Officials defend deal


Carroll County Commissioners are paying $2.1 million more than the assessed value for the former Telemecanique Inc. building on Bethel Road in Reese that will be renovated as the Board of Education headquarters.

But two of the three commissioners defended the deal Friday, saying the price was fair. They would not disclose the appraised price of the property.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said the county will pay $4.2 million for 25 acres and a 156,000-square-foot building in the 2000 block of Bethel Road. Sale papers have not been signed, but Mr. Brown said Thursday the deal was final.

Records at the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation show that the two parcels and the building that the county is buying for the school headquarters are assessed at $2.1 million.

Glenn S. Bair of Westminster, president of Development

Company of America, is selling the property. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

The county has been looking for a site for the school headquarters for at least eight years. School offices now are in the south wing of the Courthouse Annex at 55 N. Court St., which Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. said he needs for court offices.

Mr. Brown said that Friday he would consider discussing the appraised price after sale papers were signed.

"I might feel freer about talking about it," he said.

"I think it's a remarkable value. There was no need to walk down any other path," he said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell, asked how the county settled on the $4.2 million price, said, "The owners told us that was what they wanted."

Reached in Atlanta on Friday at a conference, he said he could not recall the appraised price because an appraisal probably was done 1.5 years ago when the county began considering the property.

"I feel it's a real bargain. Assessed values don't mean anything to the fair market value," Mr. Dell said. "It's the cheapest thing the county has bought in a long time."

Commissioner Richard T. Yates said he did not see an appraised price. "I can't really tell you how they came up with the price," he said.

Mr. Yates, reached at home late Friday afternoon, said he would have more information when he was at his office Monday.

"It's something I don't have knowledge of right now. I've forgotten the various techniques they used to negotiate," he said.

The property was not listed with real estate agents, so an asking price was not made public.

Mr. Brown said $4.2 million is a fair price for a 156,000-square-foot building on 25 acres close to Route 140.

The county probably will sell about 15 acres not needed for the school building for development as an industrial site, he said. That sale could bring as much as $750,000, he said. Mr. Dell estimated the sale could bring about $425,000.

School officials must renovate the former manufacturing plant before moving. The county has budgeted $1.9 million for renovations.

At a total price of $6.1 million, the county is paying $40 per square foot for the site, Mr. Brown said. Not including renovations, the price would be about $27 per square foot.

Cliff Dull, an associate broker with Long and Foster Realtors in Westminster, said the 44,000-square-foot former Coca-Cola plant on 15 acres at 525 Old Westminster Pike sold about three years ago for $1.25 million, or about $28 per square foot.

Mr. Brown said constructing a new building for the school headquarters could have cost $85 per square foot.

The county is buying a 24-acre parcel and a 1-acre parcel on Bethel Road.

Land records show that Scott S. and Anita B. Bair bought the 24-acre parcel for $26,000 in 1957. Mr. Bair, a county commissioner from 1966 to 1970, and his wife are deceased. Glenn S. Bair is their son.

Development Company of America, owned by the Bair family, leased the land and building to Telemecanique, which made automation equipment for factories in Carroll beginning in 1985. The plant closed in August 1993.

The development company purchased the 1-acre parcel from Telemecanique in June 1994 for $25,000, tax records show.

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