WOODBINE — The ongoing legal skirmish over the glider-ride business at the Woodbine Gliderport is set to resume in the coming weeks in Carroll Circuit Court.
Bay Soaring Inc., which operates out of a grass airstripoff Gillis Falls Road, has filed an appeal of a June zoning board ruling to refuse renewal of the zoning permit.
A hearing on a request to suspend enforcement of the decision is set for next Friday, but likely will be rescheduled, said William B. Dulaney, a Westminster attorney representing Bay Soaring.
The company is asking the court to overturn the decision by the Carroll Boardof Zoning Appeals denying Bay Soaring's request to renew a conditional-use permit. The permit allows the
company to give glider rides in an agricultural zone.
In the appeal Bay Soaring calls the board's decision "arbitrary, illegal, (and) capricious," saying zoning administrators used the same evidence to reverse a 1984 board decision to approve the permit. That decision went through the state court system before being sent back to the zoning board.
"The board arbitrarily and without proper foundation made new 'findings' on which it based its decision to deny the application," the appeal said of the Junedecision. Bay Soaring will argue for a stay of the zoning board's ruling, saying enforcement "would cause substantial and irreparable harm and losses" to the company.
The company already is reeling
financially. In August, H. Gerard Gaudet, president of Aviation Customer Services Inc., Bay Soaring's parent, filed for reorganization and protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act, according to U.S. District Court documents.
Gaudet said the costs of the lengthy battle with county zoning administrators is driving him out of business. The Mount Airy resident estimated legal and administrative bills over the past eight years have topped $80,000.
The company has used the 1,650-foot grass airstrip since September 1981. Flight school for glider pilots also is offered.
In 1984, after residents complained about noise and safety, the zoning board revoked the 1972 conditional-use permit issued to Robert E. Harrison, who owns the 172-acre farm where the airstrip sits. Bay Soaring rents 10 acres.
The board's action set off a series of legal scraps that led to the U.S. Supreme Court last fall. The nation's highest court declined to hear the case and sent it back to the county zoning board.
In the June decision, board Chairman John Totura wrote that approving the permit "would be particularly detrimental to the peaceful enjoyment of people in their homes." The board cited noise, safety hazards and threats to adjacent property values.
Bay Soaring has been opposed by a group of South Carroll residents called Woodbine ConcernedCitizens and by the commissioners.