HAMPSTEAD -- A market study that supports letting Super Thrift grocery store build and move into a new shopping center across the street from its current home in North Carroll Plaza satisfies the Planning and Zoning Commission, despite protests from some business owners and residents.
But the commission voted Monday night to delay approval of the project for other reasons.
Developers of the Oakmont commercial site on Route 30 near Greenmount were sent back to the drawing board until they address concerns of various county and state agencies.
"Until we have county approval, I'm not prepared to approve it," said Oden Kemp, commission member.
The agencies are concerned about the landscape plans, the height of the sign, a septic system, accessibility for handicapped people and other details.
Engineer Richard L. Hull of KCI Technologies said he has no objections to the county concerns, and it was just a matter of ironing out details with them. The matter will come up at the next planning commission meeting Aug. 31.
The 12-acre site for the new center is near the North Carroll branch of the Carroll County Public Library, the new Oakmont Green golf course, and a 90-home luxury residential community under construction.
The site is being developed by Oak Investment Co. Inc., which has a contract to purchase the land and plans to turn around and sell it to Scrivner Inc., the Oklahoma-based company that owns the Super Thrift store, said James E. Matthews, president of Oak Investment in Timonium.
Scrivner plans to close the Super Thrift store after building the new store, which would be called Festival Foods, said Glen W. NTC Smith, an Oklahoma engineer consulting with Scrivner.
The move could hurt the remaining stores in North Carroll Plaza, which rely on the grocery store and the Ames discount store as anchors to draw traffic. The plaza also has a Revco drug store, two restaurants, a card and gift shop, and a video rental store.
However, Mr. Matthews said the owners of the plaza could also take advantage of Hampstead's growth, and use the space Super Thrift vacates for such things as a movie theater or diner to attract golfers from Oakmont Green.
"There are many possible uses for their land and our land," Mr. Matthews said.
As long as he follows the town code, he said, "I don't think it's up to a town planning commission to say you can't have a store in our community. Those kinds of things went with the Berlin Wall."
Several people attended the meeting to oppose the center because they say Hampstead has too many vacant storefronts.
Margaret Murray, who described herself as a senior citizen who shops at Super Thrift, said the town didn't need a new shopping center.
"We have lots and lots of empty shops in Hampstead," she said.
Tony Rosselli, one of the new owners of the mostly vacant Hampstead Village shopping center on Black Rock Road, said he has had so much trouble filling stores that he has cut rent in half.
"If they want to build a new center, I wish them luck, or maybe they can come and rent [my center] for $6 a square foot," he said.
Commission Chairman Arthur Moler and Mr. Matthews both said the location on Black Rock Road was hindering that plaza.
But other storefronts are vacant at North Carroll Plaza and the new Roberts Field business center on Route 30 at the south end of town.
Still, a market survey commissioned by Mr. Matthews and Scrivner showed that growth in Hampstead would support a newer and bigger grocery store. One other store, possibly a drug store, would be built also, he said.
Mr. Moler said he accepts the study.
"You're not adding more grocery stores to the area," he said. "All it's doing is moving. The problem is, you have a big empty storefront left. I think with the growth in the area, they could break that down and put businesses in there that would be advantageous to the community."