Council Faces Rubble Fill Quandary Members-elect Ask Many Questions About Proposed Asbestos Site

December 02, 1990|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

When the new County Council meets for the first time Tuesday, it will take up an issue that sharply divided the previous council -- Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc.'s proposed asbestos and rubble fill near Havre de Grace.

In what appears will be an unanimous vote, the council is expected to pursue an appeal of a Circuit Court ruling that favored Maryland Reclamation's plans. In separate interviews, six council members said they favor appealing a judge's ruling that paved the way for the company to seek a state permit for the project.

"Most of (the new council members) were not very happy with the previous council's action on the rubble fill issue," said in-coming Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C. "I really don't see it as a dividing force this time."

Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, a staunch opponent to the rubble fill, said he expects enough votes to ratify a notice of appeal filed by the council's attorneys without council members' authorization several weeks ago.

"The rubble fill issue was an important factor in many council races," Wilson said. "I can't imagine that the council will repudiate the mandate of the electorate. But in politics, anything can happen."

In the last meeting of its term, the outgoing council deadlocked in a 3-3 tie Oct. 16 on a motion to appeal a Harford Circuit Court ruling. The ruling cleared the way for Maryland Reclamation to seek a state permit for its rubble fill.

The tie-vote on the seven-member council, which occurred because one council member abstained, killed the motion.

But James R. Eyler, a Baltimore attorney representing the council in the case, filed an appeal with the state Court of Special Appeals on the last day permitted.

Eyler has said he acted without authorization from any of the council members.

Monday, the Court of Special Appeals denied Maryland Reclamation's request to dismiss the notice filed by Eyler.

Meanwhile, the council on Tuesday must decide whether to ratify the notice or order Eyler to dismiss it.

Councilman Robert S. Wagner, R-District E, was the only council member who declined to say how he will vote on a proposed motion to ratify the notice of appeal.

However, Wagner said he believes the previous council should not have voted a month before the members left office.

"I wish that the outgoing council wouldn't have voted when they did," Wagner said. "They should have waited for the new council to take place."

While most of the incoming council members said they intend to support an appeal, they still want answers to several questions.

Councilman Philip J. Barker, D-District F, said he wants an explanation from Eyler why he filed the council's notice of appeal without direct authorization from the council.

Councilwoman Susan B. Heselton, R-District A, said she wants to find out if the council can place a spending cap on the amount of money it spends on the appeal.

Attorneys in the case told the outgoing council that an appeal would cost the county about $8,000. The county already has spent about $50,000 on the case.

Nov. 14, 1989, the council voted to include Maryland Reclamation's rubble fill in the county Solid Waste Management Plan.

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