Project Description

In 2010, the VPC filed a petition requesting a special hearing to challenge the use of a property zoned RC2 for apartment rentals. The property, Rainbow Hall (aka Rainbow Hill), is located at 10729 Park Heights Ave., in Owings Mills. The site features a historic 1917 mansion, two ranchers, and a cottage. The mansion has a non-historic wing that was added when the property was used as a nursing home.

The present owner, Henry Wright, has converted the wing into six or more apartments. He rents those along with the three houses. It is estimated that 15-20 individuals currently reside in rental units on this property. In addition, the mansion is used for catered affairs or other meeting space for which the owner receives a fee.

The VPC is concerned about the use of the property for apartments, which is a prohibited use in all RC zones, and the precedent this could set for other rural properties. There have been a growing number of complaints from adjacent property owners and others in the community who are concerned about trespassing, noise, and other nuisances associated with the current use of the property. The case has been heard by the Baltimore County Zoning Commissioner and a decision was issued on January 13, 2011, stating that apartment use was not permitted.

In February of 2012, the County Board of Appeals decision upheld the zoning commissions decision and found that VPC had standing regarding the apartments and catering case.

In October of 2012, the Circuit Court decision upheld the board of appeals decision and ordered all illegal uses to stop immediately.

In a related action, the owner filed a development plan seeking permission to build a 1,000-seat sanctuary and additional parking at this site. A Community Input Meeting was held on December 8, and there was a large turnout of residents who expressed concern about the potential community and environmental impacts of a large institutional facility at this location. The property is located on the ridge of the Greenspring Valley, is zoned for agricultural use, is not served by public water or sewer, and contains a large, historic structure that is on the Baltimore County Landmarks List.

In May of 2012, the Administrative Law Judge decision granted a special exception for use of the main house as a church with maximum seating for 212 people.

In January of 2013, the County Board of Appeals found no need for an amendment to county water and sewer plans and ordered clearing of shrubs and embankments to improve sightlines at the southern entrance.

In April of 2014, the Circuit Court decision upheld the Board of Appeals decision to grant the special exception for a 212-seat church.