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Holtzinger fights county on annexations as one of last acts

As published in the Wednesday, December 16, 2009 edition of The Frederick News Post:

Holtzinger fights county on annexations as one of last acts
Originally published December 16, 2009

By Adam Behsudi
News-Post Staff

Former Mayor Jeff Holtzinger did more than prepare a farewell address in the few hours before transferring power to the new City of Frederick administration.

On Inauguration Day, Holtzinger signed off on legal action against Frederick County to appeal an ordinance requiring developers to abide by strict school capacity requirements on newly annexed land.

“We think that we should challenge the action that was taken,” he said Tuesday.

The Board of County Commissioners passed the adequate public facilities ordinance last month. Commissioners contended that municipal growth policies don’t require developers to contribute enough for school sites or construction, thus leaving county schools overcrowded as a result of city development.

The ordinance would apply to Frederick ‘s most recent annexations: the Summers, Thatcher and Crum farm properties.

Holtzinger said county officials did not show enough evidence that municipal growth will cause school overcrowding.

“Show us that overcrowding is causing a harm. Is it at 105 percent? Is it at 110 percent?” he said. “Show us that the municipalities’ actions are causing harm.”

The administrative agency appeal was filed Dec. 10 in Frederick County Circuit Court.

Under state law, commissioners may decide to apply the regulations within municipalities if they determine not doing so would adversely affect the health, safety and welfare of residents in unincorporated parts of the county.

Other municipalities in the county are also preparing for legal action, according to the local chapter of the Maryland Municipal League.

Middletown Burgess John Miller said the ordinance interferes with the rights of towns and cities to determine their own growth policies.

Holtzinger said he filed the action Dec. 10, his last day in office, because a deadline to appeal is this week.

“I didn’t want to have (the new administration) walking under a tight deadline to file an appeal,” he said.

Mayor Randy McClement said he was briefed about the situation the day before his inauguration and knew Holtzinger would be filing the appea