Governor Seeks Citizen Input On Loans To Sykesville Ad Solicits Letters On Industrial Park Project

December 23, 1990|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Contributing writer

The governor's office is asking citizens to speak up about proposed state loans to Sykesville that would finance the private development of a 32-acre industrial park.

In a local newspaper ad recently, Gov. William Donald Schaefer asked citizens for views on $1.5 million, low-risk loans to the town to develop Raincliffe Center, planned for Route 32 at Raincliffe Road.

"It's brand-new," Joel Lee, the governor's executive assistant, said of the comment campaign. "Depending on the reaction, we might see more of this."

The ad asked for letters no later than Dec. 14, though Lee said the deadline was not absolute. The responses have been few -- six last week -- but Lee said he expected more to arrive.

"The concerns we received are the concerns you would expect," said Lee. "How would it affect taxation? Who will have to take the risks? Who will the beneficiaries be? It's actually balanced, between some who are interested in this kind of development and some who are not."

The ad erred by saying Sykesville has requested the loans. No applications have been completed by the town.

What citizens have to say to the governor about state money going to Sykesville may be immaterial, because the Town Council has been cool to the proposal.

On Dec. 10, the council listened to state and county administrators outline the loan package aimed at helping finance the $4.7 million park, a project of Security Enterprises Inc. of Ellicott City.

To be eligible for the state money, the town must create a special tax district for the park. The tax district gives the town a mechanism to recoup losses should the park fail financially.

The town would be responsible for repaying the $1.5 million. But the benefits far outweigh the risk, said James Gatto, a loan program director in the state Department of Economic and Employment Development, because the town would take possession of $4.7 million in property if the park failed.

The council delayed action on the proposal until January, saying more time is needed to gather information. However, some council members have made it clear they're not wild about the plan.

Council President Charles Mullins objected to the town borrowing the money, saying it would be "asinine," and the town shouldn't shoulder the risk alone. He suggested that the developer borrow the money privately.

"We're not in the banking business," Mullins said.

Councilwoman Maxine C. Wooleyhand also objected to the plan, saying loan administration was not a "legitimate function for a municipal government."

However, Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. said the risk involved was negligible for a venture projected to create 250 jobs and increase the town's industrial tax base by more than $70,000 annually.

"I want to see the town move forward, and that's what things like (the park) accomplish," Helt said.

The mayor said he supports the loan proposal in general, but would like to see the county join in assuming some of the financial risk.

Construction of the park is scheduled to begin this spring, with completion set for the end of 1991, said project manager David Moxley of Security Enterprises. The planned seven lots would include 200,000 square feet of industrial space and 100,000 square feet for commercial use.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $4.7 million, including the loan money.

The proposed loan package consists of $750,000 from the Maryland Industrial-Commercial Redevelopment Fund and $500,000 from the Maryland Industrial Land Act. The remaining $250,000 would come from the county Department of Economic and Community Development.

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