Tuesday, October 23, 2012 | www.charlescountymd.gov


Charles County, Maryland

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Board of Appeals held its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Charles County Government Building, La Plata, Maryland. 
The following were present:

Frederick Mower, Chairman
Luke Hannah, Vice Chairman
Jean Schappet, Member
Natalie McKinney, Member
Brendan Moon, Member
Matthew Clagett, Associate County Attorney
Adam Storch, Associate County Attorney
Reed Faasen,  Inspections & Enforcement Manager
Kirby Blass, Planning
Amy Blessinger, Planning
Cyndi Bilbra, Planning
Carrol Everett, Clerk

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and stated there was a quorum. 

The Chairman announced the process by which all Board of Appeals hearings are to be conducted.

The Chairman announced that anyone wishing to make a statement pertinent to the operations of the Board can do so at this time, excluding the items on tonight’s agenda.

7:02 PM, Public Hearing:  Docket #1293 – Amos Ellis, Jr., for a variance to the side building restriction line for a garage,  as provided in Article XXV, Section 297-416 of the Charles County Zoning Ordinance.  

Mr. Clagett stated there was substantial compliance with the notification requirements.  

Ms. Bilbra, Planning Staff, gave a summary of the request using a location, zoning and aerial map as follows: 


• The Applicant is requesting a 2 ft. variance from the side building restriction line for a handicap accessible garage. 
• Without the variance, Mr. Ellis would have difficulty getting in/out of his vehicle in a wheelchair. 
• The lot narrows towards the front of the property where the Applicant proposes the garage.
• The garage has not been built; therefore, the request is not based upon conditions or circumstances which are self-created.  
• The use is consistent with the Charles County Comprehensive Plan.
• Staff concurs with the Applicant’s request due to the unique circumstances.

   Mr. Moon asked if there were any special conditions recommended by Staff.  Ms. Bilbra replied no.

   The Chairman swore in the Applicant:

   Amos Ellis, Jr.
   107 Jefferson Rd.
   Waldorf, MD 20602

The Chairman asked if the neighbor next to the side of the house for the proposed garage has expressed any concern.  The Applicant replied no. 

Testimony was closed on Docket #1293.

Action by the Board

A MOTION was made by the Vice Chairman, seconded by Ms. McKinney, to approve Docket #1293 as presented.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed. 


7:11 PM, Public Hearing:  Docket #1290 – Sheehy Hyundai of Waldorf, for an expansion of a non-conforming use, as provided in Article XXV, Section 297-418 of the Charles County Zoning Ordinance. 

Mr. Clagett stated there was substantial compliance with the notification requirements.

Kirby Blass, Planning Staff, gave a summary of the request using a location, zoning and aerial map as follows: 

• Property address:  2910 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD.  Located off of northbound Crain Hwy (US Route 301), identified as Tax Map 8, Grid 21, Parcel 119.
• Action requested:  Expand building area of existing non-conforming use to provide a new sales area, customer and automobile area, administrative and support areas.
• Background:  Effective 4/23/10, subject property was rezoned from CB (Central Business) to WC (Waldorf Central).  The sale, rental, and repair of motor vehicles were permissible within the CB Zone.  However, it is not a permissible use within the new WC Zone and is now a non-conforming use situation.  The existing automotive dealership does not conform to the new WC requirements. 

Amy Blessinger, Community Planning Staff, testified on the characteristics of the WC Zone as they relate to the Applicant’s request:

• WC Zone is located within the Waldorf Urban Design Area.  The vision for the area is to develop a cohesive high-density, mixed use, walkable area centered around future high capacity transit. 
• Automotive uses are not permitted in the WC Zone because they are fundamentally incompatible with this vision for Downtown Waldorf.

