County tries to stop construction of emissions testing site

November 30, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Local officials have asked Gov. William Donald Schaefer to intervene and stop a contractor hired by the state from building an emissions testing station at the Carroll County Air Business Park.

The industrial park, on Route 97 north of Westminster, is not the proper place for a testing station that would attract about 200 more cars to the area each day, the officials wrote in a recent letter to Mr. Schaefer.

Marta Technologies Inc., a Tennessee-based company, has signed a contract to buy about two acres at the business park from Operating Engineers Local No. 37 in Baltimore, which owns 44 acres there, Michael L. Schuett, a consultant who represents the union, said yesterday.

Carroll County Commissioners and two economic development officials told the governor in a Nov. 19 letter that they did not know about the plan until earlier this month when it was already final.

"This revelation came as a complete surprise to us," they wrote.

The Air Business Park was designed by the county as "a showcase for private-sector economic development," they said, and a testing station would take up valuable land that could be purchased by a business to create jobs and generate taxes.

State-operated entities are exempt from property taxes.

Vehicles coming to the testing station also would cause traffic jams at the park, the officials wrote.

The letter to the governor was signed by Commissioners Donald I. Dell, Julia W. Gouge and Elmer C. Lippy; Industrial Development Authority Chairman Russell Sellman; and Economic Development Commission Chairman Paul Denton.

The testing station is expected to draw 200 cars a day, Mr. Schuett said. He proposed to allow access to the testing station only from Meadow Branch Road and not through the Air Business Park to alleviate possible traffic problems.

County officials rejected that proposal, Commissioner Dell said.

Mr. Schuett said he still would be willing to discuss it.

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown wrote to the governor in a Nov. 16 letter that he was "shocked" the state would allow a testing station in an industrial park.

He urged Mr. Schaefer to talk with state transportation officials to find a "more appropriate" site.

Mr. Schuett said he also plans to talk to Governor Schaefer about the situation.

A spokesman for the governor said yesterday he was not sure what the governor's response to the inquiries would be.

Marta Technologies won a state contract to build about 20 new emissions testing stations in Maryland.

The federal Clean Air Act requires a more stringent emissions test for cars than before, which meant the state had to ask for bids from companies willing to perform the new test.

It was the new contractor's responsibility to find a location.

Other businesses that are not strictly industrial -- including a restaurant -- have been built at the Air Business Park, Mr. Schuett said.

"The park is not an industrial park anymore," he said.

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