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Planning Commission votes against tech park changes

December 07, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Planning Commission voted Monday to recommend that the County Commissioners reject a zoning text amendment that could lead to a mix of development uses at Friendship Technology Park.

The John Akridge Development Co. of Washington, D.C., had applied for the amendment in hopes of building at the business park, which was established in 2002 to attract high-paying technology jobs to the area.

The commission voted 4-1 Monday to not support a zoning text amendment that could lead to the development of housing, a hotel and retail businesses at the park, which is on the south side of Interstate 70. County Commissioner Jim Kercheval abstained.

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Akridge Development, which is under contract to purchase 340 acres in the park, is asking that a Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning overlay designation be allowed on the Office, Research and Technology zoning district, which is how Friendship Technology Park is zoned. The PUD designation would allow the type of mixed-use development, including housing, that Akridge Development has proposed.

The commissioners created the Office, Research and Technology (ORT) zoning district in October 2002, then voted to apply the zone to 452 acres in Friendship Technology Park.

Planning commission member Linda Parrish said she believes emphasizing housing at an area that poses hope for job growth would be a waste of potential.

"To switch gears is, I think, shortsighted for what the county wants to accomplish," she said.

Planning Commission Chairman Donald Ardinger said he, like others on the commission, does not believe enough time has elapsed since the ORT zone was established to make a change.

"I don't know that we've given a chance for the business community to bring businesses here," Ardinger said.

The lone negative vote was from Terry Reiber, who said he believes, because of economic changes in recent years, the commission needed to "keep an open mind to make that development work."

"I don't think anyone's beating the door down to get into that site," he said.

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