County panel approves expansion of Westminster hospital, warehouse

Plans of Random House, hospital OK'd

study of Freedom roads ordered

April 21, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The county Planning and Zoning Commission approved site plans yesterday for the expansion of two Westminster businesses and ordered a study of road development in the Freedom Area.

By unanimous vote, the seven-member commission approved plans by Random House Inc. to expand its facility on the northeast edge of Westminster. The project calls for the construction of a 278,500-square-foot warehouse.

Work on the building, which will be attached to an existing warehouse on the site, is expected to begin in June, according to Randy Bachtel of BPR Inc. The Westminster engineering firm has been working on the project for several months. The warehouse is expected to be completed in January, Bachtel said. It is the second expansion by Random House, which last year completed a 95,700-square-foot annex.

With the expansion, the Westminster facility is poised to become the sole national distribution center for all Random House titles by mid-2000.

As part of its planned consolidation, Random House will close its two facilities in Des Plaines, Ill., in June 2000. A third center, in Jackson, Tenn., will shift its operations to focus on outside publisher clients, such as Houghton Mifflin and National Geographic.

The improvements at the Westminster facility are often mentioned by town and county officials as the type of industrial development they seek.

Carroll County General Hospital's proposal to build an oncology center has also won support from local officials.

The planning commission yesterday approved plans to build the one-story, 13,250-square-foot medical center on the Center Street side of the Westminster hospital campus, across from the Carroll County Farm Museum.

Carroll County General will move its outpatient chemotherapy treatment unit from the hospital to the new oncology center. The center will also offer radiation oncology, which is not available in the county.

In other business, the planning commission ordered a study of road development in the Freedom Area, which includes Eldersburg and Sykesville. At the suggestion of commission member Thomas G. Hiltz, county planning staff have been asked to determine when developers should be required to build roads.

The issue was raised by commission member Grant S. Dannelly, who took issue with a plan that would allow construction of a 7,200-square-foot social hall for the Freedom Masonic Lodge near Sunset Drive in Sykesville. Dannelly criticized the site plan because it does not require the developer to build a service road for the facility.

"It's lunacy," Dannelly said. "We still have a road that needs to be built. If the developer doesn't do it, the taxpayers will have to shoulder the burden. I think that when someone opens a new establishment, regardless of what it is, they should have to pay up a little bit. We've let this kind of thing happen for too long. It's why we're in this mess, where we have roads that never get built. If we're not part of the solution, we're part of the problem."

Dannelly refused to support the site plan. He was the only commission member to vote against it.

After the vote, the planning commission asked county planning director Steven Horn to give the board members guidelines to help them determine when developers should be required to build roads.

Hiltz told Horn he would like to see a report on the issue before the commission finishes its work on the Freedom Comprehensive Plan.

The document, which will chart growth in South Carroll for 20 years, is expected to go to the county commissioners for action next month.

Pub Date: 4/21/99

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