The Chairman swore in the following representative for the Applicant:

Brand Fowler
5500 Lambeth Rd.
Bethesda, MD

Mr. Fowler is the Vice President of Sheehy Auto Stores.  Testimony from Mr. Fowler included the following: 

• Proposal will allow Sales and Service to be together
• State of the Art Facility
• Business/employees would double as would service capacity
• Expansion would give Hyundai a better presence in the market
• Property would be enhanced aesthetically

The Chairman swore in the following witness from the audience:

Gregg Taylor
6240 Kerrick Dr.
La Plata, MD

Mr. Taylor owns two rental properties to the east and north of the subject property.  His concerns regarded noise pollution from a PA system and light pollution due to the close proximity of the homes.  He requested the Board place a condition, if approved, to address the noise level and lighting issue.

The Chairman swore in the following representative for the Applicant:

James Lampkin
BL Companies
1060 First Ave. Suite 420
King of Prussia, PA

Mr. Lampkin offered to provide a landscaping plan that will include a vegetative buffer on two sides of the property in response to concerns by Mr. Taylor.  They will comply with any County noise regulations.

The Chairman asked Staff what level bufferyard would be needed.  Mr. Blass replied either a Bufferyard level B or C – one that has a thicker multiplier of plants. 

The Chairman swore in the following witness from the audience:

Neil Sehgal
6408 Gallery St.
Bowie, MD

Mr. Sehgal asked what Sheehy plans to do with the existing buildings.  Mr. Fowler replied that they will be used in some sort of service capacity. 

Mr. Moon asked who enforces the Noise Ordinance.  Mr. Reed Faasen, Inspection & Enforcement Manager for Charles County, replied that the Noise Ordinance is handled by the Sheriff’s Department.

Actions by the Board

A MOTION was made by the Vice Chairman, seconded by Ms. McKinney to approve  Docket #1290 with the following added conditions:     

• A minimum Bufferyard C will be installed in the north and east property boundaries.
• No lighting intrusion onto neighboring properties.
• Loud speakers outside will cease at 8:00 p.m.

With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed.


7:44  PM, Public Hearing:  Docket #1294 – Richard and Carol Turner, for an Appeal of a Zoning Officer Determination, as provided in Article XXV, Section 297-417, of the Charles County Zoning Ordinance.

Mr. Storch clarified that Docket #1294 is a Public Hearing and a Public Notice is not  required under Section 8E of the Rules and Procedures of the Board of Appeals.

Mathew Clagett, Associate County Attorney for Charles County, stated that he inherited the case as a routine Zoning Violation matter, scheduled to appear in District Court tomorrow morning.  In reviewing the case, he felt it would be better addressed by the Board of Appeals.  In consultation with the opposing attorney, Mr. Clagett asked for a waiver to the 30-day waiting period requirement to file an appeal to the Board of Appeals.

Actions by the Board

A MOTION was made by the Vice Chairman to waive the 30-day requirement to file an appeal to the Board of Appeals, seconded by Ms. Schappet.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed. 

Reed Faasen, Inspections and Enforcement Manager for Charles County, presented the following background details:

• A complaint was received from a neighbor regarding the operation of a butcher shop that was creating traffic hazards on Petzold Drive, Waldorf. 
• The complaint was investigated by a Zoning Technician who noted a sign, located on the corner of Petzold Drive and Dr. Samuel Mudd Road, advertising a butcher shop known as “Rick’s Place”. 
• A zoning violation letter was sent as there were no County records indicating approval for a commercial operation at this address. 
• Mr. Turner requested that the issue be discussed with Staff.  The meeting took place on November 21, 2011 with a USDA inspector and elected official in attendance. 
• A 90-day stay of the enforcement action was issued while opportunities were researched for Mr. Turner to become legal in his current location. 
• Staff determined the only use in the Zoning Ordinance that would fit is a “slaughterhouse”.
• On February 6, 2012 a letter was sent to Mr. Turner stating that the use was consistent with a slaughterhouse operation.
• To become legal in his current location, Mr. Turner must apply for approval of a Special Exception and two variances before the Board of Appeals.
• The Zoning Ordinance does allow a “butcher shop” in commercial zones only. 
• The use known as “slaughterhouse” was adopted in 1992.  The subject property was purchased in 1999. 
• To-date, a sign permit application has never been received by the Zoning Officer.  Off-site signs are not permitted per the Zoning Ordinance. 
• The opposition claims that the County has allowed Mr. Turner to operate a deer processing facility for years. 

