Neighbors continue fight against Balto. Co. farmstand

Circuit Court appeal filed against Sparks project

December 20, 2010|By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County farmer David Smith's plan for a roadside stand in Sparks selling meat, eggs and dairy products will remain on hold, as opponents of the project are taking their fight to Circuit Court.

"I'm disappointed that they can't accept what the law is," Smith, owner of Springfield Farm, said Monday after learning that neighbors who have been fighting his plans for years made the filing deadline to challenge the county Board of Appeals' approval of the project last month. "I'm not surprised they're going to try to continue to beat up on us."

Facing a Monday deadline to appeal, lawyer Michael R. McCann filed the paperwork Friday, with full arguments to come in several weeks.

He said Monday that he would continue to argue that the barn-style building Smith plans to put up alongside Yeoho Road does not meet the county zoning code's definition of a "farmer's roadside stand." He said he considered the Board of Appeals ruling a "results-oriented decision," meaning the three-member panel decided what it wanted to do "without looking at the law … and coming up with a justification for it."

McCann, representing seven neighbors, argues that Smith's proposed building would be too large and significant to the farming operation to meet the code definition of an "accessory structure." He also insisted the board did not properly consider whether at least half the products sold from the stand would be raised on Smith's farm, as the code requires.

The Office of the People's Counsel, a county agency that participates in land-use cases, also plans to file an appeal, said legal secretary Rebecca Wheatley, and has until early January to do so.

The Board of Appeals' decision in November granted Smith's plan for a three-level barn built into the side of hill, with the store doing business with customers on the first floor, reserving the basement and second floor for office, storage and an egg washing machine. The store would be allowed to be open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with longer hours during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.

Smith first proposed the $250,000 project four years ago, hoping to expand the retail business that he has been running out of his garage on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Smith also supplies area restaurants and markets with pork, lamb, poultry, eggs and dairy products he raises and goods he brings in from elsewhere.

The retired Army lieutenant colonel farms on 67 acres he owns in Sparks and 150 acres in Cecil County, plus 23 acres he leases next door.

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