As daylight lengthens and these winter days slowly give way to hints of spring’s arrival in central Maryland, February and March are ideal months to visit Urbana for some shopping therapy of the season.
After shoveling snow, braving chilly winter winds and fending off seasonal ailments, early spring is the perfect time to treat oneself to an invigorating spa treatment at City Magnolia. From massages and facials to skin and nail care services designed to help you make a seasonal transition of your own, the professional staff at City Magnolia provides friendly, personalized services in an environment that is permeated with upscale sophistication with dashes of southern charm and hospitality.
Naturally, a day at the spa will do wonders for your appearance, but if it’s your appetite that could use some nourishing as well, a hearty meal at Mangia e Bevi is sure to satisfy. Offering an authentic Italian restaurant experience in Frederick County, Mangia e Bevi delights all the senses with rich Italian fare inspired by some of Italy’s finest dishes. Choose from lunch specialties ranging from Trenette Bolognese to gourmet artisan pizzas and dinner dishes encompassing a broad spectrum of flavors and colors on the plate, including Spaghetti della Nonna and delicate Veal Piccata.
Frederick has certainly seen its share of unpredictable weather in 2012, so take time now to start thinking about the weather we’re likely to face in 2013. State Farm Insurance Agent Missy Baker can help you assess your unique situation so that you can protect your home, your property and your family from whatever storms may visit central Maryland in the new year.
Looking for another fresh start to the spring season? If there are some bad habits you’ve been struggling to break or if you’re looking for ways to sharpen your focus and improve your concentration, have you thought about what a little hypnotherapy could do for you? Cathie Cain of Key Point Hypnosis offers you the time and attention necessary to help you revitalize your inner being this spring.
And don’t forget to visit the shops in the Urbana Village Center, at the intersection of Rt. 355 and Rt. 80, for even more ideas and inspiration to take you and your home through the change of seasons.
By Christina L. Lyons
Members of the Potomac Valley Fly Fishers (PVFF) Club want to be thought of not just as fishermen, but as conservationists. They take seriously the protection of local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay, trying to ensure a healthy stock of fish for each season.
It’s not just the immediate catch they have in mind; it’s the catch of years to come, and the continuation of their sport for future generations. With that in mind, they lure in newcomers —particularly youth — with lessons in the art of fly-fishing alongside education in conservation and etymology. “We hope the kids of the next generation will have the same values … will treasure the environment,” explains Don Fine, a member of the PVFF board of directors. “We want the youth to keep the interest [in fly-fishing] alive.”
Adults are also welcome at clinics to learn how to protect the stream from pesticides and herbicides, for example, chemicals that can harm the living organisms in the water. “You will be a better fisherman if you understand the natural cycle of food that fish eat,” notes Fine.
The club’s efforts range from working alongside and within area waterways to raising fish to stock the “home waters” — a waterway that PVFF helps protect in partnership with the county and state. The club has operated a fish hatchery at a springhouse in Frederick for at least 40 years, providing a regular stock for the Fisheries Service of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to gather and transport for release in the spring. For the past several decades, that’s been Big Hunting Creek in Thurmont. Club conservationists have worked to protect that creek, which became one of the state’s first catch-and-release trout fishing areas in the 1960s (in 1974, Big Hunting Creek within state and federal parks was declared a “fly-fishing-only trout fishing area,” according to the Fisheries Service).
But this April, the club’s new “home waters” — a portion of Catoctin Creek within the boundaries of Catoctin Creek Park, between Middletown and Jefferson — will be open for “catch and release” year round, except in the warmer summer months when trout tend to die off and anglers can keep their catch.
PVFF members began restoring Carroll Creek three or four years ago, says Fine, with some volunteer and financial assistance from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and various area clubs. The project entailed work along a one-mile stretch of the creek, where cows once waded, to complete some stream diversion — providing a weaving path for the creek — and to purchase and plant trees, primarily River Birch and Oak, along the banks to prevent erosion.
