With its winding trails and rural character, the land around Sugarloaf Mountain will be the first to be studied as part of the implementation of the county’s Livable Frederick master plan.

“We all value the history and the unique environmental resources of Sugarloaf and the surrounding area,” County Executive Jan Gardner said Monday in announcing the start of the Sugarloaf Treasured Landscape Area Plan. “We want to make sure they are protected for the future.”

As part of Livable Frederick, areas around the county will be looked at from a planning perspective to determine the county’s future growth.

Small geographic areas, neighborhoods and villages will be studied to determine how they should change and grow.

Broader plans will also be incorporated to examine larger swaths of the county.

There will also be more thematic reviews of topics such as green and agricultural infrastructure.

Livable Frederick seeks to take a more comprehensive approach to planning and growth in the county.

“How and where we grow is and will continue to be a hot topic in Frederick County. And we really only get one chance to do it right,” Gardner said.

The size of Frederick County — the largest geographically in Maryland — makes the need to focus on small areas individually all the more important, she said.

Gardner said the Sugarloaf plan could also create a process that the county could use for Catoctin Mountain in the northern part of the county and for South Mountain to the west.

Sugarloaf Mountain and the nearby agricultural land highlight some of the distinctive and most scenic parts of the county, said Tim Goodfellow, the environmental planner for the county’s Livable Frederick team.

“Through sound policies, wise recommendations and actions, the Sugarloaf Area Plan can protect and enhance the natural and cultural assets and the overall health of the Sugarloaf planning area as we proceed through the 21st century,” he said.

The area around Sugarloaf is controlled by Stronghold Inc., a nonprofit group designed to protect and preserve the land. John Webster, the group’s president, declined to comment on Monday’s announcement.

The county’s original guide to implementing Livable Frederick had Sugarloaf near the top, said Denis Superczynski, planning manager for the Livable Frederick design team.

Surrounded by forests and farms, the Sugarloaf area represents a large part of the county, he said.

The area also has residents who had already been engaged with the county in recent years over a proposed gun range and then a wedding venue that was considered for the community, he said.

Once the small area plans get up and going, the county will have two or three in progress at any one time, Superczynski said.

Each will have a briefing book as a “conversation starter” available on the county’s website, with information on the challenges and opportunities it represents, information on the area’s background, a timetable and broad description of the planning process, a community profile, maps and other information, he said.

Each proposal will have an advisory group of property owners, citizen groups and others, as well as public outreach meetings to get feedback, he said.

The first outreach meeting for the Sugarloaf plan will be at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Urbana High School cafeteria.

The county’s next area plan is expected to be in the Md. 85/Md. 355 corridor, and will likely get underway in March or April, Superczynski said.

That corridor is a key economic development area for the county, Gardner said, and presents different challenges and opportunities than the Sugarloaf region.

But sometimes what the county does outside of its major growth areas is just as important as what it does in them, she said.

“I think it’s important that we do both,” she said.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP.

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(17) comments


"Air conditioning freed new depths of interior space to shopping, wrapping the consumer in inescapably comfortable environments. The escalator gave the shopper a means to effortlessly traverse the rapidly expanding distances and heights of commercial environments. Even nature has been synthetically reinvented to survive within the increasing artificiality of the newly endless interior. Shopping is expanding, now, by learning more about us. Through a new wave of technological inventions, shopping expands, beyond replication and scale, by inflitrating almost all areas of our lives, through devices such as..." from Mutiations / Rem Koolhaas, Harvard Project on the City. We can study all we want. Please. On whose dime and to what end? To 'would' - 'could' - 'should' governance over property, liberty and life? But the facts are; recent figures show that Germany's current car purchases are 62% electric, 7% fossil fuel. High speed rail is being invested in, choosing instead to modernise highways, and roads in facilitating the inevitable elegant surveillance system - The Internet of Things, AI, and driver-less cars. Preserve to your hearts content. But Maryland is apparently delighted to invest in"our" signature climate change answer: a highway expansion, including toll booths. All for our good of course. With the passage of the ballon ordiance this morning, statues removed, and now apparently flags are being added to the list of Frederick's Noisome Doctrine and Decrees. It all comes back to this for me - a plan is meant to be a study. After all these decades of knowing what we know to come to pass - now - suddenly we need to study more? What do we need to know about this? The voter demographic play is Urbana. That all these studies and findings are nothing without investment. Hogan's own environmental plan is little more than a mantra prayer book of "public-private" "public-private" ... But we still are paying for Maryland's gift to the environment - a highway, with toll roads. PS: Apparently Frederick's identity is rooted in Socratic irony: Where's our ampitheater, our outdoor forum for all of us? Where is our architectural wonder - our forum? Without an endless interior - exposed to what we have done.


Great, a sliver of Southern Frederick County becomes livable, while the rest- Urbana, Monrovia, and New Market/Lake Linganore get more and more unlivable.


