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Business owner claims harassment
by political group

Chris Patterson

A well-known construction company may cancel its plan to move operations to Emmitsburg due to what one co-owner called harassment by a town political group, he said Monday.

The statement was made during testimony at a town meeting during which a car wash owned by Kirby Delauter and Carl Athey was brought under fire by Citizens Organized to Preserve Emmitsburg (COPE). The group filed a complaint with the town about the Silo Hill Car Wash on Aug. 30 asking the town to town limit the car wash's hours, require an attendant be present and remove the sign on U.S. Route 15 advertising the car wash.

COPE Secretary Sabrina Paxton Daily signed the request.

Town planner Michael Lucas explained the circumstances of the complaint to the board. He addressed all three complaints, saying the car wash does not have a buffer of trees required under its site plan; the business's sign on Route 15 meets the town's sign restrictions; and the noise issue is being addressed by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the business owners.

Emmitsburg currently has no noise ordinances.

Maryland Department of the Environment twice investigated the car wash for violating state noise limits, at the request of Silo Hill resident Barbara Mullinix, a COPE member.

The state report on the March and June investigations led the car wash owners to adjust the doors at the business so they remain closed when the wash is operating.

COPE President Catherine Forrence testified at the meeting Monday that the noise is still a problem at the car wash.

Silo Hill Car Wash owners Delauter and Athey then testified they were concerned about COPE's involvement.

Athey said he also was concerned that COPE had not mentioned that one of its members, Art Elder, owns the only other car wash in town and also is a town commissioner. Athey said no other neighbors, aside from COPE member Mullinix, have complained about the car wash.

"I've talked to the neighbors there. Any concerns they have, we are interested in," Athey said. "We are local business people. We are not here for a business that relies on the good will of the public to annoy them to the point that they want to come in front of the town council and restrict our business."

Athey said his business is known for helping out the town when there have been emergency problems.

"We are good neighbors and I want to stress that," Athey said. "I do not understand why we have become a target of COPE when all anyone had to do was talk to us...We are in compliance today with what [the state] found in our car wash.

"I've got to tell you that... after finding the power of the COPE organization in Emmitsburg, it is scary for us to move our [other] business here," he said.

Delauter characterized what was happening as "harassment" and said he was concerned COPE would begin using taxpayer money to harass businesses.

No decision was made on any further action regarding the car wash, however board members informally agreed that the business must comply with previously agreed upon buffering requirements.

In other business, the town board members said they plan to begin meeting twice monthly to handle the expanding workload of the town, instead of the normal once monthly meetings. The board has agreed in principal to meet on the first and third Mondays of each month, but must formally pass an ordinance to change the town's charter before new meeting dates would be implemented.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government