Developer's home allowed to stand

Arundel house was built without permits

Baltimore & Region


An Anne Arundel County hearing officer has ruled that a developer who built a large home on the Magothy River without permits can keep it, raising fears among environmental activists of unregulated development along the county's shorelines.

Stephen M. LeGendre granted retroactive variances allowing Daryl C. Wagner to keep his nearly 6,000-square-foot home on the 1.9-acre Little Island. The administrative hearing officer's ruling largely conforms with a recommendation from the county's Office of Planning and Zoning.

LeGendre did rule that Wagner must tear down a lighthouse, pool, deck and gazebo that he had built alongside the house.

The ruling, which was filed Thursday and made public yesterday, has no bearing on the county lawsuit filed against Wagner, which seeks to have the developer's house demolished, said county land-use spokeswoman Pam Jordan. She downplayed the importance of the ruling.

"This is just one step in a very long line of steps he has to take to get into compliance," she said.

County lawyers filed suit against the Millersville homebuilder in May in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, after zoning inspectors discovered last year that Wagner constructed a home in the county's northeast corner without permits.

The lawsuit said he violated Chesapeake Bay Critical Area law by building within 100 feet of a protected tributary to the bay.

But zoning officials, reviewing Wagner's project, agreed with his lawyer that the new home was environmentally acceptable, because it was built farther from shore than the original home.

Officials with the state Critical Area Commission,the agency that oversees development along the Chesapeake Bay watershed, will discuss a possible appeal next week, as will representatives of the Magothy River Association, an environmental group that has been fighting Wagner's petition to keep his home.

Paul Spadaro, president of the Magothy River Association, said the ruling sends a message that anyone with deep pockets can build wherever in the county they want without fear.

"This has set back Critical Area laws to the Dark Ages," he said.

Neither Wagner or his lawyer, Robert J. Fuoco, could not be reached for comment last night.

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