Md. court allows Sprint tower

192-foot phone structure near county's airport must meet 4 requirements

`A lot of controversy'

April 19, 2002|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A state appeals court has upheld a May 2000 decision by the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals that allows construction of a Sprint PCS cellular telephone tower on private property north of Westminster near the county-owned airport.

Noting established legal tests in zoning cases, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals said in a 10-page written opinion filed yesterday that the board did not abuse its discretion or make any of several claimed errors when it granted a conditional use for the tower and related buildings on orchard property rented from Baugher Enterprises Inc., off Route 140.

The zoning appeals board's action had been upheld by a Carroll County Circuit Court judge in April 2001, then appealed to the state's second-highest court.

In granting a conditional use, the zoning appeals board set four conditions: that the tower not increase minimum altitude standards for landing at Carroll County Regional Airport, and that it not harm airport expansion, operations, or plans for sophisticated Precision Landing Approach or Global Positioning System technology.

These conditions satisfied the county's concerns, said Gary L. Horst, director of the county's Enterprise and Recreation Services, whose department includes the airport manager's office.

"I think that pretty broadly captures what concerns us, as far as that particular tower," Horst said. The county did not want to pay if the tower had to be dismantled or lighted, "or whatever might be required in the future."

On Tuesday, the Carroll County Planning Commission approved the construction plan for a 192-foot tower, over objections of neighbors who said again that it would obstruct air traffic. Sprint first filed an application for a conditional use for a 250-foot tower in June 1999 to provide coverage for the area northeast of the city.

"There's a lot of controversy about these towers," said Allan Baugher, president and general manager of Baugher's Enterprises, who was working on his peach trees yesterday when word of the ruling was issued. He said he was pleased, although this "easy income" has caused hardship with neighbors.

"We don't have hospitalization. Maybe this will provide it," he said, declining to disclose the amount of rent. "It's pretty good for 50 square feet in the corner of the woods we're not using anyway."

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