estate values continue to fall as well.

Based upon the current state of the real estate market, it’s a safe bet that the only place that the sky will fall with this effort is wherever Wiles is standing.

Maybe someday the sky will really fall on Frederick, but likely not in her lifetime.  If it does, Ms. Wiles can raise her angry fist from the grave and claim “I told you so.”

The irony is that Janice Wiles only seems to have relevance when everything she is angry about — the real estate development market — is in a boom cycle.

Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He is an appointed member of the Frederick County Charter Board. He also writes forTheTentacle.com and Want2Dish.com.

13 Components of a Successful Transferable Development Right Program

Expanding on the topic of preserving unique pieces of rural real estate and farmland:

In a previous post Saving Farmland with Transferable Development Rights we provided some information on the basics of  a TDR program and how with careful planning and administration it can be a significant component in channeling growth and development of building lots. 

Equally as important it can be a very effective tool for preserving farmland, conservation areas and even historic places.
 
While not for every community, there are many that are ripe for such programs.  So, what are the common features and attributes of the most successful programs around the nation?
 
1.   Growth is good:  A community that adopts a TDR program must embrace a healthy and consistent level of development activity.  For many communities the interpretation of this phrase can cause a lot of debate over what is “healthy” growth.
 
2.   Simplicity for the participants:  While the establishment of a TDR program can be very complex to craft, the process must be simple and easy to understand for real estate owners and developers.
 
3.   Synergistic:  Transferable Development Right programs work best in conjunction with other Federal, state, county and/or city preservation programs.
 
4.   Public support:  Land developers must buy in to the concept and see that it makes economic sense.  Real estate developers need to be assured that the addition of a TDR program is not just another way that government will add more layers of costs and/or bureaucratic hurdle on top of what many believe is already a complex process to obtain governmental approvals.
 
5.   Fair and balanced:  The rural land property owners must be comfortable with the trade-offs that come with a TDR program.  Often elected officials will down zone away subdivision rights from rural property in exchange for an offsetting number of transferable development rights.  This can be a slippery slope in that historically, if the program is not properly structured, value can be lost.
 
6.   Bigger is better:  Create a large and sustainable market place.  The sending and receiving areas should be big enough and balanced so that there is a large number of rural property owners (sending areas) and developer opportunities (receiving areas) to allow the free market system to work.
 
7.   Bank it:  In many jurisdictions the local government has created what is known as a TDR Bank.  In such cases the bank will purchase TDRs from the sending areas in order to stimulate the market or accelerate the preservation of land in a certain area.  Transferable development rights can then be resold to developers who wish to increase density in receiving areas.  There are many pluses to such a system; however, it is often easy for government to upset the system by controling the number that they are willing to sell and thereby over influencing the market value.  
 
8.   No way around it:    Government policy requires the use of TDRs in order to increase density in the designated receiving areas.  There can be no way around using transferable development rights to increase the bonus units that are obtainable through the program.
 
9.   The Easement trade off:  Land preservation easements (typically perpetual) are placed on the rural land once the TDRs are transferred off of the property.
 
10.  City / County cooperation:  In an era where many communities plan for most growth to occur in and around municipalities, inter-jurisdictional cooperation is necessary.  This is especially important with annexations which can often take large tracts out of the mix which can throw the ratio of sending and receiving areas out of balance.
 
11.  Nothing lasts forever:  It is important to know these programs have a life.  Once the goals of the program are accomplished the party is over. Eventually all or most of the development rights will be sold or the receiving areas developed out.

12.  Administrative oversight:  Without a doubt once established and active, it is essential that there be sufficient staff support to tract the transfers of TDRs, the easements that are placed on the impacted properties, as well as the bonus density that was provided.  Without staff oversight, in an active market, it can quickly become a nightmare to easily access which properties still have development rights.  This occurred in the early years of the Montgomery County, Maryland program, but much time was devoted to correct it.  Washington, D.C. (yes, believe it or not D.C. has TDRs) on the other hand  has had an active market, but fell so far behind in tracking transfers that it became mired in threats of lawsuits and bureaucratic red tape.
 
13.  No small task:  The idea of transferring development rights from one piece of real estate to another is simple enough, but to establish a successful program it truly requires broad support for all stakeholders in a community.  Clear vision of the goals must be established collaboratively.   This in and of itself is no small task, but for the few communities who have created successful programs, most would say that it is worth it.
 
In future posts on this series, we will look at some examples of successful and failed transferable development right programs.  We’ll also explore some nontraditional programs.

