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Royal Farms stores planned for Forest Hill, Aberdeen

Harford County could get at least two more Royal Farms stores - in Aberdeen and near Forest Hill - while another store previously planned for Aberdeen continues to move forward, a city official said.

The Baltimore-based convenience store chain wants to open a site on Rock Spring Road near Forest Valley Drive, on the west side of the road next to RiteAid.

The site plan submitted to Harford County calls for the store to have gasoline pumps and a car wash.

The area, one of Harford County's most congested, already has two filling stations at the nearby intersection of Rock Spring (Route 24) and Bynum Road.

In addition, another convenience store, a 7-Eleven on Bynum Road a block in from Rock Spring, is due to be rebuilt on the site of a former filling station and auto repair shop at the intersection. The new 7-Eleven won't sell gasoline, county officials were told during a plans review earlier this year.

Another new Royal Farms store is already under construction two miles away, at the corner of Route 543 and the Hickory Bypass (Route 1).

The company also recently remodeled and re-opened stores in Havre de Grace and Edgewood.

A county development review for the proposed Rock Spring Royal Farms is scheduled for Aug. 1 at 9 a.m. in the county government building at 220 South Main St. in Bel Air.

According to plans submitted to the county, the Rock Spring store will be 5,121 square feet, in addition to the car wash and gas station.

The entire project, being developed by 1526 Rock Spring Road LLC, also proposes a second 17,350-square-foot retail building on an adjacent lot.

The property encompasses 4.59 acres and is zoned B-2, for medium-intensity business uses.

Royal Farms is proposing 75 parking spaces, far more than the 35 required, according to plans.

Another 108 spaces are proposed for the second retail site, more than the 87 required for that lot.

Eight employees are expected to be hired for the largest shift at Royal Farms, and another 20 would be hired for the second retail store, according to the information submitted to the county.

Aberdeen plans unclear

A new Royal Farms store was recently recommended for approval by the City of Aberdeen's planning commission on Route 40 across from Walmart, on the former site of the Knights Inn Hotel near Edmund Street.

The company, however, has also submitted a concept plan to Harford County for yet another store, just down the highway, in a pocket on the north side of Route 40 and west of Old Philadelphia Road (Route 7).

That site is outside the Aberdeen city limits.

Both sites are on the same side of the highway and less than a mile and a quarter apart. The Route 40/715 interchange, currently under reconstruction, is between the two sites.

The concept plan for the Philadelphia Road site has been posted online for a scheduled county community input meeting at 6:30 p.m. on July 19 at the Aberdeen library branch on Franklin Street in the city. To view the particulars, visit http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/PlanningZoning/index.cfm?ID=32.

The plan describes a 5,784-square-foot convenience store with two gasoline canopies and a 1,407-square-foot car wash.

Michael Gesell, a representative for Bohler Engineering and a spokesperson for Royal Farms, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.

Aberdeen's planning commission approved a preliminary site plan in March for the Royal Farms planned across from Walmart on the former Knight's Inn property.

The store would sit on a 1.74-acre site that is one of two parcels in a strip owned by Bob Frankel, as Gerry Powell, of Frederick Ward Associates, told the planning commission earlier this year.

The site had once been designated for a Happy Harry's pharmacy and, until the recession began, a Wawa – a major Royal Farms competitor, but there are no plans for a pharmacy now, Powell said in March.

Aberdeen Public Works Director Matt Lapinsky said Monday the proposed Route 40 Knight's Inn store is still moving forward to the best of his knowledge. He said he had just talked to Royal Farms representatives about it a few days earlier.

The Aberdeen city site is zoned B3, for highway commercial development, and is also in the downtown wellhead protection district. Building the car wash requires a conditional use approval from the city planning and public works departments because of the wellhead protection overlay district where the site is located, city Planning and Community Development Director Phyllis Grover said earlier this year.

The site across Route 40 that Royal Farms originally looked at was likewise controversial for wellhead protection reasons because of the proposed car wash use. The company eventually decided to move its plan to the Knight's Inn property.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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