Keep it industrial North Carroll Business Park must be developed for highest value.

April 07, 1997

IS CARROLL COUNTY finally getting serious about industrial development?

Over the years, industrial-zoned land has been used for commercial purposes. Some has even been squandered on residential subdivisions. Industrial property that might have been attractive to companies was not developed with essential infrastructure of roads, water and sewer.

The result has been a weakened tax and employment base for the county and its municipalities, a lower economic use of prime land specifically designated for industrial development.

The joint decision of Hampstead and Carroll County to develop and market the North Carroll Business Park for strictly industrial use signals an important change in direction. Carroll County General Hospital, which owns most of the 400-acre site, is also in accord.

"I'm asking you not to put a Wal-Mart or other commercial user there," county industrial chief John T. Lyburn told Hampstead's zoning commission. The commission expects to recommend revising the town code to exclude commercial and retail use of the site, to maximize its potential. Officials have often pointed to the building of a Wal-Mart store on industrial-zoned property in Eldersburg as an example of poor land use.

The county will pay for pre-development work on a 30-acre portion of the Hampstead park, with an entrance off Route 482 and connections for water, sewer and natural gas. Mr. Lyburn says 20 businesses showed interest in the site, but some dropped out because the land was not ready for development now.

As the county's largest industrial-zoned parcel, with all utilities and a rail link available, North Carroll is a valuable property that must not be wasted. The county Industrial Development Authority is preparing a brochure for national distribution to seek the best prospects.

The revenue impact of industrial property, in a county that is overweighted with residential development, can be seen in a recent report showing the small Westminster Air Business Center will contribute more than $650,000 in local property and piggyback taxes this year. The county built up the site and constructed a speculation building, and the businesses came. It's a lesson well learned.

Pub Date: 4/07/97

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