TODAY, Sykesville votes on its future in a referendum about whether to annex 138 acres of surplus state land that would be developed as an important economic and employment base of the town. It's a vote over locally controlling growth -- or leaving the decisions to others.
Elected town officers and community leaders solidly favor the expansion to fulfill their 20-year site development plan. Voters should affirm that sound judgment in today's referendum.
The town expects little or no public expense from the annexation, known as the Warfield complex of Springfield Hospital Center. A nonprofit, independent development authority would be responsible for development and operation of the complex -- while shielding the town from liability.
Some residents are wary of such official promises.
They petitioned for today's vote. While a public verdict on such a monumental change for the town may be warranted, citizens should visit town hall to support the annexation (approved by the town council last September). Strong turnout is required because local elections are too often decided by a handful of votes in a typically light turnout.
State government considered uses of its own for the site, which includes 15 aging buildings, roads, water and sewer. It eventually chose Sykesville for its visionary economic-development plan. The town would get state funding for planning and development.
This is a reasoned, low-risk, profitable expansion of Sykesville. It is based on extensive public participation and education, and on considerable study by the state and town. Business offices, residential buildings, a hotel and college classrooms are planned for the complex. That type of development would best serve Sykesville.
Defeating annexation wouldn't bar development from the property. It would simply leave the town and its citizens with no say.