Appeal from the Circuit Court for Baltimore County; Lindsay, J.
Henderson, Hammond, Prescott, Horney and Sybert, JJ. Prescott, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this zoning case, neighboring residents appeal from an order of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, which affirmed the decision of the County Board of Appeals (Board), which, in turn, had sustained the action of the Zoning Commissioner, in granting a permit, pursuant to Section 409.4 of the Zoning Regulations, to use property zoned "residential" for off-street parking for a proposed neighborhood shopping center.
Two questions are presented by the appellants: (1) Did the Board err in granting permission to use 8 1/2 acres of residential property for parking in a shopping center yet to be constructed?; and (2) Did the Board improperly "abdicate" its powers in favor of the County Planning Board?
The subject "B-L" (Business Local) property is located several hundred feet south of Smith Avenue, (a 20-foot wide highway), opposite its intersection with Laurelwood Avenue, and represents a portion of what was formerly known as the Curtiss-Wright Airport. The property, as defined by the Land Use Map of 1957, was (and is) surrounded by "R-6" residential land with no access to major arteries. The "B-L" area was the former site of the airport hangars. After the discontinuance of the airport, the hangars were used by Bendix for industrial uses, and its utilization of same predated the residential development on the north side of Smith Avenue.
The community to be served by the proposed shopping center was described by Mr. Klein, a witness for the applicant, as being bound on the north by Midfield Road, approximately one half mile north of the subject property; on the east by Bonnie
View Country Club, about one mile to the east; on the south by Cross Country Boulevard, approximately three-quarters of a mile distant; on the west by Seven Mile Lane, a distance of about one mile. There are approximately 3,500 families in the community and it was estimated that there would be, within five years, by reason of the Pickwick residential development on adjacent county property and an apartment house development on the Baltimore City portion of the former Curtiss-Wright Airport property, a total of 6,000 families living within the community, as described above.
The petition was ably and carefully presented to the Board. Moving pictures were shown depicting various aspects of the community, such as the dwellings therein, and school children crossing streets, etc. A consulting engineer disclosed that the proposed plan of the shopping center had been adopted after consideration of many different possibilities. The contemplated use embraced a food market, drug store, variety store and "a complement of smaller-type-stores," consisting altogether of some ten to fifteen stores. It was shown that Smith Avenue in front of the subject property would be widened to the width of 58 feet, at the complete expense of the applicant.
The principal access to the shopping center will be by a "monumental" entrance and by a supplemental entrance and exit from Smith Avenue at the east and west side of the center. Additional access was shown from certain proposed interior roads (at the time of the hearing, plats depicting said roads were on file with the County Department of Public Works).
The Board stated, inter alia, that there was no "traffic problem inherent or arising from the use sought," and that the "petitioner [had] presented a fine over-all general development plan for the subject site which would not adversely affect any aspect of the public health and welfare, but would serve a need that now exists." It granted the Use Permit subject to the following restrictions: (1) a 60 foot setback from Smith Avenue to provide a lawn area; (2) construction of a stone or masonry wall around a portion of the property; (3) that the shields and diffusion of the shopping center parking lights be permanently focused on the parking area; and (4) that ingress and egress to the parking area be subject to the approval of the County Planning Board.