Council Hears Comments On DRRA’s/MXD’s

The DRRA bill ran into some problems.


Frederick, Md (KM) Amendments to a bill to change Frederick County’s Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreements ran into some problems Tuesday night.

The County Executive had proposed amendments to limit DRRA’s to developments of 1500 or more homes, and they would only cover five years with a possible extension to another five years. In addition, the DRRA’s would have to provide an enhanced public benefit. These changes in the bill would eliminate the process of drafting a DRRA, but retain the section which states that current DRRA’s would remain in effect.

Ray Barnes, Acting Chief Administrative Officer, said this bill would, in effect, do away with DRRA’s. “If it’s the county’s objective is to eliminate future DRRA’s, than maybe the best approach is to say that in a bill,” he said. Barnes was speaking on behalf of the County Executive.

But Councilman Tony Chmelik,. who proposed the amendments, said future elected officials could bring DRRA’s back. “It takes four members of this Council and an Executive to be in agreement in order to affect that kind of change, at which time they could then re-enact the enabling legislation much cleaner, because it would come back as it was. And they could bring it back in the model that they want if it was needed in the future,” he says.

County Attorney John Mathias said the prior Board of County Commissioners adopted this bill to allocate the roles of the County Council and the County Executive. “If that’s repealed, than there is no set process through the amendment process as to who does what .as between the County Executive and the County Council,”: he says.

In other business, the Council took up a bill to allow warehouses and distribution centers in areas zoned mixed use. Currently, only residential, retail stores and offices are permitted in MXD.

Acting Chief Administrative Officer, Ray Barnes, again speaking for the County Executive, said these two uses would change the character of an MXD neighborhood, such as Jefferson Tech Park. “Wholesaling and warehousing, based on the nature of the business, requires a different type of building, served largely by truck traffic, outside storage, and, in many cases, 24-hour operation,” he said.

Brad Cline, who owns 30-acres in the Jefferson Tech Park, testified in favor. “The idea that you can have light manufacturing, you can have assembly and industrial:: how are you going to manufacture something? How are going to assemble something and not distribute it? Distribute just a word,” he said.

He also says the land he owns is ready for development. It already has commercial zoning. “This is the best location in the area, probably the best in Maryland for what we are talking about,” he says.

The Council took no action on either bill Tuesday night.


By Kevin McManus