Company plans rile Glen Arm

February 21, 1994|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

An engineering company's plan to move two subsidiaries into the picturesque Long Green Valley in Baltimore County northeast of the city has many area residents vowing to stop what they see as a threat to the valley's rural nature.

"We're struggling to keep Glen Arm and the valley rural and tranquil," said Charlotte Pine, president of the Long Green Valley Association.

At the center of the dispute is Prosser Co. Inc., which designs and builds chemical processing plants and has 22 employees. It has been in Glen Arm since 1960 and wants to move plants from Fullerton and Baltimore to Glen Arm.

Supporters and opponents of the move will be able to air their positions in April, when the county Board of Appeals holds hearings on Prosser's request that 5.2 acres be rezoned for the new plants.

Though the county Planning Board already has recommended that the Board of Appeals grant Prosser's request, area community associations and the county people's counsel say they will continue their fight. The Planning Board has received more than 120 letters opposing the zoning change and 57 letters supporting it.

Prosser wants the zoning for the acreage at the northeast corner of Glen Arm Road and Long Green Pike to be changed to light manufacturing. Until 1992, the area had been zoned for housing. During the 1992 comprehensive rezoning, about 2 acres was rezoned for restricted office-residential use.

Prosser bought the land in 1992 from Grumman Corp., which has a plant just north of the property with about 100 workers. Prosser's purchase came too late for the company's plans to be included in the comprehensive rezoning, so to get the zoning changed, it has to show that the County Council erred in approving the rezoning in 1992.

The county's master plan designates Prosser's acreage and the surrounding properties for industrial use. Given that, G. Scott Barhight, Prosser's attorney, contends that proving an error shouldn't be hard.

"Restricting the use of the property, as the 1992 zoning changes did, doesn't make any sense at all given the fact the county considers this to be an industrial-use area," he said.

In addition to Prosser and Grumman, there are several other businesses, light industries and companies such as United Container and Prosser Fiberglass Inc., which is owned by several officers from Prosser, in the area.

Mrs. Pine of the Long Green Valley Association said her organization didn't know that the master plan had been changed to allow industrial use on the property.

"We certainly would have opposed that designation, because we don't want any further industrial use out here," she said.

The Glen Arm, Kingsville and Summerfield Farm community associations also oppose the proposed zoning change.

Grumman, based on Long Island, N.Y., announced last month its decision to sell the Glen Arm plant, and Mike Reier, president of the Glen Arm association, said his group would like to see Prosser put its subsidiaries in the Grumman plant rather than add industrial zoning.

Mr. Barhight said it wouldn't be feasible for Prosser to move its subsidiaries into the Grumman plant.

The companies Prosser wants to move are Amereihn Co. Inc., a small steel fabrication company in Fullerton that has about 15 workers, and El-Tex Industries Inc., a manufacturer of electronic control boards in Northeast Baltimore that has 17 employees.

One complicating factor is that the septic system serving three occupied houses on the Prosser property is failing. The county Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management has told Prosser that the system could be upgraded to accommodate one plant, but not two.

Mr. Barhight said Prosser didn't accept that assessment and that he hoped to persuade the department and the Board of Appeals that the company could find a way to accommodate both plants.

Furthermore, the three houses are on the Maryland Historical Trust inventory, and the property is part of the Long Green Valley National Register Historic District. The county's landmark preservation commissioner has recommended to the Planning Board that the houses be preserved.

In its recommendation to the Board of Appeals, the Planning Board said its support of the zoning change hinges on protecting the three houses.

"I don't know how we can do that, since there wouldn't be enough room to build the two plants and leave the houses where they are," Mr. Barhight said.

If Prosser's plan is approved, the company would tear down the houses, relocate them or use them as offices.

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