The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland.  He also writes for TheTentacle.com and Want2Dish.com

Former Eastalco Aluminum Plant to be Demolished and Property Sold

The Frederick News Post today reports that the buildings located at the Aloca Eastalco Works property located near Adamstown, Maryland are to be demolished over the course of the next 18 months.   The company has also announced that property which once contained over 2,200 acres of industrial real estate is also on the market for sale.  About 400 acres of the property contains the soon to be demolished improvements that were used in the smelting operations. 

Last year the former Frederick County Board of County Commissioners down zoned a significant percentage of the real estate from its General Industrial classification to Agricultural and Limited Industrial uses.

Landowners sue Frederick County for at least $10 million: Gazette

The Gazette papers ran an interesting story today regarding the never ending plight of the Lake Linganore development property.  It centers on: “the new owners of 3,730 acres of undeveloped land in Eaglehead at Lake Linganore want Frederick County to pay them at least $10 million for illegally taking away their rights to develop the property.”  

I have stated in previous blog posts my long standing impression that the Eaglehead project which began in 1968 has been treated as a stepchild by out county government for decades. 

This is an interesting read in a number of senses … as it displays a clear example of how the business community is often not respected by our local elected officials for the major investments it makes in local economy.

2017 “Living” Space Odyssey – Future Shock: Frederick County’s Looming Housing Deficit?

It seems like only yesterday that all 424,400 acres of Frederick County, Maryland were going to be bulldozed over into  one monstrous suburban sprawl … and now just four years later we are just about 6 years away from not having enough housing to meet the population demands that our state and county officials project for our region.  I know that this may  seem like an unbelievable statement, but please, bear with me as I walk you through the math.

First let’s look at some facts: Frederick County has the largest land area of all counties in the state,  we have about 230,000 residents.  With about 87,000 households, we average 2.75 persons in each one.  Since 2000 our population has grown at a rate of about 2% annually.

State and county governments both  project that the growth rate will increase slightly to about 2.2% annually over the next 20 years, giving us another  36,000 households by 2030.  These are pretty much the figures that our Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) used in laying out their newly adopted Comprehensive Plan.

Over the course of the last two weeks there has been a lot of banter about this issue through this Blog and other local Internet outlets like the Tentacle and the Frederick News Post … and over airways.  It has all been about whether the BOCC has actually planned to accommodated for this growth.  BOCC President Jan Gardner, Blaine Young and I had a “little go round” on Pattee Brown’s Saturday talk show on WFMD.  She says the BOCC has, while Blaine and I say that they have not.

Here’s how I see the situation breaks down:

1.            As of the end of 2009 there were about 18,300 approved “lots” without building permits issued.  This includes all housing types: Single family, Townhouses, Multifamily (Apartments and Condos), as well as Age-Restricted (55 and older … no kids)

2.            This 18,300 figure includes all projects throughout all of Frederick County including its towns and municipalities with 72 major subdivisions and 404 minor subdivisions.

3.            About 3,800 of these “lots” do not pass the BOCC’s Adequate Public Facilities (APFO) ordinance — school capacity test, etc  – which is more often than not a catch-22 that is very difficult to get out of,  if a project falls into that unfortunate situation.

4.            This leaves a total of about 14,400 approved “lots” that are in various stages of the development cycle.  Conceivably all of these could be ready between now and 2016 (if the property owners wish to sell or develop).  In my opinion this number is actually a good bit less due to several non-APFO hurdles, but I will not argue that point here and use the full benefit for this analysis.

5.            Out of the 14,400 “lots” about 5,600 are single family detached lots and the other 8,800 are for all other types of housing.

6.            There are a handful of properties around the county that have raw zoned land for future development, that are not included in these figures but will only fulfill a fraction of the looming deficit.

7.            In its Comprehensive Plan the BOCC anticipates that  the average annual consumption (absorption) of lots (built on) will be about 1,600 units per year.

8.            Traditionally about 60% of the consumer demand for lots in Frederick County is for Single Family homes with the other 40% going to all other types; but the BOCC is using factors of about 50% /50%; so I’ll stick with that.

9.            This means that an average of 800 single family building lots per year will come out of the base number of  5,600 –  A seven year supply of single family lots … In 2017 Frederick County has no more single family lots … that is unless there is a combined willingness on the part of the 12 different governmental jurisdictions in the Frederick County to replenish the supply by approving new subdivisions at a rate of at least 1,400 lots (800 singles and 600 other) annually for a 13 year period in order to meet their own 2030 projections.  Personally, I don’t see this happening.

