Harford plans to rezone Perryman for industry divide rural residents Some fear more traffic

others hope for more jobs

March 10, 1996|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,SUN STAFF

Harford County's plan to rezone more land for manufacturing and distribution plants has divided residents of Perryman, a rural area of single-family homes and narrow roads.

The county wants to add about 500 acres of Perryman, outside Aberdeen, to its inventory of industrial property, according to a master plan that will guide development for the next 10 years.

The land use plan also recommends building offices at the county's Interstate 95 interchanges in Joppa, Riverside, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace. Most changes in the plan are in the development corridor from Joppatowne along U.S. 40 to Havre de Grace and along Route 24 from Edgewood to Forest Hill.

Few residential changes are suggested, said Arden Holdredge, the county's director of the Department of Planning and Zoning. "We've tried to be responsive to the concerns of citizens who don't want to see the rapid growth in the county that occurred during the 1980s and early 1990s."

Still, some Perryman residents are worried about changes proposed for their community.

"There's too damn much traffic now," said John Oales Sr., who has lived in the community for about 40 years. Mr. Oales, standing outside Perryman's General Store, said he is weary of large trucks with drivers who don't know where they are going and try to turn around in front of his home on a dead-end street.

The traffic also worries other residents. Heavy trucks sometimes jostle the Victorian homes along Perryman Road, said Arlene Sullivan, 62, who has lived in the area all her life.

Expanding the road network can be worked out, said Paul Gilbert, the county's director of economic development. "We are carefully planning the infrastructure to do what's best for the residents and their corporate neighbors."

Some residents believe more manufacturing and distribution plants -- such as the 470,000-square-foot Clorox center that opened in 1993 -- will provide jobs and a boost to local businesses. The Perryman sites would be reserved mostly for large companies seeking 400,000 square feet to 1 million square feet of space.

Many community residents work at nearby Aberdeen Proving Ground. But APG, threatened with the same cuts as other military bases, no longer can be depended on to provide jobs for their children.

"More business would stabilize the community," said Hari Har M. Patel, who bought the Perryman general store about 13 years ago.

His only concern is that too few of the nearby workers stop by his store, which has been open for at least 50 years, to buy sandwiches and sodas -- choosing instead to drive to fast food restaurants along U.S. 40.

Harford County will not run out of industrial space for at least four years, Mr. Gilbert said. But the county needs to plan for growth because it takes time to change zoning, and create water and sewer hookups. The proposed office parks along I-95 would be restricted to buildings no larger than 10,000 square feet on at least 15 acres. In addition, the main tenant would have to agree to occupy 75 percent or more of the space and create at least 75 jobs, Mr. Gilbert said.

"We believe this type of space, restricted to either corporate office centers or research and development facilities, will be very attractive because it gives companies high visibility along I-95 and easy access," he said.

TC The Bel Air interchange is not included in the proposal because extensive building has taken place in the area, he said.

A few changes have been suggested in residential areas, but they aren't likely to trigger rapid growth. In 1990 about 3,000 housing units were being built each year, but that has slowed to 1,415 this year, Ms. Holdredge said.

Zoning near the Todd Lakes Development at Route 543 and Wheel Road, outside Bel Air, would be changed from agricultural to residential to allow the construction of "executive" houses selling from $250,000 to $400,000, she said.

Another change would make zoning near the Forest Hill Business Park on Jarrettsville Road residential rather than industrial, allowing about 200 houses to be built, she said. These houses would be priced closer to the county average of $210,000.

Pub Date: 3/10/96

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