Industrial boom in South Carroll? Planned relocation of blasting firm near Sykesville is positive signal.

July 30, 1996

CARROLL COUNTY is crying for industry, particularly to balance the surge of residential growth in the south, while industrial land owners scramble to convert their properties to commercial or residential use because of a soft market.

So when a Baltimore County company announces that it wants to move near Sykesville with 30 employees, buy a 13-acre industrial site and building from the Laborers union, asks for no government incentives or zoning variances and even proposes annexation by the town to pay municipal taxes, what is the reaction?

Red flags go up. Worries and concerns. Not the kind of welcome a business expects from the Chamber of Commerce and town fathers.

Explosive Experts Inc. wants to store on the site thousands of pounds of blasting powder, which it ships to construction jobs across the state. The substance would be stored in approved, federally regulated metal vaults, within zoning codes. There's no problem with the Cockeysville company's 30-year safety record. Still, it would create a worrisome powder keg near other potential industrial development parcels, two town parks, Springfield Hospital Center and a prison laundry.

Sykesville and South Carroll are hoping for significant non-residential development in the near future. There is the state's divestiture of Springfield acreage for private development, the rumored conversion of Fairhaven holdings for business, the planned widening of Route 32 to Interstate 70. Even faint hopes survive for the eventual development of Raincliffe Center, which has gone begging for two decades.

In fact, the desirability of the Laborers' property contrasts with xTC the apparent lack of interest in neighboring Raincliffe. Owner David Moxley says he can't find a suitable tenant or land acceptable financing for building infrastructure. The town has rejected his bid to turn the property into high-density housing and also his offer to sell the land to the town.

Raincliffe hasn't been effectively marketed; Mr. Moxley says the explosives firm's move would kill future hopes, but that may be just another excuse.

In fact, this episode should promote more aggressive industrial development. Explosive Experts notes the proximity of I-70 as a selling point. To be sure, Carroll needs more industry.

Pub Date: 7/30/96

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