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Zoning appeals board upholds Deep Creek boat rental permit

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — The Deep Creek Lake Watershed Board of Zoning Appeals voted three to one on Aug. 16 to uphold its June decision to issue a boat rental permit to Bill Meagher, owner of Lakeside Creamery, according to Garrett County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt.

Despite opposition from multiple marinas, the county commissioners voted on June 5 to approve an amendment to the Deep Creek Zoning Ordinance to add a new category for boat rentals as a separate service that would not offer any of the other services associated with a marina.

Commissioners Gregan Crawford and Robert Gatto voted in favor of the amendment, with chairman Jim Raley opposing it. During a May 31 public hearing, Raley said he had concerns about Meagher’s decision not to offer services on-site.

On Aug. 18, the Property Owners’ Association of Deep Creek Lake voted unanimously, with  president Troy Ellington recusing himself because of a conflict of interest, to request the commissioners to take three separate actions in regard to the amendment of the ordinance regarding boat rentals, according to Pagenhardt. Ellington is chairman of the county’s planning commission.

Pagenhardt, Commissioner Robert Gatto and John Nelson, director of the Department of Planning and Land Development, were in attendance at the POA meeting.

The Property Owners’ Association requested the commissioners initiate and complete within six months a comprehensive study of the amendment in consultation with the Department of Natural Resources and other interested organization to determine whether the amendment should be retained, modified or deleted, according to an email sent to the commissioners from POA senior vice president Roger Titus.

The group is also requesting that the commissioners impose a six-month moratorium on the issuance of any permits for any additional uses based on the recent amendment to the Deep Creek Lake Watershed Zoning Ordinance and the pending the outcome of the study; and adopt as a matter of county policy that no amendment to the text of the ordinance that may have an effect on the lake shall be approved until there has been notice of at least 90 days. The notice should be given to the DNR, the state Department of the Environment, the POA, the Friends of Deep Creek Lake and the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce, allowing them an an opportunity to respond, according to the email.

“The board of the POA believes that approval of theses actions will go a long way toward addressing the concerns that the POA and others have raised about the adoption of the ammendment,” wrote Titus.

Pagenhardt noted that the commissioners have received the email, are currently “taking it under advisement,” and are discussing with Nelson and County Attorney Norman Getty how to proceed. Pagenhardt also said the commissioners plan to answer the email but it hinges on upcoming legal action.

St. Moritz Properties, LLC; Bill’s Marine Service Inc., Silver Tree Marine, LLC, Aquatic Center Inc. and Deep Creek Boat Rentals Inc. have filed an appeal in Garrett County Circuit Court to determine whe-ther the commissioners acted properly under the zoning ordinance and Maryland law in approving the amendment in June. The case is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

The businesses filed the appeal in circuit court because they felt like they have been “specially and adversely affected” by the commissioners’ decision, according to the appeal.

St. Moritz Properties, LLC; Bill’s Marine Service Inc., Silver Tree Marine, LLC, have also filed a interpretive appeal in opposition of the Board of Zoning Appeals’s decision in June to grant Meagher’s request for a boat rental permit.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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