The leader of a local anti-sprawl group wants the state to calculate the impact Frederick County's proposed land-use plan will have on taxpayers.
In a letter to the Maryland Department of Planning, Friends of Frederick County Executive Director Janice Wiles wrote that it would be wise to figure out how much growth will cost if it gets approved.
"We are trying to figure out all the costs of doing development because it's all taxpayer money," Wiles said in an interview Wednesday. "We want to make it really clear what people are going to be on the hook for."
Wiles estimates in her letter to Planning Secretary Richard Eberhart Hall that Frederick County could be looking at 50,000 new residential units by 2032.
Such growth would require new schools and additional roads to handle the influx, Wiles wrote.
Wiles estimated the state would eventually spend up to $450 million a year to educate the new students in Frederick County, and these residents would generate between 350,000 and 400,000 additional car trips a day.
"One further and important purpose of calculating these new costs now is to inform these taxpayers, in advance, of their obligation to pay billions of dollars to support the development now being proposed in Frederick County," Wiles wrote. "With this information in hand, they will be in far better position to express their views on whether development on this scale should proceed."
In a statement, Hall said it was important to study the financial impact that development will have on both local and state agencies.
"We are happy to work with local governments on this issue," he said.
Eric Soter, the county's director of community development, said Wednesday he had seen Wiles' letter, but did not understand the urgent need to calculate costs.
"I don't think anybody has ever said future development in the county wasn't going to cost money to develop," Soter said. "We know it costs money to build roads, build schools."
The estimated cost calculated now would likely change in 10 or 15 years when some of this growth would happen in the county, Soter said.
"It takes public-private partnerships," he said. "That's what we've been doing for hundreds of years. That's how the county has grown."
The county commissioners initiated a review of the 2010 comprehensive plan when they took office because a majority of them were outraged at the change in development rights made by the previous board. Critics have said there is no need for such change now and the previous board's decisions were designed to slow growth in the county.
The county commissioners plan to give more than 160 landowners the development rights they had before the 2010 plan. The approvals could pave the way for developing more than 9,300 acres of land in the county. Total build-out, according to county officials, could lead to the addition of 12,600 homes in the next 20 years.
Friends of Frederick County and others filed a lawsuit against the county last year to block changes to the 2010 land-use plan. Last month, a judge dismissed the case, saying it was too early for the group to sue because no official action had been taken regarding the plan.
The county planning commission discussed the proposed changes to the land-use plan at its Wednesday meeting. The informational session was in advance of an upcoming public hearing with the county commissioners and planning board to get residents' input on the proposed changes.
A final vote on the proposed changes could come in September.
The planning commission has two new members who attended their first meeting Wednesday.
Chairman John McClurkin said he was concerned about the new members getting up to speed on the plan, which has been debated for more than a year.
"There are concerns about it, but the process is what it is," McClurkin said. "We'll see what comes out of it."
IF YOU GO
- WHAT: A public hearing on proposed changes to the comprehensive plan and zoning map.
- WHEN: 6 p.m. July 31; speaker sign-up begins at 5 p.m.
- WHERE: Oakdale High School, 5850 Eaglehead Drive, Ijamsville