Candidate says politics are at work Redmond defends zoning infractions

June 16, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

A Pasadena businessman who could be forced to close the automobile salvage yard he has operated for 20 years claims that he is being singled out for political reasons.

"I think a common-sense look at it should rule in our favor," said Thomas Redmond Sr., who is accused of failing to abide by the conditions of his zoning permit and will make his case today before the county Board of Appeals. "Unless there's some political motivation there."

Mr. Redmond, owner of Redmond's Towing and Auto Parts in the 8000 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., is running for the 3rd District County Council seat occupied by fellow Republican Carl G. Holland. He hopes the board will reverse a March order by the administrative hearing officer that revoked his special zoning exception.

Mr. Redmond said yesterday that the hearing officer, Robert C. Wilcox, did not give him enough time to comply with the conditions of the special exception, which included installing opaque fencing and extensive landscaping. He argues that while other businesses in the county have been given as long as two years to comply with their special exception permits, he was given only two months. Apart from some landscaping, he said, he is now in compliance with the conditions.

Mr. Redmond wonders whether he is being singled out because he is running for the council.

But Mr. Holland scoffs at the idea.

"Tom Redmond makes his own problems," Mr. Holland said. "If he's going to be an elected official, he's going to have to abide by the law. If he can't abide by the law, maybe he'd better take a second look at it."

The county official in charge of zoning enforcement also dismisses any notion of political motivation.

"He's just looking for excuses," said Richard B. Josephson. He noted that a 1989 county law set new restrictions on salvage yards requiring them to obtain special zoning exceptions. But Mr. Redmond did not apply for the exception until last year.

"So he waited three years before he did anything," Mr. Josephson said. "I think he's had just as much time, if not more time than any dismantling operation in the county."

The original special exception permit was approved by Mr. Wilcox on June 15, 1992. It required Mr. Redmond to satisfy eight conditions, including fencing, landscaping and the installation of pit to separate grit from oil.

Mr. Redmond's lawyer immediately complained to Mr. Wilcox that the grit/oil separator is a new technology and his client would need at least 90 days to install it after the proper permits were granted. The lawyer also argued that it would take until the end of the year to comply with the landscaping requirements.

Mr. Wilcox replied that the new timetable was acceptable and that Mr. Redmond would have until Dec. 31, 1992, to comply with his special exception permit.

County inspectors went to Mr. Redmond's salvage yard Jan. 29, a month after he agreed to have the work completed. They found that the opaque fencing was not in place, the grit/oil separator had not been installed and the landscaping had not been done.

The inspectors left with a warning and promised to return in a month. They did, on Feb. 23, and found the work still was not satisfactorily completed. The matter was referred to Mr. Wilcox by the Department of Planning and Zoning, which recommended that the special exception be revoked.

Mr. Wilcox revoked Mr. Redmond's permit after a hearing March 12. "This office finds the reasons and excuses offered by the applicant for noncompliance in this case to be unpersuasive, if not incredible," Mr. Wilcox wrote in his opinion.

Mr. Redmond said he will tell the appeals board that heavy rain prevented him from completing the planting. The fencing is now in place, and the grit/oil separator has been installed.

He has submitted his landscape buffer plan to the county, and all that remains is to plant 195 Leland Cypress, 27 red maple and 65 bayberry trees along his property.

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