Salon feud still heated despite board's vote Extended hours opposed in neighbors' appeal

June 13, 1996|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

An article in Thursday's edition of The Sun for Howard County gave incomplete information about the aftermath of a fight over a home-based business in West Friendship.

After business owner Robin Davidson filed misdemeanor assault charges against Charles Zepp of Sykesville, Zepp filed misdemeanor assault charges against Davidson and his wife, Patrice Davidson.

The Sun regrets the error.

A neighborhood feud over a home-based beauty salon on Pfefferkorn Road now includes a felony, an alleged assault, accusations of harassment -- and another dispute over the special exception that allows the business.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The salon owners say that they have done all they can to comply with the rules that have allowed them to run Revelations in Hair Design for the past year. But neighbors complain that lighted signs and after-hours traffic have ruined the rural West Friendship area.

In a four-hour hearing last week, the neighbors tried to prove that the Department of Planning and Zoning should have denied Robin and Patrice Davidson's request to have one nonilluminated business sign and one illuminated residential sign.

But the Board of Appeals voted unanimously June 6 to uphold the Planning and Zoning department's decision.

"We're grateful for the board's decision, but frankly it wasn't a surprise. We've made every effort to comply with the Department of Planning and Zoning," Patrice Davidson said.

The neighbors also opposed the Davidsons' request to extend their hours of operation. The board postponed that decision until Aug. 6.

The victory on the sign issue was bittersweet for the Davidsons, who have spent more than $2,000 on 2-by-3-foot signs. After the Davidsons received a zoning violation summons in March for having an illuminated business sign, they replaced it with another. Within 12 hours, both signs were stolen.

Neighbors testified that the signs -- which are in the process of being replaced -- detract from the view on Pfefferkorn Road, a designated scenic route, and that their lights make it more difficult to see oncoming traffic.

In the pending appeal, the neighbor group is opposing the Davidsons' request to operate their shop an additional 10 hours a week, until 8: 30 p.m. on four evenings -- 2 1/2 hours later than is currently allowed on those days.

Neighbors keep logs of how many cars are in the driveway at different hours and claim the Davidsons routinely violate the current time limits.

However, the Davidsons argue that neighbors are harassing them by watching their every move. They say that friends -- some of whom are customers -- use the four-space parking area regularly, and it is impossible for anyone to tell which cars are which.

"A customer's car in the parking area has the same impact as a friend's car -- which in fact is no impact at all," Patrice Davidson said.

The conflict heightened about a month ago, when a neighbor's son-in-law, Charles Zepp, 28, of Sykesville, confronted Robin Davidson, and police were called. Davidson later filed assault charges against Zepp, but requested legal mediation of the dispute.

The Davidsons say that they want the friction to end, but they say neighbors seem to want them out of business. "I have no problem talking to any of my neighbors," Patrice Davidson said, "but they continue to blow me off. We're willing to work it out."

Other neighbors may be tired of the dispute. Susan A. Streaker, whose family has lived on a farm at the end of Pfefferkorn Road for five generations, said at the June 6 hearing, "Imagine if all those neighbors who are persecuting [the Davidsons] put that time into doing something good."

Pub Date: 6/13/96

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