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.
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.”