Community Is Steadfast In Fight Against Signs

May 16, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

Unrelenting in its efforts to hold Clement Hardware up as an exampleof what may happen to the rest of Severna Park's business community,the Greater Severna Park Council voted Tuesday to oppose an appeal for a variance for the merchant's Robinson Road sign.

Gordon Clement, co-owner of the hardware store, lost a separate appeal to retain the sign facing Ritchie Highway last month. Clement says that sign, which cost him $3,000, will be taken down tomorrow.

But he has asked the county to preserve the $4,800 pylon sign thecounty zoning department mistakenly permitted him to build 20 feet closer to a home than generally un-enforced county sign ordinances allow.

But the GSPC voted overwhelmingly to oppose Clement's appeal, scheduled to be heard at a May 24 hearing.

"If a clerk in permits makes a mistake, is it set in concrete for us to live with. I say no," said Severna Forest delegate Albert Johnston.

"Its the principle," said Larry Masterson, of Woodbridge Forest. "This is a typical example of where they put the sign up and then ask for a variance and expect us to say its too late to do anything about it."

Clement has vowed "to fight and win" his appeal, saying it is ridiculous that he should have to pay to move a sign 20 feet because the county permits department made a mistake.

Richard Gauch, head of the eight-memberland use enforcement division of the Office of Planning and Zoning, estimates that there are at least 2,000 signs posted throughout the county that violate one or another county ordinance. He says the violations are generally ignored by his division because enforcing the regulations would totally overwhelm his division, diverting its attention from water and land use issues.

The signs at the southwest corner of Ritchie Highway and Robinson Road drew the special attention ofcounty planning and zoning inspectors after Blockbuster Video moved into the complex with sprawling blue awning signs and flashing lights.

Members of the active North Severna Park Community Association filed a formal complaint with the county after appeals to a since-fired manager of Blockbuster failed to resolve the dispute.

The inspectors cited five of Blockbuster's signs and two of Clement's. Blockbuster has since removed two of its signs.

The council also unanimously voted to establish a task force with the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce to work for a voluntary agreement on the reduction ofthe number of illegal signs.

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