DG Scenic shot of Monocacy River 1 (copy)

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

Tensions boiled over this week as members of the river board finalized a second draft Monocacy Scenic River Management Plan, but not without members of the community clashing over the purpose of the plan.

The Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board was divided during the final edits to the plan on how to address private property rights, which has been the central argument of property owners along the river.

Carroll County member Earl Bell proposed the original language on the issue of people crossing private property to access the Monocacy River. After five attempts, the river board agreed — unanimously — to add a recommendation that a stakeholder working group be established to study the impacts of public access to the river.

The river management plan has been so divisive at times that meetings have degraded to shouting matches and threats.

Deputies with the sheriff’s office have been attending the river board’s meetings since landowners began saying they would shoot members if they came on their property, and made other threats.

Bell was appointed to the river board by the Carroll County Board of Commissioners in April, a month after he stood and shouted at Frederick County’s liaison to the river board, Tim Goodfellow, for leaving during an unofficial public comment period. Bell followed Goodfellow into the hallway and continued to yell at him, The Frederick News-Post previously reported.

The discussion devolved to another shouting match on Wednesday. Two men in the audience began shouting at each other when one invoked Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and said he had God on his side. The other man stood and yelled repeatedly for him not to say that.

“When I heard the public comment going on, that’s when I stepped in,” said Sgt. Channing Hillman from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, who was at Wednesday’s meeting.

If people are talking, that is their First Amendment right, Hillman said. He watched body language, and while there was pointing and shouting, neither man tried to close the distance between them or physically confront the other.

Chairman George Grillon ended the public comment when the men began shouting. The confrontation then ended.

The draft plan will go to a public hearing in July. It will then be reviewed by the Frederick County Planning Commission before it goes to the Frederick County Council.

The new plan will be open for public comment and copies will be available at six libraries, county offices and on the river board’s website.

The river board released its first draft river management plan for public comment in October 2016. The plan included a setback that extended 300 to 500 feet — and much farther in some locations — from the banks of the Monocacy River onto private property.

The river board voted to remove the setback in February, after a deluge of public comments opposing it.

Since then, landowners have tried to remove other sections of the plan that support planting buffers, protecting archaeological and historical sites, and identifying ecologically significant areas along the river.

The river board agreed on Wednesday to remove a paragraph and map of ecologically significant areas identified by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as places where rare, threatened or endangered species may live or have habitat.

Landowners have said the designation would reduce property values and was not based on confirmed sightings of the plants or animals.

An accompanying spreadsheet of animal and plant species that might be found in those ecologically significant areas will remain in the plan as an appendix.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

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

(23) comments

Jps7

There’s much wrong with the FNP’s coverage of the Monocacy River Plan issue. Important details on the River Plan issue are omitted; individuals & Monocacy Landowners have been wrongly mischaracterized; and exaggerated drama is used instead of relaying all the real news on the issue. This has been coverage with a slant (against Monocacy landowners). What a shame. If the reporting was more fair & and inclusive of all the facts, people might want to read the articles!
The truth is Moncacy landowners are not a bunch of uncivil, threatening folks who want to shoot River Board members as the FNP implies! That’s a shamefully wrong portrayal. Anyone attending River board meetings can see that Monocacy Landowners are a remarkable group of families, retirees, farmers; and all kinds of other professionals. And they care deeply about protecting The Monocacy.
They also care about citizen’s Constitutional Property rights. And for some, it didn’t take long to figure out The River Plan update was not really about clean water. There was NO scientific basis whatsoever for The River Plan to recommend that the local governments in essence, confiscate 8,000 acres of private property along the river! The plan called for a huge regulatory land setback / river buffer cutting deep into private property for NO justifiable reason and without compensation to owners. Sufficient buffer reqts are already in place on the river of 50 – 150 feet. And ample EPA and state & local clean water & environmental regulations already exist. The River Plan also allowed for this regulatory river buffer to be used for “recreational opportunities” which was stated in the initial draft River Plan. Thus, allowing for bike paths, trails, etc. along the river right through private property! Otherwise known as trespassing. A huge buffer (not 300 or 500 feet, but even extending thousands of feet into numerous properties) would have breached property rights; diminished property values and intruded on owner’s land utility and privacy.
The bottom line is…little has been said in the FNP about the real problem with the River Plan – and why landowners have been justly upset. The question the reporter should investigate is WHO IS BEHIND THE RIVER PLAN AND SETTING THE STAGE FOR A GOVT LAND GRAB? Frederick County has pushed to take this private land along the river in the past. They have a motive & a history. And Frederick County and a state agency helped compose the River Plan (along with input from Carroll County and the River Board). What a shame it would be if a govt player(s) were using the River Plan as a sneaky, back door way to take control of people’s land. That is the real story to be investigated here.

matts853

CDR if your still paying attention see my new comments below - I just told you the Monocacy is a navigable river. next.

trwz

Is Mr. Bell a resident of Carroll County or Frederick County?

matts853

He owns property in both counties, but to serve on the Frederick board you have to be registered to vote in Frederick County to serve on a board here. I'm 99.9% sure he's registered to vote in Frederick so it's unlikely he's eligible to serve on the Carroll County side. I'll have to research the Carroll / State eligibility requirements further.

One thing is certain, given his and his wife's verbal and written attacks on Tim Goodfellow, he'll never get on our side. Carroll's appointment of him was a low class middle finger to the plan process.

If he's ineligible then anything he voted on could be vacated under a legal challenge which would further damage the credibility of a poorly managed process that borders on unethical interference on behalf of Carroll County. They are not a good faith partner.

