The Sugarloaf planning area

This map of Frederick County shows the Sugarloaf Planning Area as outlined in the county’s proposal.

During an update to Frederick County Council on Tuesday, county planners said they didn’t include nearly 500 acres near the Interstate 270-Md. 80 interchange in a preservation plan proposal because it didn’t align with the proposal’s central focus of preserving land surrounding Sugarloaf Mountain.

Council members Steve McKay (R), Kai Hagen (D) and Jerry Donald (D) — whose district houses Sugarloaf Mountain — asked county planners why the interchange area wasn’t included in the plan.

“We didn’t think it was necessary to include [the area] in this plan, because this plan is focused on Sugarloaf Mountain and resource conservation measures related to that,” Planning and Permitting Director Steve Horn said during Tuesday's council meeting.

The area is west of I-270, the traditional dividing line between the rural areas surrounding Sugarloaf Mountain and development in Urbana. Horn said I-270 would remain the western boundary for growth in Urbana, and he added the Sugarloaf plan would create an additional line to separate the county’s preservation land from its development.

County officials first announced the Sugarloaf plan in February 2020, and planners released an initial proposal in July 2021.

Protecting the Sugarloaf area’s natural resources and ecosystem — including forests, bodies of water and wildlife habitats — is chief among the proposal's goals, and preserving the land’s scenic and rural character is key to maintaining its identity within the county, environmental planner Tim Goodfellow said during a series of open house for the proposal in August.

The proposal outlines a 17,000-acre boundary for the Sugarloaf area. Aside from land near the interchange, the boundary follows I-270 from the county line bordering Montgomery County north to Md. 80, Fingerboard Road and the Hope Hill community. From there it winds south with the Monocacy River until again reaching the county line.

The proposal is part of the Livable Frederick Master Plan, which was adopted in 2019 as the prevailing policy document for development and preservation for the county. The Livable Frederick plan identifies a “corridor for growth and development” along I-270, including the interchange area. The plan also states the county will support “policies that facilitate the development” of the area along I-270 to take advantage of access to employment centers in the region.

Despite not being included in the Sugarloaf plan, the interchange area is still permitted for agricultural use only, and as a result isn't currently available to be developed, Horn said.

Roughly three-quarters of the land near the interchange is property of Natelli Communities, a company largely responsible for development in Urbana.

“In the context of the larger objectives of the [Livable Frederick Master Plan], the best way to preserve large expanses of ground in the County is to concentrate development along the corridors where substantial infrastructure already exists,” Tom Natelli, the company's CEO, said in a letter to the county’s planning commission Monday.

County planners emphasized during and after the meeting the proposal presented to the council was a draft, and they expect the proposal to change before the council is expected to vote on it in 2022.

“We’re at the beginning of a pretty extensive review process,” Livable Frederick Director Kimberly Golden Brandt said during the council meeting.

Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan

(8) comments

Frayou

Seems we heard the story before “proposed Amazon warehouse” or other business venue. It was used during the planning for Jefferson Technology Park and access bridge. Called for a major hotel and shopping center. All I’ve seen are mega townhouses so far. The rumors are the hotel & commercial business will come. Same ole story. I have no doubt Frederick County Government, will rationalize for keeping it out of the plan. You can see the positioning already.

DeltaOne

During the first few moments of public comment a caller asked each council member to say if they were under a NDA regarding the Sugarloaf plan. I only recall one council member, Hagen, bringing this up saying he "could not answer the question." I take this to mean he is under a NDA.

Then some vague comments about Natelli and a plan for an Amazon warehouse and data center on the "not included" 500 acres. When I hear Natelli I think houses. Does Natelli want to build houses on these 500 acres or does he have an agreement with Amazon for a warehouse and/or data center?

The three planners kept saying the 500 acres are zoned agricultural and could not be developed. Then a minute later saying the property owner can apply for rezoning at any time.

Hagen, McKay and Donald seem to want the 500 acres to be included in the Sugarloaf preservation plan. Will they succeed?

I looked around a bit for more information on a potential Amazon deal but couldn't find anything. Anyone know the Amazon/Natelli details?

TrekMan

It's all about the Benjamin's. Somebody, not sure who, is in Natelli's pocket. If he gets his zoning for more homes on the 500 acres, IT'S ALL OVER PEOPLE! The rest will come next. Can you imagine if those homes are built, what Thurston Rd. will be like? It hurts me that, that beautiful road will be history. The council members can change it, but will they?

gjthuro

The question asked was why the change for 500 acres ; and the answer is easy, 375 acres belongs to Grease Gun Natelli who could easily build 1000 homes on that site ...what Natelli wants , Natelli gets ...its always all about the MONEY

Guy T. Ashton

25 years from now he will be a pillar of the community, start an art foundation, give away free money, and everyone will praise the name of Ausherman….er Natelli.

public-redux

Why do you hate capitalism, hard work, and personal accountability so much?

Guy T. Ashton

“ County planners emphasized during and after the meeting the proposal presented to the council was a draft, and they expect the proposal to change before the council is expected to vote on it in 2022.” I think we all know how this is going to end, and if the plan does change it’s not going to be against the developer.

Blueline

Touche.

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