Industrial park raises obstacles before funds Westminster site would need water, sewer aid

June 28, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

If a large industrial park is to be built five miles southeast of Westminster, county and city officials say many obstacles need to be overcome.

The county should build an industrial park of at least 400 acres or more, officials believe, to attract industry, generate jobs and increase Carroll County's commercial tax base.

Half of the county's 72,000-person work force travels to work outside the county each day and the county's commercial tax base accounts for only 12.08 percent of revenues, according to John T. Lyburn Jr., the county's economic development director.

Setting aside land for industrial sites is one of Carroll's most pressing needs, a Kansas City, Mo., planning consultant told officials last February.

Accordingly, Carroll's Economic Development Commission wants the county planning office to evaluate a square mile or more of continuous, undeveloped land north of Route 140 and east of Bethel Road in Reese for use as an industrial park.

Planning Director Philip J. Rovang said he is looking forward to receiving not only that request, but others.

"My goal is to identify industrial sites and see that they are ready as soon as possible," he said.

If the "600 or 800" acres off Bethel Road and Route 140 are to become an industrial park, water and sewer service would have to be provided on the site or extended from the city of Westminster.

Lyburn said he expects the city to receive an official request from the county in about two weeks to determine the feasibility of providing water and sewer service to the Bethel Road-Route 140 property and work up a cost estimate.

Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works, said yesterday that "to bring additional water and sewer outside the city limits is beyond the capacity of our system."

"We would have to make a number of improvements," he said.

Beyard said city and county officials have been talking "back and forth for a number of months about a project that could prove too expensive at the end."

No specifics have been discussed, Beyard said. However, initial estimates were for 400 acres -- not the 600 to 800 acres now being considered, he said.

Either way, "it's a major job," Beyard said.

A pumping station would have to be built to extend sewerage service to the site in addition to other upgrades to the sewer system, he said.

Next, officials would have to decide whether the city's treatment plant could handle the additional volume, he said.

As for water, "the critical area is supply," Beyard said. The city would need state permits to extend water to the area and the county would need permits to dig wells on the site, he said.

"This is not an easy issue. We need a lot of answers, and we don't have them right now," Beyard said.

Assuming the city and the county agree on infrastructure for the Reese site, the project could not begin until the county Master Plan is changed -- a process that could take 18 months to two years.

Meanwhile, the pressure to find sites that could be converted to a campus-like industrial setting continues.

"I look at your industrial-zoned land, and I choke," Kansas City consultant Robert H. Freilich told county officials in February.

"You have to get some economic development in here. If it means you have to reduce residential development, so be it," he told officials.

Services to homeowners cost 22 cents more than the county receives from them in taxes, says Lyburn, the county economic development director. By contrast, businesses provide a net gain to the county, he said, using only 55 cents worth of services for every $1 they pay in taxes.

It the county is to ease the tax burden on homeowners, those numbers must change. However, only about 2 1/2 percent of the county's 453 square miles have been designated for industrial use.

"There are few sites left in the county where you can find 400 contiguous acres" for industrial use, said planning director Rovang.

The county is looking for sites "as large as it can get," said Lyburn, for "economy of scale" and because "companies want to be next to each other."

At a maximum, only 33 percent of the space at an industrial site could be used, Lyburn said. On an 800-acre site, for example, 11,449,840 square feet could be used for buildings and the PTC remaining 23,398,160 square feet would remain open space, providing a campus-like atmosphere, he said.

Pub Date: 6/28/96

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