Dec. 15--FREDERICK -- A 173-acre business park that could bring 7,000 jobs to Frederick County was approved by the county planning commission Wednesday.
The economic development project, which could potentially cut the county's already low unemployment by a third, received preliminary plan and adequate public facilities ordinance approval.
"I think this is going to be one of the hallmarks of the county into the future," said Frederick County Commissioner Mike Cady.
Jefferson Technology Park is a mixed-use development that will include commercial, residential, recreational and civic/cultural uses. It will be built between Md. 180 and U.S. 15 near I-70, across from the Hannover subdivision.
"We think the capacity of the site is 7,000 jobs," said Paul Zanecki, president of Jefferson Park Development.
Mr. Zanecki said various scenarios had been projected to evaluate the economic impact of the park.
"The lowest number we get for a net economic benefit to the county is $5.7 million a year plus 7,000 jobs," Mr. Zanecki said.
The county's number of unemployed workers has averaged less than 21,000 during any month this year. If all the potential jobs are filled by county residents, the technology park would significantly reduce the county's unemployment.
Mr. Cady called the project "the biggest single effort of providing jobs to the county."
The business park may wind up having one tenant that could bring up to 3,000 jobs. It can also accommodate multiple businesses, Mr. Zanecki said.
The technology park will have 1.37 million square feet of employment space, which may include general office space, professional office space, research flex space, live-work units and a hotel/conference center.
It will also have 125,000 square feet of retail space including restaurants, business services and supporting retail businesses.
The residential portion of the park will have 825 attached and multi-family dwelling units. Of these, 103 will be moderately priced dwelling units.
The number of potential students that would be living in these homes is expected to overcrowd Crestwood Middle School.
Because of this, the developer offered to build a 300-seat addition to the school.
After discussing the proposal, the Board of Education President Bonnie Borsa wrote a letter to the planning commission.
"The Board of Education finds that this addition adequately addresses school capacity needs that are a result of the development of this property," the letter states. "We therefore recommend its approval by the Planning Commission."
Passing the school test in the APFO is usually the major obstacle for development projects.
With regards to APFO, the county has approval from all agencies, said County Planner Stephen O'Philips. James Rada 12/14/05 O'Philips
Another test in the APFO is traffic. Fifteen intersections around the technology park were evaluated to see how they would be affected by the increased traffic in the area.
The developer was offering to pay its share -- $432,000 -- for road improvements. The planning staff report suggested using all the money to make the improvements to one intersection, such as Md. 351 and Solarex Court.
Planning Commissioner Fern Hines James Rada 12/14/05 Fern Hines worried about the county having to pay for the other road improvements.
"Somewhere along the line, we're going to pay to have it done; the people of this county are," she said.
The project will be completed in three phases, marked by the construction of the interchange and overpass at Md. 340 and U.S. 15, the construction of the Crestwood Middle School addition and the final build-out of the project.
(Frederick News-Post, The (Frederick, MD) (KRT) -- 12/16/05)