State officials join fray over emissions test station


Maryland economic development officials agree with local politicians that an emissions testing station should not be built at the Air Business Park, a state spokeswoman said yesterday.

"Any land in an industrial park should be used for economic development purposes," said Marilyn Corbett, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development.

A Tennessee-based company hired by the state has signed a contract to buy about two acres at the industrial park on Route 97 north of Westminster for an emissions testing station.

Carroll commissioners, county economic development officials and Westminster's mayor asked Gov. William Donald Schaefer last month to stop the state from building the station at the Air Business Park.

The industrial park is not the proper place for a testing station that would attract about 200 more cars to the area each day, the officials wrote to Mr. Schaefer on Nov. 19.

Local officials said they were not told of the plan to relocate the facility until it was final and that the station would take up valuable land that could be purchased by a business to create jobs and generate taxes.

State-operated entities are exempt from property taxes.

State economic development officials concur with local officials' protests and have passed their opinion along to the state Motor Vehicle Administration, Ms. Corbett said.

"We agree with the mayor and commissioners that the Air Business Center should be used for economic development purposes," she said.

MVA spokesman Jim Lang said yesterday that the governor's office has asked MVA for a reply on the issue by today.

He said he did not know what the reply would be.

The new station must be operating by January 1995, he said.

The current station, on Bethel Road at Route 140 in Reese, will no longer be used because the federal Clean Air Act requires a more stringent emissions test for cars.

The state asked for bids from companies willing to perform the new test.

Marta Technologies Inc. won a contract to build about 20 stations in Maryland.

Marta has a contract with Operating Engineers Local No. 37 in Baltimore to buy about two acres in the Air Business Park for the station, said Michael L. Schuett, a consultant who represents the union. He said the union owns about 44 acres there.

The company already has paid for engineering work at the site, but he said he did not know how much.

Other businesses that are not strictly industrial -- including a restaurant -- have been built at the Air Business Park, Mr. Schuett said.

"The park is not an industrial park anymore," he said.

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