Butt Cleanup Coming to Downtown Frederick

The Frederick City Sustainability Committee has had its eye on butts, and they’re finally ready to do something about it with the help of the Downtown Frederick Partnership.

Cigarette butt recycling containers will be installed in 25 locations around the downtown area later this spring, with a grant from Keep America Beautiful.

Jenny Willoughy, sustainability manager for the city, says they should be installed sometime around the start of summer.  (photo- from the Green Neighbor Festival display) The Downtown Frederick Partnership was the grant recipient.

Phil LeBlanc, a sustainability committee member, has been advocating for the project since he was in Shepherdstown, WV and saw a similar project. (See photo, below).

To help prove its necessity, he spent a few hours a week for about seven weeks collecting cigarette butts from the sidewalks around downtown Frederick. He amassed an amazing collection of butts from his forays.

Sometimes, it took him longer because people stopped him to thank him for what he was doing, he said.

Phil LeBlanc, Frederick City Sustainability Committee Member

The collection will be shipped free of charge to Terracycle for their hard-to-recycle items program. The plastic portions are recycled and removed from the tobacco which is composted, he said. The Frederick County Solid Waste Division said it could not take them.

It’s the hope of the Sustainability Committee that the containers will draw more attention from smokers than the existing containers that some vendors of downtown eateries and lounges have put out on their own. Unfortunately, those containers don’t appear to be well used.


Native Plants and a Middletown Wild Meadow

Just because you see a plant everywhere, and its attractive, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for the local ecology.

An intensive project by a group of local volunteers and Maryland Native Plant educator, from the University of Maryland Extension Service, has proven that with hundreds of hours of labor restoring a meadow area along Wiles Branch in Middletown to its natural state—to attract pollinators and local insects who belong in the environment.

The efforts, according to Cindy Unangst, town planner and staff for the Town of Middletown’s Green Team, have been herculean: three events during the past year pulling up 600 square square feet of wild day lilies, as well as multiflora rose and poison ivy; that had choked out the native Creekside wetland meadow. (See wild daylilies below).

The project, proposed by the Master Gardeners two years ago when a local gardener, Ronald Dudley, hoped to plant to attract more bees and butterflies to the area around the popular sports fields at the park. They called in Dr. Sara Tangren, Native Plant Educator, for advice and assistance. “We came to realize the woodlands around the park were already a wet meadow community,” she said. “The native pollinators were buried among the daylilies, which are gorgeous and cheerful, but not at all supportive of pollinators.”

They began working on the project last year after she completed another project in Prince Georges County and turned her attention to Middletown to supervise the hand-pulling of the stubborn plants.

“The areas adjacent to our meadow plot under construction have a lot more invasive da lillies coming up than in our plot where we had hand-pulled them last year,” said Cindy (see photo).

       Area cleared by volunteers, right

And last month, the invasives had to be repulled and a portion of the acreage carefully sprayed with an herbicide because volunteers could not keep up with the entire area. Dr. Tangren said that professional horticulturists carefully target the herbicide on the stem of the invasive, so it will not reach other plants or groundwater.

Now, thanks to the master gardeners’ collection of native plants, the invasives have been replaced with fall aster, great blue lobelia, cutweed coneflower, spring beauties, and a rare species of beebalm. “We are restoring and rejuveninating,” Dr. Tangren said.

We’ll check back in a few months to see how the area is doing!



