Developer seeks Carroll zoning approval for theater, restaurants, retail buildings

January 06, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

An Eldersburg developer will ask the county Board of Appeals this month for permission to put a 14-screen movie theater, three restaurants and three retail buildings in a planned business center near Routes 26 and 32 in south Carroll.

Bernard G. Robbins of Talles-Robbins Eldersburg Development Co. -- the contract purchaser of 36.11 acres adjoining Londontown Boulevard and Route 32 -- wants the board to grant him permission to develop the property as a conditional use on land zoned for industry. The board will hear the request Jan. 29.

If the request is denied, the purchase agreement may be terminated. Robbins was unavailable for comment yesterday

According to documents filed with the board, Robbins plans to erect seven buildings in the park.

Robbins wants to build:

A 48,000-square-foot movie theater with 14 screens.

A two-story office and retail building containing 72,500 square feet.

Two 4,200-square-foot restaurants and one 5,850-square-foot restaurant.

Two retail buildings, one 86,000 square feet, the other 137,000 square feet.

Preliminary drawings depict the seven buildings forming a rectangle around 1,877 parking spaces north of Londontown Boulevard.

Carolyn Fairbank, a slow-growth advocate from south Carroll, said she had assumed nothing would happen to the Eldersburg property until the the Freedom Area Citizens' Advisory Committee had studied it as a candidate for commercial rezoning.

The county planning office asked the advisory committee Dec. 17 to evaluate the Londontown Boulevard property and several other sites in Eldersburg as candidates for commercial or industrial use.

The application for a conditional use at the Londontown Boulevard site was filed two days later.

Advisory Committee Chairman Thomas H. Simpson said yesterday that he was "unaware that anything was going" and is "extremely concerned that [he] was not advised" of Robbins' request to the Board of Appeals.

"I asked [earlier] for that kind of information from the economic development department and the economic development commission," Simpson said, "and was not informed of anything" until the December meeting, he said.

Philip J. Rovang, the county planning director who was unaware of the request to the Board of Appeals until asked about it yesterday, said "that sometimes happens" when appeals board applications are filed late in the month.

During a presentation of the economic development department's rezoning request Dec. 17, a county traffic consultant told advisory committee members that commercial use would generate six times as much traffic as industrial use of the same properties. The proposed business center would have commercial uses exclusively.

A traffic problem at the site could be exacerbated, residents were told last month, because state and county highway consultants predict that the nearby Route 32-Route 26 intersection will fail in about four years, even if there is no more growth in the area.

John T. Lyburn Jr., the county economic development director, recently added the Eldersburg property to a list of more than 1,100 acres countywide that the economic development commission would like rezoned for industrial or commercial use.

The county is looking to increase its commercial and industrial tax base while limiting residential growth.

But residents in fast-growing south Carroll are concerned about increased traffic congestion that they believe commercial growth would bring to their area.

Fairbank, chairwoman of the Freedom Area Planning Council, is irate that the citizens' advisory committee was asked to evaluate properties that she thinks are now going to be developed for commercial uses, regardless.

"Why bother to ask anybody what to put where if [county officials] have already made up their minds on land uses?" she asked.

Pub Date: 1/06/98

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