Havre de Grace administrators may look outside city borders to strengthen the community's industrial base and financial future.
A three-member City Council committee is looking into annexing several properties totaling about 450 acres. Most of Havre de Grace's industrial land is fully developed, say committee members.
"There is no timetable," said Councilman Philip Angelini Jr., chairman of the annexation committee.
"We're saying let's look at five, 10, 20 years from now to see what we want to do."
In the coming years, the Havre de Grace area will face development pressure due to the growth from the Baltimore and Wilmington, Del., metropolitan areas, Angelini said.
By annexing land, the city would be able to control land development, he said.
The sites the committee is considering for annexation are:
* About 350 acres, called the Hopkins property, between the Chesapeake Industrial Park off Pulaski Highway and FTC Chesapeake Bay.
* About 100 acres owned by the Arundel Sand & Gravel Co. on the north side of the city, off River Drive.
* Several small properties off Chapel Road. These tracts are being considered for annexation to straighten the city line.
In the last three years, the city has undertaken two annexations, totaling about 600 acres, for residential development.
Those sites are now the Bayview Estates and Grace Harbour developments, where about 950 homes are planned. Most of Bayview Estates is built; Grace Harbour is starting construction.
When those sites were annexed, Havre de Grace needed land for new residential development within the city, Angelini said.
Now, the city needs industrial development to strengthen its tax base, Angelini said. The Hopkins and Arundel properties are being considered strictly for industrial uses.
"In today's economy, houses don't pay their way," said Angelini, explaining that residential property taxes seldom cover the cost of city services. "Industrial development does pay in terms of jobs and in terms of goods and services.
"There are a number of economic good-sense reasons."
Councilman Joseph Kochen derfer, a member of the annexation committee, stressed that while industry would bring in more tax dollars, the city must make sure that residents don't have to foot the bill for providing public services to those areas.
If the council pursues annexations, it will require developers of those properties to pay for utility lines and other services, said Kochenderfer.
Councilwoman Anna Long added that the city needs to make sure annexations and developments do not detract from its historic character.
"The things that made us what we are we don't want to change," Long said.
As for the other towns, the preliminary comprehensive plan for Aberdeen suggests that the city consider annexation to provide land for residential and industrial development. The plan, however, does not designate specific areas for annexations.
In Bel Air, officials are not considering any annexations. The town did annex properties in the 1980s to allow for residential and commercial development.