Board hears opponents of plan for six radio towers on farm Residents fear ugly views, reduced property value

November 10, 1995|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,SUN STAFF

Opponents of a proposal by a Baltimore radio station to place six transmission towers on a South Carroll farm finally got their chance to tell the Board of Zoning Appeals yesterday why the towers shouldn't be built.

In the third day of hearings before the board, neighbors of the Mercer farm on Hoods Mill Road near Route 97 and the Howard County line told the three-member panel that the construction of the 350-foot towers would decrease property values, create ugly views and might pose unspecified medical dangers.

The owners of WCBM-AM radio want to place the towers on the farm to reach a wider audience in the western part of the metropolitan area. The Owings Mills station first must receive conditional use approval from the zoning board.

The station would build on about 55 of the 400 farm acres and has agreed to place the remaining land in a permanent agricultural land trust. Using agricultural areas for the radio towers preserves farmland, said William B. Dulany, a lawyer for WCBM.

"This tower will be there 24 hours a day, every day of the year," said Jerry W. Thurber, who has lived next to the Mercer farm for almost eight years.

Although he can see a railroad track and a telephone converter station, he is opposed to a "tower farm" within direct view of his property.

"I think it would have a dominating effect on my property," Mr. Thurber, a lab researcher, said.

Owners for WCBM concluded their testimony, which began in September, and was continued to one day last month. A real estate appraiser -- and former county commissioner -- testified that the towers would have a minimal impact on property values.

"It depends on the buyer," said Louis B. Scharon, testifying for the owners. He also suggested that proximity to the towers could be a selling point if a potential buyer wanted better radio reception.

The hearing hadn't ended by press time yesterday, and a decision was not expected immediately.

Any decision of the zoning board could be moot because the County Commissioners on Monday conduct a public hearing on an ordinance aimed at limiting multiple towers to industrial land.

The ordinance -- which would make the WCBM project illegal -- was drafted after the radio station applied for the conditional use.

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