Paper company addresses concerns; Sweetheart Cup plans rush-hour controls, landscaping at center; Hampstead


Sweetheart Cup Co. officials say crews will begin working this week at the site on Houcksville Road that will become their distribution center. And they gave more specific information Friday about the two issues that residents nearby are most concerned about: traffic and the way the plant will look.

The company has planned additional landscaping to respond to neighborhood concerns about the aesthetics of the 1.034 million-square-foot building, said Tom Pasqualini, vice president for logistics at the Owings Mills-based manufacturer of paper and plastic goods for the food industry.

He said the concerns of neighbors along Houcksville Road, whose front porches will face the largest commercial building in the state when it is completed, were relayed to him by Jack Lyburn, Carroll County's director of economic development.

"We did arrange for landscaping to accommodate people's concerns closer to the road," Pasqualini said. "A lot of this came to us from Jack Lyburn [in the past month], so we put in more landscaping. We just didn't know there were these concerns."

Although the county's Planning and Zoning Commission approved the site plan for Sweetheart Cup in August, final papers and arrangements hadn't been completed until late last week, Pasqualini said.

"We're on such a tight schedule that we're going to have the [ceremonial] groundbreaking the week after next," he said Friday.

While the work will begin, county and state economic development officials have remained mum on what public financial incentives they have offered to Sweetheart, one of the largest paper goods manufacturers in the world, to have it build its mid-Atlantic and Northeast distribution center here. It is expected to employ about 135 people, some of whom will be transferred from the Owings Mills plant.

The public incentive package will need to go before the Legislative Policy Committee, a group of legislators who will meet in December.

Sweetheart's distribution center will be the largest commercial building in Maryland in terms of square footage under one roof, according to county economic development officials and a survey of commercial structures in the state.

Residents of Hampstead and others who commute along congested Route 30 have raised concerns about the additional traffic from the 80 to 125 tractor-trailers expected to go in and out of the building each day.

Pasqualini gave more specific information on Friday about the traffic. The plant will operate 24 hours a day, mostly weekdays, in three shifts: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., when 20 percent of the traffic is expected; 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., when 30 percent is expected; and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., when 50 percent is expected.

He said the company will make efforts to avoid rush hours.

"The real problem we see, knowing the traffic there, is the second shift, between 3: 30 and 5: 30 or 6 o'clock," Pasqualini said. "We will schedule lunches and breaks. We want to avoid those times of day, and we will arrange things."

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