Construction company appeals variance denial

March 23, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

A Finksburg construction company proposed to the county commissioners yesterday that it should be allowed to dedicate about half an acre of woods on its property for permanent preservation rather than the 7 acres sought by county staff members.

Kibler Construction Co. filed the first appeal of a variance denial in the county forest conservation ordinance's 15-month history after the county Environmental Affairs Advisory Board (EAAB) refused in December to concur with a variance.

The county ordinance requires EAAB concurrence if administrator James E. Slater Jr. grants a variance, but not if he denies it. Mr. Slater refused to say at the hearing yesterday whether he would have granted the variance if the board had agreed to it.

Charles D. Hollman, Kibler's attorney, said the company's offer gives the county a chance to obtain a preservation easement on a wooded area near Liberty reservoir "without confiscating all that land that happens to be forest today."

Kibler Construction sought to meet forest ordinance requirements only for the 1.4 acres that will be disturbed for the building. The ordinance requires the county to consider the whole property -- 25 acres in Kibler's case -- when it calculates forestation requirements.

The company wants to place four-tenths of an acre in a permanent easement and double the two-tenths of an acre of trees that would be required as afforestation if the 1.4 acres is counted as the total area up for consideration.

Neil Ridgely, the county's landscape and forest conservation program manager, said that because more than 15 percent of the property already is forest cover, Kibler wouldn't have to plant any additional trees to meet the ordinance's requirements.

"But it seems to me that it has to be locked up in an easement," Mr. Ridgely said, because the goal of state and county forest conservation laws is to preserve forests.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said the commissioners will decide the appeal in about two weeks.

County attorney Charles W. Thompson said he is not certain whether the commissioners will be legally required to make their decision in a public meeting.

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