Columbia Kmart faces suit claiming that it violated sidewalk covenants Store got warning in May, watchdog group says

July 22, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Summer is the time to bring out swimming pools and gardening supplies, but not on the sidewalk of Columbia's Kmart.

The store is being sued by a Rouse Co. subsidiary, which claims the outlet violated strict aesthetic rules, known as covenants. The Howard Research and Development Corporation alleges that Kmart has placed items such as pools, swing sets and "plant material" for sale outside the store.

At the Dobbin Road Commercial Center such advertising is a big no-no, illustrating how covenants go beyond stamping out shoddy lawns and peeling paint in Columbia neighborhoods.

According to the suit, filed July 6 in Howard Circuit Court, stores are prohibited from selling or storing items in "common areas" and "exterior paths" of the development. That includes sidewalks.

Stores are allowed to conduct periodic "sidewalk sales," but only with permission.

The Howard Research and Development Corporation is responsible for enforcing restrictions on the property.

The plaintiffs also allege that Kmart's products are blocking access areas for the handicapped.

Store manager Doug Sanders declined comment yesterday. Kmart officials at company headquarters in Troy, Mich., did not respond to requests for comment.

The suit alleges that Kmart was told of the violations beginning in May. The company opted not to correct them because having the items outside suited their business interests, the suit says.

"They made a business decision," said David H. Bamberger, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Pub Date: 7/22/98

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