What to know about the Sugarloaf plan | Council | fredericknewspost.com – Frederick News Post


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Sugarloaf Mountain, as shown from Comus Road.
The planning boundary for Frederick County’s March 2022 version of the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan.
The planning boundary for Frederick County’s September 2021 version of the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan.
Sugarloaf Mountain and its surrounding area are in the southern part of Frederick County, bordering Montgomery County.
The Sugarloaf area covers nearly 20,000 acres between Interstate 270 and the Monocacy River.

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Sugarloaf Mountain, as shown from Comus Road.
Sugarloaf is one of three mountain areas in Frederick County. It is in the southern part of the county along the border with Montgomery County.
Sugarloaf’s highest peak is 800 feet above the surrounding flat land and 1,282 feet above sea level.
The mountain is free to the public for hiking, bird watching and other activities and programs. Roughly 300,000 people visit each year.
About 2,400 people live in the Sugarloaf planning area.
The county government drafted the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan to preserve Sugarloaf Mountain and the land surrounding it.
The Sugarloaf plan area spans nearly 20,000 acres, roughly 5% of the county’s total land mass.
The Sugarloaf plan would prohibit land uses that could overburden rural roads, diminish the quality of the area’s natural resources through development and noise pollution, and hinder views of the mountain, said Tim Goodfellow, the lead county planner for the Sugarloaf plan.
The Frederick County Council is scheduled to vote in late October whether to adopt the plan.
The Sugarloaf plan originated in the 200-page Livable Frederick Master Plan, adopted in 2019 as the county’s guide for development and preservation.
Almost 3,500 acres — or 17% of the Sugarloaf plan area — are preserved through state and local conservation or preservation easements, through which the government enters into a legal agreement with a landowner to limit land uses on their property, Goodfellow said.
Landowners retain ownership of their property and can receive tax benefits or money as part of the agreement.
The National Park Service has preserved 600 acres in the area.
Sugarloaf Mountain and its surrounding area are in the southern part of Frederick County, bordering Montgomery County.
Stronghold, a nonprofit organization, has owned the mountain since the middle of the 20th century.
The organization employs a full-time staff to operate the area’s Strong Mansion event facility, manage resource projects, maintain the land and educate visitors.
Stronghold is named for the late Gordon Strong, a patent attorney and conservationist who, during the early 1900s, acquired land that now comprises most of Sugarloaf Mountain and constructed roadways, landscaping and buildings. Strong built two residences and raised his family on the mountain.
In 1946, Strong established Stronghold and a trust to fund preservation of the mountain, buy more land and maintain the forest areas, according to Sugarloaf plan documents. Strong, who died in 1954, left the land he purchased to Stronghold — which has adopted the mission of preserving the mountain.
Stronghold is governed by a nine-member board of trustees. John Webster, the president of the board of trustees, has said that Strong’s last will and testament governs all decisions that the board makes about the mountain.
The trust is set to expire in 2046. The county government has questioned whether the sunset of the trust would bring an end to public access to the mountain and Stronghold’s commitment to Strong’s vision.
The Sugarloaf plan would bring two primary changes. The 20,000-acre plan area would become part of an overlay district meant to stifle development. Portions of 163 properties would be rezoned.
The overlay district includes standards for the scale, intensity and impact of development in the area. It also prohibits certain land uses, including carnivals, rodeos, shooting ranges and outdoor sports facilities.
Residential buildings and structures used for agriculture would be excluded from the overlay district standards.
Most of the proposed zoning changes would be from Agricultural to Resource Conservation. Landowners, then, would be permitted fewer uses on parts of their property.
Auction sales of animals and civic community centers are among the uses allowed under Agricultural zoning but not Resource Conservation, according to the county’s code.
Resource Conservation zoning also prohibits development on steep slopes. Protecting the terrain and vegetation on steep slopes prevents flooding, degradation of streams and changes in natural drainage patterns, Goodfellow said.
Stronghold has requested that the County Council remove the organization’s land from the overlay zoning district.
Members of the board of trustees have said the overlay would infringe on the organization’s personal property rights and prevent Stronghold from advancing Strong’s visions for the mountain.
Goodfellow has said the Sugarloaf plan and its overlay district would not change any uses allowable on Stronghold’s land.
But the board members decided they will close the mountain to the public if the county adopts a version of the plan they disagree with.
Members of the Sugarloaf Alliance, a nonprofit organization that formed in 2014 to protect the character and public use of Sugarloaf Mountain and the surrounding area, have been the most outspoken in favor of the plan. The volunteer organization has eight managing members.
The organization posted a petition on Aug. 1 to change.org in favor of the Sugarloaf plan. As of Thursday, the petition had roughly 2,000 signatures from across the country, including from as far away as California.
The Livable Frederick Coalition formed in May to oppose the Sugarloaf plan. Its members have argued that the plan does not give enough weight to local and statewide economic interests and does not align with the Livable Frederick Master Plan.
Members of the Livable Frederick Coalition include:
The Livable Frederick Coalition has hired the Baltimore-based public relations firm KO Public Affairs.
The firm’s founders are Steve Kearney, who was the communications director for former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, and Damian O’Doherty, who, according to his LinkedIn profile, was the chairman of O’Malley’s presidential Super PAC when the former governor ran for president. He was also a top aide to former Baltimore County Executive James Smith Jr.
The organization’s leaders also founded an associated news site, Center Maryland.
Realtors have said that rezoning portions of agricultural land to Resource Conservation would restrict the uses allowed on their property and devalue their land.
Goodfellow said the county has not received appraisals from the Realtors proving that development restrictions and zoning changes would devalue land in the Sugarloaf area.
The Realtors, though, said the burden of proof should fall to the county government.
