Castle Motors - 11717 Belair Rd (aka Mitsubishi, Castle Marine) and now Superior Motors.
Although the original business is now gone, it is still instructive to detail the history of violations, complaints, and failures on the county's part to get anything corrected. It is a good "case" study on how not to serve the public and how not to protect a community. The total refusal by the County over all these years to correct obvious violations while issuing permits to allow signs that were clearly prohibited by the Sign Code certainly indicates that influence was being peddled by someone who knew someone else.
Case CC99CO0010760 - Feb 22, 2005
"PARKING CARS ON THEIR PROP ALONG GOETNER RD & DRAGGING MUD ONTO ROAD; REOPEN - DRAGGING MUD INTO STREET, NO BUFFER, NO SHRUBS, COMPL - JOE BUSH, GOETTNER RD, 410 592-7926**SEE CASE 05-2159**
2ND COMPL - BALLOON & BANNERS BLOCKING VIEW OF TRAFFIC"
- Feb 21, 2005 Letter to Kingsville Dodge (See comments on first page about friendly conversations before the tar and feathers come out.) - Letter ignored.
- Sept 9, 2005 - Follow-up Complaint
Case CC99CO0019900 - Jan 11, 2006
CARS FOR SALE PARKED ON ADJACENT RES (CHURCH) PROP, TETHERED BALLOONS, SEE ATTACHED PLAN SUBMITTED BY OWNER
In trying to get action on this matter of the cars parked for sale on the church property and thus ouside of the proper Zoning, I provided a development plan to Code Enforcement that had been submitted by the owner which clearly showed that the property line and the zone boundary was 72 feet from the south wall of the building. The inspector looked me straight in the eye and said "I cannot measure 72 feet." If that is the case, he should be fired for incompetence! (He no longer works for the County.)
Case CC99CO0023047 - May 9, 2006
- May 4, 2006 - Complaint (very detailed) filed
- Complaint included: parking too close to road, balloons, parking on residential-zoned property
- Entered into CE computer as "Landscaping, paving, Veh parking"
- Again, no action resulted.
Case CC99CO0032170 - Apr 12, 2007
Case CC99CO0044344 - Apr 24, 2008
April 21, 2008 - Complaint filed (by GKCA) for illegal illuminated (and oversized) wall signs installed March 2008
- Citation issued
- Hearing held - order issued June 6, 2008 stating that "the sign permit shall be processed only under Section 413 of the BCZR". This is totally bogus and clearly indicates that someone in the county went to great lengths to find a way to allow them to do whatever they want. The Sign Code (and the CR District regulations) are quite explicit. The old Section 413 was "repealed" in 1997, thus did not even exist at the time of the hearing. The new Section 450 clearly states that "unless otherwise provided [in the BCZR], authority for erecting or maintaining a sign derives exclusively from Section 450". It should also be noted that, in response to Councilman McIntire's enquiry on the subject, Zoning responded that they are exempt from 450 because the property contains a "legally, non-conforming roof sign" and that the "entire site will continue to be controlled by Section 413 until either the roof sign is permanently removed or until October 19, 2012." So, at least, they have agreed that these signs must now be removed (before any new tenant takes over). (See Case CC1700768 below.)
Case CC99CO0061202 - May 19, 2009
- March 19, 2009 - Discussed with Zoning - They first stated that there was no record of a permit and that one would be needed. They then changed the story that one of the employees remembered issuing a permit, but there was no record of it. He also stated that this (boat sales in BM) had been a "matter of policy for years".
- May 13, 2009 Complaint filed (by GKCA) after verifying with an experienced Code Enforcement/Zoning employee that such sale of boats is not allowed in this BM zone.
- May 19, 2009 Case opened "car lot gone, now selling boats - big boats recreational vehicle sales not permitted in a BM zone".
- May 28, 2009 Case closed "in compliance". No action was taken, since the inspector was shown a "use permit" for a change in use to "boatyard".
Comment: The BCZR is very clear on this issue. It allows a boatyard in BM by right (boatyard is defined as "a commercial or nonprofit boat basin with facilities for ... sale ... storage"). "Basin" is clearly defined in this sense in any dictionary as a body of water. It is obvious that nothing in the BCZR is intended to allow boat sales in BM where there is no water to float them. There are explicit zones (BMM/BMB) for this purpose.
See Case 1999-0311-X which concurs with this interpretation.
Note that the trademark "Castle Marine Outlet" at this address was applied for on Feb 18, 2009 as an "Automobile dealership", owned by "Castle Automotive II, LLC" and lapsed Mar 25, 2014. Castle Automotive II, LLC was itself formed on Sept 28, 2005, changed its name to "Castle Marine Outlet, LLC" on Nov 27, 2013, and was forfeited on Oct 1, 2015.