And, neither County ever passed a resolution forming a joint board. Frederick passed a resolution in 1992 for a stand alone board which requires a representative from DNR and the City to serve as members. This board bi-County board could very well be illegitimate and have no legal standing.

They have so severely eviscerated the plan from its original draft that it fails to accomplish any of the board's stated objectives and has no substantive recommendations for the county legislatures to consider that would actually benefit the river.

Hayduke2

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

matts853

I knew the gentleman who ended up yelling at me was at the hearing. I don't know who he is but I remembered him pontificating for over 10 minutes about how the plan violates the shall not steal commandment, blah blah blah, to the point of what seemed like fake tears. So when I noticed him while I was speaking I decided to bring the religious side of the argument into the debate. Now, I'm a Catholic school graduate and I haven't gone to church in years and don't wear religion on my sleeve at all - take it or leave it as you like for all I care, just don't throw it in my face or bring into politics where it doesn't belong. But I love invoking God and religion as a counter argument to these bible thumpers, and usually when I do they go completely apoplectic. Boy did he ever - he even called me a blasphemer! This guy, the Bells and many others are vigilantes, plain and simple. Their behavior is not Christian at all. There is no such thing as a rational discussion with them, even when your trying to be helpful.

I became aware of Francis's encyclical through my involvement in this ugliness. It is a very powerful read and there's no doubt Francis' vision and exhortations support the plan premise. The bible is also filled with quotes commanding humans to care for the planet and warning of fire and brimstone consequences if we don't. But none of this matters to the self righteous like this man and a certain commissioner from Carroll County. They cherry pick their beliefs. Religious hypocrisy is the worst kind there is.

Matt Seubert

rbtdt5

"There is no such thing as a rational discussion with them, even when your trying to be helpful."
"But I love invoking God and religion as a counter argument to these bible thumpers, and usually when I do they go completely apoplectic."


I'm confused, were you trying to be helpful or trying to bring religion into the discussion to get a rise?

matts853

Overall I'm trying to be helpful, but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. You won't win people like this over in an instant, but casting doubt on their arguments, even if provocative, may slowly change the minds of people who are open minded. Unfortunately many aren't and judging by this person's visceral reaction I doubt he is.

CDReid

I grew up on a farm that bordered the river, and my brothers and I were instructed by our father to keep out trespassers who wanted to fish it. I remember one evening someone driving his car into the field that led to the river and parked it right by a "No trespassing" sign. I went down and let all the air out of 3 of its tires. Private property is just that, private, and no one has the right to say someone can trespass across another person's land.

sevenstones1000

And you own the river, too, do you? Next you'll try to own the air we all breathe, I guess.

CDReid

If you knew anything about property rights, you would know that some tracts do go to the middle of rivers so yes, some people do own part of rivers that their land is adjacent to. I haven't read the deed to the farm I grew up on in a long time so I don't remember if part of the river was included with the tract or not. But that's completely irrelevant, my point, which obviously went right over your head, was that people do not have the right to trespass onto private property. And your comment about me trying to own the air we all breathe is nothing but just plain stupid.

matts853

On navigable waterways property ownership ends at the bank. The Monocacy is a navigable river so private property owners do not own it.

CDReid

Matt, you quite obviously do not know the definition of "navigable." Look it up and then tell me the Monocacy is a navigable river. [lol][lol][lol]

matts853

It's considered navigable as long as vessels can get through it, those include kayaks by definition, which can. Lol, lol,lol,lol,lol.....understand my point?

matts853

Attempting to address years of problematic litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1979 created four tests for determining what constitutes navigable waters. Established in Kaiser Aetna v. United States, 444 U.S. 164, 100 S. Ct. 383, 62 L. Ed. 2d 332, the tests ask whether the body of water (1) is subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, (2) connects with a continuous interstate waterway, (3) has navigable capacity, and (4) is actually navigable. Using these tests, courts have held that bodies of water much smaller than lakes and rivers also constitute navigable waters. Even shallow streams that are traversable only by canoe have met the test.

CDReid


nav-i-ga-ble [nav-i-guh-buh l]
Spell Syllables Examples
Word Origin
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
adjective
1. deep and wide enough to provide passage to ships:
a navigable channel.
2. capable of being steered or guided, as a ship, aircraft, or missile.
The purpose of ships being able to pass through is for commerce, defense, etc. When the site for Washington D.C. was chosen, it was to be built as far up the Potomac as the river was navigable, which was just below Great Falls. I hardly think the founding fathers were relying on canoes for moving commerce at the time. 1) the Monocacy is not tidal. 2) there are areas in it where even canoes have to be man-handled out of it and over water too shallow and rock filled to paddle them. Show me a link designating it as a navigable river, and I'll believe you.
A kayak is a small BOAT

shiftless88

There are some cases where it is legal, I think. A policeman can come to your door, for instance. Can a surveyor or county official on county business about property designations come onto a property? Don't know. Threatening to shoot them is a bad move, though.

CDReid

No, technically a surveyor cannot go onto your property when surveying your neighbor's property without your permission, though doing so is a common practice. As a surveyor I know this from experience. I would imagine that county officials can go onto your property while conducting county business but, again, I would believe they too would at least be required to inform the property owner of their intentions.

shiftless88

And threatening to shoot them is stupid and not helpful.

matts853

Your wrong Reid. As far as the law is concerned if you can get a canoe through it it's considered navigable. You're conflating navigable pertaining to commerce etc. clearly the river is not navigable for those purposes, but from the perspective of ownership of the waterway it matters.

ma23464

Anyone can come to your door. Police officers are no different then anyone else. If you tell them to leave they must. Unless they have probable cause to be there.

gary4books

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][sad]

Hayduke2

CDR- why am I not surprised that you would act in this manner?

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