An 860,000-square-foot warehouse is planned for an Aberdeen area site that was one of the battleground issues of Harford County’s 2017 comprehensive zoning review.
A site plan for the proposed warehouse, to be built on about 97 acres just off Route 40 between Old Stepney Road and Philadelphia Road (Route 7), was reviewed Wednesday by the county Development Advisory Committee.
The site, which is partially wooded and under cultivation for corn, is owned by 88 Acres LLC. It is south of the Aberdeen city limits and on the fringe of the Perryman industrial district.
Last year, during the countywide comprehensive review, the property was rezoned from high density R4 residential to a mix of general industrial and commercial industrial zoning at the request of the property owner.
Although it generated significant opposition from the neighboring community and was rejected by the county’s Planning Advisory Board, the rezoning was ultimately backed by the county administration and approved by the County Council.
The plan for the proposed Tower Logistics Center shows a rectangular building occupying about one-fifth of the site, with access proposed from Route 40 just west of the Route 7 intersection and from Old Stepney Road which is just west of the site.
There are several single family houses between Old Stepney Road and the warehouse property, and extensive buffering with berms and trees is planned, according to Paul Muddiman, vice president of the engineering firm Morris & Ritchie Associates, who presented the plan to the DAC members. The east side of the property borders Wright’s Mobile Home Village, and much of the south side is wooded and will experience minimal disturbance, according to the plan.
Muddiman said the 500-by-1,720-foot building will be 60 feet at its highest point and will have truck bays on both its long sides. The site will have parking for 715 employees and 215 truck trailers, he said.
Both Muddiman and DAC members said there continue to be discussions among the owner, the county and the State Highway Administration about how trucks will access the site. Representatives of all three had planned a meeting for Wednesday afternoon.
JoWanda Strickland-Lucas, who lives in one of the houses on Old Stepney Road bordering the site, told the committee her street is not suitable for truck traffic, even though trucks do use it as a shortcut to the Perryman area, where there are a number of distribution centers and industrial plants.
“The county needs to do something about that [trucks],” said Strickland-Lucas, who also complained that much of the warehouse site is “swampy” and her neighborhood, which has a number of elderly residents, already has problems with noise. She reminded the committee that big warehouse/logistics centers typically operate around the clock.
“How will that [noise] be controlled?” she asked.
Moe Davenport, the DAC chairman, told Strickland-Lucas the committee also has concerns about traffic and how trucks will access the site “that have not been answered to our satisfaction” and the county will continue to press the owner and SHA for answers.
He also said the county will continue to review the landscaping plan to ensure there is noise and well as site buffering.
Despite those concerns, the project will most likely move forward. As Muddiman pointed out, the proposed building is at least 300 feet from the closest residence and will occupy but 20 percent of the 97 acres.
Total impervious surfaces, including the building and parking areas and access drives will be 43 percent of the site. Of approximately 40 forested arces, 5.7 acres of trees will be removed and a forest conservation plan has been submitted as required, Muddiman said.
The site has access to public water and sewer; however, it is within the five-year and beyond category for service in the county Master Sewer and Water Plan.
Darryl Ivins, from the Division of Water and Sewer, said the plan must be amended by the County Council to a three-year service category. The owners/developers will also be required to build water and sewer lines and other infrastructure through the property.
Muddiman said the warehouse does not have a user at this time and the property will be eventually sold to a developer/user. In addition to Muddiman, one of the current owners, Webster Wright, attended the review meeting, as did John Gessner, who said he is an advisor to Wright on the project.