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Homeowners win appeal, but they've moved

The Baltimore Sun

An appeals court weighed in yesterday on the question of which side of a Rodgers Forge home is its front, agreeing with three previous rulings in favor of the homeowners.

But the legal victory might not mean much to the couple who provoked the ire of the community association when they tried to put an addition on their home in 2003.

They've moved.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reaffirmed a lower court's ruling that the front of the brick rowhouse lies on a different road than the houses to which it is connected. Although the address of the home is given as Murdock Road, the primary entrance is on Pinehurst Road.

The home, which is at Murdock and Pinehurst roads, formerly belonged to Dave and Brigid Wilder. When the Wilders wanted to expand their kitchen, they said that the addition would stretch into their side yard, on Murdock Road. The community association called it the back yard and said the addition would violate zoning regulations.

Yesterday's ruling, which called the issue "a hotly debated question in Rodgers Forge," was the fourth to side with the Wilders. "All physical characteristics of the property, not just street address and foundation walls," must be considered when determining which side of an end-unit rowhouse is the front, according to the ruling.

Attorney Justin J. King had previously represented the Wilders, who, he said, sold the house last fall for unrelated reasons. It is "ironic" that the couple won their appeal, even without a lawyer arguing on their behalf, he said.

A lawyer who represents the Rodgers Forge Community Association called the decision "awful."

"If you could put a swimming pool or a swing set in the side yard of the home, then that would be in the front yard of all the other homes," said the attorney, J. Carroll Holzer.

Holzer said that he thought the community association probably would appeal because of the precedent set by the decision. As many as one-third of the 1,800 homes in Rodgers Forge are end-unit rowhouses, he said.


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