Mayor seeks growth limits Herman says industry needed to suppport additional residences

December 17, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman pushed for economic development and limits on residential growth in South Carroll at a quarterly mayors' meeting yesterday with the County Commissioners.

"We talk a lot about residential and economic development," Herman told the commissioners at a meeting in Westminster. "But implementing plans can be difficult and costly. We need to look at economic development items that can make implementation possible."

He would like the county to expend more effort encouraging industry and he offered the commissioners the Warfield Complex at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville as an example.

At the mayors' meeting, Herman discussed the town's vision for the 131-acre property, which it expects to annex, if the proposal is approved in a referendum Feb. 17. Sykesville would restore the 15 aging buildings, creating an employment campus.

Plans to renovate and lease the 100-year-old buildings have attracted several potential tenants, including Carroll Community College and Touro College, a multinational school based in New York City. Touro is seeking a license from the Maryland Higher Education Commission and would like to open in September 2000.

"The only thing new in the county are more residences, and they are a huge drain on resources," Herman said at a Town Council session Monday. "If history is any indication, the county won't implement improvements, but it will rezone land for housing."

The Freedom Area Comprehensive Plan proposes road improvements, commercial development and amenities throughout South Carroll, where the town is located.

Sykesville officials said they fear the houses will come, but not the improvements.

"Where every other county is trying to control residential development, Carroll is promoting it," Herman said.

At the Warfield Complex, the community college has proposed a high-tech center, with computer links to most other colleges in the state. It could offer students a local campus for evening and weekend classes from some 23 other college locations throughout the state.

The Higher Education and Applied Technology (HEAT) Center would also offer programs tailored to the needs of area businesses and could be the first tenant at Warfield.

Smart Growth

"The Warfield Complex is important to the economic development of the county," Herman said. "It is important that as we look at economic development, we make sure we have a work force that's been educated.

"The project ties into Smart Growth, and it cuts down on the number of trips per day along Route 32," Herman said. "This could help the governor dedicate the area as a Smart Growth area, and could help us get funding."

Smart Growth is Gov. Parris N. Glendening's 1997 plan that tries to discourage sprawl by providing state aid for development in and around existing communities. The community college is asking the state for $2.9 million to create the center.

Officials are trying to increase the county's 12 percent industrial tax base and have favored the employment campus zone, but have not commited any resources to it.

When the topic turned to growth, Herman expressed concern over the proposed Freedom plan that envisions much residential development -- about 1,400 homes on Obrecht Road near the town's border.

Road not improved

The county encouraged the town to develop its western end and allocated funds to improve the road. Sykesville has little land left for housing. But, while the houses were built, the money for Obrecht Road was diverted to other projects.

Sykesville has pushed unsuccessfully for improvements to the road and its extension to Route 32 for a decade.

It deals constantly with residents complaining of dangerous curves and difficult entries to the highway.

"I'd like to see the [roads] plans be implemented, particularly in light of the miniplan for Sykesville showing development to the bTC west of town," Herman said. "Two of those developments are on Obrecht Road."

Pub Date: 12/17/98

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