County Council passes funds for UMBC building

November 20, 1990|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

In its last session together, the Baltimore County Council left a final gift behind last night -- initial money for a research building at the University of Maryland Baltimore County campus that could mean as many as 300 jobs.

The council voted 5-2 to spend $300,000 for site work on the first building planned for a research and development park that has been proposed for a 95-acre site on the south side of the Catonsville campus.

But there is a catch: The building will be constructed only if the state coughs up another $3 million.

The 83,000-square-foot, two-story building would be on a six-acre portion of the tract and would create 300 jobs, said Richard W. Story, executive director of the county's Economic Development Commission.

According to Mr. Story, a private company has agreed to pay for constructing the building once the site work is completed.

But he said the company, which he declined to identify, had not signed a contract.

The company, which would own the completed building, has agreed to the construction only if the county wins a commitment from the state in the next three months for the $3 million balance needed to finish the site work, he said.

Studies by UMBC show the site could eventually be the home of an $80 million research and development park with up to 12 buildings that would mean 2,000 jobs, he said.

But county officials said winning the state start-up money for the first building could be difficult.

"Given the economic climate and the state facing the deficit it faces, I'd say we have an uphill battle," Mr. Story said. "We don't know what there is in the well" of state money.

The council's approval of the measure was split between those who won re-election Nov. 6 and those who did not. Council Chairman C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, D-3rd, said the decision should be left to the next administration and voted against the measure. So did Councilman Melvin G. Mintz, D-2nd, the only other council member to be re-elected.

In other action, the council unanimously voted to ban heavy trucks from the 1700 block of Rittenhouse Avenue in Bloomfield because of complaints about noise and the traffic hazards.

The measure was prompted by concerns that trucks parking in a small lot at the end of the street were shaking the 14-foot-wide street and posing a danger to children playing in the community.

The truck lot also was a source of storm water runoff, neighbors said.

The homes lie in Baltimore County's southwestern corner, but the tract at the end of the street is in Baltimore and is industrially zoned, a designation that allows parking trucks.

Walter E. Whistleman, the contractor who uses the lot, opposed the ban, saying he bought the tract to park trucks for his construction business there.

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