After five meetings devoted to the case, the Howard County Board of Appeals voted unanimously last night to dismiss an attempt by residents to block a waiver that allows the development of seven homes on a 10-acre lot near their Ellicott City neighborhood.
Ron Wildman, the owner and proposed developer of the land off Bonnie Branch Road in Ellicott City, said he was pleased by the vote.
"I think that the appellants are being blinded by their aggression to stop this project from looking at any possible benefits," he said.
Wildman plans to build 11 homes on the 10-acre site and sell them for between $250,000 and $300,000 each.
Nearby residents argued before the appeals board that Wildman should not have been granted a waiver that will allow him to build a road to seven of the 11 homes.
They hired a lawyer, Thomas E. Dernoga, who tried to show in five previous appeals sessions that Wildman made numerous mistakes on the plans, did not show a stream on the property and did not correctly show the tree line.
At the last meeting, on Tuesday, Paul Johnson, the lawyer for the county Department of Planning and Zoning, moved to dismiss the case on grounds that residents had failed to prove that the department acted in an unlawful or arbitrary manner by granting the waiver.
Lee Walker Oxenham, the resident who has spearheaded the effort to stop the development, said she and other protesters plan to have a "strategy meeting" to con- sider their options. She said she is thinking about forming a citizens' coalition to help save the environment.
"The work we've done is not for nothing," she said.
Wildman said he believes Oxenham's efforts to discredit his development may have been misguided.
"She's using me as a target for her new career as an activist," he said.
Pub Date: 12/18/98