Planned snowball stand generates controversy

June 28, 1995|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

For nearly 50 years, Windy Valley Restaurant at Falls and West Joppa roads has cornered the local market on remedies to hot summer evenings with its made-on-the premises ice cream.

But a real estate executive and his family want to offer a cooling alternative in a time-honored Baltimore entrepreneurial fashion -- a corner snowball stand.

Donald R. Grempler, president of Coldwell Banker Grempler Realty Inc., said his wife, Marci, and their three children -- twin 10-year-old girls, and a boy nearly 12 -- would operate the snowball stand with others to be hired.

"We want to use this to teach our children something about the work ethic," Mr. Grempler said.

The prospect of competition at the well-traveled Brooklandville intersection has generated a little heat.

Last week, Baltimore County Zoning Commissioner Lawrence E. Schmidt, in what he called an unusual case, granted a zoning variance to allow the snowball stand to operate. Because snowball stands are not defined in the county zoning code, he had to determine that it was equivalent to a food store.

Morton W. "Buddy" Feldman, Windy Valley's landlord and its former operator, called the decision absurd. He said he will appeal Mr. Schmidt's ruling to the county Board of Appeals.

The property in question is a parking lot on the north side of West Joppa Road and across the old Joppa Road from Windy Valley. When Joppa Road was realigned by the state to ease traffic problems, the .078-acre lot was separated from the larger Grempler tract that houses its two-story real estate office building.

The Gremplers sought a zoning variance that would allow them to tuck an 8-foot-by-8-foot snowball stand in one corner and still provide four parking places. Under zoning regulations, the stand would have had to be placed in the middle of the lot.

Mr. Feldman said the snowball stand would add to traffic problems that remain at the intersection despite the realignment of Joppa Road.

Other area business operators also expressed concern over traffic and parking.

"Where do you think the patrons of this snowball stand are going to park?" Mr. Feldman asked. "They are going to park on the Windy Valley parking lot and deny my customers a place to park."

But Mr. Grempler said the opposition, particularly Mr. Feldman's, was not based on traffic concerns but "the fear of competition."

"It's not about competition," retorted Mr. Feldman. "Windy Valley sells ice cream, not snowballs."

Mr. Grempler said that despite the threat of an appeal, he is going ahead with plans to build the snowball stand and hopes to be operating by the July Fourth holiday.

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