Friends of Frederick County promotes environmental conservation, fair and open government, and active civic engagement in Frederick County
Friends of Frederick County (FoFC) started over five years ago by dedicated group of citizens who banded together to promote land conservation and responsible environmental stewardship at a time when bulldozers and subdivisions were quickly eating up the scenic farmland in one of Maryland’s most rural counties. Maryland alone is losing nearly 30,000 acres of land each year to sprawl; and could lose 700,000 (more than 1,000 square miles, an area 10 times the size of the city of Baltimore) of valuable agricultural and forest land in the next 25 years.
Frederick County’s rural setting, open land, and convenient location to Washington, D.C. quickly became an attraction to real estate developers, making it one of the fastest growing counties in the state. The population swelled by over 30 thousand people the last six years alone. The growing consensus among many County residents was that the County’s growing pains were having an immediate and long term impact on local roads, schools, water supply, and increasingly strained services.
FoFC quickly became a clearinghouse on growth and development issues for local citizens who were frustrated by not only the rate of growth and residential development, but also by a zoning process dominated by pro-development interests and dollars. Some Commissioners were, for instance, accepting campaign donations from the real estate community with pending applications that would have transformed agriculturally-zoned land to residential subdivisions with limited transportation planning or school capacity. FoFC quickly mobilized into a trusted and very public voice for voters, raising awareness about the zoning process, and the need to promote a sustainable quality of life for all Frederick County citizens and the next generation through action alerts, press releases, knocking on doors, and public rallies.
As a result of FoFC’s efforts, there has been real and substantial change in the way local citizens and newly elected officials view the future of growth and the planning process. Ethics reform legislation has been adopted so that Frederick County Commissioners can no longer accept campaign donations from developers with pending rezoning applications. An annexation move to triple the town of New Market with the construction of 14,000 new homes was soundly defeated by residents, largely thanks to FoFC’s public efforts to inform and educate voters.
Now FoFC turns its attention to educating the public on the association of our land use decisions on our streams and rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, land preservation and citizen action for education and support of scaling back open space conversion based on realistic assessment of impacts on infrastructure and our natural resource base.
FoFC is helping local communities and their citizens realize their future promise by preserving the local environment, natural and historic resources for tomorrow, and for the next generation.