Don't call it a sweetheart deal. The county and state moved swiftly, but properly, to locate the new Sweetheart Cup Co. Inc. distribution center at the Route 30 industrial site just south of the Hampstead town limits.
Residents and the town council complain that the project was pushed through without adequate public comment. Yet only one person showed up to object at the advertised planning meeting. The council held a closed meeting with company representatives in March, and didn't take a position.
Sweetheart is building on a 51-acre site that is part of the former Black & Decker Corp. complex, where jobs and truck traffic have declined over the years. Black & Decker once employed more than 3,000 people there; this summer, B&D; said it will cut back to 250 workers.
So the Sweetheart center, which will employ 135 workers and expects from 75 to 125 trucks a day, won't impose a greater traffic burden on Route 30. Timing a traffic light at the complex entrance could help ease the traffic flow.
Part of the Hampstead government's discontent is its failure to annex the property. The town offered municipal water as incentive, but Sweetheart chose to use wells on the site for its needs.
The deal will build Carroll County's industrial tax base and bring in new jobs, though most may be filled by transfers from Sweetheart's Owings Mills headquarters and factory. The 1-million-square-foot warehouse will yield about $260,000 in county taxes each year.
The paper products distribution center re-emphasizes the need for a Hampstead bypass around Route 30, which is two decades in the planning. Finding the state money to build the bypass, and deciding its final alignment around endangered bog turtle habitat, will be major challenges. Construction of a large Wal-Mart store north of Hampstead adds to pressures to move on this road project.