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Frederick County Listening Sessions, March 13, 2018

What We Heard in Response

Regionalism and Regional Planning  ♦ Concerns Over Previous Mandates ♦ Mapping Support and Data ♦ Demographics ♦ Economic DevelopmentHousing ♦ Infrastructure  ♦ Community Engagement and Volunteerism ♦ Training and Education ♦ Transportation ♦ Environment  ♦ Community  ♦ Communication ♦ State Agencies ♦ Technical Assistance ♦ General

The comments below represent the statements or points of view of one or more individuals who participated in the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) “A Better Maryland” Development Plan Listening Sessions. These comments do not represent any official position or policy of MDP or any other State agency, nor do they represent any official position or policy of any local jurisdiction or local planning agency.

Regionalism and Regional Planning

Need better State coordination on the planning for roads/streets.  The regional impact of roads needs to be considered as development traffic impacts neighboring jurisdictions

There is a need for transportation planners and engineers to work together and share information on pending projects and transcend county boundaries

We allow our cost of living to drive people to live in PA and WV

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Concerns Over Previous Mandates

This state development plan effort should not be another land mapping effort like PlanMaryland, but rather should be more an opportunity to share information between state agencies and local governments on a more collaborative basis

Reduce State Involvement in:

Unfunded Mandates

Septics Law

PlanMaryland

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Mapping Support and Data

The State should provide new and better data regarding business and new forms of commerce, such as how many jobs (full or part-time) are generated by employers or how much square footage per employee is needed for e-commerce jobs versus more traditional jobs

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Demographics

The State needs to remain committed to maintaining its data resources, as they are critical to local governments when local planning is done

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Economic Development

Most jurisdictions use CoStar for economic analysis. This is an expensive subscription; the State should consider getting a license that jurisdictions could use

The State approval of business licensing is expensive and time consuming; the State should work on streamlining this process

Since the County doesn’t handle business licenses, it is hard to get good information on the businesses it has

The county has done a pretty good job of making the development process easier.  But, there is a need for more infrastructure funding, particularly transportation

Economic development & revitalization is a close 2nd to transportation as the most important issue to address in the Plan:

Brings in tax dollars that can be invested in roads and communities

Many of the county’s road/infrastructure improvements are completed by developers

As important issues to consider in a State Development Plan – Transportation and Economic Development are “chicken & egg” factors – they are very integrated and you need both

Growth is the most pressing issue facing Frederick County.  It influences factors such as transportation, schools, and other resource and needs

Economy and jobs are the leading determinants on a high quality of life

Can’t get the other factors of life without a strong economy and jobs

Losing jobs leads to losing people, which leads to blight and decay in the community

Can’t overtax or people will leave

Business investment is most important in making positive change

Brings jobs, money, people, vibrancy, and increases tax base

Enhances cultural resources

Helps with schools

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Housing

The County has a need for affordable housing, but regulations are driving up the cost of housing such as MS4 permits, the rain tax and other regulations

The private sector will provide the housing as long as government gets out of the way

Affordable work force housing is a big issue for the County, the senior population is growing at a rate greater than the State. Need to have a toolbox with as many tools as possible

Housing programs, like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), seem to significantly shift credits toward Baltimore, and we have a need here as well

One third of Frederick families fall into the donut hole where they are too wealthy for housing assistance programs, but not wealthy enough to fully afford housing

Additional partnerships would also be helpful in expanding housing opportunities

State should look at alternate ways of providing housing, such as the use of land trusts where a trust owns the land and the cost of the housing is more affordable initially in the purchase price and ongoing taxes.  Resale of the units is then more affordable because the cost of land is not a factor in the housing costs

State agencies need to work together on coming up with affordable housing strategies

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Infrastructure

More funding for infrastructure is needed from the State

School construction costs are sky rocketing, we need help to reduce these costs

The State should create some prototype school designs to help reduce construction costs

The State should consider conducting systemwide school utilization studies to determine what standards should be used in designing and building new schools

The private sector could be engaged in public-private partnerships (P3s) or some other mechanisms to build schools faster and more cost-effectively

Computers should be in the school classrooms, and not just in computer labs

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Community Engagement and Volunteerism

The outreach effort for A Better Maryland appears to be similar to Frederick County’s current comprehensive plan update process – Livable Frederick, where the county officials, municipalities, residents and businesses of Frederick County are all working together to implement a new vision of the County.

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Training and Education

The Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) should consider training for Planning Commission members and other boards. Training could be regional, local, or issue oriented

Planning should work on providing papers on topical issues such as solar, medical cannabis, Airbnb, etc

We need to do a better job reaching out to all Marylanders to really educate them about Smart Growth

Every small jurisdiction needs some technical assistance on Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit issues.  EPA doesn’t care if a small jurisdiction is so small it has limited resources

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Transportation

Transportation is the top issue that needs to be addressed in the new state development plan

Traffic congestion of US 15 is top concern for Frederick.  People must be able to get where they need to go

A Better Maryland should tie into the work that Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) are doing, for example autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, bicycles, and transportation alternatives program.  MPO’s are doing good work that could be incorporated into A Better Maryland

It would be helpful to have more information of grant opportunities and to know what federal pass-through grant programs are available for bike and pedestrian projects

More people are living downtown (Frederick) so there is a greater need for transit and transportation alternatives other than roads such as pedestrians, bicycles, Uber, Lyft etc

Funding alternatives for local transportation improvements need to be developed, such as P3s, restoring highway user revenue funding level to local jurisdictions, breaking larger transportation projects into smaller pieces, non-compete clauses

The area still has significant road issues with its major routes – I-270 & US 15

The State needs to increase the local highway revenue funds (mentioned several times)

Transportation funding is key to promoting growth in the State

Update what is happening with the Governor’s improvements to the I-270 corridor and US 15

The primary challenges with neighboring jurisdictions is transportation:

Pass through interstate congestion

Traffic on MD 340 is out of control, and most users are not from Frederick

States can work together on this issue

Rush hour traffic coming into Frederick is just as bad as outgoing

Multi-modal alternatives are not as strong in Frederick.  Only three trains in the morning and the last leaves at 7:45 am.

