Proposal for trucking facility on site of former distillery worries residents Relay neighbors fear increase in traffic, noise

March 12, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

A trucking facility planned at the site of the former Calvert Distillery has residents in nearby Relay worried about its effects on their community.

The neighbors' uneasiness is heightened, they say, because they know very little about the facility to be built at 5101 Washington Blvd. by TNT Redstar Express, a trucking company based in Newark, N.J.

Some residents believe the presence of the trucking facility would mean more traffic from nearby Interstates 95 and 195 and U.S. 1, and increased noise for those living in the small, historic community. "To exit 95 and proceed along 195, [the trucks] will have to go past the community of Relay," said Ed Hardester, secretary of the Relay Improvement Association. "We anticipate a significant increase of truck traffic."

John O'Sullivan, vice president of finance for TNT, declined to comment yesterday on the planned facility, saying that company President Brad Jones wished to wait until the project was further along before releasing details about it.

Last year, the company purchased 20 acres from Joseph E. Seagram & Sons Inc. for $1,746,632 at the former distillery site, which in its heyday had 19 buildings spread across 102 acres.

The distillery opened in the 1930s and was a centerpiece of the Relay and St. Denis communities, with generations of residents employed at the facility. The distillery closed in 1981 and the House of Seagram, which bottles distilled spirits, now occupies 80 acres.

Neighbors say traffic along U.S. 1 is noisy, and has a spillover effect that ties up connecting streets. Several trucking facilities are located in communities near Relay, and resident Anne Heinrichs expressed concern that TNT's project would bring similar problems.

"People complain that they leave the trucks running all of the time," Mrs. Heinrichs said. "There are also complaints about black smoke and dirt settling on things."

But Rob Hoffman, a Towson attorney who helped TNT secure zoning and land-use approval, said notices were posted last year about the planned 52,460-square-feet facility to notify residents and allow them to voice their concerns at a zoning hearing.

"There was no one there but us," Mr. Hoffman said. "There was no one contesting the project present."

The project was granted a special exemption that allowed it to proceed without a community input meeting and development hearing because the facility is being built on a site that has already been developed, Mr. Hoffman said. Two six-story buildings -- old warehouses formerly belonging to the distillery -- have been razed to make way for the new terminal.

Pub Date: 3/12/96

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