On the issues of traffic and the viability of so much new retail in such a small area, county officials say they believe the developments pose relatively few problems. The county is already seeking state funding for improvements to the intersection of Reisterstown and Painters Mill roads. And the Owings Mills area, despite being one of the county's two designated growth areas, along with
But the rezoning for Solo Cup does represent something of a policy shift for Baltimore County, and it deserves more attention than it would typically get in a case where the local council member supports rezoning, as Ms. Almond does. For years, Baltimore County economic development officials have been loath to allow land designated for manufacturing, as the Solo property is, to be downzoned for commercial development. The theory is that manufacturing sites are relatively rare, and once given up they are never upzoned to allow industry again. And manufacturing generally provides the greatest economic impact for the community.
At the Solo Cup property, for example, the conversion to commercial may yield more total jobs — Wegmans alone expects to hire more than the 540 employees lost at the Solo plant, and that doesn't even count ancillary development on the site. But it is unlikely that those jobs will pay as well or have as large a spillover effect on other businesses in the area.
A spokesman for Mr. Kamenetz says the executive is focused on the redevelopment of Baltimore County manufacturing but sees the greatest potential for it in and around Sparrows Point, in conjunction with the expansion of the Port of Baltimore. The Solo site, county officials say, is too small and in an area that is unlikely to appeal to another industrial tenant.
But that reflects an old, heavy-industry-centric view of manufacturing that doesn't necessarily conform with the economic opportunities of today. That site may no longer make sense as a place to manufacture paper cups, but it could, perhaps, be a good location for a biotech facility.