A developer's plan to create an industrial park to spur lagging development at Lake Linganore in Frederick County is facing stiff opposition from nearby residents, who say the park will radically alter the rural-residential character of the area.
The 128-acre park is being proposed by Phoenix Properties Inc., one of the largest landholders in Lake Linganore, a 3,700-acre planned community that has been beset by financial difficulties, according to Jim Shaw, Frederick County director of planning.
The community, located near the town of New Market, Md., was approved under the county's Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning in the mid-60s, a time when new towns such as Columbia and Reston were being designed under similar comprehensive zoning plans.
Lake Linganore is anchored by a 216-acre lake and an 18-hole golf course, but has never matched the success of its regional counterparts. More than 2,300 lots have been recorded for development there, but only 83 homes have been built, Shaw said.
Developers are hoping the industrial park will spur new-home construction by luring high-tech firms and their upscale employes to the area.
But a coalition of residents claims the plan will only create a precedent for future industrial development in a section of the county that is now zoned solely for residential and agricultural uses.
"It will definitely change the nature of the community here," said Donald T. West, chairman of the Committee for Residential Preservation, a citizens group opposing the plan.
"The county's comprehensive zoning plan . . . has already identified areas where industrial zoning should take place, and this is not one of them," he said.
The plan proposes locating the industrial park on 263 acres of residentially zoned land at Lake Linganore's entrance on Route 144. Dwelling units now planned for the park site would be shifted to other locations on the tract, boosting density in some sections from 4.5 to 21 units per acre.
Developers also have proposed building a 14- to 16-story apartment tower, relocating an elementary school site and combining two commercial properties into one 36-acre commercial site, according to a planning staff report.
Farm land lies to the west of the proposed park, but the eastern and southern edges of the property are bordered by single-family homes along Yeagertown Road and Route 144.
Residents contend that the proposed development would increase traffic in the area from about 1,700 trips a day to 25,000 trips, and note that the industrial park would not have direct access to Interstate Route 70.
The county's recently approved comprehensive zoning plan has identified two sites for industrial development along Route 70 south of New Market and in an area west of the town of Mount Airy. Both are currently undeveloped, residents said.
Under the county's PUD zoning, Phoenix Properties is allowed to set aside up to 400 acres for industrial uses, but to change its development plan the company must win approval from the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, Shaw said.
The county's planning staff has approved the proposal subject to a number of conditions, including deleting the apartment tower, and has passed its recommendations on to the county planning commission, which advises the Board of Commssioners.
The planning commission, which has held one hearing, probably will meet again in December to render its recommendation, Shaw said.
The citizens, meanwhile, are gearing up for a prolonged fight, according to West.
"Our plan is to be prepared and to take whatever steps are necessary. Right now, we're getting the rest of the community informed and seeing how they feel about it," West said.
Last week, about 120 residents voiced opposition to the plan at a meeting in New Market, and the citizen opponents said they had collected 1,000 signatures on petitions opposing the plan.
"It just messes up the whole scenery," said David Hash, who has lived in the area for 18 years. "If one goes in, it's just a foot in the door for other industrial parks."