Summary: Defer Action- Let's Get This Right
Having been a “value added” farmer in Montgomery County for over 30 years, I can attest to the need to allow farmers some zoning flexibility to serve their customers, to responsibly shepherd their land, and to meet their economic needs. However, there is always the temptation to use farmland as an inexpensive alternative to commercially or industrially zoned land. Safeguards should be built into this amendment to ensure that it will benefit farmers who actually are actually cultivating the soil and are adding value to their own products on their own land. - Nick Maravell- Nick's Organic Farm Read More
Agritourism can be an important economic as well as regional community-building activity, but we are very sensitive to the potential for jumping onto this bandwagon without thoroughly thinking through what does and does not make sense. Let’s not undermine the very intention of preserving a functioning agricultural landscape by assuming that what looks like open space out here is available for new businesses that do not actually engage in agriculture related to their products.- Lee Langstaff, Shepherd's Hey Read More
This kind of slow erosion to disconnected uses has always been one of the biggest threats to the integrity of the Ag Reserve, and therefore to sustaining it as a genuine agricultural resource for the country. - Scott Fossler, Former County Council Member Former Mayor of Chevy Chase Read More
This is a hasty and poorly thought out proposal to replace farming with an industrial use contrary to protecting the Agricultural Reserve. In addition to violating Reserve Master Plan provisions, the proposed ZTA provides no environmental safeguards. Where are the needed protections for soil, streams, forest and wetlands? How will sewer and water be provided? What about SW management and setbacks from legitimate farm uses? In promoting this ZTA, the Council would be treating the land we've reserved for farming as a commodity suitable for a commercial enterprise that violates the very reason we preserved so much of Montgomery County for farming. - Conservation Montgomery Read More
We support the long term goals of bringing thoughtful economic development that aligns well with the nature of the Agricultural Reserve, but not without a comprehensive and transparent vetting process of the ancillary effects in the local community, and the financial impacts on Montgomery County at large. The rush to do this before newly elected officials have a chance to provide input and shape the plan, especially a newly elected District 1 Council member, concerns us; likewise the lack of an opportunity for many stakeholders to testify. Erosion of the Ag Reserve is a very real threat. A little caution now could prevent onerous and expensive remediation down the road.
- District 1 Neighbors Read More
With regard to 18-03, I urge caution. The ZTA seems well-intended as one means of providing additional sources of income to farmers, but as drafted, is fraught with, I hope unintended, potentially adverse consequences. Though framed as an accessory use, an enterprises such as a winery, brewery, or distillery could become the primary use, especially if combined with an event venue. This would be contrary to the AROS plan and, indeed, could be detrimental to the character of the Reserve and, thus, no boon to Agrotourism, one of its objectives, as well as harmful to farming adjacent lands. It seems to me the problems can and should be fixed. - Dr. Royce Hanson, Former Chair of MNCPPC, Architect of the Ag Reserve Read More