'Golden opportunity' for Sykesville Annexing part of Springfield would aid state, county and town.

January 22, 1996

SYKESVILLE'S town government has taken the kind of initiative needed to jump-start Carroll County's lagging economic development effort. y offering to annex 57 acres and a dozen buildings known as the Warfield complex of the Springfield Hospital Center, the town is creating an instant business campus with real potential to attract millions of dollars in investments that could generate hundreds of jobs.

Sykesville's annexation and development of this surplus state property would solve a number of problems. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene no longer uses it and would like to dispose of it. By annexing and then reselling the property to private businesses, the state could save money now spent on maintenance.

More important, this area would be added to the tax rolls and could represent a significant boost to the county's commercial and business tax base.

From a planning and development perspective, the Warfield complex could help reinforce a long-standing goal of county planners to prevent development sprawl from spreading into the countryside. Attracting biotechnology, software or computer-related businesses to this parcel could serve as a catalyst for other large campus-like developments in Carroll. For the past two years, the county planning commission has been considering campus zoning as a means of attracting high-tech and environmentally benign businesses.

In marketing these buildings, Sykesville and the county won't have to make substantial infrastructure investments. The roads are already in place, as are water and sewer service. The town has already approved a special taxing district that would allow for the financing of additional infrastructure investment.

The development of this parcel is indeed a "golden opportunity," as county Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown put it. Although Sykesville approached the state, the town of 3,000 residents isn't capable of organizing and financing the parcel's development. It will take the resources of county government to market this property to potential tenants. In fact, a cooperative effort between the county and town could usher in a much-needed improvement in their relationship.

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