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Panel to mull proposal to move Frederick County offices

By Alex Bridges

WINCHESTER -- Negotiations over an offer to move Frederick County offices out of the city may take place mostly behind closed doors.

The Board of Supervisors agreed on Wednesday to forward to a committee a proposal from Frederick County Center LLC to build a 150,000-square-foot government center somewhere outside city limits. The Public Works Committee now takes up the proposal as part of the negotiation process with the private entity.

Deputy County Administrator Jay Tibbs said the discussions at the committee level will likely take place in closed session because of proprietary information included in the proposal.

"The information designated as proprietary (e.g. location, design, etc.) will remain proprietary until the public hearing on the comprehensive agreement, should one be negotiated," Tibbs stated in an email.

The county has provided copies of part of the proposal that does not contain proprietary information.

Frederick County Center submitted the lone, unsolicited proposal through the Virginia Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 earlier this spring. The county invited any other interested parties to submit proposals with a similar goal.

Under the PPEA, a firm may make an unsolicited proposal to design and build a government project. The proposal from Frederick County Center LLC also calls for the entity to provide financing and land for the project along with design and construction services. Frederick County Center also proposes to buy the current government office complex at 107 N. Kent St. in downtown Winchester.

Approximately 200 county employees work in the government center near the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall. The center also draws county residents, visitors and customers conducting business.

A resolution adopted by the supervisors on April 24 to accept the proposal and open the door for competing offers states the county population continues to grow since it acquired the North Kent Street property in 1994, and claims that the county can better serve its residents by moving the government offices out of the city.

The county spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to maintain, heat and cool the aging government offices, according to information from Tibbs.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, supervisors:

  • Voted to accept the Business Climate Assessment Citizens' Committee Final Report that looks at the processes and procedures used by local government and includes the panel's recommendations on how the county can better meet the needs of new and existing businesses.

  • Adopted a resolution to spend $325,000 from county reserves in installments over the next two years to Kraft Global Foods Inc. through the Industrial Development Authority. The Local Economic Development Incentive Grant is to entice the company to spend $25 million to expand its facility in the county and create 25 jobs.

  • Adopted a resolution to appropriate $150,000 from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to the Industrial Development Authority to assist in locating a distribution operation for McKesson Medical Surgical Inc. The company will invest approximately $13.3 million in machinery and equipment and $23.6 million in the construction of a new facility. The project is expected to create 205 new jobs.

  • Approved a request from Blue Fox Billiards Bar and Grill for a 12-month outdoor festival permit to hold events on the grounds of the business at 1160 Millwood Pike. No one spoke at the public hearing on the request.

  • Approved an amendment to the county code pertaining to motor vehicle access and entrance spacing requirements. No one spoke at the public hearing on the matter.

  • Approved an ordinance amendment to allow divisions to existing, rural preservation tracts already recorded. No one spoke at the public hearing on the matter.

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