The Sugarloaf planning area

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

During a series of virtual open houses for a proposal to enhance preservation of Sugarloaf Mountain and its surrounding area, county residents voiced disapproval that an area near Thurston Road and Interstate 270 was no longer part of the plan. 

Residents who spoke during the open houses last week said they oppose Urbana’s rapid development creeping across I-270 and into the area spanning 490 acres of land.

“There are some wonderful rural natural features that will suffer negatively from this specific removal,” a county resident said during the second open house Thursday.

The plan, known formally as The Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Management Plan, is a piece of the larger Livable Frederick Master Plan — adopted in 2019 as the prevailing policy document for development and preservation for the county. County officials first announced the Sugarloaf plan in February 2020, and planners released an initial proposal at the end of July 2021.

Protecting the area’s natural resources and ecosystem — including forests, bodies of water and wildlife habitats — is chief among the proposal's goals, and preserving the Sugarloaf area’s scenic and rural character is key to maintaining its identity within the county, project lead Tim Goodfellow said during the open houses.

The proposal defines a 17,000-acre boundary for the Sugarloaf area, which runs to the south along the Montgomery County line and winds with the Monocacy River before reaching Md. 80, Fingerboard Road and the Hope Hill community to the north. The eastern boundary loosely follows Md. 80 to I-270 and then back to the county line.

It also includes initiatives to address quality of life concerns in the area, including building a network of water storage tanks for the county to use in case of forest fires, which would prepare the area in case of infernos that may become more likely with rising global temperatures. Another initiative would explore whether police should enhance enforcement of speed limits on Thurston and Park Mills roads.

In addition to offering chances for public input, last week's open houses included an overview from county planners of the initial proposal for the Sugarloaf Plan that was released in July.

The 490 acres omitted from the county’s proposal is somewhat of an entrance into the Sugarloaf area, Goodfellow said. Those who felt the area should’ve been included appeared to view it as inseparable from the larger Sugarloaf area.

“It’s very disturbing that there seems to be this area that’s carved out,” one constituent said during Tuesday's open house.

In all, 29 people commented during the open houses, Goodfellow said. The vast majority of those who gave input were against excluding the area from the proposal, Goodfellow said.

Councilman Jerry Donald (D), whose district houses the Sugarloaf area, said he’s heard similar concerns from constituents who fear that leaving the area out of the broader Sugarloaf plan leaves it open for development.

County planners opted not to include the area out of concern it didn’t align with other elements of the proposal, Goodfellow said, adding that planners would need to further evaluate zoning districts and land uses in the area for it to receive consideration. The county may address the area in a different plan, he said.

Come September, the Planning Commission will review the proposal and, eventually, forward recommendations to the County Council. County planners will brief the council on Sept. 7, and formal recommendations will come later in the month.

The council, Goodfellow said, is the final authority on the plan and can make any changes to the commission's final recommendations it deems necessary.

Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan

(12) comments

DG Owl

There's a reason we and I'm sure others moved to Frederick County (we came from Gaithersburg), in large part to escape MoCo and its overdevelopment. Now it's creeping north. Who is putting a governor on this over-development? Isn't that the job of the people we elect? There has been Zero infrastructure developing, esp with streets/roads, which already have limited capacity. Aren't developers supposed to include that in their plans when building? In the six short years we've been in Frederick, have seen massive over-building: next to Oakdale HS; Zoe Ln development behind Winding Ridge; Linganore Rd and 144 development; Monocacy Blvd between Church and Monroe and on it goes. Feels like Urbana or Germantown. Enough please!!


“Enough please”!! Says the man who moved north from Montgomery County🤔

I remember when Bethesda was still primarily farmland and MoCo north of Bethesda was ONLY villages and farmland… until people started to expand out of the city. The rural residents in those villages also cried out “Enough please!’ but they were already part of the problem. The true root of the problem is the ever-growing federal government attested by the fact that seven of the ten wealthiest counties in the US surround Washington DC.

Does anyone REALLY believe that any county council can stop that kind of economic pressure?


The problem is thee is no regulation on the number of children people can have and in fact at least state and federal governments promote population growth through their discriminatory income tax policies whereby one generally pays less taxes the more children one has. If one is for income tax deductions and credits for having children, then logically one can't be against providing for the needs that the growth places on everyone. You reap what you sow.


Agree with all of the comments here. The 500 acres need to be included with the Sugarloaf parcel. We residents have put up with enough (too many) gimmes for developers. The county's overcrowded schools are testament to that. The previous slate of county commissioners did extensive damage to the county with all of their giveaways, and we'll be paying for their actions for years to come.


Build up, not out. MoCo has slowly learned this, but o course we wouldn't need to worry about it if we stopped growing the population and no Dick, I don't need your children to take care of me in my old age, I already have that covered. I'd rather protect the planet and other species and even ourselves from a growing human population. Population growth at this point leads to many problems beyond climate change as I've posted in past comments. Only short-sided and/or selfish people would disagree with the facts.


I just looked at the plan. It's easy to find by searching Livable It is beautifully written and really seems to be all about protecting the area around Sugarloaf Mountain. Protecting 17,000 acres from intense development and respecting the environment and sensitive areas around Sugarloaf Mountain seems like an outstanding plan.




Urbana is a travesty. The last county commissioners really screwed the county residents on this. The only one that made money is Natelli. Now they want the rest of that area. It's time to stop the madness of over-developing our county. If you think Natelli cares, thing again. He doesn't, he only cares how much money is in his pocket.


If its not in the plan it will be built on, bet on that!!


This ground must be in this plan. Sorry, Natali and others have done enough damage.


I believe the land in question is owned by Natalli? Go figure....



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