To Robin and Patrice Davidson, it seemed like a wash: instead of a garage in their future colonial-style house in West Friendship, put in a two-seat beauty parlor. Work at home, spend more time with the kids.
Their future neighbors, though, want the beauty parlor cut from the plan.
The Davidsons run Revelations in Hair Design in the Harper's Choice Village Center. Ms. Davidson already schools her four children, ages 5 to 9, in their Columbia home and works part-time in the salon.
"If my husband's around next to us working in the salon, maybe we'll see a little bit more of him," Ms. Davidson said. "Mommy and daddy can work together and the kids can see daddy."
To do that, however, they needed a special exception for their lot on Pfefferkorn Road.
And that's when things became difficult.
"We were compared to a toxic landfill, an a.m.-p.m. mart, and a gas station. I don't see how you can make the comparison," said Ms. Davidson of testimony before the county Board of Appeals in a public hearing this summer.
"I can understand people being reluctant," she said. "But these people were so angry, they were so vehement. I've just never seen anything like it . . . and I grew up in Baltimore City."
Despite the testimony of 10 neighbors against salon, the board granted the special exception in July and reaffirmed their decision Sept. 7 after a motion for reconsideration.
Now the neighbors are appealing the decision in county Circuit Court, charging that the decision was arbi
trary and capricious. Among other things, opponents charge the board ignored factual errors made by the Department of Planning and Zoning, which recommended granting the special exception.
Eric Lundy, an attorney whose family owns the 67-acre farm across the street, said neighbors are concerned the two-chair salon will be inappropriate because it is next to agricultural preservation land, will exacerbate an already dangerous traffic situation, lower property values and perhaps pollute ground water because hair-care chemicals will end up in the septic system.
"It's not as if we don't want the Davidsons to live there. It's not as if we don't want the Davidsons to build a house there," Mr. Lundy said. "It's just the commercial establishment that we object to."
Mr. Lundy, who is serving as the opponents' attorney, said he and other neighbors believe it would be more appropriate for the Davidsons to hang their shingle in one of the vacant storefronts in the Glenelg or West Friendship shopping centers.
The Davidsons say that once they build their white colonial-style house with black shutters, the neighbors will realize that they aren't so threatening.
"It can never be anything else. It can never be more than a two-operator salon," Ms. Davidson said.
She said she was especially puzzled by opposition from Eric Lundy's father, Robert Lundy, who owns a pasture across the road.
0$ "Me cutting hair is not going to
bother his cows," she said.
Mr. Lundy said that, by a conservative estimate, the salon will create 106 car trips a week along a stretch of Pfefferkorn Road that is already accident-prone. Accidents periodically take out sections of his pasture fencing along the road, he said.
"It wouldn't surprise me that there's going to be an accident there much more regularly. There's going to be a sign out there, and people are
going to be looking for the sign.
Wayne Calbi, who just moved into a new house behind the Davidson's future home in August, said he is worried about the value of the property he just purchased.
"We feel that bringing a business into the community does lower your property values," he said, adding that he is also concerned about what hair chemicals might do to the water supply.
Ms. Davidson said the chemicals used in the salon would be less hazardous than ordinary cleaners used in most households.
Despite the continued opposition, the Davidsons are optimistic that they will have good neighbors.
"Once we're there and people see that we are not intruding or changing their way of life, I think people won't be as angry," Ms. Davidson said.