N. Laurel couple drops appeal of bike track violation notice

Part of the path used for motorbikes is on BGE property

September 30, 1999|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A North Laurel couple has dropped their appeal of a violation notice ordering the owners to stop using a motorbike track on land in a residential neighborhood.

An attorney representing Jonathan and Sonya Miller asked the Howard County Board of Appeals last week to dismiss their appeal -- a request that the board granted last Thursday.

The lawyer, David A. Carney, said the Millers decided to drop their efforts to preserve their motorbike path in the northwestern corner of a 4.1-acre site at the end of Shady Acres Lane after Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. sent a letter to the couple demanding that they stop using the track, part of which is on BGE property.

"The Millers are trying to be good neighbors," Carney said. "They're not trying to bother anybody."

Doug Isokait, president of the Rosemont Homeowners Association that represents 30 homes on adjacent Rosemont Drive, said he thinks a lawsuit filed by BGE against the Millers and strong opposition from neighbors may have forced the couple's hands.

"Apparently, they [BGE] informed Mr. Miller that their patience was running short," Isokait said. "And I think he may have realized that there were people who were particularly aggravated and who were not going to allow his intrusion into their safety."

The dispute began in May when a zoning inspector from the county Department of Planning and Zoning issued a zoning violation notice to the Millers, ordering them to shut down the track.

Motorbike tracks are not permitted in residential districts.

The Millers, who have remained silent and could not be reached for this article, had argued in a petition filed with the department that the track was a private recreational facility with "no commercial aspects."

The couple had also contended that upholding the county order would "unfairly" prevent their two sons from racing competitively in local and regional motorbike meets.

But residents of the Rosemont community complained that the roar from the motorbikes sounded like "100 chain saws," prevented homeowners in the cul-de-sac on Rosemont Drive from being hosts of backyard parties and posed a danger to many small children who played in the back yards.

BGE became involved when Planning and Zoning issued a citation to the utility for allowing the track on its property.

BGE bought the parcel from the Millers in 1991.

Carney said that when the Miller couple sold the land to the utility, a real estate officer with the company agreed to allow them to use the property for a motorbike track.

"The Millers were not trespassing," he said.

Rose Muhlhausen, a BGE spokeswoman, said that when officials' requests to the Millers to cease the motorbike operation were turned down, the utility filed a lawsuit last week seeking compensation from the track owners.

Muhlhausen said the company is pleased that the Millers have dropped their appeal, but she said the utility will continue to demand that the couple restore the property to its original state.

"There are all kinds of things that were done that weren't supposed to be done," Muhlhausen said. "When you purchase a piece of property, you don't expect them to turn it into a dirt bike track."

Isokait said he has heard that the Millers plan to move the track to their back yard, which abuts the property lines of three homes on Rosemont Drive.

"We have nothing against Jonathan Miller, but these parties cannot live with the aggressive noise," Isokait said. "We hope that Mr. Miller's sportsmanship extends beyond sports and into equity for his neighbors. We think that will be the case."

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