A substance abuse rehabilitation center associated with the Church of Scientology will not be able to open at Trout Run, a 40-acre property in the Catoctin Mountains near Thurmont.

At least for now.

The Frederick County Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 against placing Trout Run on the Frederick County Register of Historic Places, which would have allowed Narconon to move forward with its plans to open the center on the site. Only Councilman Billy Shreve voted in favor of the designation. Council members Tony Chmelik, Kirby Delauter, Jerry Donald, Jessica Fitzwater, M.C. Keegan-Ayer and Bud Otis all opposed it.

Even though the council’s vote makes it so Narconon cannot open the center on the property under the county’s zoning rules, Narconon is now exploring all options available for how it could open on the site, said Yvonne Rodgers, Narconon’s East U.S. executive director.

Rodgers said that being in Frederick County the past two months and attending the recent drug addiction forum showed her how serious the drug problem is in the area, and how much the area needs Narconon’s program.

“Narconon remains fully committed to helping individuals and families rid themselves of the growing scourge of drug addiction,” the company wrote in a statement released Tuesday after the vote.

This may be of concern to many county residents who question Narconon’s track record and have written to the council in opposition to the program.

More than a dozen people against the historic designation attended the meeting Tuesday. They burst into applause upon learning of the council’s vote.

“It’s almost too good to be true,” said Kimberly Mellon, who started the Facebook page “No Narconon at Trout Run,” which had 340 members as of Tuesday. Mellon said before the meeting that the members were opposed for different reasons, such as concerns about Narconon’s program, the county’s zoning decisions on the site, and how the proposed use would affect the site’s streams.

The property is zoned in a way that does not allow certain uses. But the county’s board of appeals decided in October 2013 that Narconon could operate on the site under a special exception for a group home as long as the property was listed on the historic register.

Many council members said before the vote they were not convinced that the site is so historically significant that it should be on the register. A county attorney had told them earlier in the meeting that they needed to be persuaded to vote in favor of the designation.

Councilman Jerry Donald said he doesn’t see how the Adirondack architecture of the property’s buildings is so rare for their time period that they should be considered historic. There are about a dozen rustic lodges, cabins and outhouses on the site that were built in the 1930s to 1970s.

Donald named both private and public properties with similar buildings in the county, such as Gambrill State Park and Camp Baker.

“If I can find three of these within 2 miles of my house, and I’m not looking for them, it’s not rare,” Donald said, referring only to the private buildings.

The Historic Preservation Commission recommended the property for the list after receiving an application from Social Betterment Properties International, the real estate arm of the Church of Scientology, which owns the property. The commission found that the property met three of the criteria that make a property worthy of the designation: It exemplifies the cultural, economic, social, political or historic heritage of the county and its communities; it embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period of method of construction or architecture; and it represents the work of a master craftsman, architect or builder.

Keegan-Ayer, the council vice president, went through those reasons Tuesday, saying that she hadn’t been convinced that any of them were true, although it was an interesting, quaint and tranquil property.

Narconon was disappointed with the decision, said Bruce Dean, an attorney representing the organization. It should have been an easy decision to support the historic designation, but a lot of extraneous information was included in the process, Dean said.

Before voting for the historic designation, Shreve similarly had said that other information clouded the council’s decision.

“It’s a sad day in Frederick County history if this fails,” he said.

This was the third time the council discussed the topic. The last time, on April 21, it postponed the vote to review the record.

At the time, a county attorney, Michael Chomel, told council members to consider only whether the historic commission were correct in recommending the property for the list. If the commission were correct, he said, the council should approve the property for the list.

On Tuesday, Chomel gave the council slightly different advice, pointing out how the county’s code on the topic allowed some leeway for members to divert from the commission’s recommendation.

The council’s decision was surprising, said Chuck Farmer, who worked on maintenance of Trout Run in the past and sent the council information about its history.

“I was glad to see that no matter what side of the aisle they were on, they were able to look at the details,” he said.

Follow Jen Fifield on Twitter: @JenAFifield.

(58) comments


Congratulations Frederick County Councilpersons. Know the owners can get on with what they the owners are looking for. The use of their property verses what its register designation. I am not sure it was a wise thing for county to determine that a Historic Designation could be a path for the owners desired use.


Kirby and Bud are on the same side?


No, Kirby realizes that it is the only smart thing. His opponent last fall was Mark Long and Mark headed up the No Narconon group. Kirby could have been and idiot, which would not be new territory, but he did the smart thing, this time.


If they would apply to have the buildings demolished, I wonder how many people will come running back saying their historic.


