Closed Roach Meeting Bugs Residents Chairman Says Event Was 'Work Session'

December 09, 1990|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Contributing writer

Residents were turned away from a meeting in Joppatowne Thursday at which they sought answers about cockroach infestation from a nearby rubble fill.

A handful of residents turned out at Towne Baptist Church on Trimble Road for an update on efforts by Pappy's Inc., which owns the Oak Avenue rubble fill, to curb cockroaches infesting nearby homes since August.

Instead, they were told the meeting was closed to the public and were turned away by a state administrator and citizen members of the committee, formed to study the problem.

Some reacted angrily to the closing of the meeting.

"They have a committee meeting and don't let anyone in. . . . That's a bunch of bull crap," said Michael Mulligan, a resident of the Williams Mobile Home Park. "People are starting to get quite angry over this."

Confusion about Thursday's meeting came after the session was announced at a community gathering at the church on Nov. 29.

The committee chairman, Barry Schmidt, acting chief of the Maryland Department of the Environment's solid waste administration, ordered the meeting closed to everyone but committee members.

Schmidt called Thursday's meeting "a work session" and said state law allows closing of such gatherings. "It just wouldn't be proper" to open the meeting to the public, Schmidt said before the session.

The eight-member committee -- composed of residents, a commercial exterminator and representatives of the rubble fill and state and county government -- was formed to monitor the cockroach problem, which began in late July when the bugs were discovered migrating into homes from the rubble fill. More than 100 homes have been affected.

On Friday, residents who are committee members refused comment on details of the meeting.

"It was an effective meeting," said committee member David Williams, who's also president of the Joppa-Magnolia Civic Improvement Association.

He declined further comment.

Environment Department spokesman John Goheen said Schmidt was not available Friday for comment on the meeting. Also, Thomas M. Thomas, chief of Harford Health Department, could not be reached for comment Friday.

After the landfill was found as the source of the roaches, workers covered the two-acre section of the landfill and treated it with insecticide. Pappy's also has been providing roach control devices and a commercial exterminator to homeowners.

Cockroaches also have been found in nearby public sewers and in a private septic system, Goheen said.

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