Mount Airy, owners of industrial properties form marketing group Carroll and Frederick aren't aiding development, town officials complain

September 13, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Lack of economic development help from either Carroll or Frederick counties has prompted Mount Airy to form its own marketing group with the owners of industrial properties in town.

"If we don't take the initiative, it's not going to happen because we're not going to get any help from Carroll County and, for that matter, Frederick County," Councilman C. Robert Mead told his colleagues at Monday's council meeting.

The consensus among the mayor and council members is that Mount Airy is not included in the economic development efforts of Carroll and Frederick counties. Mount Airy straddles the county line.

Town officials are eager to attract industry to boost Mount Airy's tax base. Industry generally demands fewer government services than residential development.

The town has an economic development commission, but the commission has focused on revitalizing the downtown area, filling vacant buildings and increasing foot traffic.

Mayor Gerald R. Johnson said he hopes to set up a meeting next month between the council and the owners of four or five industrial properties. How the group will go about marketing Mount Airy depends on how the town and the owners determine they can help one another.

Mount Airy has about 300 acres of industrially zoned property, including two industrial parks, Twin Ridge and Twin Arch. The Peacock property on Route 27 is zoned for industrial use, but has begun developing commercially. A shopping center is scheduled to open there in 1997.

Johnson criticized Carroll County's economic development efforts, saying they focus on Westminster and neglect outlying towns. He said yesterday that he had spoken privately with John T. Lyburn Jr., the county's economic development director, and concluded that communication between the town and the county needs improvement.

"When they [the economic development staff] bring a prospect to Mount Airy, Mount Airy needs to know that," Johnson said. "Unless we know, we're out of the loop and I don't think that's in the best interest of Mount Airy or any municipality."

Lyburn did not return telephone calls.

Jim Singleton, acting economic development director for Frederick County, welcomed the Mount Airy initiative and said he hopes to work with the town. "As far as Mount Airy or any other point, we would like to see them active in marketing their area," he said. "That makes our job easier."

Singleton said town officials in Frederick County sometimes complain that the county's economic development effort is concentrated on Frederick city.

"But that's because there is more land being developed in Frederick," he said.

Pub Date: 9/13/96

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