After over two decades of vacancy and decline, we are on the verge of saving the historic buildings at Warfield at Historic Sykesville. Warfield Companies has successfully identified $36 million in state and federal tax credits and other incentives to make the preservation of this important historic resource a reality, and unlock massive economic activity and expansion of the tax base in the Town of Sykesville and Carroll County.
Warfield filed a Zoning Text Amendment in December 2021. Among other things, this zoning request proposes shifting much of the previously approved development density from commercial to residential uses. The zoning change is needed to access the above-mentioned package of incentives and finally set the Warfield project in motion in a meaningful way.
Sykesville’s Mayor and Town Council have scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022 to consider Warfield’s zoning request. As part of the public hearing process, the Town Council will take public comments on the proposal. Roger Conley and I respectfully request that you come out on May 3rd to show your support for our proposal and the Warfield project.
In recent months, much misinformation and disinformation have been circulated about the zoning request and the project. To give all constituencies a more complete and accurate picture of Warfield, we will keep “virtual office hours” for the next several days to answer questions and provide additional information you may need to better understand the zoning proposal and the project.
If you wish to schedule a time to ask questions, get a project update, and better understand how you can help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your availability for a Zoom call. Daytime, evening, and weekend slots are available. We are happy to accommodate individuals and small groups. We encourage you to reach out no matter how you feel about the project based on the information you have heard to date.
Significance of Zoning Change
A shift from commercial to residential density is necessary to preserve Warfield’s historic buildings, as it will allow us to access over $36 million in state and federal incentives to cover excess costs associated with environmental remediation and the high cost of historic preservation. The proposed shift in density will also accelerate the project, which has been stagnant for over two decades. This new approach will result in the significant expansion of the Town’s and Carroll County’s tax bases, substantial economic benefits to the community that will endure for decades, and a substantial increase in state, federal, and private investment in the community.
The current zoning already allows for close to 600,000 square feet of commercial density and 181 residential units. Warfield’s proposal does not ask for additional density but, rather, a shift in density from commercial to residential to reflect market conditions and the ability to finance the project. In essence, Warfield’s proposal will result in a less intense development in the long term, particularly in terms of strain on roads, parking, and water/sewer capacity.
Important Legal and Administrative Developments
The merits of the zoning proposal and Warfield project aside, we feel it is vital to inform the public about Warfield’s serious concerns about how the Town has managed the review and approval process.
Beginning with the original Zoning referral to the Sykesville Planning Commission on January 24th, 2022, the conduct of the Mayor and certain other town officials towards the proposal is troubling. The Planning Commission has not been allowed to conduct an independent review and evaluation of the zoning proposal. There seems clear evidence of undue inﬂuence evidenced by, among other things, private off-record communications by and between the Mayor and other town officials, denial of fair due process, a lack of transparency, including failure to pass along key information and correspondence to Town Council members and Planning Commission members, and violations of the Maryland Open Meetings Act. The process we have observed raises serious legal and ethical concerns for which there must be corrective action at a minimum.
As an initial response to the Town’s actions noted above, Warfield Companies and the Maryland Building Industry Association have filed an Open Meetings Act complaint with the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board. The Town must respond to this complaint within 30 days.
In addition, Warfield has requested information from the Town under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA), which also requires a response from the Town in 30 days. Among other things, the purpose of this request is to access town communications to investigate the concerns noted above. Finally, Warfield’s legal counsel has requested that the Town preserve all records connected to the Warfield development in preparation for possible additional administrative and legal action.
However, the most important request we have made of the Town is to meet with us about our concerns and take immediate corrective action to restore fairness to the process. This likely includes referral of our application back to the Planning Commission with appropriate instructions to complete their evaluation, report, and recommendation to the Mayor and Town Council, with the understanding that the Planning Commission is an independent body constituted by and subject to state law.
Please come out on May 3rd to let the Mayor and Town Council know that you support maintaining fair, ethical, and transparent processes in general, as well as referral of Warfield’s zoning proposal back to the Planning Commission for a full and fair evaluation.
Access to Documents and Correspondence
Warfield Companies has created a virtual data room containing important correspondence and other documents related to the zoning proposal and pending actions. These documents are public information and can be accessed via the following link:
We look forward to hearing from you, hearing your feedback, and answering your questions.