The Frederick County Board of Commissioners has taken the first step toward approving the construction of 825 homes and 1 million square feet of research and development space in the U.S. Route 340 and Md. Route 180 corridor.
Construction on the Jefferson Technology Park is expected to begin in October, seven years after it was approved by the county. Progress has been slowed by a state requirement to construct a bridge over U.S. routes 340 and 15.
The commissioners are now pushing the construction of the technology park, because they see it as an opportunity to bring jobs to the county.
Four of the five commissioners voted today to begin discussions by accepting a draft agreement from the builders of the planned Jefferson Technology Park. Commissioner David P. Gray (R) was absent from the meeting.
The document — known as the development rights and responsibilities agreement — details zoning issues, roads, water, sewer and school improvements, and other aspects of the planned park, including the new bridge, a traffic study and extension to public sewer to the property.
The draft agreement is designed to protect the developers — JTPl Investments, LLC and Jefferson Park Development, LLC, both of Potomac — from future land use changes by a new board of commissioners that could delay or end the project, which could cost them time and money.
The agreement also binds the developers to pay for certain road, water and sewer improvements that may become necessary for the new development.
County officials will now work to finalize the draft agreement.
“We’ll be working with the developer going back and forth,” said Eric Soter, the county’s director of community development.
If an agreement is reached, it would be the second such arrangement between this board of county commissioners and developers.
In April, the commissioners approved a similar agreement with the developers of the proposed Landsdale Planned United Development. The commissioners are expected to discuss Landsdale on Aug. 2.
Plans for the Landsale development include the construction of 1,100 homes on 397 acres on the west side of McClain Road, north of Md. 80 in Monrovia.
Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R) said the draft agreement for the Jefferson Technology Park is just another step and does not mean the development is approved for immediate construction.
“This is to begin negotiations,” he said.
The county’s planning commission must determine if the development is consistent with the comprehensive plan — the county’s blueprint for growth. Public hearings will also be held.
The 173-acre technology park is expected to cost $135 million and would include homes, a 250-bed hotel and 225,000 square feet of retail space, in addition to space for research and development. So far, no people living near the site have come forward to protest the park.
Former County Commissioner John “Lennie” Thompson Jr. (R), a member of the previous board that debated the project, has criticized the current commissioners for getting involved in a multimillion dollar project when they claim to want smaller government.
Brad Kline, managing member of Bradford S. Kline and Associates, LLC, representing the developer, said in an interview after the meeting, that the technology park will be built in an area already designated for industrial development.
“Overall the technology park is designed for the part of the technology area of the county,” Kline said.
On Friday, commissioners approved a proposal to help finance the $40 million in county-issued bonds to pay for road, bridge and sewer improvements needed to accommodate the technology park. To pay off some of the bond debt, commissioners created a community development authority that will require people buying homes and businesses in the park to pay hundreds of dollars each year to the county.
“To me, this project will bring some jobs,” Commissioner C. Paul Smith (R) said.
“All we hear is ‘jobs, jobs, jobs,” Young said. “This is getting the economy moving.”