Letter to the Editor: Time to Solve the Real Problem

Letter to the Editor

Time to Solve the Real Problem
To the Editor:

The Jefferson County Commission was half right in delaying their decision on rezoning the Old Standard Quarry. They were right that more dialogue and engagement is needed before a decision is made. Unfortunately, they are working on the wrong issue.
The problem facing Jefferson County is not lack of space to develop business. There is currently more than 1,100 acres of commercially zoned space in Jefferson County. These 1,100 acres are located in the industrial parks of Burr (193 acres), Sunnyside (84 acres), Spectratech (270 acres), and Jefferson Orchards (500 acres). There are also numerous parcels, some as large as 28 acres, in downtown Ranson and Charles Town.
In fact, the Huntfield developers promised, in a written proffer agreement with Charles Town, to build 200,000-1 million square feet of commercial space. Five years later, nothing has been built.
All of these commercial acres have sewer, water, high-speed Internet lines, access to rail lines and four-lane highways. None of this is currently available at Old Standard. Yet none of these 1,100 acres, plus Huntfield, has been developed. The Burr Office Park was created twenty years ago and still has not been filled. Many of the tenants in Burr Park are contractors for building houses in the county. They would have located there anyway.
The state officials who spoke at the Commission workshop expressed their concern about bringing jobs to Jefferson County. They would better show their concern by repairing the derelict structures at the Burr-Bardane Industrial Park and offering tax and other incentives to businesses relocating to our area.
There are many reasons why Jefferson County is not a Mecca for offices. The main one is that the Northern Virginia office market is glutted. The latest issue of the Washington Business Journal identifies 15,483,376 square feet of vacant commercial space already built and waiting tenants in Northern Virginia. Another 1.78 million square feet is being built near Dulles. Commercial real estate experts predict that it may be ten years before the Washington market absorbs this existing space.
Why would a company move out of Virginia to a state with higher taxes, stricter business regulations, and pro-union sympathies? Until these matters are addressed, the solution to Jefferson County's job growth is not adding more developable acres. We need to create a master plan for economic revitalization. Only then can rezoning Old Standard be put in its proper perspective.
Scot M. Faulkner, Harpers Ferry