The buildings are there and they are not historic. If it is their choice to destroy them and lose any residual value, it is their right. I for one will not shed any tears.


I am not sure what you mean by apply, I don't think you need a permit to demolish a building, outside the City limits. I don't really care, but it does raise an interesting question.


There is a permit required for demolition, one for residential and one for residential. It goes to the Office of Permits and is labeled Building Permit Information Nonresidential Demolition. And there is a small fee per building demolished.



congrats on a job well done , council ...shreve of douse being his usual clown self


Which "side of the aisle" did the fat lady sit on


The change in atmosphere in Winchester Hall is intoxicating. What a difference yesterday's meeting was from the long line of disappointments hoisted upon FC residents by the old Young BoCC.

Tell me, folks, how does it feel to be listened to? To have your opinions respected? To be treated with civility?

I don't even have a complaint about Billy Boy voting in favor of the historical designation, after all, wouldn't it be disconcerting if every Councilman voted exactly the same as each other on a wide variety of subjects?

Disagreement is welcomed, provided it is not done with malice, out of spite or in an offensive manner.

Congratulations Frederick County Councilmen.


Yes, even Bud's office is commenting on how civil the meeting yesterday was and Billy didn't even blame Bud for everything or say anything about his lost key and how Jan probably stole it. I have to ask Jan; "Did you steal Billy's key?" lol


Couldn't they just buy a property with the correct zoning?

And go fishing on weekends?


The property probably suited their needs. It is out of sight and yet conveniently close to the large cities of Baltimore and Washington.


Poor Mr. Shreve, finding the short end of an issue yet again, describing the vote as "A sad day in Frederick County history" while the room erupts in cheers, laughter and applause.


Did he cry?


I didn't have an opinion one way or the other, but Frederick County is clearly not "Open for Business" Lets get all of those pesky signs down.


Oh my friend Frederick is Clearly open for bussiness, Just not the ones who bleed the county dry. Bechtel wanted massive reductions in State taxes to the point of no return to anyone here
Alcoa aluminum created massive amounts of cancers due to the smelting procces, so much so they left the United States.
And if you think for One minute this trout run thing would have brought any money here,? naw We all know your smarter than that.
Do you want a montgomery county, do you want a loudin county. I dont think you can aford it.


Bechtel Company may not have provided any taxes directly, but there were 2,000 jobs with many of those people living in Frederick County and paying taxes. Now, over time, most of them will move and it not only effects income taxes, it will have an effect on property values.

It was a no brainer to meet and negotiate with Bechtel, but the Blaine gang failed us.


Many have moved. I had two friends move from Frederick's Spring Ridge to somewhere near Leesburg.


So, does this group now sue the owner who falsely sold it under pretense of historic implications?
Seems to me they purchased this property knowing what they intended.


Guess they could sue the owner but it seems, if you follow the purchases back it appears they bought it from themselves, through a shell company, not sure they can sue the original owners of the place. ?


They bought it knowing the zoning, so if they sue what will be their basis? That they hoped to change the zoning, based on a loophole in the zoning law? They tried to keep it a secret and their subterfuge did not work, whose blame was that?

What they might try to do is to use it anyway and claim it is for another purpose. The question then becomes one of what will the County do to protect it's zoning.


BUT, didn't you say below the the GAME IS OVER?


Narconon/Scientology might sue, but they wouldn't sue the owner, since it wasn't his responsibility, and it wouldn't serve a purpose.


The County has attorneys, it will give them something to do and keep up their practice.


“It’s almost too good to be true,” said Kimberly Mellon, who started the Facebook page “No Narconon at Trout Run,” which had 340 members as of Tuesday. Mellon said before the meeting that the members were opposed for different reasons, such as concerns about Narconon’s program, the county’s zoning decisions on the site, and how the proposed use would affect the site’s streams.

Still not sure exactly what per se this group did other than post stuff on a FB page?

Perhaps someone could enlighten me?


Ms Mellon, although a resident of Washington County, often involves herself in the affairs of Frederick County. I don't know what her motives are. If she was a resident of FC my guess would be that she's thinking of a run for office.


Very pleased with this decision. The property is not historic period.


Good Decision Council!![thumbup][thumbup]


So glad the majority voted no! I salute this bi-partisan gesture on the part of the Council! I would love to see more reaching out across the party lines for the good of the county. Good work and thank you for listening to the citizens!


"For continuing coverage on the quest to bring a Narconon facility to Frederick County, go to..."

For the FNP to word it in this manner is ridiculous and reprehensible. Do you folks have any idea regarding the meaning of "public trust"?