You can thank Blaine and the boys for that! I appreciate the effort to protect an area of Frederick County that is under intense development pressure.


You do know that a lot of the development today, like the Urbana area, was zoned for it back in the 60's before Young and his cohorts came into office. While they're responsible for some of the destruction of this county, they aren't responsible for all of it.


Dear Sugarloaf Mountain,

Prepare to be mauled by chain saws and bulldozers, and excavation equipment. We say we cherish you, and that we’re really trying to protect you, but we just can’t resist plopping down mansions around your base. We’re going to have to cut down some nice trees, but we’ll replant some twigs somewhere else and in 50 years they might grow up nice. We’ll also have to dig up and widen your scenic roads to make room for trucks and SUVs that will pollute your air and disturb the wildlife that has no where else to go. Cyclists love to ride all around you, but it won’t be as pleasant for them as it it once was. Oh, well, lots of people can’t atand them anyway.

Oh, might also disturb a creek or 2 and possibly a destroy some wetlands, but unfortunately we can’t replace that. The wildlife will just have to do without. You see, we MUST grow at all costs. We can’t stop. There’s money to be made by a select few people and we can’t turn them down. They might sue us. We’ll have to raise taxes on everyone for despoiling what little is left of your original natural beauty, but we have dominion over you. That’s just the way it is. See you soon.

Frederick County


My comment of course was meant as pure sarcasm. I haven’t looked at the Sufarloaf plan so I can’t comment sensibly on it. But the skeptic in me couldnt resist venting with a pithy screed. I’ve been cranky lately over the climate change resolution and the whole impeach debacle, so I needed a cathartic moment.


So you oppose efforts to protect and preserve this area? Really?


I’m all for leaving it alone. Preservation oriented growth is a tad bit oxymoronic. I’m skeptical. Can you blame me?


I agree with you Matt. As soon as the wrong politicians get elected in Frederick County, Sugarloaf Mountain, as well as many other beautiful places in our County will disappear.


Sadly, you are absolutely correct sofanna.

When it comes to growth there is what I call a "ratchet effect". The best a good council and executive can do is hold the line -- not allow any further destruction -- and I don't recall that ever happening. Slower growth maybe, but not an outright moratorium.

Then, when the pendulum swings and the council is once again loaded with 'slash and burn, bulldoze everything in sight' people, more of the county will be destroyed -- forever. Once it has been built on and paved there is no bringing it back -- thus the "ratchet". As the years go by, a greater and greater percentage of the country is covered in ugly boxes.

About the best well-intentioned council members can do is get as much land into the preservation program as they can, as fast as they can.


Growth is inevitable. We cannot "stop" growing. Therefore we need to do so intelligently. I haven't seen the plan but hopefully it protects the region around Sugarloaf as well as the mountain itself. Focus growth on regions that make more sense from a transportation standpoint.


Are you suggesting there’s an infinite capacity here and perhaps everywhere for growth? You do realize that at least large developments don’t generate enough tax revenue to cover the new services and infrastructure they require? So what’s the upside? The only “growth” we need now is white collar jobs, so people don’t have to commute out of county to work. Then let attrition take its course and the county will run on autopilot.


Not at all. I would prefer that the county remain as is, but that is not realistic. This area is growing. People are having children. People are moving to the DC area. There is absolutely zero chance that the population of Frederick County will not grow substantially in the next few decades. So we should prepare for that and focus growth in areas that are already brownfield, and have good transportation options. Sugarloaf is neither and I would not support building anywhere around there. But growth is happening and we need to have a good plan.


We can stop some growth and significantly slow it. The powers that be don't want that because it stifles revenue in their minds. There are way too many close-in places that could be better planned out rather than tearing down entire ecosystems like some developers in Linganore have and are doing (Ryan...you there?) and plopping down cookie cutter crap houses (sure they look nice but...don't want to be in one a few years down the road to see how they last with most builders). Somebody needs to grow a pair and make developers put in the infrastructure first before any other development takes place that will absorb the mess they are planning on making. Urbana's a prime example of their mess for miles around. By the time they're done with "controlled growth" only the rich will be able to afford to view the remaining small cluster of trees left on top of Sugarloaf.


I believe you are conflating several ideas. Growth will, and has to, occur. Population is increasing and those people need a place to live. If you stifle new developments then the existing ones skyrocket in value and only wealthy people can live here. It is a balance. One thing about Urbana; it is right on 270 so that is an appropriate place to build.


I'm not against growth. However, how many people will live in the newly approved 2 developments with a total of about 600 homes, that most people in Frederick County will not be able to afford. More of the County will be annexed into the City limits to increase taxes so the City is able to pay for some unnecessary projects. Many who already moved to the County, like we did 31 years ago, did so because we LIKED living in the County. We are all wasting our breath thinking anything will change. It won't.


Most of this area is to be preserved. Are they going to spend time and money performing a study on an area where nothing is to be done?

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