Beth Tfiloh fined for violating county code

Congregation tore down buildings without permit

July 22, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Just weeks before it is slated to announce new plans to develop part of its campus, Beth Tfiloh Congregation was slapped with a fine yesterday for violating Baltimore County building codes.

The congregation, off Old Court Road, was fined $1,500 at a county code enforcement hearing for tearing down a dilapidated house and garage without a demolition permit.

James Kemp, a county building inspector, testified that he ordered Beth Tfiloh to stop demolition work on the house April 19 because the congregation lacked a permit.

A month later, he cited Beth Tfiloh for violating building codes after he discovered that the congregation completed the demolition work.

Bernard Suffel, executive administrator for Beth Tfiloh, said that the demolition was unrelated to Beth Tfiloh's latest plans to develop housing on its 35-acre campus. Final details have yet to be completed, he said.

The dilapidated structures were safety hazards, but failure to obtain a permit was an oversight, he said.

Yesterday's hearing attracted a half-dozen neighbors of the property, who say they are concerned about the congregation's plans to build homes at the site.

"There's the long-term issue of what's going to happen here that has us very concerned," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, a neighbor who is a member of a committee set up by the Pikesville-Greenspring Community Coalition to monitor Beth Tfiloh's activities.

Lichtenfeld said that neighbors are concerned that Beth Tfiloh will resurrect plans proposed in 1995 to build 152 condominiums and assisted-living apartments for senior citizens in the midst of the affluent community of single-family homes.

The bitterly contested plan to build the upscale housing for the elderly next to the Beth Tfiloh synagogue was shelved last year after the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that the County Council acted properly in ordering a revision.

Suffel said that the latest plans are being worked out, but should be available in a few weeks.

"It's too early to talk about anything, because we just have not worked out the details yet," he said.

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