Request for two-family dwelling on Cherrydell Road in Catonsville denied

A petition by the owners of a Paradise residence to allow their house to be a two-family dwelling has been denied.

Lawrence Stahl, the managing administrative law judge in the county's Office of Administrative Hearings, sent out his decision about the residence on the 100 block of Cherrydell Road in a letter dated Jan. 20.

Stahl wrote that Janet Feuerstein and Paul Richards, the owners of the residence, had to prove that a legal non-conforming use — that is, multiple apartments — existed at the location before a change in the zoning regulations made that illegal.

"(The) petitioners have not established if the property has ever actually been used for a non-conforming use; nor have they been able to show that such use has continued openly," the decision by Stahl said.

Feuerstein and Richards said during a hearing on the issue in December that when they purchased the residence, it had been set up as two apartments,

But they could not provide any documentation to support the claim at the hearing.

Several people from the community near Cherrydell Road appeared at the December hearing to express opposition to the structure and requested its return to code.

Their chief concerns were congestion, parking and sanitation issues in the neighborhood that a the presence of a multi-family unit, such as a house with multiple apartments, would exacerbate.

Long-time friends, Feuerstein and Richards bought the vacant residence in early 2011 and finished renovations to the inside and outside of the house in August.

Feuerstein testified during the Dec. 21 hearing that she planned to live on one level with her teenage daughter and rent the other two levels to her two grown children.

Feuerstein also testified that she had not considered if she would keep renting the house after her children moved out.

At the hearing, Richards testified he would pull out of the project if the petition for two apartments was not approved because the property would not generate enough rent income.

Richards could not be reached for comment regarding the decision.

The case went before the county's Office of Administrative Hearings after of a complaint was registered with the Code Enforcement Division of the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections, Stahl wrote in his decision.

Judges in the county office rule on issues related to zoning, land use and Planned Unit Developments, among other matters.

That duty had previously been performed by the zoning commissioner and deputy zoning commissioner.

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