Frederick Council Adopts “Livable Frederick” Comprehensive Plan, Moves Beyond Zoning Maps

A Frederick News-Post article (2019-09-03) reported that the Frederick County Council approved the County’s new comprehensive plan, dubbed “Livable Frederick.” The new plan, which does not include zoning maps and instead takes a more “aspirational” approach to the County’s land use goals, has been under development for nearly four years.

The article stated that the Council passed the plan in a 6-1 vote. The sole opposition came from Council Member Phil Dacey, who expressed concern that the broad nature of the plan could lead to increased government regulation and expansion. From the article:

“Like the budget, it’s not going to be something that everyone likes completely. … Overall, it has been a long, thorough, open process that has resulted in a plan that will have more long-term meaning,” [Council Member Kai] Hagen said. …

“This was cutting-edge. … Other counties across the state are starting to do their planning using this concept,” [Council President M.C.] Keegan-Ayer said. …

“My philosophy is much more of limited government … and as we’ve heard, this plan is very expansive,” [Council Member Phil Dacey] said before the vote Tuesday. “My worry is this plan is setting the table for additional regulation….”

The article noted that the plan addresses not only development goals, but environmental, health, and community issues. Goals are identified for each of these sections and the plan lists more specific initiatives and supporting initiatives on how to achieve those goals. While the initiatives are considered “action items,” there could be more than one way to achieve each initiative.

The state’s A Better Maryland development plan, released in early August, aims to provide local governments with strategies that can support existing communities and future development opportunities, according to Rob McCord, state planning secretary. …

Frederick County Planning Commission Chairman Bob White, who testified when the state officials came to the county, said the state plan is not as detailed as Livable Frederick but seems geared toward protecting local authority. …

Steve Horn, director of the county’s Division of Planning and Permitting, said he thinks Livable Frederick focuses on many of the same points as A Better Maryland, such as sustainability, promoting growth areas, and infrastructure.

“We wanted to satisfy those visions,” Horn said.

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