The panel also approves two bills covering accessory dwelling units.
Frederick, Md (KM). The way has been cleared for the development of the Renn Property in the city of Frederick. On Tuesday, the County Council gave express approval to the annexation of the property in a unanimous vote.
The Renn Property totals 387-acres and is located along both sides of Gas House Pike near Progress Drive and Synergy Way.
The County’s Division of Planning and Permitting had recommended against it.. Planner Jim Gugel said the city plans to rezone 327-acres of that parcel from agriculture to M-1, which is similar to a light industrial classification. He says that would allow for limited manufacturing, offices and warehouse operations, and that’s inconsistent with the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
He also said the property is classified as no planned service in the County’s Water and Sewerage Plan. If that property is developed, there would need to be a change in the plan to provide water and sewer service to that property. “Primarily based on that inconsistency with the Comp Plan as well as some of the needs of going through the utility area with water and sewer, staff is not recommending express approval at this time,” said Gugel.
But Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor said the city can handle the water and sewer and other issues. “We’ve actually been down that road within the last 20 years. And that’s what necessitated the Potomac River Pipeline and the Potomac River Water Service Agreement, and we have no interest in the City of Frederick in duplicating that scenario,” he said.
The Mayor was referring to the 1990’s when the city was giving out water without any concern about whether the city had enough to provide to developments. That problem was further exacerbated by a drought during that time.
If the Council had denied the express approval, Gugel says it wouldn’t stop development of that property, but no building could occur for five years.. “It would still allow the project go through development review, go through water and sewer plan amendment and any other kind of technical review like that,” he said. “The only thing that can’t occur in five years is the actual physical development of the property.”
Mayor O’Connor says he would like to see the 327-acres developed. “We know don’t how quickly this will happen. We would love to believe that an Amazon-like user is sitting out there waiting for these 327-acres–they probably aren’t. But we’d like to have it available for them if they would like to look at Frederick County,” he said.
In their passing motion, Councilmembers acknowledge that the rezoning was inconsistent with the County Comp Plan, but decided to grant the annexation express approval.
The remaining 60-ares would continued to be zoned Resource Conservation.
:In 2017, the Frederick Board of Aldermen approved this annexation after holding a hearing on it.
Accessory Dwelling Units.
In other action, the Council approved two bills covering accessory dwelling units. Those are living quarters located within a single family home. They can be attached to the main structure, or detached. These units are often touted as homes for elderly parents, returning children or workforce housing.
The first bill revises the requirements for construction of ADU’s, such as reducing parking and setback requirements, and modifying entrance and homeowner reporting requirements. ADU’s under 800-square feet would be approved administratively under this bill. Those over 800-square feet and larger would need approval by the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The second bill exempts accessory dwelling units of 800-square feet or less from school impact fees. “Units that are this small are much less to actually generate students,” says Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater, a co-sponsor of both bills.
The other co-sponsor was Council President Bud Otis.
By Kevin McManus