DG Scenic shot of Monocacy River 1 (copy)

The Monocacy River as seen from Michaels Mill Road in Buckeystown.

The Monocacy River Resource Protection Area was removed from the 2016 draft river management plan Wednesday by a 5-1 vote.

Vice Chairman Sam Roop proposed the removal of the resource protection area, which would have stretched 300 to 500 feet from the river’s banks. It extended much farther in places where the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood plain extends away from the river.

“It’s taken a lot of thought, because we had four or five comment periods and with 200-and-something letters, it was a strong majority” against the resource protection area, Roop said after the Monocacy Scenic River Citizen Advisory Board’s meeting.

Chairman George Grillon, Bill Hensley, Mona Becker, Chris Heyn and Roop voted to remove the area from the draft plan’s text and maps. Carroll County member Jim Wieprecht voted to keep the area, and said he thought the river board should have discussed the area before voting to remove it.

Frederick County members Jim Dertzbaugh, Jack Lynch and Robert Whiting did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Seventy-seven percent of the proposed resource protection area sat within the FEMA flood plain, which is already tightly regulated. Landowners said the resource protection area threatened their property rights.

“We felt they were infringing on our property rights, and we put our foot down,” said Robert Ramsburg, president of the Frederick County Farm Bureau. He said he was relieved to see the protection area removed from the draft plan.

The river board received 294 written comments. It heard roughly 10 hours of public testimony that centered on the potential problems the resource protection area could have on farms and private property along the Monocacy River.

A petition, with a reported 1,400 signatures, was delivered to the river board opposing the resource protection area, said Lisa Bell, a landowner along the Monocacy who has helped organize residents in opposition of the plan.

The river board voted to host another public comment period after it finalized a new draft plan. Roop said he would rather the river board take months or a year to rework the plan than rush a plan to the counties that did not include property owners.

“Today was an encouraging day,” said Earl Bell, the husband of Lisa Bell.

Earl Bell said he was encouraged to see the river board focusing on voluntary programs and recommending that funds be channeled to programs that help interested landowners protect their farms and natural resources.

The river board voted specifically to change the word “ensure” to “encourage” on one of its recommendations to increase the voluntary tone of the plan. Heyn and Hensley opposed the change.

Bill Fisher, from near the Adams County, Pennsylvania, line, has attended multiple river board meetings. He was also encouraged by the river board’s decisions Wednesday.

“Good citizens keep an eye on what the county and board does,” Fisher said.

Several residents called for the draft plan to be discarded and for the river board to disband. It was important that this not happen, Roop said. Revising the plan and keeping landowners involved protects the credibility of the board, he said.

The river board just scratched the surface on its discussion of the submitted public comments Wednesday.

Members will read public comments submitted at the end of the public comment period, which closed Tuesday, in preparation for its next meeting on March 1 and continue to make revisions to the draft plan.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

Samantha Hogan is the state house, environment, agriculture and energy reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(9) comments

rb789

Hello Matts853, You're right when you say "The fix was in" but for the opposite reason you cite. The fix was in for an unnecessary govt land grab of 8,000 acres of private property along The Monocacy - to be under govt control. The vehicle to achieve this confiscatory "regulatory taking" of land...was the 2016 Monocacy River Plan which established a huge & unnecessary regulatory land setback. The "clean water" excuse for taking control of the land was fully debunked as NO scientific basis existed or even a common sense rationale for creating an expanded land setback / river buffer for clean water purposes. Moreover, effective river buffer requirements of 50 - 150 feet already exist along The Monocacy. The proposed land setback was so egregious, it extended beyond 500 feet where ever the FEMA 100 year flood plain exceeded 500 feet (as per The River Plan), which occurred in numerous locations. It stretched thousands of feet into private property on each side of the river in many cases - cutting through farms, private land, and even encompassed people's homes!

This devalued properties, reduced reasonable land utility; imposed unnecessary & redundant restrictions; intruded on privacy - and caused undue harm to property owners and farmers. All for no justifiable reason and without compensation to owners. It breached the values of The Constitution.

Even the Carroll County Water Resource expert confirmed that creating a large river buffer was useless when the river's primary source of pollution is coming from urban run-off and the vast 900 sq. mile watershed area - and not private property along the river. The River Plan was a bad idea - and bad for citizens.

FrederickFan

Wait a minute. Nothing about what Kirby Delauter repeatedly said about this Board, what it was doing, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner's involvement (it turns out to be a State Board over which she has no control, with members from another County, etc.), or what it's conclusions turned out to be, was right. He was wrong about everything.

Was Kirby Delauter lying to us, yet again?

Nicki

What a darn shame!

ma23464

Where was Jack Lynch? Too much pressure Jack?

Hammer

The public comment period ended the night before, and they picked up copies of 180 or so new comments last night, they had not read them. How do you review comments towards amending a plan after making major changes to the plan. They bowed to pressure, over a simple recommendation. Caved for an idea, a vision. It is very sad to see.

matts853

Exactly right. The fix was in. They didn't even give Tim Goodfellow a chance to present any new information.

The chairman went as far to suggest that this is a "scenic river plan" and not a "water quality plan". What? What good is a scenic river if it's polluted? What good is it if it doesn't have the natural forest buffer that nature intended? What good is it if the wildlife is missing? I cannot get past the absurdity of this short-sighted vision of the river.

This board cut and ran from its mission and as a result it produced nothing of substance. This plan was not meant to be an easy exercise that everyone would embrace, and because they were intimidated, the Monocacy River will continue to fester on as an impaired waterway. Pope Francis would be ashamed I'm sure.

The board has no more credibility to people that live beyond the river.

LJF0929

I don't know very much about this situation - will have to do some homework. But from a layman's view, is the issue that farms are allowing pesticides and fertilizers to seep into the Monocacy? That's a pretty big problem - for everyone ! I don't know why else the areas around the river would need to be protected from farms. Can anyone provide a quick glimpse of both sides?

jamesnee

Encourage is a fine policy compared to ensure or enforce. The Spirit of comradeship far supersedes the notions. This concept may well serve throughout our society as we move forward.

matts853

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

If you read through Pope Francis' encyclical on CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME, you'll realize that this vote was the exact opposite of the "comradeship" you talk about. The Pope lays it all out in this encyclical, it's a powerful read. My best summary of it goes like this: the world is polluted, man's greed and me first attitude are what's killing it, and we must change our way of thinking to restore nature before we all die.

Pope Francis would approve of the Monocacy River Management Plan, or at least a plan that included a modified river buffer. Encouragement won't change anything. The board turned their back on mother nature because they got scared. They failed to see the bigger picture that Francis talks about.

Now, I graduated from Catholic High School but I don't go to church, so I'm not trying to inject religion into this issue, but a lot of people did. It's so Ironic that people used God as a defense of property rights, when God cares more about our stewardship of the Earth. Flat Earth mentality was on full display here - especially by Delauter who was telling people that clean water isn't a right - wrong Kirby - the Pope says it is. Read the document. So hypocritical.

In man vs. nature, nature usually loses and man seldom wins. So for now, nature will have to endure a little longer as the convenient dumping ground for humanity's backwash.

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