Zoning rule repeal sought for marina

March 21, 1995|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Owners of a South River marina have asked the state Court of Special Appeals to strike down an Anne Arundel County zoning rule that is preventing them from expanding the marina.

The attorney for Holiday Point Marina in Selby Bay says the county is overstepping its bounds in a 1979 zoning rule that bars new boat slips less than 2,640 feet from a shellfish bed.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) imposes a less stringent, 1,500-foot buffer. According to plans submitted by marina owners Frederick and Maureen Mershon, the nearest slip would be about 1,800 feet from an oyster bed.

For nearly a decade, the owners have been trying to double their marina to 299 slips.

Charles R. Schaller, attorney for the owners, said authority over the water rests with state and federal authorities.

"Yes, [county officials] have the ability to zone. When you set foot in tidal waters -- that all of a sudden becomes the jurisdiction of the state," he said.

The county, however, believes it can be more protective of oyster beds.

DNR surveys in recent years have found few oysters on the 194-acre bed at the mouth of Selby Bay, but neither state nor county regulations address the viability of the bed.

In January, Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Robert H. Heller Jr. upheld the county's position. No hearing date has been set at the appellate court, which probably would not hear arguments until at least next fall.

An appeal from a county Board of Appeals decision about the marina is pending in Circuit Court. The original decision denied the owners a variance from the county's distance requirement. If the appellate court strikes down the county's distance requirement, the Circuit Court case would be moot.

Mr. Schaller said he may ask the County Council to delete the provision from its marina zoning regulations during the county's comprehensive rezoning.

Patricia A. Logan, senior assistant county attorney, said the council does not have to rescind the regulation.

"The court has held it to be proper. On that basis there is no reason in the world we should rewrite it," she said.

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