WOODBINE — The owner of a glider-ride operation is seeking to reorganize under federal bankruptcy law, saying the cost of waging a lengthy battle with county zoning administrators is driving him out of business.
Bay Soaring Inc., which operates out of the Woodbine Gliderport, filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act on Aug. 1, according to documents on file at U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
On Thursday, H. Gerard Gaudet, president of Aviation Customer Services Inc., the parent company of Bay Soaring, said $80,000 in legal and administrative bills over the past eight years has pushed the business to the edge.
"I've got to make enough money to stay in business and pay taxes, to pay the county to harass me," Gaudet said.
Bay Soaring has used the 1,650-foot grass airstrip to give glider rides since September 1981. Glider pilot flight school also is offered atthe airfield, in the 1900 block of Gillis Falls Road.
In 1984, after residents complained about noise and safety, the Carroll Board ofZoning Appeals revoked a conditional-use permit issued in 1972 to Robert E. Harrison, who owns the 172-acre farm on which the airstrip sits. Bay Soaring rents about 10 acres of the farm, most of which is zoned for agricultural use.
The board's action set off a series of legal skirmishes that went to the U.S. Supreme Court last fall. The court refused to hear the case and sent the matter back where it all began -- the county zoning appeals board.
The case had been shuffledback and forth between the zoning board and various state courts foryears.
The latest round in the Bay Soaring dogfight concluded in early June, when the board denied Gaudet's request for reinstatement of the original conditional-use permit.
The board cited noise, safety hazards and threats to adjacent property values.
Approving theconditional-use permit "would be particularly detrimental to the peaceful enjoyment of people in their homes," Chairman John Totura wrotein the board's decision.
Bay Soaring has been opposed in the zoning dispute by a group of residents called Woodbine Concerned Citizensand by the Board of Carroll County Commissioners.
Gaudet said he plans to appeal to Circuit Court.
Meanwhile, the Mount Airy resident said business would continue while the company's finances are reorganized.
"We're going to be here," he said. "We're going to continue on."
Under Chapter 11, a company obtains a federal court order that frees it from the threat of creditors' lawsuits until it can develop a plan to put its finances in order. While the reorganization proceeds, the activities of management must be approved by the court.
District court records showed the company's assets totaling $195,500, with liabilities reaching $474,919.83. Among the assets listed were three gliders and two airplanes used to pull the gliders aloft.