To attract business and industry to Carroll, the county's Economic Development Commission is suggesting the commissioners make Carroll's main entry points more appealing, carve more industrial tracts from mostly rural land and create a zoning designation that would attract high-tech employers.
"They're great things we should be working on," Jack Lyburn, Carroll County economic development director, said of the EDC's vision statement, a list of goals for 2002. "One big thing is to do something with the gateways, perhaps install `Welcome to Carroll County' signs. The creation of an employment campus is also a real high priority for us."
A seven-member committee is developing the employment campus zone with aid from county planners and Lyburn. If adopted by the three-member Board of Commissioners, the new zoning designation would ban department stores and recreational facilities on industrial sites.
Today, developers can establish about 50 types of businesses - including clothing stores and athletic clubs - on Carroll's industrial properties. Ideally, the land should be used for heavy industry or light manufacturing and distribution.
In South Carroll, the county's most populous area with nearly 30,000 residents, land zoned for industrial use is occupied by a Merritt athletic club, a Wal-Mart and Eldersburg Marketplace.
One of the area's few remaining industrial parcels, a 38-acre property in Eldersburg, soon might become home to a drive-in theater. The Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to continue its hearing on the proposed drive-in Monday.
The employment campus would combine light manufacturing and commercial uses that support industry, Lyburn said. Howard and Baltimore counties have encouraged such development for many years.
But Carroll has not been attractive to high-tech employers in the electronics, computer and service industries that typically occupy campus-style properties. The commissioners have said Carroll's remote location and lack of easy access to interstate highways contribute to the county's inability to attract industry.
"We need to work with the State Highway Administration to get good roadways that will draw industry," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge told members of the EDC during the group's meeting last month.
The commissioners decided in April last year to move forward with a comprehensive countywide rezoning to expand Carroll's short supply of marketable industrial land. The commissioners are reviewing applications from 47 property owners with recommendations on their petitions from the planning commission.