Neighbors testify against beverage firm's trucks

September 06, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

A group of Lansdowne residents asked a Baltimore County zoning commissioner yesterday to determine whether a neighboring beverage company's building is being used illegally a trucking facility.

At a hearing to sort out a long-standing dispute, residents of the 2200 block of Sulphur Spring Road and nearby streets in southwestern Baltimore County complained that Beverage Capital Corp. operates around the clock, attracting 100 to 300 large trucks each day that spew fumes and block traffic.

"You would not want it in your back yard," said Lois Smith, who added that she and her husband recently sold their house and moved from the area because of the truck traffic.

"It ran me out of the neighborhood where I lived for 48 years," she said.

But company officials say the facility is operating legally as a warehouse and distribution facility within the limits of zoning regulations.

James P. Sheridan, president of Beverage Capital, testified yesterday that the building houses materials used to produce juice and soft drinks at its other sites, as well as the finished products.

"We have finished goods that sit in the warehouse from periods of three weeks to three months," said Sheridan. "There are cases stored sometimes to the ceiling."

At issue is whether the juice and soft-drink materials at the 312,000-square-foot facility are being housed there long enough for it to be considered a warehouse under county zoning law. The building is zoned for light manufacturing and can be used as a warehouse.

Joseph C. Schrack, a county code enforcement inspector, examined the building last year and told Zoning Commissioner Lawrence E. Schmidt yesterday that his inspection determined that use of the building had changed from that of a warehouse to a trucking facility.

"I did not issue a violation notice to them, but I did send them a letter asking them to meet, to try to work out the problems with the community," Schrack said.

Company officials said they have instituted several policies to try to appease residents, including eliminating an outdoor public-address system, commissioning a study on how to reduce traffic, installing a traffic light and diverting trucks to other sites.

Schmidt said he expects to rule on the matter within 14 days.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

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