Westminster planners protest station


Westminster's planning commission has staged a symbolic protest of plans to build a state auto emissions-testing station in Carroll's air business center.

The planning commission voted 4-0 Thursday to deny a request from the air business center's private owner, Westminster Business Center Limited Partnership, to reduce the size of the lot on which the station will be built. The center is east of the county airport on state Route 97.

Commission members acknowledged that their action is unlikely affect state plans to build the testing station in the air business center. They say they wanted to send the message: It should have been built elsewhere.

"The state is coming in and saying, 'We're going to put this facility out here.' It seemed to me that we could make it easy or stand up and say, 'This is not what we want,' " said commission member Jerry L. Toadvine.

County and Westminster officials have protested that the emissions-test station will occupy valuable land that could be used by businesses to create jobs and pay property taxes. The station would be tax-exempt.

The local governments abandoned efforts to relocate the station after learning that it would cost them $300,000 to build a substitute.

Commission Chairman Larry Wiskeman said members understand that the station is likely to be built in the air business center, but they remain concerned about traffic congestion and safety. The station is expected to add an average of 200 cars each day to air business center traffic.

Westminster Business Center Limited Partnership asked the planning commission to approve a resubdivision that would reduce the emissions-testing station lot from 3 acres to 2.3 acres. The additional land would have been added to the adjacent lot, which would become 3.6 acres.

Marta Technologies of Nashville, Tenn., has a state contract to build 19 emissions-testing stations in Maryland.

Project Manager Al Copp did not return a telephone call Friday seeking comment on whether the commission's decision would affect Marta's plans.

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