Friends of Frederick County offers an opinion on the use of the Clemson property from the perspective of county and city land use goals and landscape design and compatibility.
The Clemson property is zoned by the county as Light Industrial. The city’s proposal to rezone this piece to General Commercial to house two large retail box stores – a Wegmans and a Lowes, is not only inconsistent with the county’s zoning, but – because it decreases the acreage zoned industrial – also conflicts with both the Frederick City and County Offices for Economic Development to maintain and increase industrially zoned areas.
As a member of the Catoctin Mountain National Scenic Byway Advisory Committee we observe that the Catoctin Mountain National Scenic Byway’s federal designation affords the county opportunities and distinction, and dare we say the responsibility to preserve and enhance the corridor. Should US15 become cluttered with stores that are not unique to Frederick County we could lose tourism interest. And, as stated in the Byway Management Plan:
“should the byway’s intrinsic qualities be lost due to gradual changes in land use over time, it is possible that the byway’s scenic designation will be taken away. It is completely up to the County and the municipalities to determine how to conserve the byway’s intrinsic qualities and the plan provides them with a range of options.”
Along the same vein, Chapter 4 of the same plan says:
“As US 15 further develops into a limited access highway over time, more pressure will evolve for development of the interchange areas. The goal of creating a more parkway-like character for US 15 should extend to the design of interchanges… The development associated with future interchanges should also extend the parkway-like character into attractively designed communities, using the arrival sequence described above. The first thing that a visitor should come to off of an interchange is a “park” that creates an identity to the place that is being created at the interchange…. By improving the visibility of the Catoctin Mountain Scenic Byway and actively marketing it as a destination or mix of attractions, more visitors will be attracted to the area. The new economic activity associated with tourism creates business opportunities for expansion and development, job growth, and a stronger tax base. “
For these two reasons we recommend that you find this annexation inconsistent with the goals of Frederick County.
Moreover, we ask that you give due consideration to the economic sustainability of this project (in light of existing retail businesses struggling through a recession) and the socio-cultural desirability of this project (for the north end city residents and neighboring county residents) – and citizen expressed interest in Smart Growth.