Episcopal group picks offices site

3.4-acre property borders Fairhaven complex outside town

Land is not first choice

June 17, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Episcopal Ministries to the Aging has chosen an alternative site for its $3.5 million corporate headquarters, one that is in Carroll County but outside Sykesville.

The organization, the parent company of Fairhaven Retirement Community and Copper Ridge, has put a contract on 3.4 acres at the southwest corner of Route 32 and Johnsville Road. The seller is Aaron Co., a Finksburg developer. The land, zoned commercial, adjoins Fairhaven's 300-acre property.

Fairhaven administrators would not discuss specifics of the contract, which allows 120 days to study the site and ensure that it is appropriate for the headquarters. The complex would house about 40 employees who work in the existing complex.

"The site is close to Fairhaven, with good road access to Route 32 and with existing utilities," said Mindy Stewart, spokeswoman for EMA.

Although Fairhaven owns about 300 acres in and around the town, it was unable to find another suitable site for the headquarters on its property.

"No other site we already own is as appropriate," said Stewart.

EMA had hoped to build the 23,000-square-foot complex, which would be a series of connected cottages, on 3 acres across from its main entrance on Second Avenue. That land is in Sykesville and would have had to be rezoned from residential to business for the project to proceed.

The Town Council, faced with opposition from neighbors of the proposed site, held three public hearings on the project. Fairhaven scheduled an informational session. The council turned down the zoning petition last month by a nearly unanimous vote. Most officials said they could not allow a business in a neighborhood.

"It is unfortunate for the town that we were not able to work something out with Fairhaven," said Mayor Jonathan Herman, who cast the only vote in favor of the project. "It was a beautiful project, and they are wonderful neighbors."

Neighbors had said they did not want a business in their back yards.

"I am glad they found a location for their building," said Cynthia Campbell, a Springfield Avenue resident whose property borders the rejected site. "We were never against Fairhaven, just the rezoning. I am pleased they are going to build in Carroll County. The site seems perfect, right behind their property."

The new complex will have residential neighbors, but not next door. Waters Edge, a subdivision of 121 single-family houses being built by New Quest Limited Partners of Sykesville, is under construction west of the site, and a small shopping center is nearly complete across Johnsville Road.

EMA would like to use the same design for the new site but will await a study by its engineers and architects. The original plan called for six cottage-like buildings, none more than two stories high, and parking for about 60 vehicles.

"Basically, we would like to use the same design specifications, but we are not certain we can yet," said Stewart.

Pub Date: 6/17/99

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