An 11th-hour out-of-court settlement ended a six-month dispute between the county and a North County sand-and-gravel operation last week.
The agreement, hashed out Wednesday just before a public appeals hearing, gives the Belle Grove Corp. the right to continue accepting dirt without a rubble landfill permit but allows the county to inspect and regulate the pit almost as if it were a rubble landfill.
The county had wanted Belle Grove to acquire a rubble landfill permit or stop filling a 17-acre gravel pit at the intersection of Belle Grove and Old Annapolis roads.
"This is really best for both of us. I hope the spirit of the agreement will be lived up to by both parties," said Bruce Jones, Belle Grove vice president.
Jones and dozens of Brooklyn Park residents said they were worried that the company and the surrounding neighborhood would be stigmatized if Belle Grove were designated as a rubble fill.
Belle Grove plans to subdivide the property after the pit is levelled off.
Belle Grove also didn't want to pay an estimated $100,000 for engineering studies and fences required of rubble permit applicants. If Belle Grove paid that much, Jones said, it could be forced to accept certain construction andvegetative debris it does not accept now in order to get higher tipping fees.
About 35 Brooklyn Park residents showed up at the publichearing to support Belle Grove.
The county's law office first approached Belle Grove in June, claiming that the "emergency interim rubble landfill bill" passed in April, which gives the county the authority to regulate rubble landfills, applied to the company. The county said some of the dirt Belle Grove was accepting included concrete chunks large enough to fit the technical definition of rubble.
Belle Grove filed for an appeal hearing, which was scheduled to take place last week.
Cheryl Boudreau, an assistant county attorney, said thecounty went after Belle Grove because its pit, like several rubble landfills in the county, had been operating under relatively loose state controls.
"To (Belle Grove's) credit, though, since we started our routine daily inspections they've cleaned up their act and have convinced our inspectors that they are not filling with rubble," Boudreau said.
Belle Grove will supply the county with four test borings each year. They also will pay for and submit to monthly county inspections to prove they are still accepting clean fill.
Belle Grove,in business since the early 1950s, accepts only dirt, usually dug from foundation sites. The company's two biggest customers in the past year were builders of the Camden Yards stadium project and the addition to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.