Sykesville's Warfield Complex plan gets tentative support from county

Town wants to convert site into business park

June 11, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll County commissioners gave tentative support last night to Sykesville's plan to create an office and education center at the old Warfield Complex, a 138-acre property on the grounds of Springfield Hospital Center along Route 32.

Redevelopment of Warfield and future residential development dominated Sykesville's annual meeting with the commissioners, held at the Sykesville Town House.

"I don't think you will see lump sums, but you will see the money as it is needed," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge told Sykesville officials. "We want to see it work."

Mayor Jonathan S. Herman called the project -- in which the cost of development would be shared by the state and county -- "an enormous opportunity [for] one of the best pieces of real estate in the county."

Said Herman of the proposed partnership with other local governments: "We have gone as far as we can go without additional help."

Sykesville voters recently approved the annexation of Warfield, once part of Springfield Hospital Center. The town of 3,500 residents plans to restore the 14 aging buildings into a business park and satellite campus for Carroll Community College.

Herman called the cutting of $100,000 in state planning money in April a setback that "has slowed us down." County funding could help put the project back on track.

"The county needs more economic development, not more houses," said Herman. "Warfield is sound economic development."

The town expects the state to transfer the deed to the property within a few months, contingent on several conditions. The state is asking that development be compatible with existing buildings at Springfield. It would also limit entertainment on the property to an auditorium at Warfield.

"They will tell us the game rules, so we can play within those rules," said Dennis Hoover, town attorney.

Once Sykesville has title to Warfield, it can negotiate leases with tenants interested in the buildings.

Officials also addressed the proposed Freedom Area Comprehensive Plan, which charts the next six years of development for Sykesville and all of South Carroll.

The commissioners are awaiting a recommendation from the county planning commission before adopting the plan. After several lengthy workshops, planners eliminated several land-use proposals, including one that would have brought a development of about 500 homes to the western edge of town.

In all, those changes would have added as many as 1,200 new homes -- a number Gouge called "excessive" to Carroll's most populated area.

"We were shocked that so many acres were slated for development," said Councilwoman Jeannie Nichols.

Pub Date: 6/11/99

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