At Landfill, Only Debate Expands

Mediator Brought Into Defense Highway Expansion Impasse

#6 News Story

December 30, 1990|By Paul Shread

Annapolis and county officials spent most of 1990 divided over whether the city should be allowed to expand its Defense Highway landfill.

As the year ended, the two sides were only slightly closer to reaching an agreement. The city still hopes to expand its landfill, and County Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, still opposes the expansion.

They did, however, call in a mediator to examine the arguments and present alternatives. The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority met with city and county officials Dec. 20.

Michael A. Gagliardo, executive director of the independent agency, will meet with the group again in January and said he probably will present options to officials from both sides within two months.

Gagliardo said he will consider waste-to-energy plants, recycling facilities, composting plants and landfills, among other options, before presenting his ideas to city and county officials.

He also said he may recommend a waste-to-energy plant in the Rowe Boulevard area that would provide steam for the Naval Academy, an idea city officials rejected when the authority proposed it in 1985.

The landfill is scheduled to be full by May 1992. Without the expansion, city officials say they not only will have no place to dump their trash, but will also lose $2 million collected annually from tipping fees charged to commercial haulers.

City officials already give partial credit to the landfill dilemma for the city's largest property tax rate and fee increases in years. The increases took effect last July.

Resolving the landfill crisis is the biggest challenge Mayor Alfred A.

Hopkins faces as he enters his second year in office.

Lamb has bitterly opposed the expansion because the Defense Highway landfill is located over a city water supply and near a creek and residential wells. She also said residents in the area are concerned about the height of the proposed expansion, which would be 40 feet above ground.

Lamb and county officials came up with their own proposal in October: a privately financed recycling and composting plant to be built on the expansion site, with the builder paying the city a $1 million franchise fee up front.

The county would let the city dump at its Millersville landfill for free until the new facilities were built. In return, the county would send an equal amount of trash to the city's composting plant once it opened.

City officials, who have consistently denounced Lamb for her opposition to the landfill expansion, have rejected the idea. They say the money the composting plant would generate might not cover the cost of operating it.

They also said composting plants are unproven, and many have had trouble.

City officials want the 25-acre expansion. The county Board of Appeals denied that request last spring, and Lamb has refused to introduce legislation to change the zoning law.

The standoff continues.

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