Bike track owners sued

BGE lawsuit claims part of path intrudes on utility's property

Neighbors complained

September 23, 1999|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

The owners of a controversial motorbike path in North Laurel are being sued by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. because at least part of the track is on BGE property, the company says.

Jonathan and Sonya Miller have been fighting to keep their track open after a county zoning inspector ordered them to shut it down.

They were scheduled to appeal that order Tuesdaybefore the county Board of Appeals. But the couple sought and were granted a continuance. Another hearing has not been scheduled. The Millers could not be reached yesterday.

Neighbors complain that the track, used by the Millers' two sons, is noisy and does not conform to the neighborhood.

In 1991, BGE bought property on Shady Acres Lane from the Millers. The company had planned to build a transmission line from a substation, but canceled the project after community opposition surfaced.

Since then, BGE has not touched the property, but the company claims that the Millers built a motorbike track on the land.

Rose Muhlhausen, a BGE spokeswoman, said the company learned in May that the track was on its property. BGE received a citation from the Howard County government for a zoning violation -- for having the track on the land.

Motorbike tracks are not permitted in residential neighborhoods, the county contends.

Muhlhausen said the utility tried several times to have the Millers restore the property to its original condition.

BGE filed suit Monday to force the Millers to stop using the land as a motorbike path and restore the property. "There are no plans for it to be used for anything," Muhlhausen said.

In May, a zoning inspector from the county Department of Planning and Zoning issued a violation notice to the Millers, telling them to shut down the track.

In a petition filed with the department, the Millers presented their reasons to preserve the track, arguing that it is a private recreational facility with "no commercial aspects."

Neighbors said the Millers built the track last fall.

The irony, neighbors have said, is that Jonathan Miller is well-liked by residents because he joined them in a successful fight to prevent BGE from building power lines above their homes.

But many of those neighbors said the motorbikes don't mesh with their community.

"They've got some pretty loud bikes that run pretty long hours," said Christopher Hart, a neighbor.

Pub Date: 9/23/99

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