The club also invites local school children to the springhouse and renovation area as part of a “trout in the classroom program” with Trout Unlimited, in which the students are provided trout eggs and taught how to protect and hatch them in the classroom, release the trout into area streams, and conduct stream surveys. The program, one which the club helped to launch but is now completely operated by Trout Unlimited, operated in 13 county schools last school year.
Lindsey Donaldson, a park ranger and biologist at Catoctin Mountain National Park, recently informed the club about the dangers of Didymo, commonly called “rock snot,” an invasive algae that can contaminate riverbeds and kill fish, insects and other organisms. It is commonly spread by fishing equipment and waders, as well as boats. The club helped build and set up about 20 wader washing stations in prime fishing areas. The stations provide information on the algae and instructions and materials for cleaning gear before anglers leave the waterway.
Last October, club members responded to the Catoctin Creek Nature Center’s call for volunteers to help collect and sort “mall stream sensitive insects called macroinvertebrates,” according to PVFF board director Jon Thames. “We were looking for little bugs and little fish, little minnows at the bottom of the food chain,” he explains. The goal was to determine the health and diversity of the smallest organisms — greater diversity indicates strong health, something they found in the creek and ensures their plans for spring will move forward. The club conducts the study twice a year, and “we are happy to do it,” he says.
Meanwhile, several members like former conservation chair John Brognard Sr., a longtime member and the club’s newest president, keeps a close eye on a wide range of conservation efforts and on state and national legislation. The club encourages members to join the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and keep informed about the Foundation’s activities and environmental protection concerns.
Devin Angleberger, a 16-year-old club member from Frederick who also sits on the club’s board, says, “You must have conservation to have fish … but a lot of people don’t care about the actual conservation part.” The teenager is now a member of the Trout Unlimited National Council of Youth, and as a board member is working hard to get more youth involved. “We’re trying to make people think differently.”
Everybody defines the term differently. Here’s what some people think:
“Business friendly means changing the customer service mindset when it comes to working with business; to change from being obstructionist to understanding how business operates.”
—Kathy Snyder, president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce
“Business friendly is, if it’s good for the community, it’s good for business. We’re all in it together.”
—Jan Gardner, former Frederick County Commissioner, 1998-2010
“Being business friendly means finding ways to interact with and assist new and existing businesses to create a dynamic and economically sound community.”
—Richard “Ric” Adams, president and CEO, Frederick County Chamber of Commerce
“Business friendly is having policies or practices that empower businesses to function successfully.”
—Stephanie Dunker, Sage Orthopedic Physical Therapy, Urbana
“Business friendly is when it’s easy to get to the person you need, to take care of problems that come up.”
—Ron Peppe, vice president, legal and human resources, Canam Steel Corp., Point of Rocks
“Business friendly begins with a sincere ‘How can I help you?’ and is followed by a collaborative effort that results in achieving a mutually beneficial outcome.”
—Denise Jacoby, executive director, Frederick County Builders Association
“Being business friendly means being accessible: having our weekly meetings in local restaurants and hotels greatly benefits our members by increasing their business referrals in Frederick County.”
—Jackie Lamothe, Maryland regional director, BNI (Business Network International)
“It is being competitive with other states, less regulation and making it easier for business to go through any approvals. This does not mean no regulation, letting business do anything they please or ignoring long-term planning to benefit special interest groups.”
—Doug Kaplan, formerly of Sugarloaf Conservancy
“To me, business friendly is when government officials work with you instead of playing ‘gotcha.’ ”
—Will Morrow, proprietor of Whitmore Farm and member of the Friends of Frederick County Board of Directors
More than just a motto, “The Banner School Difference” is reflected each day by students, their parents and the faculty and staff of Frederick County’s only nonsectarian, coeducational, independent day school. Founded in 1982, The Banner School currently serves 160 students in preschool through eighth grade. Here at The Banner School, students experience a community where the values of strong family-school partnerships, individual self-worth and respect for others form the foundation for a lifelong love of learning.
