Man with plan for house on stilts likely to appeal


The owner of a Sullivan Cove marsh who wants to build a house on stilts above his land says he will probably ask a judge to overturn the county Board of Appeals' rejection of his plans.

F. Nicholas Codd, a Severna Park optician, said he is "90 percent" sure he will appeal to Circuit Court the written opinion issued last week.

Mr. Codd, whose family has owned the quarter-acre lot for 32 years, has tentative approval from some state and federal agencies to build a 1,720-square-foot house on a platform above the marsh. He needed a variance from local authorities to build within the 100-foot setback from the shoreline required under Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Critical Area law.

The minutes of a Sept. 21 zoning board meeting and the case file show the vote was 4 to 1 to deny Mr. Codd the variance.

Mr. Codd said he could not start his appeal until he could review the legal reasons why the board found his plan unacceptable.

The decision indicates board members felt a house and driveway would harm the environment and were not compatible with the immediate area -- a tall, thick stand of marsh grass that protects the area, provides a wildlife habitat and helps purify the water.

In December, Robert C. Wilcox, the county administrative hearing officer, ruled that Mr. Codd could build because the lot was legally subdivided before the environmental rules were adopted. But he required Mr. Codd to scale down the size of his home; build it at least 10 feet above the ground; locate it outside the wetland as much as possible; and re-create three times as much wildlife habitat as it destroyed.

Mr. Codd offered to make numerous changes to his original plan to try to appease opponents, but a neighbor and the Severn River Association were unimpressed. The environmental group spent $2,000 on the fight and provided witnesses at the hearing.

"I'm glad to see the Board of Appeals applied the county code, more specifically the county critical area code," said Michael E. Malone, a Glen Burnie lawyer who represented the opponents.

The board's opinion leaves room for Mr. Codd to revise his blueprints and build a smaller house with a different driveway and devise a different plan for planting wetland vegetation.

But Mr. Codd doesn't believe a compromise is possible.

Even a modified plan won't overcome a key obstacle, Mr. Malone agreed. The building site is adjacent to a 13-acre nature preserve. Construction would harm the wildlife habitat and water quality that the critical area law is designed to protect, he said.

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