(1/2018) Welcome 2018! It is my hope that you and your families had a wonderful holiday season. Now it’s a New Year and a fresh start.
Last month’s article covered the Bills we passed as a Council in 2017. Today, I’d like to brief you on a new Bill I introduced on December 19th, 2017. It is an Act to Amend Chapter 1-19 of the Frederick County Code to facilitate the flexibility of the Mixed Use Development District (MXD) and specify additional permitted uses in the MXD.
Sounds like its complicated, but it really is not.
Currently the Frederick County Zoning Code allows for employment in the MXD however, it is limited to those uses permitted within the Office Research Industrial Zoning District, which includes office space for businesses.
What would the new Bill do?
The need for office space has declined in recent years and is evidenced by vacant office parks throughout the county. Further, innovation and technology have stimulated new methods and mechanisms for the delivery of goods in the modern economy. This Bill would expand the land use in the MXD zone to include wholesaling, warehouse and/or
distribution facilities. The Bill further specifies solid building construction, and permits property owners or developers in Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreements (DRRAs) as of January 1, 2018, the option to elect to have its MXD zoned property subject to the new zoning provision allowing for wholesaling, warehouse and/or distribution, or not. This
will not, however, affect such other development laws in effect at the time of the DRRA’s effective date.
It is in the best interest of Frederick County for its laws and regulations to remain responsive to ever-evolving innovation and technological growth. Therefore, in order to promote economic development and job growth, it is necessary to facilitate flexibility of the MXD and update its permitted uses.
The need for this Bill came from the developer to update zoning for Jefferson Tech Park (JTP) in order to allow for a specified use not currently in the MXD code. It is not limited to this development, as it is a countywide change in zoning code.
I have heard from some folks that this is a bad deal for the residents in that area. That it will create hundreds of trucks on the roads every day, that it will create traffic congestion, that it will reduce property values. I have also heard from those in the community that welcome the additional approximately 2,700 jobs that would
accompany the proposed development of a distribution center. That this zoning update would allow flexibility due to changing needs not foreseen many years ago when this zoning code was developed. I’d like to believe that having a viable and economically sound use of this land is a better approach than to let it lay stagnant and become a brown field with no use to
the area, likely lowering local property values. Those that purchased homes in JTP did so with the understanding that businesses would be forthcoming in their neighborhood. There already exists a separate entrance and exit to Route 340 drastically reducing the argument for traffic issues in this area. The developer, anticipating increased traffic, even included a
bridge to support better traffic flow for the neighborhood and its businesses.
There are views that this change for JTP will help the area’s value increase, and we can attract other businesses to Frederick County. The county will also be receiving additional property taxes (albeit in 2043 after the tax-increment-funding (TIF) deal is paid) as well as other domino benefits from increases in local employment – for
example: employees will patronize our local businesses, pay sales tax, and perhaps even move their families to the area – adding additional income tax revenue to our county’s general fund.
Change is a constant in our lives and being able to update outdated uses is critical for us to respond to current trends and be realistic about our use of the precious resource – our county’s land.
A public hearing will be held on this Bill, hopefully later this month, for anyone to come out and speak. I truly welcome the pros and the cons on this issue to be heard.
Please feel free to contact me via email at BOtis@FrederickCountyMD.gov or phone: 301-600-1101. I’m here to listen.
Thank you, it is a distinct honor to serve all the residents of Frederick County.