Officials inquire about status of bypasses Projects called essential to 2 towns

June 24, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Officials from the towns of Hampstead and Manchester met with county and state officials yesterday to check the status of two bypasses they say are essential to their downtowns.

"Manchester is crying for a bypass. It's vital to the future of the town," said Manchester Town Manager David M. Warner, who asked for the meeting.

"Downtown will not be fully revitalized until we pull that traffic out," he said, and "when and if the Hampstead bypass is finished, it just puts the problem on to us."

A project for Hampstead has been approved and is moving into the land-acquisition phase -- though no construction money has been scheduled, said Mary Deitz, regional planner for the State Highway Administration's Regional and Intermodal Planning Division.

Nothing has been approved for Manchester, north of Hampstead on Route 30, she said.

Yesterday's meeting was spurred by news that a developer wants to build a large retail store at North Carroll Shopping Plaza on Route 30 north of Hampstead, which could block Manchester's hoped-for roadway, Warner said.

"I just thought it was time to sit down and talk about the bypass, and is it going to be?" asked Warner. If it is to be, "then we can put everything into preserving the property in the path of the bypass."

Though the county lists both Manchester and Hampstead bypasses as priority projects, Deitz said no Manchester route exists -- other than on a map from the 1980s. The state planning office is awaiting information on the Manchester request.

Warner is concerned, he said, because "I know if a big store is built in the path of the bypass, the bypass will never be built.

Right now, it's just a line on the map for the Manchester environs in the county master plan."

H. M. Mall Associates Limited Partnership of Baltimore has petitioned the county for a rezoning of its entire 11.6-acre property for business use. About one-third is zoned for low-density residential development.

Yesterday afternoon, representatives of the developer tried unsuccessfully to persuade the county planning commission to include a proposed reconfiguring of the shopping center in a new master plan for county growth. They also are pursuing a parallel path for the rezoning, based on the argument that the character of the neighborhood has changed or that it was mistake to zone the property for residential, rather than commercial, use.

Hampstead is to begin developing a master plan this summer. Some favor considering plans for the shopping center during the process.

But that could take two years, and the developer probably would be unwilling to wait that long, said Richard L. Hull, president of Carroll Land Services Inc., a representative of the developer.

The zoning petition calls for the south building of the shopping center to be razed and a 120,000-square-foot department store outlet to be constructed on the rear parcel.

The planned store would encroach on the site of the former proposed route, which "was never more than a line drawn on the Master Plan, never surveyed or acquired," according to the petition.

After three motions failed to win a majority vote on the planning commission, county Planning Director Philip J. Rovang said the status of the property would remain as it is. He told planning commission members that two-thirds of the parcel has the desired zoning.

The parcel lies outside both town boundaries and does not require their approval, although the property owners could seek annexation within Hampstead.

Hampstead Town Manager Neil M. Ridgely raised concerns about possible detrimental effects on Hampstead's downtown merchants and on the town's water supply if the development outside the town draws from the underground supply. Fluids from a dry-cleaning business remain at the site.

Ridgely said the proposal should not be considered "piecemeal" but as part of the overall picture for Smart Growth plan to control development and the updating of the master plan for the county and the eight towns.

"Carroll County desperately needs commercial and industrial growth to offset our residential development," Hull said later. "The town of Hampstead could accept us through an annexation, with an agreement on zoning with which the county would have to concur."

Of the developer, Hull said, "If they want to do another ticky-tacky strip development, they can just move back and just refurbish what they've got now -- and just tell everybody to have a nice day."

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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