Zoning for duplexes questioned June 28 ruling expected for Reisterstown project

June 07, 1996|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Critics of a planned 66-unit development of duplexes in the heart of Reisterstown yesterday told a Baltimore County hearing officer that the proposal violates zoning regulations.

But a lawyer for the developers said that challenge threatens the viability of the project, which has been praised as innovative.

At issue is the development plan for Goldsborough Manor, a neighborhood that would be built on about 9 acres on the edge of the town's historic Main Street district.

Attorney Robert D. Sellers, representing a community group and a neighboring business owner, said the county erred in allowing the development to be considered "alternate" and "neo-traditional" -- a designation that carries less stringent setback requirements.

Reading from a section of zoning law, he said the looser requirements are available only to neo-traditional houses as "prescribed" in a county design manual. That manual describes neo-traditional houses as single-family homes with, among other features, garages behind the house.

The Goldsborough Manor proposal calls for duplexes joined at the rear, with garages on many of the houses.

Sellers, who represented the Northwest Reisterstown Community Association and merchant William T. Newton, said applying more stringent zoning requirements would not prevent developers Virginia Goldsborough Schuster and Howard Brown from building on the land.

"These are good-looking houses. No one contests that," Sellers said. "They can do what they want to do, with a half-dozen less houses."

But Julius W. Lichter, lawyer for the developers, said reducing the number of units would make the project economically unfeasible. Opponents, he said, were masking a bid to stop all development at the site.

Referring to the project's review and approval by county agencies, he said, "These are not dunces. They have labored over this. Everyone can see this is a superior product, and it would be a benefit to Reisterstown."

The property was bought in 1967 by Schuster, a Reisterstown resident since 1955. She said she kept it as a nest egg.

"If I ever got in a jam or ever needed to raise money, or if the children needed money for education, I could always sell it," said Schuster, who has nine children.

Brown testified yesterday that the houses likely would sell for more than $170,000, after options such as fireplaces and recreation rooms were included in the price.

County hearing officer Lawrence E. Schmidt said he would issue a ruling on the case June 28.

Also yesterday, the county planning board, noting that the development process was under way at the site, did not endorse the community association's request for more restrictive zoninging on the land. The County Council is to rule on that request this fall.

Pub Date: 6/07/96

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