WESTMINSTER — Despite opposition from the county's oversight panel on industrial development, the city Board of Zoning Appeals last week gave its approval for a restaurant to be built at the Air Business Center.
Industrial Development Authority chairman Russell A. Sellman had argued ina hearing earlier that agreements made when the center was developedin 1980 say retail businesses are not allowed. A restaurant is a "borderline" case, he said. Traffic from restaurants, shops and offices could cause problems with trucks coming from industrial sites, Sellman said at the Dec. 2 hearing.
But the three-member zoning board, in a written decision issued Thursday, said it "declined to consider" testimony or evidence regarding the agreements. It cited a 1941 Maryland Court of Appeals case that said private contract restrictions are independent of zoning and have no place in zoning appeals proceedings.
In its decision, the board gave Donald E. Bullock of Westminster a special exception to openBullock's Airport Inn at the business park on Route 97. The park is zoned restricted industrial, which allows light industry; commercial uses are allowed after approval from the board.
Bullock said he plans to open the family style restaurant in July or August.
Ronald Bailey, a land planner from BPR Inc. in Westminster, testified at thezoning hearing last month that a restaurant would not cause traffic problems and might help ease congestion because business park employees might eat there instead of traveling elsewhere.
The Air Business Center Owners Association approved the plan, Vice President Steven Hull said.
Sellman said Monday he had not read the decision and could not comment on whether the IDA would appeal it.
Bullock, ownerof Westminster Lawn Service on John Street, said he expects to receive final approval for the project from the city Planning and Zoning Commission tomorrow and will break ground in early March.
In October, the commission approved subdivision plans for the restaurant, which will be built on a 1.3-acre vacant lot at Airport Drive and Business Parkway North.
The restaurant will seat about 175, and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a buffet and salad bar, Bullock said. During the week the buffet will cost $5; on the weekends itwill offer a broader selection and will cost $7 or $8, he said.
The menu won't be "real fancy," said Bullock, who will operate the restaurant with his wife, Nancy. Entrees will include prime rib, crab imperial and shrimp, he said.
The hours will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Bullock's brother Robert owns Bullock's Country Meats and Family Restaurant on Sykesville Road in Westminster. The inn at the airport will not be connected to the Sykesville Road restaurant.