For continuing coverage on the quest to stop a Narconon facility in Frederick County, go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Frederick-Chronicles/489681077776883


[thumbup] that's more like it!

the FNP flubs it, AGAIN.


I do not understand how a historic designation gives this the right to operate a drug rehab. It sounds counter-intuitive. I may be stupid but could someone enligjten me


there's no 'there' there... it's a stupid outdated (or a plain old-fashioned mistake) error in the code.

if you'd like to understand this more fully - pleze take the time to read the following article: excerpt:


From the very beginning, the new owners of the developed portion of Trout Run (Social Betterment Properties International and Scientology) knew that what they intended to do with the property (a drug treatment facility) was not allowed there, or anywhere in a Resource Conservation zone.

The land had long been, and still is zoned Resource Conservation.

Resource Conservation Zoning (RC)

The purpose of the Resource Conservation Zoning District is to allow low intensity uses and activities which are compatible with the goal of resource conservation to be located within mountain and rural wooded areas. Areas within this district include mountain areas, rural woodlands, and cultural, scenic, and recreation resource areas. Environmentally sensitive areas within the resource conservation zone, including FEMA floodplain, steep slopes, wetlands and the habitats of threatened and endangered species, will be protected from development."

and there's lots more (no pun intended) in this well documented article online:





"If they approve the historic designation, the owners of the property, Social Betterment Properties International, are no longer bound by the current zoning, which is Resource Conservation. Resource Conservation zoning is designed to protect woodlands, steep slopes and stream corridors from intensive use that would endanger those features. A group home/drug rehab center would no doubt endanger those features. There are two features the historic designation was based upon that would be destroyed for a group home/drug rehab center: the landscaping and the historic nature of Trout Run.

Once the property is given the historic designation, the property owners, Social Betterment, are no longer bound to conserve the land and its features. They could pave over paradise and put up a parking lot."


NOTE TO FNP : Didn't you folks show up a little late to the dance?


If the FNP does not want to report it as it is, we will help them![wink]


It's just not a historic register property. That's it. Good call by the majority.


Super majority.


Let the games begin.


I think the Council just voted, "Game over."


Mav, they began a couple of years ago.


The games started a couple of years ago. As Pickanotherid states; "Game Over".


Sorry DickD and Pickanotherid but the GAME is not over. All you are doing is patting yourselves on the back for winning only the first round of many more GAMES to come. If you were playing with millions of dollars in investment dollars and planning cost would you just turn your back on a SINGLE vote confined to a NO vote over whether the property was/is historical or not?

We haven't even gotten to the subject of this long time debate. GAMES are perpetual and are forever. Think of this as a battle WON that comes with bragging rights for 340 facebook members who continue to shop in the senior section, like yourself.

Look on the brightside, you have yet to solve or even suggest how Frederick County is going to overcome its addiction to heroin, alcohol and rising numbers of heroin overdoses that share the FNP headlines along with your fear of a religion, not your own .

Which side of the aisle are you going to be sitting on when it comes to REFINANCING existing drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers who are running out of money and assets on a daily basis to serve the State's heroin problem, much less Frederick County?

And who is going to be held responsible for containing water and sewer problems at the site that continues to filter into our creek, river beds and what eventually becomes ground and drinking water.

SO, let this WIN be a reminder that there is nothing more constant than change, including the consequences of rot and what we have identified as eye sores and abandoned properties throughout the Frederick Region.

Pray all you want to your GOD to make all this man-made garbage go away. Light as many candles as you care to, and hope HE will take care of what you can't bring yourself to do HERE on earth.

You and your partner, Pickanotherid, were not sent down to shut me up. HE sent me to hear you out. I'm still listening, but under the provisions of GOD's first tenet to man I prefere the graces of FREE WILL and not historical scripted messaging services that Churches, all churches, hand out every day of the week to make you feel better about yourself, in what ever form or forum you care to lie to by OMMISSION, much the same way as you're doing here.

Simply said, the game is not over until the fat lady sings.


As ArMilitary said; "It's just not a historic register property. That's it. Good call by the majority."


Congratulations! excellent work!!!




Glad to see bipartisan agreement on this issue. Thank you to the councilmen who voted no.


Why don't you e-mail them a personal thank you?[beam]




Say there FNP, would it be too much to ask that someone actually proof read this article before you print it????


and P.S. FNP, your online editorial w/ today's date is full of grammatical errors...'JUST SAYIN'.... !


Maybe they didn't go to college or learn how to use word?


Wonderful news for our county!




Wow, that was a surprise! I thought the vote would be close, but I think they are right.

Welcome to the discussion.

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