Frederick County Council members approved 22 amendments — with modifications to many of them — to the 2017 version of the Monocacy Scenic River Plan at its meeting Tuesday night.
Many of the amendments added a version of the word “voluntary” and added language to show the plan was not trying to infringe on private property rights. It also added the word corridor and defined that term in the plan’s glossary.
Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) and Councilman Steve McKay (R) were the authors of many of the amendments. Councilman Phil Dacey (R) added two amendments Tuesday that stated the plan “supports the establishment, creation and maintenance of a voluntary riparian buffer consistent with State guidelines” and emphasized that the plan “does not advocate public use of private property.”
Kai Hagen (D) was the lone “no” vote on the former amendment, as well as others. Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater (D) was absent Tuesday.
Hagen said multiple times that the plan never meant to infringe on property rights and that some of the language was repetitive, including the word “voluntary.”
“I understand the motivation, but I think it’s overkill,” Hagen said of the use if the word before the council started discussing the 22 amendments.
One of McKay’s amendments was to add language related to green infrastructure, natural resources and other terms related to the 2010 Frederick County Comprehensive Plan that were previously removed.
McKay said he took specific goals from that plan and inserted them into the amendment, which passed 6-0.
The council’s efforts were praised by multiple people Tuesday, including Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board member George Grillon, from Carroll County.
Grillon, however, said the river board needs guidance on its role, given that Carroll County approved the 2018 version of the plan, which the Frederick County Council rejected last month. It’s also unclear if both counties will work together on one plan, he said.
“We’re in sort of a quandary,” Grillon said.
Keegan-Ayer said after the meeting it’s possible the council will have to make more changes to the plan after next week’s public hearing. She added, however, that she wants to have some version of the plan completed by mid-April.
The fate of the plan also depends on whether the Carroll County Board of Commissioners is open to Frederick County’s changes, and still want to work with the council to form one plan, she said.
Keegan-Ayer said she talked to Stephen Wantz, the president of that body, last week. Wantz remained receptive to compromising on the plan, she said.
“I’ve been sending Stephen Wantz all of our stuff,” Keegan-Ayer. “He gets copies of all our amendments, [and] he’s like, you guys are actually doing some interesting things, so maybe I can get my board to move. ... Again, I can’t guarantee Carroll County is going to do anything, but I will always extend the olive branch to see if they’re willing to come along.”
The public hearing on the new proposed 2017 plan will be April 9 at 7 p.m. at Winchester Hall.