Beverage Capital dispute may go to zoning hearing Lansdowne residents want ruling on whether company is warehouse, truck facility

June 10, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

A dispute between Lansdowne residents and a neighboring beverage company may be headed to a zoning commissioner.

Members of the Lansdowne Improvement Association recently voted to request a zoning hearing to limit the hours of operation of Beverage Capital Corp. and to determine whether the company has the proper zoning. Neighbors of the 312,000-square-foot building at 2209 Sulphur Spring Road have complained of heavy truck traffic, noise and air pollution.

At the heart of the conflict is a dispute over whether the firm is a warehouse or a trucking facility.

"There are still a large number of trucks coming through our neighborhood," said Lois Smith, who lives next to the business and who pressed for the hearing. "There is constant noise at all hours of the day and night."

James P. Sheridan, president of Beverage Capital, said his company has worked hard to "put all of the residents' complaints to bed" by meeting with neighbors, doing away with an outdoor public address system, commissioning a study on how to reduce traffic and diverting trucks to other sites. He says a hearing was unnecessary.

"We are operating within the zoning provisions," he said. "We are a warehousing facility, not a trucking facility."

Sheridan said the Lansdowne facility is a warehouse and distribution center for the company's two Baltimore-area beverage manufacturing operations and must remain open 20 hours a day to accommodate production.

Part of the problem for the neighbors could be that the business occupying the site until five years ago -- Proctor-Silex Inc. -- had 15 to 20 trucks a day coming in, compared with the 150 trucks daily at Beverage Capital, he said.

Last year, Joseph C. Schrack, a county code enforcement inspector, checked the site and determined the operation there had changed from a warehouse to a trucking facility. He said the company should apply for a special exception, which would allow it to operate as a trucking facility in a residential zone.

But Arnold E. Jablon, county permits director, said an earlier inspection concluded the facility was a warehouse. Jablon said the county has a subjective standard for determining what is a trucking facility.

"It's not a simple answer," said Jablon, who noted that the company never has been cited for any zoning violations. "There was obviously an increase in truck traffic, but that increase does not mean it is a trucking facility."

Jablon said he is still waiting for the community to file the paperwork needed for a hearing. A zoning commissioner could rule that the site is being used as a trucking facility, or, even if it does not, could limit the company's hours of operation, he said.

"Even if it is a trucking facility, that's not illegal," Jablon said. "Getting a special exception is not difficult."

Pub Date: 6/10/96

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