Ray's Crabs defeats bid to close it Competitor alleged zoning violation CENTRAL COUNTY--Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

December 17, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

The owners of a small crab shack on Ritchie Highway in Severna Park have won the right to stay open, defeating attempts by a larger competitor to shut it down.

The County Board of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Ray's Crabs, a small wooden structure that mainly sells crabs in the summer, is operating legally on its site at Ritchie Highway and Whites Road.

Joe Morotti Sr., the owner of Joe's Seafood, a larger, seafood carry-out restaurant a few hundred feet south of Ray's on the same side of the highway, had argued that Ray's Crabs' owners were operating a retail establishment in an area zoned for residential use.

But the board, agreeing with county planners, ruled that the property had been used commercially since before the residential zoning took effect and could continue to operate that way as a legal, non-conforming use.

The county zoned the land for commercial use in 1973.

Four years ago, the county zoning office asked Robert Yesker and his family, the owners and operators of the seafood stand, to prove their business existed prior to that rezoning.

Last February, the Office of Planning and Zoning granted them the right to their "non-conforming zoning use" on the grounds that the business had been there before the rezoning.

Mr. Morotti immediately appealed that decision.

However, the board rejected his arguments after two hearings in which longtime county residents and former owners of the property testified that they had bought or sold fruit, produce, Christmas trees and seafood from various operators on the site as long ago as 1960.

The board cited compelling documentary evidence and convincing testimony from witnesses in making its decision.

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