A decision made Monday by the city of Frederick's Planning Commission should mean that Frederick County can sell the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living property to a private company that just took over the centers' operations.

But it's really not that simple.

The commission voted unanimously Monday, for the second time now, to grant the county's request to subdivide the property, near Montevue Avenue and Rosemont Lane, so the centers are separate from the rest of the county operations.

The subdivision allows the county to hand over ownership of the centers and land to Aurora Health Management. Aurora took over the facility operations, including staff and finances, on May 1.

But the transfer of the property is complicated by court matters and potential appeals. The subdivision decision, and a question about the deed of the land, are both matters making their way through Circuit Court due to opposition from a resident group.

The residents don't want a private company to take over operations of the centers because when the county ran the centers, the majority of residents it accepted couldn't pay for the service. The residents paid what they could from their income and benefits, and the county covered the rest.

Aurora will accept only those who can pay for service.

Many commission members said Monday that, while they may have other opinions about the sale of the land, the subdivision met all requirements that they could consider for their decision.

Making decisions that are fair, unbiased and based on law sometimes mean making decisions that "say yes to something that we might not like to do," said Alderwoman Kelly Russell.

Kate McConnell, a member of the commission, said the decision was difficult.

"But for me, it's clear what subdivision regulations are, and those are the rules that we follow," she said.

The county realizes that the resident group can now appeal the commission's decision to the city's Zoning Board of Appeals within 30 days, said John Mathias, county attorney.

After all, the group has appealed the same decision before.

The commission heard the subdivision request from the county in spring 2013 and decided to subdivide the land at that time.

In November, the appeals board considered an appeal from residents of the commission's decision and voted to vacate the decision and remand it back to the commission for consideration. That is how the issue made it back to the commission Monday.

Complicating the issue further, the county appealed the Zoning Board of Appeals' November decision to Circuit Court. That case has yet to be heard.

Where it goes from here, "it's completely unclear," but residents plan to fight to the end, said attorney Paul Flynn of Powell Flynn, who is representing the residents.

Residents argue the commission should have considered the negative effect the subdivision, and the sale, would have on public services. The Land Management Code instructs the commission to consider the effect subdivisions will have on the city's adequate public facilities, which includes the care centers, Flynn said.

Mathias argues that that part of the code doesn't apply in this case, but even if it did, he said the sale won't have a negative effect on public facilities.

Mathias said the county commissioners are sensitive to the issue. In the new agreement with Aurora, the county agreed to pay $10.7 million over five years to provide care for the indigent residents who already lived at the centers as of May 1, so they could stay, he said. Also, future elected officials could decide to pay for a certain number of indigent residents to live at the centers.

(11) comments

elymus43

What more is it going to get the Frederick County voters to wake up and see what's going on????????????

MCEDDE21

I think the voters can see what's going on. But, they will have to get to the polls on election day...

Newthinking7

How about fair play is turnaround.
How about the fab four being held leagaly responisible for financial damages done against voters wishes.
How about since the majority of citizens apear not to want this, and these four fellas choseing to charge our credit cards up, footing the bill
Put your money where your profits are guys.
Show us the way by demostration of good faith. oh, no takers ?

catcher

This whole deal stinks on ice. "[F]uture elected officials could decide to pay for a certain number of indigent residents to live at the centers." Yeah, sure they could -- at, what, triple the cost? The unseemly rush to deny the already existing and valuable service to the county's deserving elderly poor by rights should force the voters to confront the Bizarro World antics of the county government. I hope they do so.

Extra Ignored

So while it costs the taxpayer $1000 a week to keep indigent citizens at Montevue Assistive Living it could cost taxpayers $3000 a week to keep indigent citizens at Odyssey Assisted Living in six years.

What is Blaine Young's cut?

MCEDDE21

With reference to today's other front page item, "Developer sues Fort Detrick for $37 million":
Last night, Aurora attorney John Mathias stated that Aurora had performed the Phase I and Phase II environmental tests and found no contamination on the Montevue site. (Well! No conflict of interest there!)
What if they find something later? Will they sue Detrick... the County... the City Planning commission for approving the subdivision?

pretzel

"Aurora will only accept those who can pay" no kidding but hey, why not turn our backs on the people who helped make Frederick. So here's a question, for the people who are staying there now that can't afford to pay who gets to tell them it's time to pack it up you can't stay here anymore? and who is going to carry their belongings to the vacant lot they will be staying? I bet not anyone who voted them out.

Newthinking7

Not sure i read this with understanding. Did the planning commision aprove this even though it is not what the citizens do not want?
Did the planning commision simply follow rules that were ? jilted to start with, outdated, or did not aply in this case?
Why bother have a commsision if all they do is garbage in garbage out?

Not sure i am capable of understanding how complicated it is to live here.

Dwasserba

[thumbup] "the subdivision met all requirements the commission could consider".
So some decisions that are really unpopular have to happen because popularity isn't a requirement.
It's getting like you need a law degree just to read the paper here.

brian

I do not like that they approved this to move forward. However, I am confused at what is so difficult to follow. The law currently states that if X, Y, and Z are met, then you must approve the subdivisioning of the property. The members of the Planning Commission reviewed the county's submission and they met X, Y, and Z. By *law*, they had to approve. Had they not approved, they could be held liable.

KellyAlzan

well on the bright side at least we now know that Ba'Lane has no chance of being elected CE.

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