Hugh Gordon, association executive for the Frederick County Association of Realtors, wrote in an email in August: “[Neither] FCAR nor any of the homeowners should have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on appraisals or consultants to substantiate our claim.”
County Councilman Steve McKay, R, has introduced an amendment to strike the Agricultural to Resource Conservation zoning changes from the plan.
The county has tried to compromise with Stronghold since the organization announced it may close the mountain to the public.
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner met a few weeks ago with members of the Stronghold Board of Trustees to hear their concerns about the Sugarloaf plan. The meeting ended with no consensus between the two parties, Gardner wrote in an email.
County Councilman Phil Dacey, R, proposed exempting all of Stronghold’s land from the overlay zoning district. McKay proposed exempting parts of the land that contain facilities used to manage, maintain and preserve Sugarloaf Mountain.
The Sugarloaf plan area is between the Monocacy National Battlefield and Frederick County’s border with Montgomery County.
The Sugarloaf area covers nearly 20,000 acres between Interstate 270 and the Monocacy River.
From the county line, the preserved area’s western boundary winds along the Monocacy River to the Monocacy National Battlefield.
Interstate 270, historically a divider between preservation and development in the southern part of the county, is the eastern line between the Sugarloaf land and suburban development in Urbana.
The area is a main access point into the Sugarloaf area from the interstate and has been designated as a growth corridor in the Livable Frederick Master Plan.
In May, the Maryland Department of Planning sent a letter to the county stating that development restrictions along I-270 “may diminish the state’s investment in I-270 highway infrastructure, including existing and planned corridor and interchange improvements.”
The county has changed the eastern boundary of the plan a couple of times. A version of the plan from September 2021 depicted a border that excluded 500 acres of land west of I-270, near the interstate’s interchange with Md. 80. The 500 acres include land that Natelli owns.
The planning boundary for Frederick County’s September 2021 version of the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan.
The planning boundary for Frederick County’s March 2022 version of the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan.
The county’s Planning Commission added the 500 acres of land to the preservation area before forwarding the plan to the County Council in July.
Dacey has proposed an amendment to revert the plan back to its September 2021 form, which would exclude Natelli’s land and the Monocacy National Battlefield, among other areas.
In October 2021, the Sugarloaf Alliance submitted two requests under the Maryland Public Information Act seeking information about “unexplained changes” to the boundary of the Sugarloaf plan area and text changes to the plan that the organization alleged were made outside the normal public process.
Then, in June, the Sugarloaf Alliance filed a lawsuit against the Frederick County government, alleging that the county government took more than 200 days to fulfill a request that state law allows only 30 days for and violated the Maryland Public Information Act.
A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 2 in Frederick County Circuit Court.
County Attorney Bryon Black wrote in an email on Friday that the county’s delay in response to the request for documents was because of human error.
“At no time did the requestor follow up on the request, if they had the county would have realized the oversight,” Black wrote. “We believe the response was accurate and complete. There is a pending motion to dismiss as the complaint is now moot.”
However, Steve Black, the president of the Sugarloaf Alliance, wrote in an email that the county government in August sent only a portion of the requested records. He wrote that this, too, violated the state act.
The County Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Sugarloaf plan on Sept. 27. The council will host an additional public hearing on Sep. 29, if needed.
The council is scheduled to discuss potential changes to the Sugarloaf plan on Oct. 3 and 11.
The council must vote by Oct. 18 whether to adopt the plan. Otherwise, the county’s 90-day window for considering legislation will have passed.
If the council does not vote on the plan by Oct. 18, the county will adopt the Planning Commission’s version of the plan.
On Oct. 25, the council is scheduled to vote on changes to the county’s code that would be necessary to implement the Sugarloaf plan.
The council can also vote to remand the Sugarloaf plan back to the Planning Commission. Doing so could effectively push a final vote on the plan to the next council, which will take office in December.
Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan
Two Frederick County councilmen on Tuesday proposed separate amendments to the Sugarloaf Mountain preservation plan to appease the mountain’s …
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That Natelli, The Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, the Frederick County Building Industry Association and the Frederick County Association of Realtors
Members of the Mackintosh family, who collectively own more than 1,000 acres in the Sugarloaf area. Four brothers in the family work in commercial real estate companies based in Frederick. Owners of Potomac Garden Center and Greenbriar Veterinary Hospital and Luxury Pet Resort, both located in the plan area, just west of I-270 are all part of this Livable Frederick Coalition all makes sense as they don’t want to be financially hobbled.
However, why is Stronghold itself part of the The Livable Frederick Coalition plan? I would think they’d love the Sugarloaf plan as it protects Sugarloaf by erecting obstacles to development and land use surrounding Sugarloaf Mountain.

Yes, why does Stronghold object. Could it be in 2046 when the trust ends development is the object. Who is the board and what are their personal interests. Gordon Strong wrote, among the many reasons for creating stronghold, was “people who have an appreciation of nature will be nicer to each other”. Stronghold was created,again according to Strong, “ For the sole benefit of the public”. So the question why they object is very relevant.

Good point bemartten!

Another follow the money example. Developers and real estate folks object, imagine that.

Sugarloaf wants to protect the mountain.They didn’t join to develop. They joined against the process. Lots of people are unhappy with the restrictions and plan. Many wrong assumptions being made. Can FNPinterview the mountain for them to say?

‘Lots of people..’
Aaahhhhh….No
Lots of developers (well one big one at least) and Realestate agents … sure.
Stronghold made a huge mistake getting into bed w Mr N. (Sshhh don’t say his name). They do NOT share values or organizational culture.
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