Zoning board rules in favor of radio towers near border

November 17, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

An Owings Mills radio station cleared one hurdle yesterday in its quest to build six 350-foot towers on a Carroll County farm.

The Carroll Board of Zoning Appeals ruled that the rights of a longtime local farmer to sell his property to WCBM-AM override the concerns of adjoining property owners.

Residents from Carroll and Howard counties protested the radio tower complex proposed for a 400-acre farm near Route 97 and the county line. Sale of the Hoods Mill Road property, owned by Harold Mercer, was contingent on the radio station winning the board's approval.

About a dozen residents testified yesterday, the third day of a hearing on the conditional use application.

"Allowing those towers is like kicking my front door in and invading my home," said Warren Harden of Underwood Road in Howard County.

His pleas to "protect me in the peaceful enjoyment of my home" went unheeded. The board voted 3-1 to allow the project to proceed.

"The board did not hear the facts and they did not correctly interpret the testimony," said James Talley, chairman of the South Carroll Concerned Citizens Committee. "They totally ignored their own master plan."

The board ruled the $1 million project is an acceptable use for agricultural land.

"If you have 400 acres and can't put a tower on them, I don't know where you can," said Woodrow Raver, zoning board member.

James L. Schumacher, the newest board member, cast the sole dissenting vote. He cited the "intrusive nature" of the towers and said there was no way to minimize the negative impact with buffers or limited hours of operation.

"The applicant didn't prove need," Mr. Schumacher said. "Other sites were not thoroughly investigated. The visual glare from six huge towers so close to homes and the interference detracts from the peaceful enjoyment of homes."

In the meantime, a newly drafted ordinance that would limit tower complexes to industrial land could make the hearing moot.

The Carroll County Commissioners expect to vote on the law in about a week. If passed, it could prevent construction of any towers that do not have a building permit.

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