Paper cup firm eyes Hampstead Sweetheart said to be looking at property for distribution center

120 jobs initially

Town's annexation of land likely needed for proposal to work

June 12, 1998|By John Murphy and James M. Coram | John Murphy and James M. Coram,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Lisa Respers contributed to this article.

Sweetheart Cup Co., one of the nation's largest manufacturers of disposable paper plates and cups, is eyeing property south of Hampstead as the possible site of a 900,000-square-foot distribution center.

The facility would serve as an East Coast distribution center for the Owings Mills-based company and would initially employ about 120 people, sources close to the dealings said yesterday.

The property, owned by Black & Decker U.S. Inc., is off Houcksville Road.

Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin confirmed that Sweetheart is interested in the site.

"I know they are looking at the site," he said. "I am not aware that anything has been signed officially, yet. I am aware that this is one of a couple of sites they're interested in."

Sweetheart is also considering other locations in Maryland. It has been widely reported for nearly a year that the company has been in search of a site for expansion.

Paul Gilbert, director of the Harford County Office of Economic Development, said Sweetheart officials had considered at least one site there, but "it is my understanding that they were unable to reach an agreement with the property owner."

If Sweetheart were to choose the Carroll County location, it would need water from the town of Hampstead and the site would have to be annexed by the town.

"I have never done an annexation," the mayor said, "but I understand [the process] could take a few months."

Asked about what it would mean for the county if Sweetheart chose Carroll, Nevin said, "Obviously, it would add jobs -- for the county, for the area and for the town."

Daniel Carson, Sweetheart vice president and general counsel, was unavailable for comment on the proposed expansion. A com- pany representative said Carson was on a flight and could not be reached.

The proposal came to light at a Hampstead Town Council meeting Tuesday when a resident asked about Sweetheart's plans to develop the property.

Greg Gaspar, who lives in the 900 block of Houcksville Road, told council members that Sweetheart had plans to build a "huge" building across from his home.

"Today, I had the opportunity to look at a site plan," he said during the public comment period of the meeting. "It's come to my attention that there is going to be one huge building directly across the street from me. That was a heck of a way to find this out."

The mayor told him it's "not a done deal."

Gaspar was not so sure.

"I met with an engineering firm and they were doing core samples for excavation," he said. "I saw the site plans. The NTC contractor is on his way up from St. Louis. This building is going to be 1,400 feet long and then probably 600 feet wide. That's one heck of a building."

Nevin said that because the site is outside the town limits, "We have minimal influence. We're aware of it and we'll try to have as much as we can."

Councilman Lawrence H. Hentz said Hampstead has been "approached" for water service, "but there have been no deals done and there will be no deal done until it's made public."

"We've just been approached," he said.

Gaspar asked if annexation would mean that Hampstead could influence how the building would be designed.

"You're ahead of us," Nevin said. "We don't know yet, because we don't know that there is a contract signed to have a user there. There is a lot of stuff in the talking stages. We told them that our policy was that if they want our water, they come into town."

Pub Date: 6/12/98

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