Auto shop at center of zoning clashes Owner challenges neighbors' complaints

July 16, 1996|By S. Mitra Kalita | S. Mitra Kalita,SUN STAFF

William R. Klamon, owner of an auto restoration shop in Browns Woods, says he's tried to be a good neighbor over the years: keeping noise down, putting up a fence, planting ivy.

But nearby residents say a junkyard is a junkyard and has no place in their waterfront neighborhood.

Klamon will appear before the county Board of Appeals next month to argue that he should not be cited for three zoning violations found by an inspector in February.

"We try to keep with the residential nature of the neighborhood," Klamon said last week. "But we haven't satisfied the neighbor who would prefer to see us closed."

His case is becoming more common in a county where booming growth and accompanying regulations have caught up with once-acceptable practices. Businesses such as Klamon's now are viewed as eyesores.

"Besides the zoning implications, there are political implications," said Kathryn Dahl, an Annapolis lawyer who handles land use and zoning cases. "The developments are built around the old businesses and the residents complain."

The site in a residential neighborhood had been used commercially since before 1952, the year zoning ordinances took effect, enabling Klamon to obtain a permit to operate when he moved his shop there from downtown Annapolis in 1985.

The permit set the size of the facility and other operating standards that the zoning board said would prevent the facility from looking like a junkyard.

But residents of the 200 block of Mountain Lane Road have complained for nearly a decade to the county Department of Planning and Zoning that Klamon's shop -- known simply as The Garage -- has not lived up to these standards. A zoning inspector agreed, citing Klamon for using excess land in front of the shop, keeping vehicles awaiting repair for more than 30 days and not registering all vehicles and their owners in a log.

Zoning inspector Pamela Jordan wouldn't talk specifically about Klamon's case, but insisted, "We aren't trying to put him out of business."

Klamon says that is exactly what is happening.

"Other shop owners find this pressure all the time. That pressure from the planning and zoning board drives certain types of businesses out of the county," he said. "We need a more friendly regulatory environment."

Although nearby residents say they would prefer Klamon's shop wasn't in their back yard, they would settle for compliance with existing regulations.

"I'm not anti-development or anti-business, but the mess at The Garage is improper," said Joe Colvin, a Mountain Laurel Lane resident.

Colvin and his neighbor, Ron Peterson, said they bought their properties after being assured that the shop was heavily regulated.

"They have utter disregard for the rules and regulation of zoning and for being good neighbors," Peterson said. "I call it the junkyard. Some of those cars have been there for the last 10


Klamon says he has adhered to the permit's conditions, although he admitted the 30-day vehicle storage clause has been difficult to meet.

But, he said, he tried to ameliorate the situation by building a fence around the property.

At his Aug. 6 appeal hearing, Klamon said he plans to show the county that the violations were issued on the whims of complaining neighbors -- not because his shop violated any zoning laws.

Pub Date: 7/16/96

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