Attorney disputes planning decision County rejects site Postal Service sought for Eldersburg facility

August 02, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

County officials have no say in whether the federal government can build a post office in Eldersburg, a Westminster attorney told the Carroll County Commissioners yesterday.

Attorney William Dulaney, appealing the county planning director's rejection of site plans for the post office, said the federal government is not subject to local zoning laws.

"Neither the state nor its subdivisions may interfere," he told the commissioners during a hearing at the County Office Building in Westminster.

The U.S. Postal Service has proposed building a new post office on 3 acres at the northwest corner of Eldersburg Business Center at Route 32 and Bennett Road. The facility would replace a post office in Sykesville.

Growth in the Eldersburg area has created the need for a larger post office, said Norma West, Sykesville postmaster.

West said the Sykesville post office is processing three times the amount of mail it was designed to handle.

Citing a new growth-control law, county planners rejected site plans for the post office because the proposed facility was incompatible with adjoining land uses. Planners objected to having patrons enter and leave from Bennett Road, a route they said is designed primarily for residential use.

Dulaney, representing Leroy M. Merritt, owner of Eldersburg Business Center, argued that the new law doesn't apply because the proposed post office would be a public building and exempt from the law.

John J. Turpin, a real estate specialist for the Postal Service, said other sites might be acceptable but "the most desirable location" is the Eldersburg site.

"I don't know of any alternative locations as desirable as this," he said.

A post office in Eldersburg "would be a good addition for the community," West said.

She said the site would be "compatible because the post office would generate business for other retail markets."

Property adjacent to the Sykesville post office is not acceptable ZTC for expansion, because it is "a stone's throw from someone's house" and probably would lead to complaints, she said.

Two slow-growth activists, Carolyn Fairbank of Eldersburg and Grant S. Dannelly of Marriottsville, said the proposed site should saved for low-level industrial use.

However, Merritt said there is "no shortage of industrial-zoned property in this area."

He said only 20 percent of the buildings on his property are occupied and that he has 45 acres available for sale or lease.

He said he has been "actively pursuing users for the property" and when the post office came calling, he was elated.

"I jumped up, clicked my heels, clapped my hands, and said, 'great,' " he told the commissioners.

If the commissioners rule in favor of Merritt, the site plans would have to be approved as a conditional use by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The post office is a business use, and the park is zoned for industrial use.

Dulaney wants the board to hear the case this month because federal money for the new post office must be used by mid-September.

If not, the Sykesville post office would have to apply for federal money again and compete with other projects, he said.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, who is recovering from quadruple bypass surgery, did not attend yesterday's hearing with Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates.

However, an aide briefed Brown on the proceedings, and he expects to join Dell and Yates in ruling on the appeal.

Pub Date: 8/02/96

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