Much like the winding Monocacy River, debate over how to protect its water and the land of adjacent property owners has taken several twists for several years.

Late last week, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners decided that Frederick and Carroll counties should proceed with their own plans.

Frederick County passed its own Monocacy River Plan in April, after Carroll County approved one based on the work of the Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board last November. That board will be split up into separate bodies representing the two counties.

County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) and Carroll County Board of Commissioners President Stephen Wantz (R) said in interviews this week two key issues led to the split: the definition of the word “corridor,” and whether ecologically significant areas, or ESAs, should be included in the plan.

Keegan-Ayer said council members don’t want to change its corridor definition — which states that the river is “a linear feature versus a broader geographic area description as a watershed,” but doesn’t specify a distance from the riverbanks.

Carroll County wanted to define it as within the riverbanks, and also remove some references to ESAs throughout the plan.

“Frederick County has different visions for the river based on the fact we’re growing faster than Carroll County and our portion of the river is really a larger section,” Keegan-Ayer said. “We have to do what we need to do for our county based on how our county growth is impacting the river.”

Wantz said Frederick County Council members wouldn’t budge on the two aforementioned issues.

“I didn’t see any reason for moving forward in an attempt to having a joint plan,” he said. “It just can’t keep sitting out there spinning.”

The structure of the individual river boards going forward will likely differ. Wantz said he plans to appoint members soon, and wants to keep Carroll County members already appointed.

County Executive Jan Gardner (D) said in an interview this week she plans to introduce legislation next week to form a new board for Frederick County. It will contain between five and 10 members, and include members of the scientific community, landowners along the river, the agricultural community and others.

Council members would then have the ability to modify her proposal, she said.

According to the state’s Scenic and Wild Rivers Act, up to two members of those boards may own land contiguous to the Monocacy River, and land not contiguous.

Gardner, Wantz and Keegan-Ayer all said they weren’t concerned about two boards and two different plans serving one river.

Tensions have run high in the past concerning the river plan between two primary factions: those who want to protect the river’s water quality and other environmental factors, versus those who feared the document would serve as a springboard for local government to seize parts of their private property.

That includes the board itself, where Earl Bell, chair of the current Monocacy River Board, said this week he would prefer a “bicounty” board. That was seconded by Frederick County Council Vice President Michael Blue (R).

“It’s disappointing to me, because that’s not what I would have preferred,” Blue said. “But it’s not a big deal to go with Plan B.”

River Board Vice Chair Matthew Toms said two plans for one river could create issues.

“It could create complications,” Toms said. “I think the best thing for water quality if that’s the concern both counties has is both counties to work together as one. ... Long term, that would be the best thing. I think by splitting the boards up, we’re taking a short-term approach to a long-term problem.”

Keegan-Ayer, however, was frank about why the two counties split.

“You get to a point where you say, am I going to continue beating my head into a wall?” she said. “When it’s down to two core beliefs that the two boards cannot agree on, you just have to say, ‘We’re done.’”

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(4) comments

Comment deleted.

Matt has one redeemable quality, he is universally despised. No one in his small group of unemployed socialist is thought of as talented or bright. None are thought of as attractive. However, Matt usefulness is no one wants to be around him or have anything to do with him. Want to clear a room at a social event? Have this unemployed loud mouth show up.


Once again a very small group of name calling, illiterate, unemployed trolls attack anyone who doesn’t buy their illegal scheme. It goes like this, use a phony environmental cover story to help Jan Gardner take control of private property through regulation for a bike path. Neither Jan, the FC staff, FCC or the below group of minions have the moral compass to undertake a public project properly. All must go. Carroll Co did the right thing. No reason to be associated with a criminal enterprise like FC. Frederick CO has lost its way.


Gee, why would anyone be concerned about preserving Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in a river stewardship plan? Tongue firmly in cheek, of course. This just proves where Carroll’s head is at. They’d rather ignore those areas lest they interfere with future development or other “property rights.” The environment is of no concern to them.

And they think that corridor should be so narrowly defined that it’s only up to the banks?! So they’re basically saying, the River is only the water and the river bed. No adjacent land use should ever be a factor in protecting the water because it’s not a factor.

Times sure are crazy in Carroll County...good riddance.


Exactly right. They have convinced themselves that this is part of a vast liberal/socialist plot to take away their property rights and by extension the rights of all white Americans, rather than simple concern about pollution.

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