Jefferson citizens out in numbers to say Food Lion inappropriate for their community
May 18, 2011 by FofFC
Filed under Growing Smart with Adequate Public Services, Jefferson, Municipal Growth: addressing the hidden costs of sprawl in New Market, Press and Media, Share your Opinion on Policy, Spread the Word!, Urbana, We Draw the Line: Comprehensive Plan
The Jefferson Community wore red shirts and spoke well about the social, economic and environmental impacts of a big box store in their rural community. A Village Center is meant to serve a rural agriculture or rural residential community – and hence the maximum footprint.
Frederick County zoning to allow bigger buildings
Originally published May 18, 2011
By Meg Tully
The Frederick County Commissioners were torn Tuesday night between helping property owners in Urbana and protecting the historic nature of Jefferson.
The commissioners opted to only slightly increase allowed building size in land designated with “village center” zoning — which includes properties in Urbana, Jefferson and other unincorporated areas such as Adamstown.
As part of a package of zoning changes, they had been considering a change allowing those properties to have building footprints exceeding the current 8,000-square-foot limit.
That change brought objections from Jefferson residents, who feared that without the footprint limit, development of a 30,000-square-foot supermarket could be approved.
In the end, the commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner David Gray opposed, to allow building footprints up to 10,000 square feet if the planning commission agreed that exceeding 8,000 square feet would be compatible with the area.
The village center change was proposed along with six other zoning changes that came out of meetings with the business community. The commissioners had sought input regarding how to make the zoning ordinance more business-friendly. The seven unrelated changes were identified as a priority and proposed as a package.
On Tuesday night, the commissioners’ vote — which takes effect in 10 days — included the change to village center and the six other changes — including one allowing private entities to build parks in the agricultural zone.
In discussion, the commissioners also vowed to re-examine the zoning of parcels in Urbana as part of a comprehensive rezoning consideration slated to be discussed Thursday morning.
That move came in response to property owners and the volunteer fire department in Urbana, who had wanted the commissioners to change the village center footprint requirement to make it more desirable to develop their properties.
The village center change would also affect Jefferson’s village center properties, including one parcel near Md. 180 and Holter Road where a developer had tried to change the zoning in order to build a Food Lion or other supermarket.
Jefferson residents packed the first-floor hearing room in Winchester Hall on Tuesday night, wearing red shirts to signify their opposition to such a change.
Mike Middeke, a Jefferson resident of the Cambridge Farms development, said he was not against developing the land as zoned.
“However, to change the guidelines in order to line the pockets of developers and ruin our quality of life is not acceptable,” Middeke told the commissioners.
Many residents said they did not think Urbana and Jefferson should be treated the same. They expressed support for Hood Geisbert, an Urbana property owner who hopes to sell his land and retire.
“Give our friends in Urbana what they need and deserve and give the Jeffersonians what we need and deserve,” Jefferson resident Patrick Allen said.
Many Jefferson residents brought up concern for the small businesses in Jefferson. They said they were happy with the Jefferson Market, the Jefferson Pastry Shoppe and Hemp’s Meats.
Susan Hanson, who owns Catoctin Pottery at the Lewis Mill building off Poffenberger Road, said her business would be negatively affected by a big-box store.
“Obviously people are not going to drive down an old gravel road, which they often do, when they can go to a big store and get a box of candy and some flowers,” Hanson said. “I know that other businesses in Jefferson do feel the same way.”
Residents said the town’s roads and limited water supply also posed challenges to larger development. They urged commissioners to preserve the community feel of the small town.
After listening to several hours of public testimony, several commissioners said they agreed that development at a larger scale in Jefferson was inappropriate.
But they said they didn’t agree that property owners in Urbana should be subject to the same restrictions.
Commissioner Kirby Delauter said he wanted to be able to help Geisbert, who has had trouble selling his 31Ú2-acre parcel in Urbana because of the restriction. Geisbert said the footprint requirement was added a few years ago — his existing buildings are actually bigger.
Delauter said he’d like to allow Geisbert to be able to build a building with a 20,000 square feet footprint. But he didn’t want to see the same thing in Jefferson.
“We’re pretty much in a dilemma,” Delauter said. “It just aggravates me to sit here and not be able to help someone that I want to help.”
But Gray argued that the commissioners needed to protect the integrity of planning policy for the entire county.
“We have 230,000 residents in Frederick County, not two landowners,” Gray said. “We don’t tear apart the zoning code because somebody’s in front of us tonight.”