Blending historic charm with the full functionality of a 21st-century media center, Banner has a new library whose homelike environment is reflected in the grand fireplace, covered patio and bright colors punctuating the interior. In addition, a new state-of-the-art science laboratory has augmented the middle school earth, life and physical sciences curricula. Professional microscopes, lab equipment and fume hood are some of the tools available to students. “These special spaces really complement our academic program,” says Head of School Stephen R. Parnes.
The Banner School offers a rigorous curriculum in the liberal arts and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. Year-round classes in visual art, performing arts and physical education are provided to all students, and there is a wide variety of after-school offerings, too, from chess and LEGO clubs to competitive athletics in the middle school. “We are really creating Renaissance men and women here,” Parnes says, adding that Spanish language is introduced to students as early as preschool. The student body at The Banner School also reflects the cultural, ethnic, religious and economic diversity of today’s world.
Lauren Webb, director of admissions and marketing, says that The Banner School students are primed for success upon graduation. Graduates attend their schools of choice, be they independent, public or parochial, and 100 percent of alumni attend college. “We are a true pre-collegiate school,” Parnes notes.
The Banner School is approved by the Maryland State Department of Education, accredited by the Association of Independent Maryland and D.C. Schools (AIMS) and a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
VISIT US ONLINE AT WWW.BANNERSCHOOL.ORG
OR STOP IN AND SEE US
1730 N. MARKET STREET
FREDERICK, MD 21701
By Linda Norris-Waldt
Photographs by Erick Gibson
Settle in with a good glass of Cabernet for the following story about the changes in approach to business development in Frederick County as experienced by Ed Boyce, co-owner of Black Ankle Vineyard in Mount Airy, and Wojciech Fizyta, owner of Catoctin Breeze Vineyard near Thurmont.
Black Ankle was the dream of Boyce and Sarah O’Herron, a professional couple who decided to retire from the rat race and chase their dream: creating a premier winery. They scoured the region for land with the perfect combination of growing conditions and easy access to a sophisticated market of wine connoisseurs.
Initially, the couple struggled with costs and regulations: Boyce estimates that simply correcting a small landscaping substitution element required spending $5,000 in landscaping and postponing their opening for two months in order to avoid another meeting with the county planning commission, renewed filing fees and even further delays. Three years after finding the property and correcting regulation deficiencies, the winery opened to the public. “Permits and things like that weren’t even on our radar when we moved here; we were immersed in learning to grow grapes and make wine,” he says.
As the first winery in Frederick County to open in decades, the couple battled zoning ordinances and staff that didn’t know how to categorize them. There was no definition of “winery” in the zoning code, so the project was classified as commercial, the same category and standards that a Walmart or strip mall would be subject to follow. (After studying the Black Ankle case, Frederick County passed a text amendment defining a winery as an agricultural entity).
Once they obtained the proper zoning, the couple still had to work for months to satisfy a strict site plan process, which called for them to upgrade their 1/3-mile-long gravel driveway to a 20-foot-wide paved road and create a storm water pond — at an expense of more than $100,000. Finally, after representatives of the Fire Marshal’s office, stormwater management and transportation departments came together in a single meeting, the three realized that the combination of their requirements would have resulted in a driveway that was paved to higher standards than the road leading up to it — in addition to creating an impervious driveway that would require a storm water pond.
They agreed to a driveway that was 14 feet wide with room for a fire truck to turn, a measure that cut installation costs by about 40 percent while still fulfilling the requirements of all departments. The process, including civil engineering fees and county permits and fees, cost more than $75,000.
“While we were in one of our hearings, a guy came into the office with an application for a small auto mechanics garage,” Boyce recalls. “They told him he needed to pave his entrance; he said that would cost $10,000. He said, ‘That’s my whole budget’ and walked out. We were stubborn and well-financed enough, but there are so many businesses like this guy getting stopped in their tracks because they don’t have the resources to fight their way through the zoning and site plan process.”
