Mulch sales, storage facility in Carroll is ruled illegal

Board says operation on Route 30 violates zoning law of 1998

January 05, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals determined yesterday that Martin P. Hill, son of housing developer Martin K. P. Hill, is operating an illegal business in Greenmount.

After lengthy public discussion, the board found that Hill's operation of a mulch storage and sales facility in the 2600 block of Hanover Pike (Route 30) is an "illegal business" that violates county zoning laws.

Martin P. Hill Landscaping has been operating the mulch business for two years at the corner of Cape Horn Road north of Hampstead. The 4-acre parcel has been zoned for residential use since February 1998.

The property has been used by businesses since 1958 -- seven years before the county adopted zoning laws -- when Thomas Bennett and Hunter Inc. opened an auxiliary cement plant on the site.

Property owner Darlene M. Lauterbach, who inherited the land in 1993 from her mother, Josephine Stoffle, asked the appeals board to allow Hill to continue his mulch business.

"The site isn't suitable for anything else really," Lauterbach said. "If it's left vacant, I can only imagine the trash that will pile up there, and I'll be responsible to clean it up."

Two neighbors testified that the mulch operation causes traffic problems when tractor-trailers arrive at and leave the site. They also expressed concern about the business's environmental impact.

Lauterbach and Hill pointed out that the mulch business stores materials similar to items used by the cement company -- stone, sand and mulch. They also noted the land has been used continuously by businesses for more than four decades, despite several zoning changes.

When zoning laws were adopted in August 1965, the property was zoned for agricultural use, and Thomas Bennett and Hunter Inc. was permitted to continue operating the cement plant as a nonconforming use. In 1991, the land was rezoned for business use and the cement contractor was allowed to stay. The company remained there until Dec. 31, 1997, when Hill began renting the property.

Lauterbach said she was unaware of the most recent zoning change, which occurred when Manchester's master plan was adopted in February 1998.

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