Commissioners approve North Carroll rezoning big store possible at site

Developer declines to say if Wal-Mart is planned

November 19, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The county commissioners voted yesterday to rezone a portion of North Carroll Shopping Plaza north of Hampstead from residential to business use -- clearing the way for a Wal-Mart or similar large store.

With their votes, Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates disagreed with the planning staff and the decision by the county planning commission to deny the rezoning of 11 1/2 acres of the 33 1/2 -acre property.

"We're thrilled," said Glenn L. Weinberg, a spokesman and attorney for the developer, H. M. Mall Associates, a subsidiary of Cordish Co. of Baltimore.

"We have to sit down and figure out what to do next," he said. "This gives us a lot more flexibility and a lot more land to utilize."

The two commissioners found a change or mistake -- as required by law for such a rezoning -- because the boundary between the business and the residential zoning was set in 1987 by a now-abandoned route for a Manchester bypass.

The proposed route divided two-thirds of the land, which was zoned for general business, from the rest, zoned for residential development.

"I feel there's some justification for rezoning based on change and mistake," Dell said. "I think the rezoning would enhance the property."

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown had previously recused himself from considering the matter.

Much of the shopping center has been vacant since the demise of two anchor stores.

H. M. Mall Associates has been rumored for months to be planning a Wal-Mart or other "big-box store" at the site on Route 30, between Hampstead and Manchester.

Hampstead officials had opposed the rezoning, saying it should be considered with a comprehensive plan for Hampstead -- expected to take about two years. Hampstead Business Association voiced opposition to a Wal-Mart in August.

Again yesterday, Weinberg would not confirm that Wal-Mart is the potential tenant.

"Soon," he said with a broad smile.

Since the county commissioners' public hearing on the rezoning last month, Weinberg has collected more than 500 signatures on petitions from people saying they want such a store nearby and that they travel away from the town's Main Street merchants to warehouse-type stores. Weinberg sent copies to the Hampstead and Manchester governments.

He also said yesterday that he will write to Hampstead Mayor Christopher M. Nevin and the Town Council to formally offer a part of the shopping center as a site for a much-needed water tower.

The town council had decided to place the tower north of town on Route 30 at the North Carroll Middle School, until residents there launched a heated protest that led the council to reconsider. Nevin has been meeting with residents to work out a solution.

Pub Date: 11/19/98

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