Airpark owner sues county over zoning conditions Businessman asking for $1.3 million HARFORD COUNTY

September 05, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

When Forest Hill Industrial Airpark owner J. Robert Martin talked to Harford officials about building a private road and warehouse facilities in a bid to attract more businesses to the county five years ago, he thought he had received unqualified approval.

The county, he now contends in a lawsuit, balked when he filed a formal application in October 1992 to carry out his plan. He says the county imposed conditions involving road specifications and replacing trees that were not part of his original plan.

Bel Air lawyers for Mr. Martin, who bought the 47-acre airpark off East Jarrettsville Road between Forest Hill and Hickory in 1987, filed a civil suit in Circuit Court on Aug. 24, seeking nearly $1.3 million in damages from the county.

Three days later they asked Judge Stephen M. Waldron for an injunction, which, in effect, would allow Mr. Martin to proceed with construction of warehouse buildings and a road.

The judge granted the injunction, but required Mr. Martin to post a $350,000 bond before moving ahead with planned improvements on 30 additional acres along Commerce Road. Judge Waldron said the bond would protect the county's interests if Mr. Martin is later forced to comply with current law concerning road specifications and tree replacement.

Most of the 26 business tenants in the industrial park are along Industry Lane, which runs parallel to a 2,600-foot runway.

NTC Mr. Martin contends the county's refusal to issue zoning and other building permits until he complies with laws regarding landscaping and tree replacement is unfair. The laws were enacted in 1991 after his plans for the property were already completed.

He also says that he should not be forced to comply with county road specifications for a private roadway he plans to build at the airpark.

Avrum M. Kowalsky and Charles R. Wellington, attorneys for Mr. Martin, say the expense of planting additional trees and shrubs and building a private road according to county specifications would be nearly $400,000.

The county contends there was no prior approval, said Diane Swint, assistant county attorney. "Mr. Martin must follow the same application process as anyone else," she said.

Judge Waldron's injunction will enable Mr. Martin to proceed while the matter is being resolved in the courts.

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