10.          Assuming that the BOCC has the political will to do their part, they will have to start right away, because experience with clients is that a typical major project takes about 5 to 7 years to go through all the governmental hoops to get from a raw (sometimes unzoned) state to the point that the first house is completed.  So to fill the looming empty Single Family “Pipeline” that we are facing in are in 2017, this “new attitude” must begin next year.  Personally, I don’t see it happening.

11.          The current mix of other housing unit types has a couple of years longer to go beyond 2017.  So if the political will is not there to address this Single Family deficit,  new comers to Frederick will be participating in what appears to be a planned “social engineering” project.  By that I mean the only new home options will only be in tighter more clustered projects like townhouses, multifamily units …  or maybe even County sanctioned space stations!  Traditionally 40% of our county’s housing needs are met with detached single family units … the BOCC states in their Plan that they think that will shift down to 50%.  And maybe lifestyles will shift a good bit to where this figure is even less … but the math shows that it could be close to zero very soon, if action is not taken.

After all these years of accommodating the extremely successful anti-growth movement in Frederick County, the “Pipeline” has almost been bled dry.  Our community is actually on the verge of facing a housing crisis that will impact its ability to attract new clean white collar jobs … which is the real bottom line here … when new businesses come to our community they need to know that there is a variety of housing choices for the workers they bring with them, or they look elsewhere.  So it all comes down to providing opportunities for our local economy to flourish, while at the same time keeping sprawl to a minimum and making the most of our urban centers.

Do our elected officials have the political will to plan that far ahead to address this looming problem?  Other than one member of the BOCC, so far they have no even admitted that there is a problem.

Now, these stats may get a break for a year or so due to the current slowdown in the economy (as I show in the chart on the right), but that will not last forever … and usually when a housing market has been held down for a while the pent-up demand eats up inventory fairly quickly as things stabilize.

Personally I think the chances of our BOCC changing their tune to part-take in approving their share of 1,400 units a year is very unlikely.  It is clear to many that they are so proud of their plan that they refuse to acknowledge the issue.  Instead they continue to look for opportunities to close every gap in the subdivision and zoning regs no matter how minute it may be.  The layer of restrictions are so complex that I am not even sure a bunch of fresh BOCC faces could unravel then … that is if they wanted to.

It is a problem … and there is much more to discuss on this issue.  What do you think? … and Why does this matter?

Click on the chart on the right … it outlines the dilemma that this Comprehensive Plan places in front of our community. There are a lot of nuances to all this, but the fact is that this “plan” for our future does not come close to accommodating  the needs  for 2030 goal of 36,000 housing units.  The math says that  our county is  18,000 units shy of meeting the demand.  Some of this will come from projects that may pass APFO, some will come from existing zoned land like the Summer farm — a recent city annexation, but even with these, we are way short.

Real Estate Values and Frederick County’s Comprehensive Plan – Part 3

This post will finish out the commentary on the OpEd banter recently printed in the Frederick News Post over the newly adopted County Comprehensive Plan and the impact that governmental actions (or inaction) has on the value of land and commercial real estate.

The focus in Part 2 of this series was directed at how the demonization process is starting up again on the development community as we get closer to the November election for a new Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).  Clearly Janice Wiles and Jack Lynch are hoping to garner support to re-energize the Forces of N.I.M.B.Y.  (Not In My Back Yard).  It will be interesting on how well that sells this go round, as the current plan is so full of restrictions and hurdles, it really does not even allow our growth to meet the BOCC’s own projections.  The math is very clear on this, but something for another post.

I also gave impressions of how the business community has reached a point where many members just don’t feel they can trust our BOCC to be consistent with follow through on policies and commitments … While some of this is of course is not their fault as edicts do come from higher powers at the state level, the core problem lies with our BOCC.  And let”s be clear, this is really a problem at the level of our elected officials, as a large majority of our county staff are truly dedicated people who want to do the right thing by our community; it”s just that they are lead by a pretty dysfunctional body.

And this is where local real estate attorney Krista McGowan truly Hit it Out of the Park last Saturday (), when she slammed back a rebuttal to Ms. Wiles’ totally false allegations about Land Stewarts, the land developers of the least favorite step child of a generation of County Commissioner Board’s … that being Lake Linganore.  Among other things Wiles stated that Land Stewards “honored none of their commitments” made to Frederick County to fund school improvements.   I will not even try to paraphrase Ms. McGowan’s article, as it is just too well done and she tells it like it really happened.  Please read it. 

