When it comes to the Monocacy River, leaders in Frederick and Carroll counties are still trying to bridge the gap and create a single plan to manage the natural resource.
Frederick County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) and Stephen Wantz, president of the board of commissioners for Carroll County, said Monday they are meeting June 26 to discuss the status of the Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan, and try to compromise on a single version.
The River Plan has been a point of debate between property rights advocates and environmentalists for more than two years. Last November, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners approved a plan finalized in early October by the Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board, known as the 2018 plan.
After the River Board finalized its plan, but before Carroll County’s Board approved it, then-council President Bud Otis (unaffiliated) decided not to act on the plan, instead handing it over to the next County Council.
Local and state opinions previously determined that each county could have its own plan. But Wantz and Keegan-Ayer said it’s better for both counties to pursue one county plan, to provide better clarity moving forward on how to protect the river.
The current council unanimously passed an amended version of the 2018 plan in April, 6-0. Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D) was absent.
More than 20 amendments were passed, which included references to voluntary programs and practices to protect the river’s water, Frederick County’s Comprehensive Plan from 2010 and a definition of the river corridor, which describes the Monocacy River as a “linear feature,” and does not specify a distance from the river’s banks, given its changing geography.
Wantz said Monday he was willing to meet with Keegan-Ayer to try to reach a compromise. His staff has been reviewing the 2018 plan and Frederick County’s plan for about a month.
“Surprisingly, there aren’t a whole lot of differences,” Wantz said. When asked about those, he said he needed to review his files about the plan.
Keegan-Ayer said several times that she is keeping an “open mind” regarding negotiations about a joint plan. Like Wantz, she believes one plan for both counties is the best solution for protecting the river.
It’s unclear whether there would be a joint meeting between Carroll County commissioners and the Frederick County Council, after Keegan-Ayer and Wantz meet June 26. Keegan-Ayer said that depends on scheduling for both organizations.
But she remained positive that the counties could agree on a single plan.
“At this point, we’re still talking. ... As long as you’re still talking, I hold out optimism that we can reach an agreement,” Keegan-Ayer said.