Residents opposing warehouse

Debate over placement of building comes before county Board of Appeals

June 02, 2000|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

Some 20 Elkridge residents attended a Howard County Board of Appeals meeting last night in hopes of preserving the quiet residential flavor of their neighborhood, one of the oldest in the county.

A Reisterstown developer wants to build a warehouse adjacent to the community. He is seeking permission from the Board of Appeals to reduce the required 150-foot setback between his land and the residential community that borders it.

As of late last night, residents had just begun to testify, and the board had not yet made a decision.

Dorsey residents vehemently oppose the developer's application to reduce the setback. They worry that diesel trucks - with their noisy back-up beepers and fumes - would be driven too close to their neighborhood. They also worry about the safety of their children.

"We still have a wonderful small town," said Patricia Johenning, who lives near the proposed warehouse. "It's a town to be treasured, not trashed."

Carol and Peter Martin, a couple opposed to the proposed warehouse, say developer Mark L. Levy offered them $25,000 not to object to his plans before the Board of Appeals. They say they rejected the offer; Levy denies making it.

By 10:15 p.m. Carol Martin, a spokeswoman for the community, had not had an opportunity to testify. Several days before the meeting, she said she worries about the safety of her children.

In March, the Howard CountyPlanning Board recommended that the Board of Appeals deny the application. The planning board believed the proposed warehouse was too big. Since then, the developer has reduced the size of the proposed building but increased the size of the surrounding pavement.

A Columbia-based commercial broker, Robert Smith, supported last night Levy's decision to try for a warehouse on the site, even if it means potentially a greater impact to neighbors. He said Levy could have a Christmas tree farm on the 16-acre property or outside storage instead of a warehouse, but neither would be viable uses.

"You have to have a building of a certain size to be economically viable," Smith said.

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