Board denies Donahoo permits

Man failed to get approval to build home for mother

Sought retroactive authorization

Anne Arundel

December 09, 2004|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

Baltimore car dealer Scott Donahoo, who built a waterfront house for his elderly mother in Pasadena without getting the necessary permits and is now trying to keep local officials from demolishing it, has lost a bid to get a county board to issue him retroactive permits.

The Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals rejected Donahoo's request after a few minutes of discussion Tuesday night. However, the decision will not be official until notice is mailed to Donahoo after 60 days.

Donahoo, known for his humorous TV commercials featuring himself as a singer, among other roles, said he had not heard about the board's vote and could not comment on it.

"But I will say we've been working for two years to bring this house into compliance, and we will continue working to bring it into compliance," he said.

Donahoo can appeal the board's decision in Anne Arundel Circuit Court. His appeal on another aspect of the permit case is pending before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Meanwhile, county attorneys have asked the Circuit Court to order the house demolished.

Katy Byrne, the assistant county attorney who has worked on the Donahoo case, said she could not comment, because Tuesday's vote does not become official until the board approves the minutes from its meeting.

Donahoo has said he built the house for his mother knowing he did not have the proper permits. He paid $2,100 in fines along the way. He has said he built without permission because he urgently needed to move his 90-year-old mother, Ruth Donahoo, from Ocean City to a place where he and his brother could look after her.

Donahoo hoped that by gaining permits for the house retroactively, he could stave off county efforts to have it torn down.

Anne Arundel officials say Donahoo, who lives in Cockeysville, had no excuse for building without a permit. County officials say his case and another in which a Millersville contractor built a house without permits on an island in the Magothy River are some of the most flagrant violations of land-use laws they have seen.

Donahoo, who owns Foreign Motors Kia on Belair Road in Hamilton, has appeared in offbeat commercials in the Baltimore area as a hillbilly, a judge, a lounge singer and Santa Claus. He first applied to build a stand-alone garage on the Water Oak Point Road site. But when his father died two years ago, he decided the structure would make a nice home for his mother.

But Donahoo had never obtained permission to build on the property, and in October 2002, the county ordered work on the house to stop. In April last year, the county Health Department ruled that the property did not have enough sewage capacity to accommodate a second house. An appeal to that ruling is pending.

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