Two attractions in southern Frederick County are especially popular in the Washington metropolitan area — Sugarloaf Mountain and the Monocacy National Battlefield Park. Visitors enjoy them and often linger here for dining or other activities. So besides being a source of pride, these two attractions are a boost to the county's economy. A misstep by county planners has put both these attractions at risk.
In the draft plan for preserving the treasured landscape of Sugarloaf Mountain, planners unaccountably removed from the protection of the plan a 490-acre cutout in its eastern boundary. A single developer owns 380 acres of the cutout, or over 77 percent. Development there would break the long-standing respect for I-270 as separator of intense development to the east from the rural landscape to the west. Once this happens, others will press for equal treatment, and pockets of development can be expected to spread west toward Sugarloaf Mountain, just the situation the Sugarloaf Plan was supposed to avoid.
For the Monocacy National Battlefield Park, nearby development would degrade the experience that park visitors expect. In its rural setting, one can gain a feel for the fierce struggle and brave actions of soldiers in the aptly-named “battle that saved Washington.” Development of nearby properties would make it impossible to picture the conflict and to feel the heroism and sacrifice of those soldiers.
A simple change in the eastern boundary of the Sugarloaf Plan can avoid harm to Sugarloaf Mountain and to the Monocacy National Battlefield Park. Running the eastern boundary of the Sugarloaf Plan along I-270 from the county line to the Monocacy River will accomplish this — a simple change that will be a “twofer,” not just for the county, but for the whole Washington metropolitan area.
County planners and the County Council are eager to hear views on this issue. Contact links are: