1. The FredCo Council just held their final hearing on the Sugarloaf overlay zone that offers critical protections for the farms and forests of the area on December 12 A final vote is scheduled for December 19. Click here for addresses and talking points to contact the council.
Press on the Dec. 12 meeting
Video of comments from Steve Black of Sugarloaf Alliance
2. There are plans to allow data centers in the Sugarloaf plan area - this new water and power hungry land use takes farmland out of production and is incompatible with the protective zoning the Sugarloaf plan proposes. Sign Sugarloaf Alliance's petition here.
A really good background on why data centers cause immense concern from Maryland Matters.
In FredCo - the News Post reports that the price tag for upgrading the grid to deal with the needs of the new proposed data centers is 5 Billion - who will pay for that?
The plan is now back in front of the County Council for another round of public hearings and a final vote.
The plan needs support to clear this hurdle.
Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some talking points:
- We support the Overlay’s I-270 boundary from Montgomery County to the Monocacy. Cutouts will degrade the strength of the plan. The Overlay and the Plan’s preservation goals are important including:
- “To address the scale and visual impact of land uses and developments that can degrade rural qualities, excessively burden the transportation network, and overwhelm the scenic and rural nature of the Sugarloaf Planning area
- “To minimize adverse impacts of land development activities on forestlands and natural habitats
- “To regulate the amount of impervious surfaces to control the volume of stormwater runoff and stream bank erosion, maintain levels of groundwater infiltration, and retain as many of the functions provided by natural land as possible
Some background on how we got here (a deeper dive can be found with Sugarloaf Alliance)
- Carve outs of the plan to allow farmland to become an industrial use along 270 were proposed to accommodate backroom deals with Amazon- only uncovered thanks to public information act requests. "More Public Records reveal details of Amazon's failed data center plans".
-Civic groups, partilarly Sugarloaf Alliance were instrumental in getting the plan boundary restored to 270 to the East and the Monocacy Battlefield in the west - common sense coverage for the plan.
-Stronghold, the nonprofit that stewards Sugarloaf Mountain threatened to close the Mountain if the plan went through as proposed, one of a number of Sugarloaf country residents considering the plan overreach - when in fact no current uses would be prohibited under the plan.
-The Council passed the plan but not the overlay - the part of the plan with the teeth of zoning to keep land in farming and protect standing forests. That part was remanded back to the Planning Commission.
-Fast forward to October 2023 when having reviewed the overlay from scratch, the Planning Commission sent a mostly unchanged overlay back to the Council Council with a strong recommendation to approve it.