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Town OK's Roller Rink

Vic Bradshaw
Frederick News Post

(1/9/2004) The 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 way."

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 there.

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 request.

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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