Case CC99CO0067505 - Sept 2, 2009 Signs
- Sept 1, 2009 - Complaint filed
- Sept 3, 2009 - initial inspection - comments: "SPOKE WITH MANAGER ON SITE. HE IMMEDIATELY REMOVED THE BANNER AND WAS GETTING AN EMPLOYEE TO HELP MOVE THE A-FRAME SIGN. MONITOR, 9/11/09. KLP"
- Sept 16 - re-inspection, comments: "CORRECTION NOTICE ISSUED FOR ILLEGAL SIGNS POSTED ON THE PROPERTY. SPOKE WITH MANAGER ON SITE. PHOTO TAKEN. REINSPECT, KLP"
(Since he gave a verbal warning earlier and was told it would be corrected, a citation should have been issued on this visit.)
- Sept 21 - re-inspection, comments: "SIGNS HAS BEEN REMOVED. PHOTO TAKEN. MONITOR, P/U 9/28/09. KLP"
- Sept 29 - re-inspection - "in compliance", comments: "NO OBSERVANCE OF ANY ILLEGAL SIGNS POSTED ON THE PROPERTY. PHOTO TAKEN. CLOSE CASE. KLP"
Case CC99CO0074739 - Mar 22, 2010
There was apparently no action taken regarding the flashing window sign.
- March 10, 2010 - Complaint filed - tethered balloon, flashing window sign, failure to maintain setback
- March 11 - Discussion with head of CE who stated that there is no setback issue and that they treat boats on trailers as "vehicles". He further stated that what they are doing is okay as long as they are not "storing" the boats. "Storage" was never the complaint. The CR District regulations clearly state "Display of goods, vehicles and equipment is permitted in the front yard, but not more than five feet in front of the required front building line." What is unknown is how to determine the "required front building line" for an existing building. Enquiries at Zoning never resulted in an answer. Because of the proximity of the old building to the roadway, one must presume that the "required front building line" is the same as the front of the building, thus no display more than 5 feet in front of the building should be allowed.
Case CC99CO0089880 - Mar 9, 2011
- March 8, 2011 - Complaint filed (online) for illegal A-frame portable sign (same as in Sept 1, 2009 complaint).
- March 10 - Initial inspection (by 1st inspector)
- March 21 - "in compliance " (by 2nd inspector)
- March 29 - re-inspection (by 1st inspector)
- April 6 - "in compliance" (by 1st inspector) - but see photo below on April 10!
Photo of A-frame on April 4, 2011.
Photo of illegal sign on April 10, 2011.
Case CC99CO0089881 - Mar 9, 2011
Unknown how a 2nd case got opened for the same thing.
- March 10 - "no violation" (by 1st inspector above)
Case CC99CO0093774 - May 16, 2011
Complaint filed (online) for A-frame sign (same as on Sept 1, 2009 and March 8, 2011).
- May 24, 2011 initial inspection (by 1st inspector above) - "no violation" - But see photo below on June 15!
Photo taken May 21, 2011
Photo taken June 15, 2011 (A-frame still there, another illegal sign added)
Case CC99CO0096063 - June 15, 2011
New complaint filed for "sandwich" board (pictured above).
- June 20 - 1st inspector above - "no violation"
Photo taken Sept 13, 2011
Case CC99CO0101282 - Sept 19, 2011
Sept 14, 2011 - Complaint filed - signs on boats
Note: A verbal warning is the proper thing to do the first time. On the third (or more) visit for the same offence, it is supposed to be an immediate citation.
- Sept 20 - 1st inspector above - "research" (usually means visited site - probably gave them a verbal warning)
- October 3 - "in compliance"
Case CC99CO0105800 - Jan 24, 2012
Complaint filed - signs
- Jan 25, 2012 - correction notice issued
- Jan 30, 2012 - "in compliance"
Photo above taken Feb 8, 2012 - Does this look like "compliance"?
Photo above taken March 6, 2012 - still not in compliance.
At this point, the complaints and the code enforcement action went on hold, only because the boat business closed (shortly after the "grand opening" pictured above).
Resumption of problems
Beginning in 2017, a new business set up here (or was it the same one under a differnt name?). For some time, there was no sign or hint of who it was, although cars were being brought to site and worked on out back (under tents) while the building stood mostly empty. As things happened, the complaints resumed:
Case CC1700768 - Jan 30, 2017
1. Since the "boatyard" closed several years ago, the property has been vacant. Recently, an unknown business has been using the property, apparently as a vehicle servicing facility for some other business located elsewhere. It is unknown if this is an allowed use, since we do not really know what the use is.