Heavy traffic peaks in the morning and evening are much longer than they used to be

Need to find and use examples of where the transportation problem has been addressed, mitigated, or solved

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Environment

MS4 permits are difficult to obtain and especially if one must work with less than cooperative entities like CSX and the National Park Service.  CSX will not respond to our inquiries.  We can use the State’s help getting CSX and National Park Service to cooperate with the City of Brunswick to implement its watershed improvement program

Need to balance preservation with people’s rights. Could use more tools like Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) in this area

Frederick gets penalized for the Bay that we shouldn’t have to pay for.  We would rather use local funds for local issues

The County puts more money toward environmental protection than its fair share.  The State should consider different standards for the western part of Maryland

The Maryland Department of Environment had a program, “Know your Community”

The county is struggling with natural and cultural resources preservation, while maintaining individual property rights

Environmental protection is another neighboring jurisdiction concern

Pollution in the Potomac River is coming from upstream / outside of the state

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Community

Growth is the most pressing issue facing Frederick County.  It influences factors such as transportation, schools, and other resource and needs

The plan should provide and develop tools for preserving neighborhoods and protecting community character, other than using historic preservation standards

We need more mid-level preservation/conservation tools that do not necessarily rise to full historic preservation, yet help maintain the neighborhood’s character

We need to get past the perception that an old dilapidated building must remain as part of any redevelopment effort.  Sometimes the cost of the rehabilitation is so much greater than the property will ever return to the property owner or the community

How do we get historic buildings off a list when they need to be razed? This is difficult and time consuming

We need to create quality places, which requires resources to address:

public health concerns – like mental health and the opioid crisis

preserve our cultural resources

promote arts and humanities

provide needed infrastructure – like transportation

Cultural and historical resources are important to Frederick and make us unique

These draw people to Frederick, both to live and visit

Make this area distinct and raise it to another level

Individual citizens can make a difference

They can make government better and strengthen organizations

Help with small business development

Local Government can help improve the community too

Influence desirability of opening a business in a locality based on predictability and reduced permitting process

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Communication

Whatever type of plan A Better Maryland is going to be, a mapping effort or policy document, it should be web based with good access and help local jurisdictions

The Plan needs to stress collaboration

Government is about compromise and we are still all one Maryland

Different places have different needs

Communication is needed to work through the differences

Locals make the best decisions for themselves

Maryland Planning Commissioners Association (MPCA) is a good organization and should be fully utilized to promote good planning

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State Agencies

Maryland Department of Planning is valued as being a facilitator that brings people together, identifying best practices

Planning should get different groups with common interests together, identify strengths and weaknesses of various jurisdictions, and partner with jurisdictions to develop programs and shared opportunities

Planning should work on the horizontal outreach of local governments to bring people and resources together

A Better Maryland should include resources that list all the State grant programs, what they do, how to apply etc. a cafeteria style.  State funding sources and information should be coordinated so there is one go-to place to find what is available

APA has a Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT) program and UMD has Maryland’s Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program that provide low cost planning assistance to local jurisdictions.  Planning should create similar type programs and assistance

A Better Maryland needs to address and help the County with identifying solutions to public health, mental health, opioid, and cultural resources problems

Planning should be more active in supporting good development plans that are being contested by the community members.  Planning could provide a certification based on a quantified review that a project meets Smart Growth criteria and can be scored.  This would help local planning staff when they get neighborhood resistance to a proposed development

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Technical Assistance

We can use technical assistance in dealing with code enforcement and blighted properties.  It can be very difficult getting some property owners to maintain their property

The State could provide guidance on general standards that local governments can use in preparing plans and regulations

Consider working with the Maryland Municipal League (MML) and the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) to establish a listing of research projects that can be made available to all jurisdictions.  Maybe the subject matters can be integrated into maps, to display best practices and other research associated with different locations in Maryland

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General

Assets

People – incorporates many of the positive factors (volunteers, generosity, etc.)

Location

Small town feel, strong connection to agriculture, countryside vistas

Strategically located between two large urban centers of Washington and Baltimore

Nearby environmental features, i.e. mountains and Potomac River

Strong economic and market forces

Great transportation network

Challenges

Traffic and Transportation Issues

Traffic is tough on business owners who need to travel long distances.  Not just a local issue, state as well

Route 15

Short on/off ramps and lots of backups

A lot of passthrough traffic

Increasingly congested roads interfere with

Agricultural economy

Hard to move slow-moving machinery around the county roads, resulted in having to get rid of cows on the farm

Community Character Concerns

The County has an influx of new people that have increased the cost of living and created more traffic on the roads.

The growth has affected the agriculture community and some farms have had to relocate.

New residents want to change Frederick to more like where they came from

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