Random House eyes farmland for rezoning and expansion

It plots Westminster as sole distribution site

July 07, 1999|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

A public hearing on a petition to rezone 38 acres on a farm owned by Westminster Rescue Mission is scheduled Tuesday.

The rezoning from residential to industrial is necessary for plans by Random House Inc. to turn Westminster into its sole national distribution center. The company is planning to build a 325,000-square-foot warehouse next year.

The hearing, to be conducted by the county commissioners, will be at 9 a.m. in the Carroll County Office Building.

The warehouse is planned for a portion of the Rescue Mission Farm at Lucabaugh Mill Road near Route 27 outside Westminster.

The mission operates a residential rehabilitation program for substance abusers. The program relies on the proceeds of a mission thrift store in the Westminster Shopping Center, which sells clothing, toys and furniture.

Last month, the county Planning and Zoning Commission approved a package of rezoning and site plan changes for expanding the Random House facilities.

The approval came over the objections of Westminster officials, who said the property was outside public water and sewer service areas.

Random House officials are considering further expansion. Planning officials say the mission plans to sell another portion of its property to the publishing house for possible future expansion. This spring, Maryland legislators agreed to award the German firm Bertelsmann AG -- Random House's parent company -- a $2.5 million grant to assist in the expansion.

The publisher is Carroll County's largest employer, with about 1,200 workers. Random House is the third-largest media and publishing company in the world, behind Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co.

The Westminster facility generates about $1 million a year in state taxes.

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