Frederick County On-Farm Compost Amendment

A zoning amendment allowing acceptance of food scraps on permitted farms in the agriculture zone, a change proposed to existing zoning code to solve obstacles to expansion of composting in Frederick County, was recently supported by Frederick County’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC).
The proposed zoning amendment, which has been discussed for months by the Frederick County Planning and Zoning Dept., must still be introduced as County Council legislation and follow the process for zoning amendments before it can be adopted.
Currently, food scrap composting can take place on agricultural land under 5,000 square feet. The proposed amendment creates two levels: permitted acceptance of food scrap with no commercial sales in the ag zone between 5,000 square feet and five acres; or acceptance by Special Use Permit in the agriculture zone above 5 acres but no more than 10 acres, with commercial sales allowed.
Other proposed conditions include:
*no composting in the floodplain and a required setback of 25 feet from floodplain and 50 feet from streambanks
*must be 150 feet from property lines
*must have frontage to a 20-foot-wide paved road and at the discretion of the county, a commercial/industrial entrance
*a vehicle circulation plan and turning radius plan
*A log book of received material that can be inspected at any time by the Zoning Administrator
*must be incorporated into composting within 24 hours and avoid nuisance, dust and detectable noise from other properties
Facilities would still be expected to meet all state permitting regulations for Tier 2 composting.


Bike to Work Frederick Day!

Our local Bike to Work Day activities will make Friday May 18th a fund day for you to join in if you work in Frederick

Meet at the Frederick Transit Center on 100 South East Street, rain or shine, from 6:30am-8:30am. There will be fun giveaways, local celebrities and other commuters to cycle with you to work. Its sponsored by Transit Services of Frederick County, The City of Frederick, Key103, the Bicycle Escape

If you register early you can get a free t-shirt. Visit www.biketoworkmetrodc.org and select Frederick as your pit stop.

Livable Frederick: Balancing for Affordability

Consider the word “livable”. What comes to mind is what you often say when you’re negotiating among family members, peers or friends to reach a compromise during an argument.

“Yeah, I can live with it”.

When you look at it that way, having a “livable Frederick” takes on quite a different point of view of the perfect community the plan describes. Just “settling” for a negotiated middle ground isn’t what county leaders meant when they named it. Their vision was aspirational–to see what the community by working towards agreed community values.

But, there are different interpretations of these kinds of common phrases for everyone.

Reactions to the plan are important to hear.  There is already consternation and worry about what its recommendations imply for zoning on personal properties, even though it is not a zoning document. There are workgroups, such as the Energy and Environment workgroup, who are making recommendations for a better description of their vision in the plan.


 Citizens ponder at the Livable Frederick Open House.

Before anyone lets misunderstanding or dissension pulls the plan too far off track, consider using it as a new way to look at the place where we live. It’s like a husband and wife, who some time while they’re in their thirties to dream of the kind of legacy they would like to leave behind when they’re in their 70s. Having a big picture changes the way decisions get made in the ordinary-ness of the day to day.

The aspirational big picture has to fit, though, into the reality we face: a need for a diversity of jobs, both for well-educated people and those that don’t opt for it; the zoning and land use that is what many people count on as a way to plan their family’s futures; zoning. Both of these are huge impacts that exist whether or not a study projects what some people feel is a Livable Frederick.

Who really participated?

It’s hard to tell at this juncture who the answers came from; and I’ll update this post if I get more details from county staff. The plan talks in general terms, and for sure it received excellent response rates from what has been reported. It would be very useful to see comments detailed in the version that is coming to public hearing, and to have an understanding of the demographics of the people (age, zip code, economic strata) that answered.

Why is this so important? Because defining what is livable Frederick begs the question: livable for who?

Is It a Comprehensive Tale of livability?

If the demographics skewed towards answers from people primarily with income above $50,000 per household, or college educated, or white-collar employees, we may be missing a big piece of the vision of the people who are here. And as the report points out, affordability of living here is a big issue. This has already been well documented in the local A.L.I.C.E. study process.

Economic opportunity should be a defining issue throughout the plan. Even though we here at GreenFrederick tend to cheer for environmental initiatives, if we don’t put due emphasis on parts that will decrease the cost of living in Frederick County, we may very well be making Frederick unlivable for the very people the plan was written for. They won’t be able to enjoy environmental progress; benefits from health improvements, or the beauty of having farmland in agricultural preservation.

While the big picture that Livable Frederick is painting is important it’s critical that the entire community’s reactions balance the vision being presented in the plan, especially if the vision is not representing all the demographics that hold a stake in our future.