A sign outside of Vogt's Auto Parts in Finksburg reads: "Do you support the library. We do. Make it Happen."
Now, it seems that the Vogts may have helped a Finksburg library branch get off the ground. The family has agreed to sell the 50-year-old business on Old Westminster Pike to Copart Inc. of Fairfield, Calif., an auto salvage and auction company. And Copart has offered Carroll County some of the 32 acres from the sale for a library branch and headquarters.
"We have made an offer to donate some land for public use to the county," said Michael Carson, national property manager for Copart. "We are trying to be good neighbors."
Linda Mielke, county library director, said the area is "the No. 1 site" for a Finksburg branch, which has been in the plans for nearly a decade.
"I have to give the Vogt family credit," she said. "They are definitely in the mix here."
Attempts to reach family members for comment were unsuccessful.
Copart will settle on the parcel, which is easily visible from Route 140, within the next few weeks, Carson said. The company plans to raze several buildings that have served as Vogt's Auto Parts and erect an 11,000-square-foot building.
Copart will do everything possible "to alleviate the image of being a junkyard," Carson said. The business will conduct private sales, with salvaged cars sold intact to dismantling or recycling companies.
"We will keep enough land for future expansion, but we want to be civic-minded," said Carson, who did not specify how much acreage the company would donate.
County officials, who made the offer public at a meeting of the Finksburg Area Council last week, said the initial proposal was for about 7 acres.
Neil Ridgely, county zoning administrator and a Finksburg resident, said the new business probably would be an improvement on a traditional auto yard. But he added that he has mixed feelings and refused to call the offer a donation.
"I was pleased to see the site plan with fencing and landscaping," he said. "There will be no public address system or lighting beyond the site, and operations will only be during the weekdays."
Ridgely said he is concerned with an increase in traffic, a concern shared by several residents.
"They didn't sell me," said Donald Hoffman, a former Finksburg council president. "This will be a large operation, and I am concerned about heavy vehicles. But the offer of land does show they want to be a good neighbor."
Doris Edwards, council member, said the site is one the council has long considered ideal, but "we have to assume there will be a lot more traffic. Their monthly sales will be in the hundreds. How will they get those cars in and out of there?"
Residents and library officials have long pushed for a branch in Finksburg, an unincorporated area of about 20,000 people. The $3.5 million project is in the county's budget, but Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge pointed to difficulties in locating a site, given the cost of land.
"This is a great location, close to the school and the park," she said. "This is a huge possibility."
The county is reviewing the offer and "has started the process" to determine whether the land is suitable, said Steven Powell, the county commissioners' chief of staff. The site is within walking distance of Sandymount Elementary School and across the street from Sandymount Park.
"This is an excellent site with enough acreage for a branch and the library headquarters," said Douglas Myers, county director of public works. "We have combed the whole area, and this one is definitely possible."
Commissioner Dean L. Minnich welcomed the offer.
"It is great that a developer contributes to community needs," he said.
Plans call for building a 10,000-square-foot branch within a 14,500-square-foot headquarters building. The complex, which would need about 5 acres, is expected to open in 2005.
"We have money allocated, and we're ready to build as soon as we get a piece of ground," said Mielke, who oversees the county's five library branches. "That site is really in the heart of Finksburg, and it sounds like we really have a chance to get land."
The new building would enable the system to stop leasing office space near Carroll County Regional Airport, where rent and utilities cost more than $187,000 a year. The 10-year lease at that location expires this month, and the county has renegotiated an annual lease.