Arundel businessman gets OK on making mansion private club


It's not quite party time again on little St. Helena Island, but a businessman's plan to turn his mansion there into a private club has won a key victory from the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals.

Overturning a hearing officer's decision, the board ruled, to the dismay of neighbors, that Keith J. Osborne could operate a club on the island in Little Round Bay without meeting on-site parking requirements.

The island is inaccessible to cars, the board noted, and guest parking would be accommodated on a private lot on the mainland.

"We are just appalled," said Kathleen Winter, an island resident who has complained about noise from parties at the mansion.

"This whole appeal process, it is amazing that this has happened."

The appeals board ruling is the first victory for Osborne in a yearlong battle with the county over his use of the mansion, a replica of the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood House, where he had held parties since 1997.

In May, a county circuit judge barred Osborne from using the mansion for weddings and other affairs, finding that he had used the property for commercial purposes in violation of county zoning laws.

Osborne's application for a variance from zoning requirements, including on-site parking, was denied by Stephen M. LeGendre, the county administrative hearing officer, after 40 people attended a hearing to complain about the request.

The Board of Appeals heard Osborne's appeal in mid-July, and issued a six-page decision overturning LeGendre's finding.

Pub Date: 9/24/99

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