Because the BOCC could not come to agreement among themselves on what to do with the Land Stewarts’ situation, in the end the developer was forced to give the property back to the bank … mostly due to the tremendous loss of value of the real estate that the BOCC’s lack of action created.

While I can offer up several other examples of similar situations within the County, this is so classic that anyone can see how a government’s lack of consistency and unwillingness to stand by commitments made by them or their predecessors can create a very heavy climate of distrust.  Unless turned around, this could become a cancer on the viability of our County. 

Footnote:  I have been told by certain powers that the Frederick News Post that there is a good possibility an article I submitted may show up sometime this weekend in the paper.  While it focuses on a unique solution to the city/county budget crisis’s, if you dig deeper with it, you will see that it also could offer a terrific way to deal with our governments’ credibility problem.  I”m interested in knowing your thoughts. 

 Have a nice weekend!

 The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland

Real Estate Values and Frederick County's Comprehensive Plan – Part 2

This should really be two posts, but since it”s my blog, I”m giving to you all at once. 

The Frederick News Post (FNP)Preparing for the War of Words featured Round 3 of the Comprehensive Plan War of Words in this past Saturday”s paper on page A-10 with two OpEd”s from Jack Lynch and Krista McGowan.

Jack Lynch was given top billing with his article “”.  I got to know Jack when he asked me for advice as he contemplated launching his (what turned out to be short lived) mayoral campaign in the last City election.  Mr. Lynch is a very nice guy, but he took some hard ball swipes at both attorney Rand Weinberg and Blaine Young, questioning the sincerity of their statements in their recent FNP OpEd”s (which I have referenced in my blog post of May 6, 2010).  He stated that they “represent the pointy end of the spear in the political efforts to challenge and rewrite the county ordinances and zonings to the benefit of their own property and power interests.”  He goes on say that “we cannot proceed at our current pace of development [of] land and population impacts if our future is to accommodate our common interests … [verses] the efforts by these “defenders” to strangle our interests in favor of their own.”

Before I get to Saturday”s other article on the Comp Plan topic (Part 3), let me address Mr. Lynch”s assertions.  I am sure that when he refers to the italicized term “defenders”, he is referring to the now defunct organization known as “Defenders of Citizens Rights”, which rose up at lightning speed from hundreds of angry Frederick County citizens who rebelled against a series of down zoning and policy rewrite proposals made by Board of County Commissioners Jan Gardner, Lennie Thompson and David Gray back in 2001.  The community lost trust that our county government had its best interest at heart.  To the dismay of the BOCC trio, the efforts of the Defenders were successful in stopping what many – myself included – believed were ill conceived and, frankly, ill contrived approaches to planning and zoning.  A core reason being that practically no community input was allowed.  The Defenders were far from a “developers” club, as it included and had large support for the farming community and their supporting organizations.  Business leaders from across the spectrum joined into oppose what had some absolutely absurd proposals.  Car dealers for instance would be required to build a fifteen foot berm around their facilities to hide their car display lots, and farmers were required to obtain architectural design approval for any outbuildings they wished to build (we”re talking sheds here!) … and that only scratches the surface.

For the record I was a proud member of the Defenders, and as it turned out the voice they represented in the County spoke up at the polls and carried the day in the election. 

I have been an active member of this community for nearly 40 years, and like me, many of these people  have given a tremendous amount of their time and money to its civic and community organizations to the betterment of this wonderful county.  The idea that any of the people that Mr. Lynch refers to don”t have the best interest of Frederick at heart is absurd.  The vision of having a vibrant city with grand open spaces is what everyone wants. 

In the last county election even I was maligned by a local FNP columnist as a  ruthless ungrateful raper of the lands … and I have never been a candidate for public office!  So I understand how demonizing works.  Mr. Lynch and Ms. Wiles are setting the stage for the November election —  to pigeon hole all those they disagree with into the so-called evil developer group – a scare tactic that will not play this time.  Because although it”s still about preserving our wonderful quality of life here in Frederick County, but its more so about fairness and dealing with a government that we can trust.

As stated, Jack is a nice enough guy, but the fact of the matter is that with or without this new Comprehensive Plan, the world of out of control development in Frederick County has virtually no possibility to happen ever again.  Any new Board of County Commissioners would never be able to unravel the mountains of Federal, State and County regulations and fees that have created a maze and path of risky hurdles that fewer and fewer developers are willing to deal with, especially in the current economic climate. 

