Only a major partner working with Frederick County Council Vice President Michael Blue (R) testified at a meeting Tuesday about a zoning change that would allow scuba diving near his quarry east of Woodsboro.
Brad Hill, who owns Comus Construction, thanked Blue and the rest of the council for their work and for getting to “learn about” the government process.
The proposal for opening a scuba center and related attractions has been a joint venture between Blue, Hill and Baltimore-area scuba instructor Matt Skogebo. Hill, Skogebo, members of the county’s Planning and Permitting Division and others were present at Tuesday’s public hearing.
Blue, Skogebo and Hill worked for months with county staff reviewing the county’s mineral mining code, and drafting language allowing a scuba diving center and related attractions, The Frederick News-Post previously reported.
The proposal, which includes the scuba facility, an ecology center, RV parking, a clubhouse/restaurant and other components, is estimated to cost around $30 million.
Blue said Tuesday all the feedback he’s received from council members and the public about the proposal has been positive. He added he doesn’t anticipate any major changes before his bill reaches a vote.
The bill currently defines a scuba facility as “Any building, structure or area of land and water that is used for scuba diving education and recreation” and stipulates that the site:
- Uses an open-pit mine fed by a natural spring.
- Has setbacks of 50 feet from all property lines, and 300 feet from all mineral mining, extraction, processing and hauling equipment.
- Receives approval from the Maryland Department of the Environment prior to site plan approval.
Councilman Phil Dacey (R) said the project has could increase tourism in the northern part of the county, especially given there aren’t many diving centers in the region, Dacey added.
“It’s a hidden gem in Frederick County,” Dacey said, adding that he recently toured the property. “It’s beautiful, and I think the potential there is incredible.”