Joanne C. Emkey dreads the day when she looks out the windows of herhome in north Harford County and sees a 280-foot communications tower obstructing her view of the bucolic countryside.
The Monkton resident's concern seems destined to become a reality, now that a Harford Circuit Court judge has denied her request to reverse county approval of the tower.
With no money to appeal the ruling, Emkey knows that it could be only a matter of time before the tower is built by Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems Inc.
"I'm still against it as much as I was before," Emkey said. "I fought for as long as I could, but I can't do it anymore. . . . I just can't afford it at this time. That's why I'm giving up."
Bell Atlantic of Bedminster, N.J., plans to lease a portion of Ross and Jeanette Smith's 150-acre farm in the 4100 block of Old YorkRoad, a site near the My Ladys Manor historic district.
The tower, which would be about 300 feet from the nearest neighboring property, would be built to serve cellular telephone communications, Bell Atlantic said.
Emkey, husband Frank and neighbor Edna Jackson contendthat Bell Atlantic provided incomplete information on the tower's proximity to My Ladys Manor when it sought county zoning clearances last year.
The residents wanted the courts to reverse the county's decision or order the zoning hearing examiner to review the tower plansagain. But Harford Circuit Judge William O. Carr denied the request in a ruling issued Aug. 14.
The Emkeys and Jackson, who live within hundreds of feet of the proposed site, said in their appeal that they are concerned the structure would pose a health threat and lower property values.
But Carr said, "The sum total of what they said atthat time amounts to opposition without substantial evidence. While such opposition is a natural reaction, . . . the law requires a higher standard of evidence before it can be considered in a case."
Carr said in his ruling that the citizens never raised questions over the tower's proximity to My Ladys Manor at proceedings before the zoning examiner. Appeals of zoning cases similar to the one dealing with the Bell Atlantic tower must be based on the record of proceedings before the hearing examiner, he ruled.
The judge also noted that the citizens said in court documents that the tower site is "adjacent" tothe historic district but didn't provide evidence that the site had to meet any requirements because of its location.
Robert P. Brophy, a Bel Air attorney representing the Monkton residents, said during a May hearing that Bell Atlantic told the county no historic or cultural landmarks were near the site for the tower.
The tower plans were not sent to the state Historic Trust for review, even though My Ladys Manor -- a sprawling agricultural area in Harford and Baltimore counties -- is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Brophy contended.
A Bell Atlantic spokesman had said that the county Department of Planning and Zoning never requested that the company file its plans for a review by the trust.
Carr, citing the county's zoning code, said it is within the planning department's authority todecide what plans should be referred to the historic trust.