The Vice Chairman requested clarification of the two variances that are needed.  Mr. Faasen responded as follows:

• A 20 acre minimum is required for a slaughterhouse (established in 1992 Zoning Ordinance).  Mr. Turner’s property contains approximately 10 acres.
• The property must have direct access to an arterial road.  Mr. Turner’s property is accessed by a private driveway that he does not own.

The Chairman asked for the definition of a slaughterhouse.  Mr. Clagett replied that the Zoning Ordinance does not contain a definition; however, Webster’s Dictionary defines a slaughterhouse as “an establishment where animals are butchered”.

Ms. Schappet asked if there are any other slaughterhouses operating in Charles County on less than 20 acres or is this the only exception.  Mr. Faasen replied that, to his knowledge, this is the only such operation. 

The Vice Chairman asked what it would take to get “deer processing” added to the list of permissible uses and what would be the time frame.  Mr. Faasen replied it would require a Zoning Text Amendment that would take approximately four to six months to get through the legislative process.

Mr. Moon asked for clarification as to whether or not the purpose of the hearing tonight is for the Board to determine whether or not this operation is a “slaughterhouse”.

Mr. Clagett stated that the Board needs to determine whether or not a “slaughterhouse use” is the closest definition in the County Code that describes what is occurring on the property.  

Mr. Clagett proffered the following evidence for the record: 

• The County Zoning Inspector visited the site on a date certain and provided photographs of the sign advertising a “butcher shop”. 
• As a result of the inspection, the County determined that the use violated the County Zoning Ordinance.
• Testimony of Mr. Reed Faasen and Mr. Charles Rice, who were present at the meeting with regard to the 90-day stay. 
• Custom meat processing activities were occurring on site including the slaughtering of certain animals.

The Vice Chairman asked for the status is of the operation.  Mr. Faasen replied that it is still operating with limited hours. 

Steve Cain, Esquire represented the Petitioner. 

The Chairman swore in the Petitioner, Mr. Richard Turner.

Mr. Cain stated that deer hunting is a big industry for the State and there are no slaughterhouses in any of the southern Maryland counties. 

Mr. Cain asked for a workable solution.  His complaint is that the slaughterhouse definition is being misused.  He argued that the Petitioner is a custom meat/deer processor, properly licensed/registered with the State of Maryland.  Mr. Turner is inspected by the USDA on an annual basis and on a random basis.

The Chairman stated that Mr. Turner is processing meat for money; therefore it is a commercial business in an agricultural zone.

The Chairman recommended Mr. Turner file for a Special Exception to address these issues. 

Mr. Cain stated that he does not feel this is a slaughterhouse but rather an accessory agricultural use or services in the agricultural zone.  

Mr. Moon asked what definition of a slaughterhouse you are proposing the Board use.  

The Chairman stated that this is not an agricultural use. 

Ms. Schappet recommended Mr. Turner consider that the service he provides is considered a slaughterhouse by Charles County definition and apply for a Special Exception approval.

The Chairman stated the Board does not want to put Mr. Turner out of business. 

Actions by the Board

A MOTION was made by Mr. Moon to uphold the Zoning Officer’s determination that the operation is a slaughterhouse, as animals are butchered on site, seconded by Ms. McKinney.  Included in the MOTION, the Petitioner has 60 days in which to file for a Special Exception and two variances.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Moon, seconded by Ms. McKinney, to approve the Minutes for September 25, 2012.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed. 

A MOTION was made by Mr. Moon, seconded by Ms. Schappet, to approve the Board of Appeals Meeting Schedule for 2013.  With all voting in favor, the MOTION passed.