Council to rule Tuesday on shopping center plan Complexity of case had led to delay


The long-awaited decision on whether to allow Security Management Corp. to build a 150,446-square-foot shopping center at Churchville and Brier Hill roads will be made at Tuesday night's County Council meeting.

Final arguments on the zoning appeal of a hearing examiner's approval were made by attorneys on April 20. The process has lasted for months.

A decision on whether the center could be built on the 15-acre site was put off for two weeks when County Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, who is also chairman of the zoning appeals board, granted a request by Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, a District C Democrat, for a delay for further study of the proposal.

Mrs. Pierno said she needed more time.

"I had several questions concerning the file," she said. "It is a highly complicated case because of the amount of testimony, and we all want to make sure we've satisfied our questions."

L The council, by charter, serves as the zoning appeals board.

"This case is one of the largest the board has heard during my term," Mr. Wilson said. "We are attempting to reach a fair and equitable decision in all zoning matters."

Albert J. A. Young, a Bel Air attorney arguing for Security Management, a Baltimore County development company, said the delay had "caught him by surprise."

"This has been an emotionally charged topic ever since my client announced plans to build a shopping center," he said.

Peter Fagan, executive vice president for Security Management, said that since October, he has attended nine hearings in order to comply with zoning rules and to meet residents of communities near the center.

"What many area residents did not understand is that we are developing a planned community and that the center has always been a part of the plan," he said last week from his Middle River office. "To date, only 1,000 of the planned 2,500 residential units have been built."

Mr. Wilson said that the voluminous data and exhibits required a great deal of time to digest. Normally, zoning decisions are far less complex.

Opponents of the shopping center, represented by Bel Air attorney Robert F. Kahoe, are mostly residents of subdivisions near the site.

Mr. Kahoe's said during his presentation to the appeals board that additional traffic would be a burden to already overtaxed roadways. He said that Route 22 (Churchville Road) was already or near capacity and needed to be widened before a project of this size could be approved.

Mr. Young responded by pointing out that a hearing examiner had given approval for the project and that expert witnesses testified that the center would not add traffic congestion to Route 22.

He said that, if anything, the center, which would probably contain a supermarket, a video store, a dry cleaning establishment and several other small businesses, would ease traffic because people using the center would be from the neighborhood and could reach it without using Route 22.

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