Smarter Growth Alliance of Frederick County Meeting Minutes: March 2, 2023

Attendees: Kai Hagen, Susan Hanson, Ingrid Rosencrantz, Elizabeth Bauer, David Lillard, Betsy Smith, Kerri Hesley, Blanca Poteat, Jennifer Kunze, Paul Walker, Karen Cannon 

  1.  Kerri Hesley of Sierra Club Catoctin Group reported on Frederick City bill to ban single use plastic bags with $.10 fee for paper bags.  (Hybrid Bill).  Vote on bill was postponed after concerns were raised about the impact on WIC and SNAP users.  Discussion followed about different fees, use of cardboard boxes,  ban on plastic bags with no fee on other single-use bags, and how to encourage and replicate Aldi’s policy that does impact low income and WIC/SNAP participants and it still remains a popular grocery store in Hillcrest Heights.  APRIL 6th will be the next hearing.
  2. David Lillard:  FCA and MD the Beautiful:  supporting expanding the forest and canopy areas and not allowing for net loss of forests.  Another goal is to streamline the program so that it is not just focused on riparian and agricultural preservation areas.  MD the Beautiful wants to increase 30×30 areas to 40×40.  Also bring back Maryland funding for the initiative.  Reauthorizing $10 million and adding refunding through real estate transactions.  Prioritizing property transfers with ag. easements especially in urban areas.  Need to spend resources on outreach.  Land conservation includes much more than preserving hay fields.
    1. New DPW Director considerate of rustic roads program. Paul and Susan to discuss finding a target right of way for tree planting along a rural road, funded by 5 MT program. 
  3. Betsy Smith – Many hours of hearings at the Planning Division concerning Gordon’s Mill.  NEXT HEARING IS SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 15.  Questions about the developer wanting excessive street parking – may be an attempt to secure wider streets for traffic flow and increased speed to connect with Casey.  Michelle Rosenthal is working on this.  We will be establishing a ‘Go Fund Me’ account.  Kai encouraged looking into APFO requirements.
  4. Paul W. –  Many provided testimony in favor of House (HB908) and Senate (SB613)  on making community solar permanent this session. The panel with Sierra Club MD and League of Conservation Voters included Frederick County Legislative Director Victoria Venable, who offered a positive perspective and support for this priority on behalf of County Executive Jessica Fitzwater. Colby F. from Farm Bureau testified they are willing to support solar development on class 3 and lower soil types, which represent about half of all state soils. He estimated the amount at 500,000 acres, much more than the 35,000 acres needed.
    1. SCCG hopes to use Howard County solar siting regs as a template for Frederick County. 
    2. Jen White hosted a show on WAMU program 1A on solar developments on farm land, positive uses with other products – agrivoltaics, etc: 
    3. Sen. Young’s Chief of Staff is John Pastore –  (410) 841-3575 x 4182  
    4. Karen Cannon mentioned that there is a workshop with Climate Access Fund to pair solar initiatives with infill and other urban green initiatives.  Contact her for more information.
  5. Jennifer Kunze – Ft. Detrick update.  Working with State legislators to enact  protections for buyers and renters in the Ft. Detrick area.  House passed legislation and hopefully the Senate will soon.
  6. Ingrid R. – Sugarloaf and Stronghold.  Planning has held a ‘charette’ hoping that some agreement on moving forward would happen.  Most of the developers’ community did not show.  Also absent were representatives of Stronghold.  The issue seems to be the Overlay district and the prohibitions and protections it would offer.
    1. Elizabeth B. Paul W. and Ingrid will work on a new letter to go to Planning with cc: County Council and County Executive.  All groups will be asked to sign and also get any other groups that we are part of to sign on as well.  This will all happen week of March 6, in advance of  NEXT MEETING OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION IS MARCH 15.   
    2. Ingrid also mentioned the Q Loop underground cable that is going through some floodplain and  are environmental concerns which Kai says must go through Zoning Appeals.  Also issues with Historic Sites compliance.
  7. Jennifer Kunze also mentioned that the Senate voted UNANIMOUSLY to remove the green energy status (sunset review) of Trash Incineration.  Goes to the House next week.  If you want to comment, letters must be received by next Tuesday.  

Save the Date:  MOBILIZE FREDERICK is sponsoring a Climate Workshop on May 6th with 4 panels and  2 hot topics at the Hood College Auditorium  Stay Tuned for more information or contact MF or Envision.

Respectfully submitted,  Susan Hanson

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