Somerset County acquires land to create industrial park in Westover

Posted 1/9/23

PRINCESS ANNE — Vacant land on Revell’s Neck Road that was to become a Wal-Mart distribution center over 15 years ago is now in line for resurrection as an industrial park.

Somerset …

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Somerset County acquires land to create industrial park in Westover

Posted

PRINCESS ANNE — Vacant land on Revell’s Neck Road that was to become a Wal-Mart distribution center over 15 years ago is now in line for resurrection as an industrial park.

Somerset County used $3.3 million from the Rural Maryland Economic Development Fund to purchase the 167 acres from the estate of the late Mitchell Bonneville Jr. and will create an industrial park for single and multiple site development.

Mr. Bonneville, who died at age 70 in December 2021, had repurchased the property from Wal-Mart in 2019 for $1.3 million. It was among his holdings sold at public auction on Oct. 29 with Henry Hanna of SVN | Miller Commercial Real Estate acting as the county’s agent.

County Administrator Doug Taylor said the purchase price was $1.554 million with the remainder of the state grant to be used for forest and wetlands delineation and infrastructure improvements as the site has natural gas and broadband access.

There is also sewer service nearby as well as water — although the water from the wells next door to the property is not permitted for drinking by the Maryland Department of the Environment but can be used for industrial purposes.

Mr. Taylor said during the County Commissioners’ final meeting of 2022 that “This is a big day for the county.”

Somerset County Economic Development Commission Director Danny Thompson expressed his thanks to Gov. Larry Hogan and Department of Commerce officials for making the funding possible, and to the County Commissioners for their vision in pursuing this plan.

Mr. Thompson also credited BEACON Director John Hickman and Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore Director Greg Padgham for leading the grant application process for the county.

There were 114 economic development initiatives in 15 counties funded by the $50 million released by Gov. Hogan through the Rural Maryland Economic Development Fund.

The announcement on Dec. 14 came 18 years and three weeks after Somerset County officials inked a memorandum of understanding with Wal-Mart which planned to open a general merchandise distribution center on the property located next to ECI by the fall of 2006. It was to hire as many as 450 people.

In anticipation of its arrival the property in 2004 was rezoned from Agricultural-Residential (AR) to Light Industrial (I-1) and the county and state invested in upgrades including a traffic light at the intersection with U.S. 13 and a water tower.

According to information provided by the Department of Commerce, discussions with real estate professionals have garnered positive feedback, as most firms currently want to have a quick development timeline but prefer building to their own needs.

“This project would allow Somerset to compete for large scale projects that need a ready to build site with access to water and sewer, fiber, natural gas, and highway access. Discussions show that likely tenants would employ approximately 250 workers in a facility up to 450,000 square feet, and total investment in the property would be between $10 and $50 million”

The new industrial park comes at a time when one of the last available lots in the Princess Anne Industrial Park is under contract to be sold to an as of yet unnamed company. Mr. Hanna is also handling that deal for the Town Commissioners.

In early 2021 Mr. Bonneville attempted to have the former AR zoning restored but despite being recommended by the planning commission the County Commissioners did not approve it by a vote of 3-1.

Mr. Taylor said he anticipates a sketch plan on how the roads and lots will be setup should available by the end of January.

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