Officials seek big industry at park Zoning could change to keep commercial, retail development out

April 02, 1997|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Hampstead officials say they support the county's efforts to market the North Carroll Business Park property to large manufacturers, and they're taking steps to ensure that development occurs as envisioned.

Members of the town's Planning and Zoning Commission, who saw the county's site concept plan for the first time Monday night, say the panel will probably recommend revising Hampstead's zoning code to keep out commercial and retail development.

"If you have prime industrial property, you need to protect it," said Hampstead councilman and zoning commission member Wayne H. Thomas.

"We can't be allowing it to go to retail, or we'll never get the industrial [tax] revenues we need in Carroll County to offset the cost of houses," Thomas said.

At Monday's meeting, Carroll economic development director John T. Lyburn explained the county's plan to begin infrastructure work on a 30-acre portion of the 400-acre North Carroll Business Park site to make it more attractive to businesses.

The county's Industrial Development Authority, which markets property for county government, is targeting companies that need 100,000 to 1 million square feet of space, as opposed to smaller operations such as biotechnology firms.

County economic officials are developing a brochure to market the Hampstead site nationally, said Lyburn, stressing the importance of preserving the site for industrial use.

"I ask you not to make it commercial," he said.

Under Hampstead's zoning laws, the commercial and retail operations that are permitted in business zones are also allowed on land designated for industrial use. This means that warehouse-type retail operations could legally pursue development on the North Carroll Business Park site.

Zoning commission chairman Dennis E. Wertz called the situation "a major problem," and called for a discussion of the issue at next month's meeting. Town officials have repeatedly cited the construction of a Wal-Mart in Eldersburg as a poor use of industrial land -- from an economic and design standpoint.

"This is a big opportunity to do it right," said Hampstead town manager Neil Ridgely.

Situated northwest of Route 482 and Route 30, the North Carroll Business Park site is the county's largest industrial property. The county owns about 75 acres, and Carroll County General Hospital owns an adjacent 325 acre tract. The property will be marketed as one large parcel.

Lyburn said that 20 businesses are looking at the site, but some early prospects fell through because the land wasn't ready for development.

"We lost a lot of big ones," he said. "We had a user who wanted it May 1 and we just couldn't deliver."

Lyburn said grading work at the site could begin by June. Predevelopment work will include the construction of an entrance on Route 482, across from Panther Drive, as well as preparations for water and sewer and natural gas connections.

Town officials hope that a demonstrated local interest in the North Carroll Business Park might lead to a commitment by state transportation planners to allocate money for construction of the long-sought Route 30 bypass.

The Carroll County General Hospital tract includes about 23 acres designated for the proposed bypass. Lyburn said county and hospital officials continue to discuss the possibility of the hospital donating the land for the bypass.

Pub Date: 4/02/97

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