Outlander accused of 'vendetta' Might a mutt inspire zoning complaints? WEST COUNTY -- Clarksville * Highland * Glenelg * Lisbon

August 30, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Edward Friedman doesn't live in Howard County, but he's battling against what he calls "the industrialization" of the county's residential areas.

His weapons are zoning complaints against three home-based businesses in and next to the Glenwood Springs subdivision where he owns an undeveloped wooded lot.

But Jeffrey Lanuza, who owns one of those businesses that is nearly out of sight of Mr. Friedman's land, says "it's a personal vendetta against us, that's all it is."

Some neighbors in the western Howard County community contend that the battle has as much to do with Mr. Friedman's fluffy white dog as with zoning and property rights.

The dog runs loose, they allege, and once got into an altercation with another dog.

"He wants to kill my dog," said Mr. Friedman, pointing a walking stick accusingly at one of the homes near his property.

In the latest salvo, Mr. Friedman, who lives in Silver Spring, recently became the first person to challenge the county's issuance of a home-based contractor permit.

The permit he's contesting before the county Board of Appeals is for Mr. Lanuza's lawn-care business, which Mr. Friedman acknowledges that he's not sure he can see from his own land.

"It's not a question of whether I can see it; it's a question of what kind of neighborhood I want to live in," Mr. Friedman declared.

Mr. Friedman's complaints have also prompted county zoning authorities to investigate two other nearby businesses.

What had started as a cordial relationship, with Mr. Friedman giving a house-warming gift to a neighbor he would later file a zoning complaint against, has deteriorated into a neighborhood squabble in which residents say they avoid speaking to Mr. Friedman.

Each side is keeping an eye on the other, however.

Mr. Friedman has circulated a petition against the county's home-based contractor regulations and a letter charging, among other things, that "one contractor plans to build a 2,000-square-foot building to house inventory, metal forming machines, and provide an employment center."

"I paid $354,000 for my house. Why would I trash it up?" asked Mark Ashby, the contractor in question. Mr. Ashby operates a heating and air conditioning business out of his home, which faces Mr. Friedman's lot.

Although Mr. Ashby calls the "employment center" charge "ridiculous," he said he did once tell Mr. Friedman that he was thinking about building a small storage shed.

Neighbors have circulated their own petitions and are planning more in support of the home-based businesses.

"Now, what can I say? It's like a war," Mr. Friedman says.

According to William Bowers, whose property is just outside the subdivision and next to Mr. Friedman's lot on Hobbs Road, the battle began with his complaint about Mr. Friedman's dog running loose.

"If you say one thing about his dog, he's out to get you," Mr. Bowers said.

But Mr. Friedman sees it quite another way.

Standing next to the driveway he shares with several other property owners, Mr. Friedman last week gestured toward the sound of Mr. Bowers' tractor shoveling mulch.

"Hear it -- that goes on seven days a week, and there's nothing I can do about it," he says.

Indeed, says Peter Beck, special assistant to county Councilman Charles C. Feaga, there isn't.

"Mr. Friedman, Mr. Bowers and company live in a rural area of Howard County. Tractors are permitted along with front-end loaders and mowers," he says.

Mr. Friedman's complaints about some of his neighbors have escalated to complaints about Mr. Feaga and his support of home-based businesses, and Mr. Friedman has aligned himself with one of the county's most prominent growth-control advocates.

He has begun circulating his petition in other parts of the county and among citizens' groups.

"There's going to be a long fight; I'm prepared for a long fight," he says as he walks into the woods along an unscreened property line he shares with Mr. Bowers.

That's just what some of his neighbors are afraid of.

"It's a personality thing now. He'll challenge the county, he'll do anything just to have the last word," said Linda Cassity, whose property border's Mr. Friedman's.

"Can you explain to me what Lanuza does that bothers us at all?" she asked as she strained to see a corner of Mr. Lanuza's house on the other side of the subdivision.

But Mr. Friedman denied that any of his zoning complaints are personally motivated.

The issue is one of what home-based contractors are allowed to do by Howard County authorities, he said.

At his home in Silver Spring, Mr. Friedman said, "I had my property 27 years. I didn't fight with nobody."

Although Montgomery County zoning enforcement authorities said they could not recall any zoning problems connected with Mr. Friedman or his property, Montgomery animal-control authorities have recorded a dozen complaints about the

care of Mr. Friedman's pets, including complaints of a dog at large and failure to inform a kennel that a dog was under bTC quarantine for biting someone.

"If he moved, I'd dance in the street," said one neighborhood resident who complained about Mr. Friedman's dog and asked not to be identified.

The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, which resolved Mr. Lanuza's complaint by issuing him a home-based contractor permit, is also considering a permit for Mr. Ashby.

Consideration of Mr. Bowers' property, which is not eligible for a permit because of its outdoor mulch pile, is on hold pending the county Zoning Board's consideration of a regulation change that would allow such storage.

The Board of Appeals hasn't yet scheduled a hearing to consider Friedman's appeal of Mr. Lanuza's permit.

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