town's board of zoning appeals sent a clear
message to a 'family of prospective
entrepreneurs: Let the good times roll.
The Robert Leatherman family's effort
to reopen the former roller skating rink located in the
basement of the Thurmont Bowling Center on Frederick Road
received the town's approval Thursday night. By a 4-0 vote,
which excited a small group of youngsters who quietly sat in
on the meeting, the zoning panel granted a special exception
for the rink to be operated in a residential zone.
The decision leaves Frederick County
building permits and health-department approval as the
remaining regulatory road-blocks before the rink can open.
Repair and renovation work also has to be completed.
"The permit procedure will be the big
one, getting the permits and seeing what we have to do to get
the place to pass (inspections)," Mr. Leatherman said. "Then
it will be a cakewalk, and we're going to ' have fun the whole
The request seemed to stir wistful
memories for the five-man board. Some lingered after the
meeting and shared recollections of their pasts as skaters.
"I, for one, think it would be
advantageous to the town and the youth," board member Glenn
Rickard said during the hearing.
"I think it's fabulous," board
colleague Wayne Waggener quickly added. Parking was the lone
concern aired during the hearing.
Richard Calimer said his mother owns
adjacent property. Though she supports the skating rink, she's
worried about people parking in a renter's space.
Mayor Martin Burns, speaking for the
town as an adjacent property owner, was concerned about people
parking in the Community Park lot across the street after it
closes at 10 p.m.
Harold Ferguson, who owns the building
and operates the duckpin lanes upstairs, said his lot has
space for about 50 cars, more than usually are used by
bowlers. Barbara Leatherman added that the business should
draw many children who walk to the rink or are dropped off
Despite his concern, Mr. Burns spoke
in favor of approval.
"I think it's a win," the mayor said.
"I think it's going to get tons of kids, and that's good."
The Leatherman family and their
youthful supporters weren't the only people who left the
meeting happy. In his second appearance before the board,
Ronald Richards got unanimous approval for a variance to put a
shed on his East Main Street property.
"Thank you. You made my day," Mr.
Richards told the board following the vote.
The decision was deemed a such relief
because the shed is built. Mr. Richards had
to get approval to make it legal or
level it because it was erected on too small a lot and was
built too close to property lines and his house.
"I've got $1,000 in that thing, and I
don't want to tear it down," he said. "I need it for storage."
A previous hearing on the matter ended
in anger and denial. Mr. Richards said he was angered by Cliff
Bridgford, then the town's attorney, and the board denied his
Mr. Rickard reminded Mr. Richards of
his demeanor at the first hearing.
"You kind of told us you weren't going
to move that shed and we could take these rules and place them
in an adverse position," Mr. Rickard recalled with a grin.
"I might have," Mr. Richards admitted.
"I was kinda hot."
But the board focused more on existing
conditions than past transgressions. The lot was created in
1954, before modern sub-division lot-size rules were
established, and' Mr. Rickard noted that sheds exist on
several of the neighborhood's small lots.
Mr. Richards said he called the town
office to ask if a building permit was needed and was told his
10-by-10 shed wasn't large enough to require one. If he'd
realized a variance was required, he said, he would've gotten
one before building.
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