A Finksburg contractor and county government remain locked in a 3-year-old zoning dispute, while an abandoned oil storage and transfer station that both parties want removed deteriorates slowly on the contested property.

County planners have recommended against reclassifying 2.8 acres in Finksburg from conservation to industrial. They say the zoning change would conflict with Carroll's Master Plan for development and pose an environmental threat to nearby Liberty Reservoir.

An attorney for the contractor says his client is stuck with few viable options to develop the land if the county does not budge.

James Kibler, owner of Kibler Construction Co., has petitioned the County Commissioners to rezone the parcel, part of a 9.7-acre tract he owns on the northeast side of Old Gamber Road, off Route 91. County planner Bobbi Moser presented a report on the petition to the County Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday.

The panel, which advises the commissioners on rezoning petitions, will consult with the countyattorney and attempt to resolve the issue to the benefit of both government and Kibler before making a recommendation.

Kibler, tradingas James and Sons, purchased the property in July 1988 for $250,000 from Cleveland-based Sohio Oil Co., which had ceased operating the fuel terminal for about six months. Kibler was planning to lease the facility to another oil company, said his Westminster attorney, CharlesO. Fisher Sr.

But Kibler didn't realize that operation of the fuel terminal was no longer permitted under county zoning laws because it had been discontinued for six months, nullifying its status as a "non-conforming" use, said Fisher. When the property was zoned for agriculture in 1965, the fuel station, developed in the 1940s, was allowed as a special, or non-conforming, use.

The tract was rezoned conservation in 1981 to protect Liberty Reservoir, less than one mile away. The conservation zone permits one residential lot per 3 acres.

Kibler applied to the Board of Zoning Appeals, attempting to substitute an equipment storage facility and offices for his contracting business in place of the non-conforming fuel terminal. The board denied the request. Kibler's appeal to Carroll Circuit Court was denied in September 1989.

"What in God's name can (Kibler) use the property for?" Fisher asked the planning commission. "A house? For agriculture? Right now we're stuck with nothing, and it's going to cost a lot to take down the fuel operation. Now you've got a big tank farm."

Commission Chairman William V. Lauterbach Jr. agreed that both Kibler andthe county are strapped by zoning regulations.

"There's not much you can do in the conservation zone with tanks and everything else there," he said. "It is a unique situation."

"We have an individual who wants to tear down something we don't want to have there," commission member Dennis Bowman said. "What can we do to help?"

James E.Slater, director of the county Department of Natural Resource Protection, objected to the rezoning if it would allow continuation of the fuel terminal operation that might endanger Liberty Reservoir and itstributaries. He also cautioned Kibler that whatever is decided, measures must be taken to address the deterioration of underground tanks and pipes to protect the environment.

The Baltimore Regional Council of Governments objected to the rezoning request, saying it would conflict with a multijurisdiction reservoir watershed agreement.

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