Despite objections from local businesses and concerns about traffic congestion, a divided Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission approved yesterday construction plans for a Wal-Mart and expanded shopping plaza on Route 30 between Hampstead and Manchester.
The Cordish Co. of Baltimore plans to build a 101,194-square-foot Wal-Mart and 3,100-square-foot Burger King at North Carroll Plaza, a 33-acre shopping center at Route 30 and Brodbeck Road.
Grading work, which had already been approved, has begun at the site, and the store is expected to open by June 2000.
The strongest objections came from Hampstead business owners, who fear the development will increase congestion on Route 30 and run many longtime Main Street shops out of business.
"You are trading off giant Wal-Mart and the town of Hampstead and businesses that have been there for 30 or 40 years. Think about the town of Hampstead," Bob Klingenberg, owner of Bob's Variety on Main Street (Route 30) in Hampstead, told the commission.
Klingenberg and his wife have operated the variety store for 40 years.
Chris Cavey, president of the Hampstead Business Association, said although he is not opposed to economic development in Hampstead, he is afraid of the impact projects like Wal-Mart and the Sweetheart Cup distribution center will have on the livelihood of his town.
"Each of these projects stand on their own. When you combine all these projects, what is the net effect on our town?" he asked.
Developers defended the project, saying the big-box store would revitalize a struggling shopping plaza and help reduce traffic by eliminating trips by Hampstead and Manchester shoppers to Wal-Marts in other areas. The existing shopping center includes 80,780 square feet of retail space.
Thomas B. Brooks, vice president of development and construction for The Cordish Co., said although a traffic study confirmed Route 30's traffic problems, those shortcomings were "not an excuse to reject site plan approval."
Planning Commissioners Grant S. Dannelly and Thomas G. Hiltz asked for more information on Wal-Mart's impact on traffic flow and the local business community. They also questioned the need for another Wal-Mart. Wal-Marts are located within a 20-minute drive of Hampstead in Westminster and Hanover, Pa.
"There are too many unanswered questions for me to support this," Dannelly said.
But other commissioners did not share Dannelly's or Hiltz's concerns, and the project was approved 4-2. Voting in favor were Edward M. Beard, Maurice E. Wheatley, David L. Brauning and County Commissioner Donald I. Dell, an ex-officio planning board member.
Hiltz and Dannelly voted against the proposal, Chairwoman Deborah L. Ridgely abstained from voting and Melvin E. Baile Jr. was absent.
Wal-Mart will be built on a site where state and county officials had planned to build a section of the Hampstead-Manchester bypass. State transportation officials scrapped the Manchester portion of the bypass in January under the Smart Growth program -- the governor's initiative to curb suburban sprawl.
But many county residents hope the state will change its mind.
Ted Miller, a member of Citizens United for the Route 30 bypass, asked the planning commission to reject the Wal-Mart plans to help keep the bypass plans alive.
"We need to protect that piece of ground for when we get the bypass reinstated," said Miller, a Manchester resident.
State officials, however, place less importance on the site. The state has proposed three alternative bypass routes that would steer clear of the Wal-Mart. County officials said they were satisfied the alternatives would protect the project.
The planning commission also approved plans for other projects yesterday:
A 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station south of Hampstead on the east side of Route 30, 500 feet south of Wolf Hill Drive.
Two cluster subdivisions in Eldersburg: Stone Manor 2, an 88-lot development to be constructed on 54 acres on the south side of Hodges and Johnsville roads; and Woodsyde Estates, a 123-lot development to be located on 75.7 acres on the south side of Old Liberty Road at Martz Road.
In other business, planning commission member Dannelly apologized to board members for a possible conflict of interest violation. Dannelly failed to disclose that he owned a piece of South Carroll property the lies in the path of a proposed road he supported as a member of the planning commission.
Dannelly's case is being investigated by the county ethics commission.
"I cast a shadow on this commission. That I am truly sorry for," he said.
Pub Date: 9/22/99