A developer can build a large car wash in Perry Hall despite opposition from community residents and planning officials, the Baltimore County Board of Appeals has ruled.
The car wash, which would handle up to 280 cars a day, is not a danger or nuisance to an adjacent church and private school or nearby residences, the board said in a 2-1 decision.
Released yesterday, the written opinion grants a special exception to contractor Orville M. Jones to build a seven-bay car wash at 9523 Belair Road in Perry Hall.
The Perry Hall United Methodist Church, nearby residents, the Perry Hall Improvement Association and the county Office of Planing and Zoning opposed the use of the long, narrow lot in a business zone for the car wash.
The ruling overturned a decision by county Zoning Commissioner Lawrence E. Schmidt, who denied the special exception. Mr. Schmidt ruled that the car wash was incompatible with the church and the school.
The church operates a private Montessori School with 60 students in grades one through three.
The development plan shows one automatic car wash bay and six self-service bays, said John B. Gontrum, Mr. Jones' attorney.
Arnold F. Pat Keller, deputy director of planning and zoning, said his agency opposed the project because of traffic concerns and insufficient landscape buffering to shield nearby homes from the sights and sounds of the car wash.
Church and school officials expressed concern about the safety of the students because of the increased traffic and said noise from the operation would disrupt church activities.
But the board ruled that the car wash would not harm the health, safety or welfare of the community, the main criteria for rejection of a special zoning exception. It said the 280 daily trips to and from the car wash would be a "relatively light" increase in traffic and not justification for denial.
The board noted that Mr. Jones testified he would add additional landscape buffers, employ a full-time attendant to enforce noise rules and operate only between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Board members William T. Hackett and Judson H. Lipowitz made these promises conditions of their approval.
Board member C. William Clark dissented. He said he agreed with the neighbors' arguments and noted that the county's Master Plan, which sets out land use priorities, discourages further commercial development along the busy Belair Road corridor in Perry Hall.