Monday, April 30, 2007

Will BRAC transform Route 40?

A story in yesterday's Baltimore Sun says BRAC could alter the streetscape along Route 40 in Harford and Cecil counties. It sounds like we could lose the whole tired truck-stop vibe along much of that strip. But officials say to make improvements to the route they'll need zoning concessions to put housing and offices in areas that have environmental and water issues.

According to the story:

"Developers are asking officials for zoning flexibility as they strive to meet the demands for housing and offices that will accompany the nationwide military base realignment, known as BRAC.

"'Most of what we have to develop has something on the site to demolish or an environmental issue or water problems,' said Clark Turner, a prominent developer, in a speech at a BRAC event last week. "We need flexibility in zoning [as an incentive]. We need to work together because this is Smart Growth in the greatest sense of the word.'"

Officials at the BRAC event last Wednesday endorsed the creation of the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor along U.S. 40, the story said.

"It will offer exciting mixed-use opportunities for retail and commercial," said Chris Moyer, senior development officer with Baltimore Development Corp.
Officials also expect the folks moving to Harford and Cecil counties as a result of BRAC, will boost the counties' tax base.

"Most of the new employees, whose average annual income will be $86,000, are expected to relocate in Harford and Cecil counties. Each will pay as much as $12,000 annually in income and property taxes - revenue that could add $250 million a year to the coffers of the two counties, Turner said."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

BRAC's promise to attract thousands to Harford County wasn't enough to keep one national developer in the game at Bulle Rock

It seems the possibility of 30,000 people moving to Harford County as a result of BRAC's moving jobs from Fort Monmouth, N.J. to Aberdeen Proving Ground wasn't enough to convince home builder K. Hovnanian Homes to hold onto its plans to put 690 homes on a parcel of land at Bulle Rock, according to a story in today's Baltimore Sun.

The first phase of the development is already under construction, the story said, and will be built. However, about 85 acres - approved for 414 homes - is to be auctioned May 16 at the golf course clubhouse. The story said the debt on the land, which Acacia Capital Corp. bought to develop for K. Hovnanian Homes, is about $28 million.

". . . the builder said yesterday that it had changed its plans because the
group of local investors that financed the deal - the original owners - wanted
more for the land than K. Hovnanian or the developer thought it was worth."

According to the story, a large portion of the new home project:

". . . is scheduled for foreclosure auction next month, an apparent victim
of the sharp slowdown in the housing market that has hurt builders across the
country. Lenders filed to foreclose on the undeveloped part of the upscale Greenway Farm, next to Bulle Rock golf
course in Havre de Grace, after its
owner fell into default."

"It's part of a wave of foreclosures that has hit developers as well as
homeowners, particularly in the suburbs and exurbs."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Schools, taxes are topics at Monday's BRAC Town Hall meeting

Concerns about BRAC related tax increases and whether county schools can handle all the students BRAC might bring were two of the topics discussed at Monday's BRAC Town Hall meeting at the Bel Air High School auditorium, according to a story in Wednesday's Aegis. The story said Harford County Executive David Craig said that a new middle school is to be built in the Emmorton area when the population of the new combined Patterson Mill Middle/High School -- scheduled to open this fall -- eventually expands to the point where the middle and high schools need to be separated each into their own buildings. The story says he mentioned that a site is being scouted for new elementary school in the Bel Air area. (I'm guessing he means the Vale Road Elementary School which was slated to go in on Vale Road just west of Red Pump Road but has been held up by sewage capacity issues.) And the story said he said three other new elementary schools are "in the pipeline to help support county growth."

With regard to residents' questions about possible tax increases releated to BRAC, the Aegis story said:

"Craig assured them increased operating expenses would likely be offeset by the new taxpayers moving into the county for BRAC-related jobs."

The story said Craig referred people to the www.marylandready.com website for more information and said that more refined information would be available in August.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wondering how to get a BRAC job?

From everything I've read it looks as though the Army is desperately seeking 8,200 workers to staff the jobs moving from Fort Monmouth to APG in the next few years. However, it's not particularly easy to find job listings for these and the additional approximately 10,000 contractor positions that would support them. But I just noticed a story that ran recently in The News Journal in Delaware that quoted Harford County's BRAC manager Karen Emery as saying that a BRAC jobs database of sorts is in the works. According to the story:

"Maryland economic development officials are working on an Internet 'employment portal' that will list all BRAC job opportunities at www.marylandready.com, Emery said. No launch date has been set.

"'We're developing a prototype as we speak,' Emery said."

I noticed the Maryland Ready site does have already available a "BRAC Barometer." This feature offers an article for the month of April on our area's "labor shed." According to the article, those of us in the "shed" are rather smart. (More than half of us they surveyed had a bachelor's degree or higher.) We make a decent living. (The survey showed our average salary came in just under $60K.) The "shed" is a bit lacking in folks with expertise in engineering and logistics. But we have plenty of people with business experience.

BRAC Town Hall meeting

The big BRAC meeting scheduled for tonight at the Bel Air High School auditorium was to be the first in a series to be sponsored by the Harford County Office of Economic Development. A story in last week's Aegis highlighted some of the points that were likely to be covered at the meeting. They included:

  • Fort Monmouth officials are working with Baltimore area colleges to recruit local graduates who would either start working at APG this summer or who would move to Fort Monmouth to start work there and later move to APG when their jobs relocate. The story said the military needs to hire 500 workers in these fields: electrical and computer engineers, computer scientists and business managers.

  • APG is expecting a net gain of 8,200 jobs on post with an additional 7,500 to 10,000 jobs off post. Total new jobs in Harford County: 15,700 to 18,200.

  • Most jobs will come in 2011-2012.

  • Average annual salary for on-post jobs: $86,765. Total on-post payroll: $711,473,000

  • Average annual salary for off-post jobs: $83,100. Total project annual salary: $831 million

  • New homes expected: 1,710 to be built in Harford County each year between 2007 and 2015
  • Average new home cost as of 2007: $288,956
  • New property tax revenue to be generated as of 2007: $5,347,170

  • Average new home cost as of 2015: $410,925
  • New property tax revenue generated as of 2015: $7,602,060

  • Total new homes expected in that span: 15,390
  • Total new property tax revenues: $57,700,530

  • Harford County is also expected to see more commercial building. According to the Aegis story, the county has 5.7 million square feet available at 11 sites: Forest Hill business parks, Park Centre at Plum Tree, Box Hill Corporate Center, Abingdon Woods, Emmorton Business Park, Carter-Mills property at the Route 543 and I-95 interchange, Water's Edge Corporate Campus, the Close property, Hickory Ridge and Hardee's business parks, Grace Harbor Office Park and Hillside Office Park in Havre de Grace.

Monday, April 09, 2007

BRAC Community Town Hall Meeting scheduled April 16

I've seen this notice of a BRAC town hall meeting in the local paper and at the APG Maryland at the Ready website:

Community Town Hall Meeting
at Bel Air High School Auditorium, April 16, 2007, 7-9 PM. Free and open to the public. For ADA assistance, contact Sharon Grzanka at scgrzanka@harfordcountymd.gov or 410-638-3391 one week prior to the event.

Attention Contractors:
C4ISR Pre-Solicitation Notice

Download the Notice

I'm still looking for more information on what might be on the agenda and who might be speaking. I'll post if I find out more.