Md. highway agency to sell Brooklandville site

January 20, 2007|By Julie Scharper | Julie Scharper,Sun reporter

The State Highway Administration plans to vacate a site that it has occupied for more than 40 years and sell the 10-acre property, located near Green Spring Station in Brooklandville, to developers.

Selling the land and moving operations to new offices will ultimately save the state money, spokeswoman Valerie Burnette Edgar said.

"Our study determined it made more sense economically to build something new," she said. "Because of the area there, when we go to sell [the land], it should be very worthwhile."

Neighbors say they are concerned about the possibility of more development in an area troubled by heavy traffic. The plot of land, on West Joppa Road near the intersection with Falls Road, is currently zoned to allow the construction of 10 homes, but there is a possibility that the zoning could be changed to allow a greater density of homes or offices and retail space.

"There would be a lot of local opposition to anything other than what the land is currently zoned for," said Bob Moore, president of the Falls Road Community Association.

Properties in the Falls Road corridor have been the source of fierce zoning battles, as residents struggle to preserve the area's rural feel and developers lobby for new projects in the exclusive neighborhood. The county has deemed three nearby intersections as failing because they are so clogged with traffic.

A dispute over potential development on the site of the nearby Green Spring Racquet Club has embroiled community members, politicians and the property's owners for years.

Edgar said that there are no plans to change the plot's zoning before it is sold.

The highway administration runs two operations from Brooklandville. Both are expected to be moved by early 2008, and the property will be made available for sale soon after, she said.

The District 4 office, which handles maintenance and construction for Baltimore and Harford counties, will be moved to a building under construction near the light rail station on Warren Road in Cockeysville, Edgar said.

The regional Office of Materials and Technology and an associated laboratory will move to a new building in the Hanover area of Anne Arundel County, where it will be consolidated with offices that are located in Easton, Hancock and Greenbelt.

About 90 people who work in the District 4 office will be transferred to the new site in Cockeysville. The approximately 170 people employed by the materials office will have the option to transfer to Hanover, Edgar said.

The administration intends to decrease the number of employees in the four regional offices through attrition, she said.

The buildings at the Brooklandville site, which the administration has occupied since 1964, would require more than $16 million in repairs.

"The building itself is really antiquated and old," Edgar said. "Frankly, when we sell the property, we fully expect that it would be razed."

A small repair shop, laboratory and gas tank are also located at the site, she said.

She added that the administration hopes to receive between $4.5 million and $7 million from the sale of the property, which has an assessed value of $3.7 million.

The property should bring in about $100,000 of annual tax revenue, she said. The property does not currently generate tax revenue because it is state land.

Reduced costs for personnel and operating expenses at the new offices, when added to revenue generated by the site, should save the state $5.8 million over a 30-year period, she said.

Construction on the Cockeysville site is set to start this year, with an estimated cost of $25 million to $30 million, she said.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

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