Villa Julie wins ruling on expansion Zoning exception upheld on appeal BALTIMORE COUNTY

July 24, 1993|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Staff Writer

Villa Julie College won a second round over neighbors and a powerful community organization yesterday in its efforts to expand its campus in the Green Spring Valley.

The Baltimore County Board of Appeals upheld a special zoning exception that allows the college to construct two new buildings and a wastewater-treatment plant on its property, which is in a rural conservation zone.

The board ruled that the expansion would not be detrimental to the surrounding residents or to the general agricultural character of the valley.

Although the 46-year-old private college appears to be the big winner, both sides lost on the major issues on which they appealed the original decision by Zoning Commissioner Laurence E. Schmidt.

Several residents and the Valleys Planning Council, an umbrella group of community organizations in the rural areas of northern Baltimore County, appealed the approval of the special exception.

The college appealed Mr. Schmidt's decision to cap future student enrollment at 2,500, which was tied to the building expansion, and limit the amount of discharge from the treatment plant.

The board upheld both of those rulings.

J. Carroll Holzer, attorney for the Valleys Planning Council and several neighbors, declined comment yesterday, saying he wanted to discuss the decision with his clients.

Benjamin Bronstein, Villa Julie's lawyer in the case, said he was delighted that the board upheld the special zoning exceptions but added, "I don't feel the board had any basis on which to keep the cap on student enrollment or the limit on wastewater discharge."

He said a decision to appeal to the Circuit Court on those two issues "will have to wait until I have a chance to talk with my client."

The board limited wastewater discharge to 50,000 gallons a day. The college has approval from the County Council to build the treatment plant and the state has approved a discharge of up to 60,000 gallons a day.

But the board noted that the state approval assumed that the plant would also serve the nearby Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur convent, which would account for about 10,000 gallons of discharge a day. The convent no longer plans to use the treatment plant.

College officials said the wastewater-treatment plant is essential for expansion. The school now has a failing system designed to handle 6,000 gallons a day. It currently hales 28,000 gallons and must be pumped out daily, with the excess dumped into the public sewer system, Mr. Bronstein said.

Opponents argued that discharging wastewater from the new plant into an intermittent stream that flows into the upper Jones Falls would cause environmental damage.

The board ruled that imposing an enrollment ceiling of 2,500 "is not to place the college at a disadvantage but in accord with the need to maintain the character of the valley." The college, which is on Greenspring Valley Road in Stevenson, currently has 1,700 students.

Mr. Bronstein noted that if the college wanted to exceed the limitations on wastewater discharge or student enrollment, it could seek an amendment to the special zoning exception, which would require another public hearing.

The board rejected the college's request to allow a building height of 48 feet, instead of the current 33-foot limitation as "not in keeping with the harmony and spirit of the RC-2 zone."

The school was built in 1947, before the county adopted rural conservation zoning.

The Villa Julie plan would add 98,000 square feet of additional classrooms, laboratories and study areas.

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