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Commissioners approve Finksburg rezoning request

Courts and the Judiciary

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday in favor of a request to rezone a four-acre property in Finksburg that's future use has been a topic of debate since 2006.

Commissioners approved Brian DiMaggio's request to rezone his nearly 4.5-acre property at the corner of Gamber and Old Gamber roads, clearing the way for him to build an auto and truck repair shop.

The zoning of the property had prevented DiMaggio from building a repair center capable of servicing large trucks, but nearby residents have argued DiMaggio would have known that if he did his due diligence before purchasing the property in August 2005.

Denise Duvall, who lives on Old Gamber Road, said Thursday that it was "unbelievable" the board would rezone a property to "bail one property owner out."

"You can't print what I'm thinking right now," she said after the decision.

Duvall said she is hopeful that citizens opposed to the rezoning will file an appeal.

DiMaggio had asked the county to rezone his property from Business Neighborhood Retail (B-NR) classification to the more intensive Business General (B-G).

For the request to be approved, DiMaggio needed to establish under the law that a mistake was made in the 1981 Finksburg Area and Environs Comprehensive Plan.

For more than an hour Thursday, commissioners deliberated on the topic, but no commissioner ever indicated why they believed the zoning to be a mistake.

Instead they discussed the possibility of an appeal, creating weight or vehicle size restrictions on Old Gamber Road, whether this decision should be delayed until the county master plan is presented in a few months, and clarifying whether their decision was to based on a 1981 zoning of the property or its replacement in 2006.

Commissioner Haven Shoemaker cast the lone vote against the rezoning.

Shoemaker had tried to persuade his colleagues to delay a decision until the county addresses its master plan in coming months, but commissioners said that option represented kicking the can down the road.

DiMaggio said he was not "ready to jump" at the outcome, adding that he would wait about a month before doing anything to see if the decision is appealed.

With the decision, he will be required to submit a new proposal to the county planning and zoning commission.

DiMaggio said that he is still willing to entertain any "reasonable offer" for the property.

Before the board was a request from DiMaggio to change the zoning of the property to allow for DiMaggio's planned auto repair shop suitable for servicing large trucks, such as box trucks, school buses, and shuttle buses.

DiMaggio, the owner of Cross Roads Truck & Auto on Bethel Road, has planned to relocate his business to the corner of Gamber and Old Gamber roads.

He previously sought a conditional use for the property through the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals, which denied his request in 2007. Later that year, he challenged the board's decision in Carroll County Circuit Court, but the denial was upheld.

The latest challenge in the effort was introduced Sept. 17 to the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission.

The property had a zoning designation of Business Local (B-L) in 1981, but that classification was replaced with Business Neighborhood Retail classification in 2006.

DiMaggio presented his arguments to commissioners Dec. 5 in the form of a two-hour presentation, describing each of his steps over the past eight years.

DiMaggio's request for a change is rooted in a contention that when the county established zoning for the property, it made a mistake; this is one of the allowable reasons for making a zoning change outside the comprehensive rezoning process under the state's guideline zoning laws.

DiMaggio argued the Business Neighborhood Residential zoning is inappropriate for this site because it is not in a densely populated neighborhood. He also says that a 10,000-square-foot restriction for a building with the zoning classification is inappropriate for a site as large as 4.5 acres.

He claims the size restriction limits the possibilities for commercial development and ignores that the property is along Route 91, making it appropriate for a more intense business zoning classification.

The Planning Commission voted Oct. 15 to forward DiMaggio's petition to the Carroll Board of County Commissioners with a recommendation that the change be denied on the grounds that the current zoning was not mistakenly imposed.

The county's planning staff agreed with the commission that no mistake was made in the 1981 plan.

At present, the property has no buildings, but two billboards are situated on it.

 

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