Search for alternate site for emissions testing OK'd

December 21, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

The governor has told Carroll and Westminster officials they can look for another site for an auto emissions testing station, but he can't guarantee the site will be chosen.

A move would mean delays and cost increases for the state, Gov. William Donald Schaefer wrote in a Dec. 10 letter, copies of which were sent to the county commissioners and Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown.

A Tennessee company hired by the state Department of Transportation has signed a contract to buy about 2 acres at the Air Business Park on Route 97 in Westminster for an emissions testing station.

Last month, local officials asked the governor to block the station from being built there. The officials said the industrial park is not the proper place for the station, which would attract about 200 cars daily.

They also said the facility would take up valuable land that otherwise could be purchased by businesses that would create jobs and pay property taxes. State-controlled facilities do not pay property taxes.

Officials from the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development agreed that the testing station should not be built at the Air Business Park because the park was designed for economic development.

In his letter, Mr. Schaefer said the site at the industrial park met all the requirements for the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program. Sites for testing stations must be consistent with local zoning, master plans and growth-management plans, he said.

The contract with Marta Technologies Inc. to build about 20 testing stations in Maryland was awarded in July, and sites were publicized, the governor said.

County and city officials have said they did not learn of the plans until last month, when the company already had signed a contract to buy the land.

"We have requested that Marta contact you in an effort to resolve these issues," the governor said.

"I hope you understand, however, that I cannot require the contractor to relocate the station without subjecting the state to additional costs and delays."

Westminster Public Works Director Thomas B. Beyard said yesterday that he and three county officials -- the commissioners' Executive Assistant Robert A. "Max" Bair, Office Economic Development Administrator William E. Jenne and Planning Director Edmund R. Cueman -- met with a Marta representative Wednesday.

The group met at the County Office Building and gave the representative, Al Copp, five or six alternate sites, Mr. Beyard said.

Mr. Beyard would not disclose the sites, but said some were in the city, others in the county, and most were on highways.

The company will send real estate representatives to look at the sites proposed by local officials, he said.

"They're serious about considering our sites. I thought they were very open to looking at other possibilities," Mr. Beyard said.

Mr. Copp could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The new station must be open by January 1995.

The current station, on Bethel Road near Route 140 in Reese, will no longer be used because the federal Clean Air Act requires a more stringent emissions test for cars and a larger facility.

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