Ruling on Murphy guest house appealed

Zoning flap began during council race

August 20, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,Sun Staff

A zoning complaint that started as political mud slung during last year's County Council campaign has again become an issue of political strife.

Neighbors in Pasadena of County Councilwoman Shirley Murphy have appealed a decision by the Anne Arundel County Planning and Code Enforcement Department that an old guest house on her property on June Lane is legal.

During the council campaign last year, then-County Councilman Thomas Redmond filed a zoning complaint against Murphy one month before Election Day, charging that she was improperly using the cottage as an apartment in an area not zoned for apartments.

Redmond, at the time, was under fire for changing zoning laws in a way that favored a friend with whom he did business. He lost the GOP primary and his 3rd District seat, which Murphy went on to win.

Inspectors from the county office of Planning and Code Enforcement investigated Redmond's complaint, which he said came from complaints to him from neighbors around the cottage.

Well after the election, the department decided that the guest house was legal because it was built before zoning laws outlawed those structures, county officials said.

"She explained it had been there a very long time," said John A. Morris, a county spokesman. "She brought in property appraisals [and] photographs from the previous owners."

Neighbors oppose home

Two neighbors recently appealed the enforcement board's s decision to the county Board of Appeals.

Redmond said yesterday he is not involved in the appeal, though he acknowledged he was not unhappy about it. He also voiced suspicion about a bill proposed this year by County Councilwoman Barbara D. Samorajczyk that would have legalized accessory-dwelling units, or "granny flats."

Samorajczyk said her bill had nothing to do with Murphy.

Proposal withdrawn

Her proposal would allow a family to create a separate dwelling within their existing home. It did not allow for separate buildings or extensions to the house, she said.

"I would not have covered [for] her," Samorajczyk said of Murphy in an interview yesterday. "I had no idea about Shirley's situation."

Murphy, who was at a conference in Ocean City yesterday, could not be reached for comment.

Samorajczyk said she withdrew the legislation because the every-other-year inspections it required would have been too big a burden on the county administration.

"I wanted to work with the administration and see if it's something we can work out," she said. "I plan to get back to that. I just didn't have the time."

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