Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Testimony Regarding the Proposed Frederick County Church

As you may have read in articles like this one, there is currently before the Frederick County Planning Commission a proposal for a 138,000 square foot church in Frederick County. This church would have an impact on our county, as it lies just over the Montgomery County line and therefore much of the access to the facility will be through our county.

The Frederick County Planning Commission is meeting on Wednesday, October 14 to discuss the matter. I've submitted the following testimony for the record:
OCTOBER 14, 2009

Madam Chairman, Members of the Frederick County Planning Commission, Ladies and Gentlemen, I appreciate your allowing me the opportunity to provide you with testimony on this proposed project. As you know, the application before you has an impact not only on Frederick County, but on the Upcounty region of Montgomery County that I represent.

Let me say first that I understand the issues this application poses for you. Over the years, Montgomery County has struggled when beneficial but large Private Institutional Facilities (PIFs) have applied to locate in our Agricultural Preserve. In the past, these PIFs had been given greater flexibility for development. However, over the past ten years, Montgomery County began to realize that we had a problem of two community interests, agriculture and institutional development, competing to use the same land.

There is very limited public water and sewer service in our Agricultural Preserve, and one way the County Council decided to protect our rural land and the wells in the area was by limiting water and sewer service to support a PIF on land zoned Rural Density Transfer (RDT). As part of our 2003 – 2012 Comprehensive Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Plan Amendment, the Montgomery County Council voted to prevent publicly-funded support for community service to PIFS and to prohibit community water and sewer service to PIFs in the RDT.

In addition, in 2005, the Council limited any multi-use sewerage system in the RDT to 4,999 gallons per day. This was done in an effort to ensure that development of PIFs in a rural and agricultural area was kept in a scale appropriate to the area.

One additional issue that has come to our attention regarding the current application before you came from our Fire and Rescue officials. The roads in the part of Montgomery County leading to this facility are narrow. With only one road leading directly into this proposed facility, it is imperative that you consider the safety element should there be an incident.

In spite of the benefits that organizations such as Global Mission Church might bring, when weighed against the potential adverse impacts of this large-scale proposal on a rural community with narrow roads, reliance on well water, and the need to protect its agricultural land, this project raises very serious concerns for me. I hope you will carefully consider how this facility will impact this area and that you will make your decision with great caution and thoroughness.

I appreciate the opportunity to make you aware of our concerns.

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