Food Lion, the North Carolina-based grocery store chain that has taken an option on some Harford property, has not decided if it will build in the county, a company spokesman said last week.
"What the company has done is take an option on property in Harford County, but that by no means assures that a store will be built," said Mike Monzingo, a spokesman for Food Lion. "We take options on property we feel have potential."
The property in Harford is a 3.8-acre parcel in Hickory near Route 543 and Route 1.
"We also understand that the developer is having difficulty obtaining sewer facilities," Mr. Monzingo said. "If that's the case, then it could be quite a while before that area can be developed."
Stanley Lloyd, of Jarrettsville, bought the 9-acre site, which includes the 3.8-acre parcel, in 1989 and has made many efforts to develop the area. He acknowledges that obtaining water and sewer lines has been the main obstacle to developing the rural property.
Mr. Lloyd plans to install a sewer line that would run more than a mile along Wysong Branch, a tributary of Bynum Run. He submitted an application for the project a year ago but has made no further effort to start the sewer project.
Residents of the area have been told by state environmental officials that the wetlands along Wysong Branch cannot be disturbed.
Officials at the Army Corps of Engineers in Baltimore, who are reviewing a wetlands permit application for the sewer project, and the state Department of Natural Resources, said they disagreed with Mr. Lloyd's contention that construction would only temporarily impact the wetlands.
Mr. Lloyd, who would like to build a 31,000-square-foot strip shopping center on five of the nine acres he owns behind the Friar Tuck Restaurant, said that he would be willing to discuss a new sewer alignment ' one that would not encroach on the stream valley. He said he was not interested in fighting anyone and that he was only interested in getting a sewer line to his property.
Food Lion, however, does not want to become embroiled in another controversy that involves its public image, Mr. Monzingo said.
The company, which operates 1,034 stores in 14 states, suffered a severe drop in sales after a report aired on ABC's "PrimeTime Live" last November that alleged that Food Lion sold spoiled meat and fish.
The chain sued ABC for unspecified damages charging fraud and misrepresentation. Its first quarter profits fell 56 percent.
Food Lion, which plans to open 110 stores this year, operates 16 stores in Maryland, including two that opened last week in Cambridge and LaPlata.
Two more are expected to open next month in Frederick and Hagerstown. Stores in Easton and Stevensville are under construction with work on a second Hagerstown store scheduled to begin in October.
In addition to the site in Hickory, the company is exploring locations in Waldorf and Federalsburg.