2. Work has now been started to expand the parking lot, in apparent violation of the site plan approved back in 2005 when the site was redeveloped. See attached photos. The size of the piles of gravel indicate that extensive additional areas will be affected. I am concerned that this will result in violation of the setback requirements and will just lead to a protracted fight to get them to stop parking vehicles too close to Belair and Goettner Rd.
3. As previously agreed by County officials, the existing roof sign and two wall-mounted signs are in violation of the present Sign Code and must be brought into compliance. The owner or occupant must be made aware of this before they attempt to reuse or modify these signs for their current use.
A correction notice was issued on Feb 3 resulting in the removal of the roof sign and the installation of a proper free-standing sign. Then, the two illegal wall-mounted signs were removed, finally completing what was agreed in a letter back in 2008. Nothing was done about the piles of gravel.
Case CC1801048 - Feb 8, 2018
Complaint: Vehicle parked (apparently for sale) on new gravel area, which is part of the required landscape area from the development done some years ago. See previous case CC1700768
This was simply reported as "no violation" on Feb 13.
Case CC1809468 - July 3, 2018
Complaint: Please find below the e-mail thread regarding the above referenced subject. Our office is requesting any and all assistance possible to address this issue. Councilman Marks indicated that he believes lighting was installed by BGE and has spoken with Ervin McDaniels regarding shields or visors. This has been ongoing for some time and it would be most greatly appreciated if you could investigate with any and all violations noted.
I am unaware who filed this complaint, and I was unable to obtain the "e-mail thread" referred to. In any case, when the development was done back in about 2005, there was an approved lighting plan that was designed to limit the light level to what is necessary to security but so as to not be too bright (like Jones Junction). Since then, BGE has obviously installed some high-intensity security lights in violation of that lighting plan. The case was closed on Aug 9 as "no violation", most likely since the inspectors don't usually work in the evening.
Case CC1910143 - July 15, 2019
|Complaint: Cars parked for sale outside of area defined by landscaping plan for "Kingsville Dodge" (part of plan attached). Attached photos show this violation on both sides of dealership. For entire plan, talk to Jim Herman. These areas that are supposed to be landscaping were covered with gravel last year. If there are any questions about this matter, please contact me via e-mail to discuss. Also, some non-permitted signs and it is questionable whether the property was ever approved for sale of used vehicles.|
The online record of Code Enforcement actions shows "no violation" and case closed on July 24. However, on July 30, the cars in violation were observed to have been moved, the first time in over a year, so it is obvious that a verbal warning had been given when the inspector found violations.
Case CC20013254 - Oct 11, 2020
|Complaint: Excessive signs (flags). None of these qualify for an exception as displaying the "emblem, insignia, or symbol" of the organization. Please discuss the feather flags with stars and stripes with Legal. These should not be granted an exemption as "flags" of the US.|
The online record shows that a Correction Notice was issued Oct 15 and a citation on Nov 16 which scheduled a hearing on Dec 5 (a Saturday). After I contacted CE on this mistake, it was rescheduled for Dec 15 but I was never notified. Perhaps they were not notified either as they did not appear.
Note that the citation listed the wrong offense. While it cited "BCC 35-2-301 Obtain sign permit", it referred to "failure to cease excessive non-permitted signage", something that one cannot get a permit for. The citation should have cited BCZR 450.
Case CC20013762 - Oct 27, 2020
|Complaint: Large freestanding sign being erected. Obviously exceeds the 25 sq ft limit and appears to exceed the 25 ft height limit. Also appears to be illuminated, which was apparently not approved, and the location was certainly not approved by Planning as required. |
Since there was another case still opened, this complaint was marked as "duplicate" and closed, so there is no way to know whether any inspector ever saw it. (I was once told that someone looks at every complaint before it is marked "duplicate", which is demonstrably false.)
Cases CE2000112, Oct 30, 2020 (electrical) and CB2000651, Nov 6, 2020 (building)
|Complaint: "Work without permits"|
These probably resulted from the complaint above on Oct 27. Although the record shows that a Correction Notice was issued on Nov 10, nothing further is known, since building violation correction notices are not posted online.
The property is zoned BM CR, which does not allow for used car sales, except under a "grandfathering" provision based on long-term, continuous use for that purpose. Although this property was once used for used-car sales for many years, that use recently lapsed for at least two years, so it should have lost any "grandfathering". Recently, a problem has been noticed of large car carriers parking in Belair Rd to offload, rather than using their own parking lot for this purpose, which should have been shown on the development plans back in 2006.
While the regular practice of parking on, and partially blocking, Belair Rd seems to have been reduced, I now hear that they are regulary parking on Goetner Ave, a narrow residential street.