Yesterday I enjoyed a friendly lunch with Commissioner Kai Hagan (a candidate that both Lynch and Wiles support), and even he did not dispute my assertion that this new plan does not provide enough zoned land for housing and light industrial uses to support the future population projections that the BOCC endorsed. 

With all this said as the development process has become more regulated, land and commercial real estate values have been negatively impacted — way beyond what the economy has thrown at it.   Putting the maze and the hurdles aside, the real issue is the risk that anyone faces when they apply for a permit for a site plan.  Many times the rules are not clear or have changed during a process as simple as getting a site plan approved for their business or a plan for a new home.  The fact is that the business community and many others have once again lost trust in our county government.  Will the policies, procedures and the fees be the same at the end that of the application process that they were at the beginning?   What I often hear from these people is “Just let me know the rules, and I will dot every “i” and cross every “t”; but don”t change them on me in mid-stream” 

So when the risk is high and the applicant cannot trust what they are getting themselves into, it is ultimately reflected in the value of the underlying land they are using.   

This brings me to address the second article that was on page A-10 in last Saturday”s paper by local attorney Krista McGowan “,” which I will touch on in Thursdays post … Part 3.

Real Estate Values and Frederick County’s New Comprehensive Plan – Part 1

Over the course of the last couple of weeks three well known community leaders have been given prime editorial space in the Frederick News Post, where they have opined on the virtues and pitfalls of the newly “Updated” Comprehensive Plan and its supporting Zoning Plan.  It was adopted by the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) this past April 8th.  

Recently appointed County Commissioner Blaine Young — the sole dissenting vote — took the first shot () at what he called not an Update at all, but a “completely new plan, designed to satisfy a certain political constituency [and many of the changes made provide] no compelling reason nor was there one for the downzoning and down-classification of thousands of acres.”  He further vowed that if he is a BOCC member next year, he will work to help restore the lost zoning to those negatively impacted property owners.

Then on May 3rd, it was Janice Wiles who chimed in ().  She is the Executive Director of the Friends of Frederick County and a very strong supporter of all aspects of the planning review process, its approval and what it represents. Ms. Wiles chastised Commissioner Young for “completely [missing] the point of the new comprehensive plan.”  She went on to cover the plan”s virtues and warned how the community gets stuck when developers go bankrupt. She did not address Mr. Young’s point on the property owners who were negatively impacted by the adoption of the plan. 

And just this week, local attorney Rand Weinberg was given a front and center position on the Editorial page (), where he stated that Ms. Wiles is the one who actually missed Young”s point.  He made it clear that both he and Young find many good things in the plan, but despite that, nothing is more damaging than “the manner in which the county commissioners chose to seek to achieve those objectives.”  He reiterated Mr. Young’s position by stating that a number of “ordinary hardworking residents of Frederick County … face severe economic hardship, if not ruin, because of changes in the classification of their property that were imposed by this new comprehensive plan.”

The core of Mr. Weinberg’s commentary is founded these words: “… there is a far difference between saying that the government has a right to take a certain action, and that the government should take such action. No responsible government takes action against its constituents merely because it possesses the power to do so. The power to take from one must be tempered by a compassionate analysis of the pain that the taking may cause.”

Of course this trio is not the only ones who have voiced their opinions on this issue. It all began as an election issue in the 2006 campaign, growing out of the concerns over the New Market region plan.  Once the new (current) BOCC completed their overhaul of New Market land uses, they froze new development with a moratorium in order to take on a “Comprehensive Update” of the land use designations and zoning in the entire county.   It was extensive, in that it included a review of all 110,000 /- parcels of real estate. 

With all this buzz, there is no question that the uses of real estate in Frederick County will once again become a central issue in the 2010 BOCC campaign. 

In my next post I will offer up my opinions on these points and also solicit some from other community “Noteworthys.”

Frederick Commissioners Adopt Long-Term Growth Plan

If elected to the board in the fall, Young vows to work with unhappy landowners

by Sherry Greenfield, Staff Writer, Friday, April 9, 2010  Gazette.net :  “The Frederick County Board of Commissioners adopted a new Comprehensive Plan — a long-term blueprint of development and land preservation — in a 4-1 vote Thursday, with Commissioner Blaine R. Young the lone “no” vote … Young was a dark cloud hovering over the celebration of a plan that plots the county”s growth for the next 20 years“  … More

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