Land may be rezoned as business properties

683 mostly rural acres would raise availability of industrial locations

April 12, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

To encourage commercial and industrial growth in Carroll -- the types of projects that generate substantial tax revenue -- the county commissioners moved forward yesterday with plans to rezone eight properties for business development.

"The bottom line is we need more industrial land," Jack T. Lyburn, county economic development director, told the county Economic Development Commission last month. "Without it, we will not be able to attract large businesses."

Residential growth has far outpaced commercial and industrial growth during the past decade, causing crowded classrooms and straining police and emergency services. The county's business tax base of 12 percent is the lowest in the Baltimore region.

Since taking office in December 1998, the commissioners have made economic development a priority. They are working to accelerate the approval process for small-scale commercial and industrial projects, slash building permit fees and carve industrial sites from mostly rural land.

Carroll has about 1,000 acres of marketable industrially zoned land and needs another 1,000 acres, Lyburn has said. He has had to turn away prospective businesses and industries because Carroll does not have attractive industrial land equipped with natural gas lines and public utilities.

60 days

The rezoning of the eight properties -- totaling 683 mostly rural acres -- is expected to take about 60 days.

Six of the properties totaling 645 acres would be zoned for industrial use, and a 21-acre parcel would be zoned for commercial development. County planners did not know yesterday what kind of development would take place on the remaining site, a 17-acre property near Mount Airy.

The sites discussed yesterday were among 14 that had been identified by the Economic Development Commission in 1998 as potential sites for commercial and industrial growth. Several of those sites were rejected by the county planning commission.

The commissioners directed county planning director Steven Horn to move forward with the rezoning process during their nine-month review of the county's proposed master plan. The plan calls for rezoning five other properties totaling 223 acres and is being reviewed by the county planning commission.

Comprehensive rezoning

Once the eight properties are rezoned, the commissioners have said they will begin a comprehensive rezoning of the county, which could take six months.

Yesterday, Horn asked the commissioners to ban piecemeal rezoning requests as they work on the comprehensive review because working on both at the same time would strain the resources of his department. The commissioners said they would consider his request.

A countywide rezoning has never been conducted in Carroll, though the designation of several properties was changed in 1978 when the county updated its agricultural zone.

The commissioners have said the countywide rezoning, coupled with an accelerated approval process for small-scale business developments and reduced building permit fees, would help them create business-friendly government processes and fee structures.

Public hearing

A public hearing on the rezoning of the eight properties will be held within 45 days, Horn said.

After the hearing, the commissioners will decide whether to rezone the sites.

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