We are tracking a development just over the line in Frederick County that could have serious impacts on Sugarloaf Mountain and area farms. An organization called Old Line Arsenal has proposed a huge shooting range with associated large buildings abutting the mountain on Thurston Rd. Sugarloaf Alliance is the leading group on this issue and we encourage you to seek out more information from their website and more complete information on their facebook page. What follows is a primer on what is happening and how you can take action.
What?!: This shooting range has: 144 parking spaces, a 3 floor 60,000 sf classroom building, 3 story shooting tower, up to 99 shooters at a time. The current submission says they will be open 6 days a week, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, closed Sundays.
Huh? How can that happen?: Remember, the Ag Reserve is only a Montgomery County land use designation, this area in Frederick County is zoned Resource Conservation or RC. The proposal is being brought to the Board of Appeals in FredCo as a special exception use. There was movement some years ago to protect this land with a new class of zoning similar to our Ag Reserve (that likely would have disallowed this sort of use) but it never came to fruition.
Sounds like a case of the NIMBY's (Not in my backyard) to me: Regardless of how you feel about shooting ranges, we can agree that this over-sized facility does not fit the surrounding neighborhood of farms and popular hiking destinations. "Resource Conservation" this is not. There are a number of other ranges within a 30 mile radius- and a new one (appropriately sited in an industrial area) opening in Frederick by years end.
What is the time line? The BOA will hear the special exception on July 24. If the range as a use is granted the exception- the range must submit a fuller application to the Planning Commission.
How can I help?
- Monitor events through the Sugarloaf Alliance facebook - message them to get signs/flyers, etc.
- Write to the Frederick County Board of Appeals (its ok if you live in MoCo) to voice your concerns via email with the planner’s office by July 22. Email Craig Terry: CTerry@FrederickCountyMD.gov (bcc us- firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Attend the Board of Zoning Appeals hearing on Thursday, July 24 at 7:00pm. (Winchester Hall 12 E. Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701)