Home owners fight change

Don't OK setback variance, residents tell appeals board

`Other opportunities'


June 30, 2000|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Elkridge residents told the Howard County Board of Appeals last night that a 16-acre parcel of land next to their residential neighborhood isn't an appropriate -- or necessary -- place for a proposed warehouse.

A Reisterstown developer wants to build the warehouse adjacent to the neighborhood, one of the oldest in the county. Dorsey Rock LLC is seeking permission from the Board of Appeals to reduce the required 150-foot setback between the proposed building and residences.

Residents oppose the plan because they envision noisy and smelly diesel trucks driving too close to their neighborhood and endangering children.

Resident Carol Martin testified that Dorsey Rock LLC shouldn't have needed to reduce the setback. After handing over about 25 documents to the board as evidence, she said the company got itself into a bind by opting to build only on the 16-acre parcel, although it owns 52 acres next to the neighborhood.

Dorsey Rock would have "ample room" to build the warehouse without reducing the 150-foot setback, Martin said.

"There are other opportunities for Dorsey Rock ... without the variance," she said.

By 9:45 p.m., the board had not made a decision, and Dorsey Rock's attorney, Howard L. Alderman Jr., had not yet cross-examined Martin.

Alderman repeatedly objected to documents Martin submitted because most had been marked with a highlighter.

"It's been altered," he protested.

In March, the Howard County Planning Board recommended that the Board of Appeals deny Dorsey Rock's application. The Planning Board believed the proposed warehouse was too big.

Since then, the company has reduced the size of the proposed building but increased the size of the surrounding pavement.

Martin's attorney, Thomas E. Dernoga, asked the Board of Appeals to send the proposal back to the Department of Planning and Zoning because the changes were "substantial."

But the board voted to continue considering the plans.

Peter Martin, Carol Martin's husband, testified that recent construction on the site has twice awakened him early in the morning, and he worries that the proposed warehouse would worsen the noise.

"At 3:30 in the morning, I had the dubious pleasure of listening to what may be my wake-up call every morning," he said.

He said his family bought their house in Dorsey in 1987 because they relied on the 150-foot setback remaining intact.

Carol Martin said before the hearing that an official of Dorsey Rock offered her and her husband $25,000 not to object to the company's plans before the Board of Appeals.

They said they rejected the offer.

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