Board of Appeals rules that manmust close or move his business

September 05, 1996|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

A Sykesville-area man who has run a masonry contracting business out of his home for 19 years will have to close or move, the Howard County Board of Appeals has ruled.

Mark A. Tucker Sr., owner of Matco Masonry Contractors Inc. on Howard's Lodge Road, said the decision has left him with no means to support himself and his four children, who are in his care since his wife left him this year.

"This is a nightmare," Tucker said. "Lost my wife at the beginning of the summer. Lost my job at the end of the summer."

For several years, neighbors have complained that Tucker's masonry business is unsightly and dangerous in their community. His trucks are noisy, wear out roads and threaten children, they say, and a new storage shed is an eyesore.

Jerry Schnapps, a neighbor who testified against the garage, said: "The trucks rambling up and down the road are an accident waiting to happen. And the garage that's supposed to be two stories looks like one of the Twin Towers from the back.

"This is a residential neighborhood we live in, not an industrial park."

Home-based contracting businesses are permitted only by special exception in the rural residential zone where Tucker lives. Despite 19 years operating on site, he never got that special exception from the county.

In July, the county planning board heard the complaints of neighbors -- supported by a petition with 20 signatures -- and unanimously recommended shutting the business. The Board of Appeals, which has the county's final say on the matter, heard the case last week. On Tuesday night, it ruled 3-1 that Tucker needs to shut his business. James Pfefferkorn cast the dissenting vote. Evelyn L. Tanner was absent.

In a related matter, the board ruled that Tucker may keep a 30-foot-tall garage that is 5 feet taller than ordinarily permitted in the rural residential zone.

But unless he appeals to the Circuit Court within 30 days, Tucker must close his business.

"I thought this was America, that we had constitutional rights to earn a living," he said. "I'm not hurting anything."

Tucker said he has no money to move his business to a properly zoned area, and he has no intention of moving from his home, which he designed and built himself.

He said he may start raising pigs at his home to support himself and his family.

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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