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Cattle Crossing!
By: Kent Courtney

It looks like farmer Charles Cline will continue to drive his cows across Boyers Mill Road near New Market, Maryland. Reports indicate that the Frederick County Commissioners are staying with their New Market Region Plan which down-zoned Cline's properties from low-density residential to agricultural.

In 1993, the land-use designation of Cline's farm was changed from agriculture to low-density residential. [Correction: 6/28/08 On Blaine Young's Frederick Forum radio show County Commissioner Jan Gardner said that actually the farm was not re-zoned but was included in a "growth area" for possible later development. She stated that since the late 50s the farm has always been zoned agricultural.] Cline cut back on farming and in 2004 entered into a contract with Winchester Homes to build more than 900 houses. In May 2007, a referendum overturned a developer-backed attempt to annex the Cline farm. In April of this year, the county changed the land-use designation back to agricultural. In order to pay the taxes on the properties Cline has resumed farming cattle which requires moving the cattle across the road twice each day for watering. "It's a nightmare," Don Cline said. "My parents should have never been put in this situation." Commuters don't want a cattle crossing, neighbors don't want a housing development yet it seems nobody wants Cline to keep farming. Don says "It isn't their land".

So at around 7:30 a.m. every morning and in the afternoon the cattle will cross the road. Don says: "There is no time in between 6 to 9:30 a.m. or 3 to 6:30 p.m. when cows crossing the road will not inconvenience commuters." Don works in Montgomery County, he only has a small amount of time in the morning to help his father with the
crossing which required blocking the road. Don said "Neither my father nor I want to be doing this, my parents are good people. They just want what's right".

But tempers continue to flair over the issue of the cattle crossing. As recently as last Tuesday Cpl. Jody Maybush of the sheriff's office responded to the 5800 block of Boyer's Mill Road at about 7:55 a.m. on Tuesday, but did not discover enough evidence to charge Charles Cline, a farmer who lives off of Boyer's Mill Road, with assault, according to Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. Bailey said a motorist who attempted to run through the cattle crossing was also not charged with any crime.

Maybush gave the following account of the incident in a sheriff's office report: Maybush spoke with several people whose vehicles were stopped along Boyer's Mill Road Tuesday morning. Witnesses said they saw an unidentified man step out of a gold van and unhook a wagon from a tractor that Cline had set in the road to block it off. The man then pushed the wagon off the road, damaging it and Cline's fence, according to police. Then the man got into the van and drove around the tractor, followed by several other vehicles.

When another woman attempted to drive her car around the tractor, Cline and his son, Donald, stopped the car, and the elder Cline became involved in a verbal argument with her. Witnesses said they saw Cline strike the car and reach his hands into the driver's side door. The woman drove off, dragging Cline until he fell to the ground.

Maybush said he told the elder Cline that he should have contacted the police before the incident to prevent possible damage, injuries or criminal charges. Cline said that he understood, but ''sometimes people can make you so ... mad," according to the report. Cline told Kent Courtney of that his side of the story is the opposite of what some have stated and that it was the woman that was enraged.

Bailey said police will not be investigating this incident further because of the lack of evidence of injuries to Cline or the alleged victim. She said Maybush told the female motorist that she could file a criminal complaint with the Frederick District Court commissioners against Cline. Bailey said the Sheriff's Office will investigate the vandalism to Cline's tractor and fence, but none of the witnesses were able to provide the identity of the suspect, or his license plate number. Anyone with information on the suspect who was driving the gold van should contact police, she said.




All indications point to no solution to this "Cattle Crossing" and Land Use" issue anytime soon. This situation underscores the on-going struggle in Frederick County between growth, land preservation and private property rights. And, at least for now the Cline's are right in the thick of things.

Video by Kent Courtney

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Cattle Crossing!
By: Kent Courtney
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