Black Ankle’s experience, however, paved the way for new vintners like Wojciech Fizyta of Catoctin Breeze in Thurmont. Fizyta and his wife found the right farm after six years of looking for a post-retirement project following his successful career as an inventor and automotive parts manufacturing executive. Their first planting of grapes was in 2010, and they, in contrast to Black Ankle, found that the permitting process under the new Farm Winery category was quick and simple. “We were pleasantly surprised that they didn’t give us a hard time,” he says. “We didn’t have to go before any planning boards; everything was approved in meetings in offices at the county government.” A permit for a barn where equipment is stored was also easy, inexpensive and fast.
According to Fizyta, the most complicated part had been preparing a nutrient management plan in addition to planning a cellar and tasting room that they will build in the coming years. Even so, they are prepared and now know what permits they’ll need.
Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Maryland Wineries Association, notes that Frederick County is no lone villain in the difficulty that Black Ankle faced. “What happened to Ed and Sarah happens to wineries in all the counties where they haven’t existed before; you have staff getting perplexed and upset, rather than working to define what a winery is.” He praises the work county agricultural business development specialist Colby Ferguson has done to prepare Frederick County for wineries and other upcoming ventures. He’s preparing to testify about changing the zoning ordinance in Washington County, where Frederick County is being held up as a poster child.
Boyce agrees that by being proactive, Ferguson has helped pave the way for innovative agricultural businesses to open here. “For example, Colby has told the planning staff, we see farm breweries will be the next thing, so let’s get going on defining the zoning for them,” he says. “That’s forward thinking.”
The proprietors of Black Ankle have been happy to spend the past four years focusing instead on their grapes. “The biggest thing we’ve done since our original opening is put an 8,000-square-foot addition on the winery for processing; for that, we paid $200 and had a permit three weeks later, because it’s now considered an agricultural building, like a barn,” Boyce says. “But we have no plans for anything big with the tasting room, which is still considered a commercial building. I’m scared to death to go back — I’d do everything in my power to stay away from the planning commission.”
Admit it, with or without representation, taxation sucks either way. But like his partner in certainty, The Grim Reaper, the Taxman cometh. We made our own assessment of how taxing life is here in Frederick County and offer these fiscal cliff notes as a little relief from your preparation to render unto Caesar what is his on April 15. Many happy returns!
Compiled by Kim Weaver
233,385 Frederick County
72,111 City of Frederick
$471.2 million adopted operating budget, FY2013, Frederick County
Estimated percent of county budget supported by taxes/estimated revenue from taxes
48% property taxes ($227,042,627)
36% local income taxes ($171,226,300)
4% other local taxes ($17,407,869)
93,332 tax bills issued to date for FY2013, Frederick County
$2,398 average real estate tax bill for residential properties, FY2013, Frederick County
$0.936 property tax rate (per $100 of assessed value), FY 2013, Frederick County
$0.813 property tax rate (per $100 of assessed value), FY 2013, City of Frederick
9 businesses in Frederick County that have received a tax credit or incentive for FY 2013; 9,000+ businesses in Frederick County
$554 million State of Maryland spends per year on tax credits and incentives; $96 per capita, $0.04 per dollar of state budget
8.25% corporate income tax, 2012, State of Maryland
$81,436 median household income, Frederick County
$66,161 median household income, City of Frederick
2.96% personal income tax rate, 2012, Frederick County
2.0% – 5.75% personal income tax rate, 2012, State of Maryland
48% marginal tax rate on each dollar the average Marylander earns in 2013; combination of payroll, state and federal taxes
23 days in April 2012 when Maryland taxpayers finally had earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year
31 CPA firms in Frederick County
Board of Public Accountancy, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
Comptroller of Maryland
Frederick County Business Development and Retention Division
Frederick County Department of Treasury
Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation
The Heritage Foundation
United States Census Bureau