The U.S. Postal Service's first choice for a new Hampstead post office is a site at Black Rock and Lower Beckleysville roads, officials said.
"We are pursuing the Black Rock Road location," said Irene Lericos, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service mid-Atlantic corporate relations center.
The parcel, part of 58 acres listed in state tax records for agricultural use, is owned by John T. Cole of Black Rock Road.
John Turpin, real estate specialist for the U.S. Postal Service, has said 3 acres will be needed for the new building, which will be about 14,000 square feet -- more than three times the size of the current post office on Houck Avenue.
The post office needs more space because the town population has tripled in the past two decades, and workers have to climb over mounds of mail to get in on Monday mornings.
Town leaders' first choice was to see the old Hampstead Elementary School on Main Street turned into a post office, but the site presented too many obstacles, postal officials said in September.
"If they think the school site is no longer viable, then the Black Rock Road site makes more sense as far as serving our town than any other site mentioned to date," said Mayor Christopher M. Nevin.
In recent months, postal officials had narrowed their focus to two sites: Black Rock Road and land on Route 482 across from North Carroll High School.
The Route 482 land is to be the North Carroll Business Park -- an industrially zoned area that county officials hope eventually to equip with gas lines and other infrastructure to attract business and industry.
But the business park carries two potential obstacles. First, development of the park is on hold while the state conducts a study of the federally protected bog turtles that live in wetlands along the east side of Hampstead. The study of the endangered turtles is expected to take a year.
Second, because of the bog turtle study and concerns over the county's aggressive economic development initiatives, Hampstead officials are considering putting a moratorium on development of the North Carroll Business Park as a safeguard. The park is within town limits.
Jack Lyburn, director of the county's Department of Economic Development, said that regardless of a moratorium, he plans no development at the park until the bog turtle study is over.
Christian Cavey, president of the Hampstead Business Association, also favored the Black Rock Road site, because it is closer to homes and businesses, has two roads that lead to stoplight intersections with Route 30, and serves as an eastern gateway into the town from northern Baltimore County.
Cavey said the traffic generated by a post office could also boost a sluggish shopping center across the street from the proposed site.