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High-tech business 'campuses' sought for Carroll Proposal would provide jobs, attract new companies


The county Planning Commission is considering a proposal designed to attract high-tech companies to Carroll and provide jobs for residents who now commute to other areas.

"Employment campuses" would combine manufacturing, offices, and research and development companies with restaurants, banks, health clubs, day-care centers and other services needed by the people working in the complex.

Architecture, signs and landscaping would be strictly controlled, planner Gregg Horner said yesterday as he presented the proposal to the commission.

The county needs this type of development to compete with surrounding counties, he said. Carroll is "the next logical step out" for companies, he said.

Probably only a couple of the campuses would be built, Horner said, adding that officials don't expect any to be built in the next couple of years. The plan is for the long term, he said.

No specific locations have been identified, but the complexes probably would be in areas near major highways or proposed bypasses, said James C. Threatte, director of the county's Office of Economic Development.

The campuses would be no less than 50 acres and probably 100 acres at most, he said.

The complexes would not stand out and could even be adjacent to residential areas, Horner said.

"We hope we can make it part of the community and not an eyesore," he added.

He showed slides of business parks in Columbia, Howard County, and Frederick as examples of what planners would like to see in Carroll.

Some industrial parks in Carroll aren't attractive because equipment and trucks are stored outside, signs are not uniform and adequate landscaping was not required, Horner said.

The proposal -- in the works for almost two years -- would require a new zone separate from current industrial zones, he said. Horner researched similar zones in eight Maryland counties and municipalities and drew information from each of them.

The Planning Commission yesterday decided not to act on the proposal until after the county's Economic Development Commission has given its input on the plan. The EDC meets May 27.

If the Planning Commission likes the proposal, it will recommend it to the county commissioners, who will set a date for a public hearing to get citizen comments.

Commission member Dennis Bowman said he hadn't read the whole proposal yet, but liked the idea of bringing more high-tech and professional jobs to Carroll.

Commission alternate David Duree, also an EDC member, agreed.

"It's an important piece that's missing," he said.

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