Edwards barred them from any role in the hearing on Jan. 28, but
agreed to stay around afterwards and listen while they vented
their concerns and asked questions. Several times while they
were doing so, he told them that their remarks were not part of
the official record and will have no bearing on the decision he
The hearing was limited to
determining whether Edgewood Village L.l.c. violated the Unified
Development Code by hiring a contractor to take down most of the
wall without having obtained a
permit. If found in violation, the firm would be required to
obtain an after-the-fact permit at double the fee and could be
subjected to a civil fine ranging up to $1,000.
As Delaforum first reported,
Edgewood Village, a unit of Pettinaro Construction Co., had most
of the wall dismantled in apparent preparation for constructing
five townhouse buildings in the vicinity. Although the plan does
call for destruction of the wall, the rub is that the plan is in
the early stages of the Department of Land Use review process
and, according to Wayne Merritt, of the department, at least
nine months away from a final determination.
A wall, apparently built of indigenous
Brandywine 'granite', now comes to a sudden end on the hillside along
Paladin Drive. Some residents of the condominium community are demanding
that it be restored.
What's more, the Historic Review
Board is investigating the possibility that the Brandywine
'granite' wall has historic significance and is worthy of being
protected. Paladin resident Roy Jackson previously told
Delaforum that it dates back to when the site of the condominium
community was part of the Sellers family estate and is "at least
100 years old."
"It was a
masterpiece of construction. It was not just any wall," said Jim
Jones, president of the Paladin Club Master Association, during
the post-hearing session.
according to residents, the wall served a functional purpose by
controlling the flow of stormwater down a steep hill onto
Paladin Drive and beyond to the condominium units on the east
side of that street. It also is among the community amenities
Edgewood Village touts to prospective condo buyers.
that is, in effect, irrelevant, Edwards said. "All I can base my
decision on is what's in here," he explained referring to the
county's development code.
inspector John Connell testified that Edgewood Village proceeded
without a permit. Under the law, a permit is required if more
than 5,000 square feet of land is disturbed or if a protective
barrier is higher than four feet. Connell said two sections of
wall, 658 feet and about 200 feet long, were taken out and
removal of the stones tore up a piece of land 15 feet wide
between the wall and the street. The wall, he said, varied in
height between three-and-a-half and six feet.
Danner, Edgewood Village's lawyer, testified that the affected
sections were 590 feet and 140 feet long, that only two to four
feet of ground were disturbed in the process and that the wall
averaged less than four feet tall.
did not respond when resident Tom Kummer suggested than an
equitable remedy would be to "make them put the wall back up."
However, that prompted Mike Walsh, president of the development
company, to make his own comment of the afternoon. He said the
company is still in possession of the removed stones, but added
that it is "not able" to rebuild the wall.
Husband, president of the Fox Point Association, endorsed
Kummer's position. John Cartier, preservation committee chairman
of the area civic organization and Democratic candidate in the
new eighth County Council district, said that "a major historic
resource in our community has been forever eliminated" and
suggested that a restored wall would partly offset that.
expressed concern for two former estate carriage houses, one of
which is now the community's club house. "The Historic Review
Board will have something to say about them," he said.
said Edgewood Village "is willing to do anything necessary to
stabilize" the hillside where the sections of the wall were
removed. "That would be a solution to what we're here for
today," she said.
Stabilization efforts would have started already had the county
inspector not issued a 'stop work' order, she said. Connell said
the county did partly waive the order to permit some trees,
previously supported by the removed sections of the wall, to be
cut down to eliminate a safety hazard. That was temporarily
halted by snow and ice, Danner said.
going to keep our eye on that hill," Edwards said.
Stabilization doesn't end the matter, said lawyer Richard
Abbott, who has been retained by the Paladin Club Master
Association, the condominium maintenance organization of the
owners of units along Paladin Drive. He said he has not yet had
an opportunity to look into all the ramifications, but said
there is a good possibility that the wall and the open space
around it are designated as common areas, where condo owners
have proportional ownership.
have destroyed something that doesn't [completely] belong to
them," Abbott said. If that is so, he added, the condo owners
might be able to block the development plan by simply not
signing off on it as owners of the property.
event, he said during the post-hearing session, taking down the
wall was the kind of action "we've seen too many times with
Pettinaro interests "are sophisticated developers [who] know the
process and how things operate in the county," he said. "They
flaunt the law [and then] make it a fait accompli."