Much of a proposal to rezone 1,069 mostly rural acres for industrial and commercial use remains viable despite its rejection by the planning commission, the County Commissioners said yesterday.
Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said planning commission members may be willing to reconsider some of those sites when they review miniplans to guide growth in South Carroll and Westminster.
The planning commission voted Jan. 29 to reject all but 90 acres of the 1,069 acres for inclusion in a revised master plan to guide the county's growth.
But "they appear amenable to taking another look," Commissioner Donald I. Dell said.
The commissioners sought to move that process along yesterday by agreeing to ask a panel of members of the Economic Development Commission, the planning commission, and the Board of Zoning Appeals to "review and make recommendations" for updating zoning laws that relate to commercial and industrial use.
"We're going to have to settle on zoning industrial land," said Commissioner Richard T. Yates. "If not, taxes are going out of sight. People moving here didn't move here for us to raise their taxes."
The commissioners had asked the economic development panel to scour the county and make recommendations because Carroll's business tax base is the lowest in the Baltimore region. Business provides slightly less than 12 percent of Carroll's tax base.
The nine sites an economic development subcommittee recommended for industrial and commercial use after a two-year study "are not dead," John T. Lyburn Jr., county economic development director, told the Economic Development Commission yesterday.
Lyburn said he and Philip J. Rovang, county planning director, are "working real hard to try to revitalize them."
Among the sites rejected last month was a 172-acre county-owned parcel next to the Carroll County Air Business Center in Westminster and a 14-acre site near the county-owned property.
The 14-acre site is being annexed by Westminster and will likely be used as a site for a cabinet and mill shop.
"What we're doing now is working with the city of Westminster for annexation," Lyburn said.
He said he is also working with other incorporated cities and towns in Carroll to see if sites might be annexed for commercial and industrial uses there also.
"The important thing is not to give up," said Louna Primm, chairwoman of the Economic Development Commission.
It was a message underscored by speaker Richard Story, Howard County's economic development director. Having sites available for prospective businesses is crucial to broadening the tax base, Story said in addressing the development commission.
"Economic development generates wealth," he said. "If you don't have the business, you're going to be hurting providing services for residents."
Businesses used to take two to three years to decide whether to move to an area, but that decision can be made in six months, Story said.
He said it was not enough to market Carroll and Howard counties as unique boutiques in a shopping center anchored by Baltimore and Washington.
"You've got to be ready for the jobs you want. If you're not, they'll move elsewhere," he said.
Howard has sought to make its sites more attractive by offering businesses that employ 50 or more people or use 50,000 square feet or more of space a guarantee that they will get through the site plan review process in 30 days, Story said.
The neighboring county has also instituted a master permit policy that allows companies to build or expand using one $50 permit rather than having to obtain multiple permits for various phases of the job, Story said.
Existing businesses will tell prospects, "You can get it done in Howard County," he said. "It's good public relations."
Lyburn said Carroll also provides accelerated site plan reviews for businesses and is working to shorten the permit process.
Pub Date: 2/27/98