Home-based contractor's petition is denied Relocate business, Sykesville man urged

July 19, 1996|By Alex Gordon | Alex Gordon,SUN STAFF

After testimony from disgruntled neighbors -- who cited safety, environmental and aesthetic concerns -- the Howard County Planning Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to recommend against allowing a contractor to continue operating out of his Sykesville-area home.

Mark A. Tucker Sr. operates Matco Masonry Contractors Inc., a home-based contracting business on Howard Lodge Drive in River Park Estates.

Tucker had requested in a petition to increase the height on his two-story garage and to place a parking area for his commercial trucks 10 feet from the lot lines, instead of the required 30 feet.

The Department of Planning and Zoning said, however, that Tucker had received a permit for a one-story garage on his property in 1991, but had constructed an additional story. Thus, he already was in violation of the permit when he filed this latest petition.

In fact, he has never received proper approval to operate the home-based contracting business, said Dace Blaumanis, a county planner who handled the recent request. Neighbors first filed a zoning complaint about Tucker's contracting business in 1991, citing it as being a nuisance, she said.

The department recommended denial of Tucker's petition, indicating that the circumstances were not "unique" enough to warrant the garage expansion.

The focus of the hearing then shifted to the nature of Tucker's home-based contracting business operation in the residential neighborhood.

Tom Meachum, attorney for the absent Tucker, argued that the use of Tucker's property for the contracting business is "minimal" and does not "adversely affect anything."

But Tucker's neighbors disagreed, urging denial of his request.

Diann Butler, who lives next to Tucker, presented a 20-signature petition and photographs to the board. She and others complained about several issues, including the trucks being so close to neighborhood children and generating wear and tear on the roads.

Other concerns involved noise caused by the loading and unloading of the trucks early and late in the day and a large, partially constructed storage shed, which Butler referred to as "a terrible eyesore." Neighbors called the shed "unsightly" and insisted that it be taken down.

"This garage is 2,400 square feet," said Scott Mitchell, another neighbor. "He is not building the structure to hang up rakes and store a lawn mower."

Tucker's operation, neighbors say, demonstrates both a disregard for the neighborhood and the zoning laws. They added that he has been uncooperative in efforts to help repair the road worn out by his trucks.

The board, after little discussion, denied Tucker's request for enlargement of his business in a 5-0 decision and recommended he move the business to another location.

"This business belongs in an industrial park and is not compatible with the neighborhood," said Cathy Hartman, acting chairwoman. "The business has gone beyond what it should."

The board's recommendation for denial will go before the Board of Appeals on Aug. 29, when a final decision on Tucker's petition will be issued.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to recommend approval of:

Construction of Hollifield Estates, 66 houses on a 45-acre lot on Old Frederick Road.

Expansion of the Children's Manor Montessori School in the 4400 block of Montgomery Road.

A 15,075-square-foot addition to the Turf Valley Hotel in Ellicott City.

Pub Date: 7/19/96

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