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Bowman sues over truck stop definition

February 20, 2002

Bowman sues over truck stop definition



By SCOTT BUTKI
scottb@herald-mail.com


A Williamsport businessman planning to build a truck stop is suing Washington County Board of Commissioners, challenging the legality of a text amendment defining truck stops.

The Washington County Commissioners must respond within 30 days to the complaint, which was filed earlier this week. in Washington County Circuit Court

County Attorney Richard Douglas said the county's response will say the amendment is legal and valid.

In mid-October, the County Commissioners unanimously approved a text amendment that was recommended by residents opposed to Donald Bowman's plans to build a truck stop on nine acres off Interstate-81 near the intersection of Md. 63 and Md. 68 south of Williamsport.

The commissioners agreed with residents that prior definitions of truck stops were unclear.

The county found the amendment applied to Bowman even though it had applied to become a truck stop prior to consideration and adoption of the text amendment.

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In the complaint, John Urner, an attorney for Bowman, asked the court to declare the amendment "invalid, illegal and unconstitutional." The suit is by Bowman, Bowman-Spielman, LLC and The Bowman Group, LLP.

In the lawsuit - as well as in earlier comments to the County Commissioners - Urner said the amendment was not about clarifying laws regarding truck stops, as the county argued, but about stopping the Bowman project.

Urner said if the court does conclude the amendment is legal and valid then it should be found that it does not apply to Bowman's proposal.

The Washington County Zoning Ordinance had considered a fuel and parking facility to be a truck stop, and subject to a public hearing, only if it would provide truck repair services. If it would not provide repair services, as the Bowman facility will not, it was classified as a business and a public hearing was not required.

Under the text amendment, a fuel center need not provide truck repair services to be considered a truck stop.

Opponents of the Bowman project wanted the text amendment because it would force the Williamsport project to be taken to a public hearing, which they said they believed could make approval more difficult.

On Sept. 10, the Planning Commission recommended the commissioners reject the text amendment, saying the language was ambiguous.

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