Trucking firm wins challenge over zoning

December 28, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

A longtime trucking company in eastern Baltimore County has won a bid for legal legitimacy, despite neighborhood protests and an unusual dissenting opinion by a member of the county's Board of Appeals.

The Umerley Trucking company has been a fixture in the 9800 block Philadelphia Road near White Marsh since 1958 and has expanded several times. Neighboring residents represented by the Nottingham Improvement Association have complained about loud noises at night, dust and heavy truck traffic.

The three-member board ruled that Umerley could be granted a special zoning exception on condition that the firm buy a water truck to keep dust to a minimum at its 8.5-acre site and widen Philadelphia Road in front of the business. All trucks must stay off nearby residential streets.

In 1976, the county sought to regulate the location of truck terminals near residential neighborhoods. It also required existing facilities to file plans with the county zoning authorities or cease operations in three years. The Umerleys did neither and claimed ignorance of the law.

In its decision, the appeals board ruled that to stick to the letter of the law would ruin Umerley, which pays $52,000 in county property taxes each year, $1 million in state fuel taxes, and has a $2.5 million annual payroll.

Board member S. Diane Levero disagreed with the ruling, claiming the firm violated the 1976 law and should not be viewed in the same legal light as a firm that existed before the law was passed. She said Umerley is too close to residential areas to receive the zoning variances.

Residents or the county People's Counsel now have 30 days to appeal the board's Dec. 23 decision to Circuit Court.

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