I live in Mount Airy but work in Frederick. So I either travel through Urbana or down Old National Pike to Interstate 70.

Both ways, I’ve noticed huge developments built or being built. What I don’t notice is roadways upgraded to handle these increases.

Since it takes years to build, you would think that the planning boards would have started thinking about roads as soon as they approved all these new homes.

Maybe they don’t start until traffic gets backed up and people start to complain. Or maybe they are busy planning their vacations, or retirement.

They don’t seem to be too worried about it. Now, don’t get me wrong, we need new housing for all the residents fleeing Montgomery County. Just make sure it doesn’t disrupt everyone else. And while we are at it, why are there not more big businesses in the area? I know Maryland is happy being a parasite off of D.C., but if the Convention of States ever gets through (and more and more states are fed up with the federal government) then at least half of the federal government will be gone to state control. Where do we suck the blood out of then?

Daniel Sauter

Mount Airy

(17) comments

Lev928

First, you are absolutely wrong about creating housing for those "fleeing Montgomery County". How do you think the entire traffic congestion problem started in the first place? The answer: over-development of lower Frederick County. Remove the rural areas by replacing it with housing so the county can get a higher tax base ... and guess what? More people = more traffic. It also means an increase in crime, fire-rescue/EMS calls for service, traffic collisions, infrastructure costs (to both build AND maintain), public utilities costs, etc etc etc.. By the way, the Convention of States is completely irrelevant and unrelated to your argument.

petersamuel

Kudos to County Councilman Steve McKay for working to turn back some of the irresponsible development decisions made by the predecessor Board of County Commissioners. County government must get revenue sources to fulfill its responsibilities, which do not run to supporting one developer of a hotel downtown, or setting up 'industrial parks' with so-called tax increment financing. Tax increments from development are pure myth based on the one-eyed view of development that focusses zombie-like on the new tax revenue likely to be generated while being blind to the offsetting extra costs of providing county services like policing, fire and ambulance, schools, trash and snow removal, and maintaining water & sewer and roads. To raise money on the basis of 'tax increments' is fraud. As McKay says there is no net increment. Tax increment financing is a deceitful and cowardly way of politicians claiming credit for their role in a shiny new facility while leaving the costs to a future generation in the form of enlarged county debt.

Mr Sauter: agreed that County planning for roads is awful. That's first because there's no direct revenue stream to fund them. And second because the people who dominate planning tend to be transit obsessives who think congestion on the roads isn't such a bad thing because it might 'get people out of their cars.' The Livable Frederick plan is notable for the way its transportation plans would make a presently pretty livable Frederick thoroughly UNlivable.

mrnatural1

In Iowa, where many of our family members live, they do something outrageous -- they actually build the roads BEFORE the new development is constructed.

This results in strange things -- like driving through corn and soybean fields on a brand new 4 lane divided highway, with no houses in sight.

stevemckay

What a novel and wonderful concept! I can recall a long ago conversation with the County’s senior traffic engineer where he opined that the County got it right when pushed out New Design Rd BEFORE the development it would later support. Would that this happen more often!

petersamuel

It would be an advance on present practice in Frederick if future roads were just planned and right of way reserved. For example, every City comprehensive plan until the present O’Connor plan has indicated a general alignment for a North-South Bypass Highway or Eastway — taking off from I-270 somewhere north of Urbana and following an alignment somewhat east of the Monocacy River and going south of Walkersville joining US15 around Biggs Ford Rd. I-270 from the Overlook and US15 through Frederick can only take one extra lane, and it would be valuable to have a right-of-way laid down for this Eastern bypass. Despite putting it in plan after City plan there has been no effort made to get an actual route established and zoning changed to prevent development in its future right of way. That’s because it is just outside City boundaries and the City and County have never got together to plan it. The present draft of the O’Connor comprehensive plan simply omits all mention of the planned Eastway. Somehow it has been dropped without any discussion. There’s the same story of failure to plan road connections on the western portion of the Monocacy Blvd and Chistophers Crossing peripheral route to US40 or to connect the new Monocacy Crossing/East Church St development to 7th St, or to link the expensive one-legged interchange of Jefferson Technology Parkway and US340/15 east to the Ballenger Creek area.

mrnatural1

Reminds me of a billboard my father showed me when I was a boy. It was somewhere in Iowa, and said:

"THINK AHEAd" -- with the lower case "d" because they ran out of room on the sign...

francesca_easa

It sounds like paradise.

stevemckay

Mr Sauter, there are actually a couple specific reasons for what you are seeing. First, we had a prior Board of County Commissioners that approved well north of ten thousand homes between 2012-2014, right here in the area that you are describing. Second, such a concentration of residential development actually places a high burden on government to provide adequate services, including roads. All these big housing developments do not simply “raise the tax base” as many have argued, they are actually net negative on taxes. It costs the county more to provide the services than what we take in as taxes. So unfortunately, we are always a bit behind on services and infrastructure. Lastly, and most directly to your comment, and this is really the most pernicious reason - Before those Commissioners approved all of those homes, they first changed many of the development rules. One of those rules dealt with traffic congestion. They loosened the requirements for road improvements for the developers. They approved all of those homes and explicitly allowed for higher levels of congestion before the developers were responsible for road improvements. Then they locked those agreements up in long term contracts called DRRAs.

Many of us argued against these decisions then. It is why I ran for office. I might not have gotten the signs changed on seventy five, much to Kelly’s criticism, but i have worked on DRRAs, worked on impact fees, removed growth area designations in Monrovia and north of New Market, working on school mitigation fees, and this year hope to fix that road improvement requirement. I know none of that counts for much when you’re sitting in traffic but you’re not alone in your frustration.

Brookhawk

In Worman's Mill hundreds of new housing units and a retail area have gone in over the past 5 years, with no road improvements at all. The only improvement in the area is the interchange at Monocacy Blvd and US 15, and that took years to complete and does nothing for actually getting cars in and out of Worman's Mill. Unwise politicians and developers wanting to maximize their returns are responsible.

MD1756

How about working with state legislators to eliminate income tax deductions/credits from state income taxes for children so that parents at least pay the same for the public education system as those who have no children to help slow growth and narrow the negative impact of growth on the budget? By reducing government sponsored aide to people to have children (a choice) it may have the benefit of slowing population growth which would reduce the strain on the budget and reduce the strain on climate change.

mrnatural1

Excellent idea MD1756. [thumbup]

francesca_easa

MD I believe they did that very thing in the City of Falls Church.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] Steve!

mrnatural1

Great reply Steve. [thumbup]

jsklinelga

Mr. McKay,

Informative comment. We spout our mouths off quite regularly in this section but without any real skin in the game and nothing to lose. You are doing the real work. I hope you stay Republican. I know David Gray did for years and he lasted years with always a voice at the table. Good job and good fortune

.

stevemckay

No worries about me staying Republican jsk. Thanks for the kind words.

jsklinelga

Mr. Sauter,

I would love to see a convention of States but it is looking less likely. The runaway judiciary has undergone positive changes and the need seems less urgent as many of our Constitutional rights.are now being protected and restored.

Your concern about roads could have been a letter 40 years ago and most likely pertinent and relevant 20 years from now. The nature of the beast. Politics and money. And let us not forget the self serving lawyers.

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