Opponents of radio station tower meet to develop strategy to defeat proposal Group will hire lawyer for hearing before appeals board

October 04, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Opponents of an Owings Mills radio station's plan to build six 350-foot towers in a South Carroll neighborhood are building their case.

They hope to convince the county Board of Zoning Appeals that the towers would harm the environment and property values in an area, where homes sell for $200,000 and more. By tomorrow, they plan to select a lawyer.

They met Monday near the proposed site on Hoods Mill Road to prepare the arguments they will make Oct. 23 before the appeals board, and they have scheduled two more strategy sessions before the hearing.

"We are making sure everyone does what is needed so that our presentation is crisp," said C. Michael Wheeler, a Hoods Mill Road resident who will be co-chairman the group, an offshoot of the Carroll County Citizens Community Association.

"We are organizing good, healthy facts. We want to protect the area where we live."

Mr. Wheeler rates chances as good for defeating WCBM-AM and its owners, who want to build the towers on agricultural land, owned and farmed for years by Harold Mercer.

"Our cause is just," Mr. Wheeler said. "We need to let the board know we want to participate in zoning decisions."

Harold Paine, his co-chairman, also is optimistic. The association recently waged a successful battle against the county's proposal to build an outdoor shooting range at the Hoods Mill Landfill and feels confident of another victory, he said.

"I think the zoning board will realize towers won't add anything to the county," said Mr. Paine. "There will be no additional revenue or extra jobs."

"Towers should be on industrial property."

About 20 residents are preparing testimony for the hearing, at which it will be decided whether WCBM wins a conditional use to build the towers on the property the station is purchasing from Mr. Mercer. The sale is contingent on a favorable zoning decision.

"I know there are arguments on both sides of the fence," said Mr. Wheeler. "We are not oblivious to what WCBM is trying to accomplish."

The community association, one of several formed in recent months to oppose what is perceived as uncontrolled growth in South Carroll, "wants to make sure the county follows its master plan," Mr. Wheeler said.

"We don't want the plan changed every few months to meet the needs of special interests. We must find ways to maintain what we have," he said.

The group is not opposed to growth, only "when there is too much too fast," Mr. Wheeler said.

Mr. Paine said residents hope they will have an easier time than opponents of a 200-foot cellular telephone tower that was proposed two years ago by West Shore Communications for conservation land just outside Sykesville.

The board approved that tower, but opponents are appealing the decision to the state Court of Special Appeals.

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