City marina fined for helicopter landing

Rite Aid chairman allowed use of Key Highway lot

June 18, 1999|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Rite Aid Chairman Martin L. Grass and his helicopter have stirred up trouble again.

The executive -- who ran afoul of Baltimore County regulations two years ago by taking off and landing his helicopter in Green Spring Valley -- touched down Tuesday in the parking lot of Harborview Marina and Yacht Club on Key Highway.

Baltimore inspectors fined the marina $500 the same day for allowing the helicopter to take off and land without a permit.

Franklin Wise, Harborview's lawyer, said the company allowed Grass to land in the parking lot as a courtesy so that he could attend a meeting and that his comings and goings are not a regular habit.

"It's not been anything more than once in a blue moon," Wise said.

Harborview will not protest the citation and fine, Wise said. "I'm going to have the Rite Aid guy pay that," he said.

Grass, who uses his helicopter to commute from his home in Green Spring Valley to the Rite Aid headquarters near Harrisburg, Pa., could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The drug store executive is embroiled in a zoning dispute over his use of the helicopter in Baltimore County. In 1997, Grass began taking off from a field at Greenspring Avenue and Hillside Road near his estate.

Neighbors' protests forced Grass to move his landing site to Helmore Farm at 901 Greenspring Valley Road, where part-owner Dale Lucas claimed that an airstrip created in a corner of the 87-acre farm in 1955 would accommodate the helicopter.

A county zoning inspector agreed last summer to allow Grass to take off and land from the farm once a day. However, Lucas had to pay $5,600 in fines for the days Grass had used the landing site without county approval.

Grass and the neighbors are appealing the zoning commissioner's ruling. Grass is protesting restrictions imposed on his use of the landing site, and residents complain the commissioner's ruling erodes the restrictive agricultural zoning that protects the valley from development.

The county Board of Appeals will hear arguments next week.

Pub Date: 6/18/99

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