Explosives company seeks acceptance

July 17, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

If Explosive Experts Inc. moves to Sykesville, business owners in the town fear few others will follow.

The Baltimore County blasting company would like to move its operations to 13 acres just outside Sykesville and about a quarter-mile east of Route 32.

Officials of the 36-year-old company met with the Sykesville Town Council Monday to present what it said was a perfect safety record and discuss its daily operations and advantages for the area.

"I don't know that a blasting company is bad for Sykesville, but I don't think it is a positive for Sykesville," said Craig Taylor, former president of the Sykesville Business Association.

Since the proposed site is zoned for industrial use, the company needs no official permission to move there. The company is negotiating with the property owners, the Laborers District Council, on a purchase price.

A few weeks ago, the company met with the town manager and business leaders and left safety manuals, federal regulations and a video.

"We would bring employment, revenue of more than $200,000 a year to the community, and we would support community activities," said Ronald Burkhouse, president. "If our proposal is approved [by the property owner], we would consider annexing into the town and paying town taxes."

The lure of taxes is tempting, especially for a town that needs industrial development. But that might not be enough to turn off the alarm bells.

The entrance to the property faces Freedom Park, where children play ball. A minimum-security prison is across Buttercup Road from the property.

"We are well within the required table of distance from the ball fields," Burkhouse said. "The fire marshal has no problem with our [proposed] site."

Zoning laws would require the magazines, which would store as much as 5,000 pounds of explosives, to be 800 feet from the prison's property line. If the distance is less, the company must apply for a zoning variance.

David Moxley said the move would be the end of his plans to develop an adjacent property along Route 32. He has tried unsuccessfully for a decade to market Raincliffe Center, a 32-acre industrial site.

Two years ago, the council denied Moxley's petition to rezone the property for a townhouse development, so he has continued to try to sell the site to commercial users.

"An explosive storage facility adjacent to our site would be the death knell for our site," said Moxley. "Even though it might be perfectly safe, it would be difficult to convince a prospective buyer."

The Explosives Experts site, about six miles north of Interstate 70, and a 10,000-square-foot building there are ideal for the company, Burkhouse said. The Laborers District Council, which purchased the property from Moxley 13 years ago, is asking $400,000 for the building and land.

Taylor expressed concern for the safety of those who use Freedom Park and trucks transporting explosives on Route 32.

Burkhouse said the company has done work "up and down the [Route] 32 corridor."

"In Cockeysville, we are right in the middle of things," said James H. Moore, Explosive Experts' secretary-treasurer. "Our neighbors are Noxell and Michael's Warehouse.

"No vehicle of ours is on the road in rain, ice or snow. We cancel according to the forecast."

Pub Date: 7/17/96

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