- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A technology park that has been in the works since 2001 might soon get a revision that would make it more suitable for the times, its developer said, pending the results of a public hearing to be held Monday.
The applicant for the Waldorf Technology Park, which is to occupy space on the corner of Western Parkway and Route 228, are seeking to have the property reclassified from a planned employment park zone to high density residential and central business, applying mixed use zoning because apartments are not included in PEP zoning. The applicant, Manekin, wants to add high density apartments to the property.
The space where the office park will go already features a Residence Inn by Marriott, a CVS pharmacy and a 35,121-square-foot flex building.
Ray Mertz, the Manekin employee handling the technology park, said it was first proposed during a time when many technology parks were popping up all over the county. However, Mertz said, with the passing of time, it has become necessary to look at ways to revamp the park to make it workable in the modern economy.
“If in an urban core area you incorporate business right where you live ... that’s a better thing. It’s adding another component,” Mertz said. “It will still primarily be business. The industry has changed. The market has changed. We’re still going to have offices and ... we’re not discarding that by any stretch. We’re just seeking to change the zoning.”
Mertz said that the group also is seeking an exception to conditions that stipulate that groups must hold building permits for two nonretail buildings prior to approval for a retail building, along with another condition that says two nonretail buildings must have use and occupancy permits issued before one can be issued for a retail building. Mertz said that the conditions were established after the original plans for the technology park were approved and, thus, should not apply.
“We had the design ... and we had no intent to change that,” Mertz said. “But the county felt it necessary ... to ensure that our office would be in sync.”
Charles County Planning Commission Vice Chairman Joseph Richard said he has “some concerns and serious questions” about making such drastic alterations to the development that he would like to have answered before any decisions are made.
“Right now it’s only a proposal. Obviously there must be some business reasons why they wish to make that request,” Richard said. “I’m not sure I’d support that massive change ... but I’d like to see what the public has to say first. There were great hopes that this could be a job driver, an economic development tool. I’d have to hear some very good arguments, but I want to reserve judgment. Hopefully the public comes out to voice their opinion.”
The hearing will be held during the July 8 planning commission meeting at the county government building in La Plata.