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Frederick County Commissions Aim to Loosen Land-use Rules

Frederick County Commissioners aim to loosen land-use rules
Originally published January 08, 2011

By Meg Tully
News-Post Staff


The Frederick County Commissioners are developing a process to review last year’s downzonings. At the same time, they are identifying ways they can make county permitting and regulations more business-friendly.

“We have gotten calls and these are issues the majority of us ran on, and I just want to inform the press and the public that we have instructed staff to work on these issues,” Commissioners President Blaine Young said after sending out the announcement.

Within 30 days, the commissioners are expected to receive recommendations from planning and permitting division directors and legal staff about the best way to move forward with both initiatives.

The last commissioners board passed a new comprehensive plan in April that contained land-use designation changes, resulting in downzonings. Those land-use changes were intended to prevent growth in areas where the commissioners deemed it inappropriate.

Young voted against the plan because of the downzonings to properties.

“I just think it’s wrong for the government to wipe away someone’s wealth or investment with a stroke of a pen,” Young said.

The new board, elected in November, wants to revisit the decisions.

The commissioners want to make Frederick County an easier place to do business, Young said. So they are asking Gary Hessong, director of the Division of Permitting and Development Review, to come up with rules and regulations that can be eliminated or modified to make the county more attractive to business.

Revisiting the downzonings is applauded by some, criticized by others.

Former Commissioner Kai Hagen, a Democrat defeated in the November election, said owners of downzoned properties, such as the proposed Monrovia senior housing development near Md. 75 and 80, were major contributors to the slate of four successful commissioner candidates.

“I’ll certainly be paying attention to what happens, but right now, it looks like payback time,” Hagen said.

He estimates only about 50 property owners objected to their properties’ downzonings. Some of those properties, however, are substantial. The senior housing development would have brought thousands of houses, and the downzonings included parts of Eastalco Aluminum Co.’s 3,200-acre property, which is now in a