In an apparent case of closing the barn door after the horse escapes, Baltimore County officials and a state delegate are proposing legislation to prevent conditions that led to the continuing tree stump dump fire in Granite.
Politicians are scrambling for ways to soothe public anger over the government's seeming helplessness to stop the stumps, some in piles 100 feet high, from burning at James Jett's Christmas tree farm. Fire officials believe the dump was set ablaze by arsonists Feb. 2.
Neighbors have complained about Jett's operation for years but said they got little response from the government.
After unsuccessful firefighting efforts that included bulldozing the stumps and spraying them with special foam, fire officials decided to let the fire burn itself out over the next several months.
In response, the Fire Department has proposed to the County Council an amendment to the county fire code that would prohibit the storage of more than 2,500 cubic feet of flammable materials, including tree stumps and agricultural products.
The proposed change was presented to the council at a work session yesterday and is to be voted on Monday night.
In another move, Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Balto. Co., who represents Granite, has proposed a new state law to require a permit for storing or processing recyclable materials, including tree stumps.
If HB 1266 is enacted this year, Jett would have to get a state permit for his already-burning operation.
Jett is awaiting word on his application for a county permit required under a new county law designed last year specifically to regulate places such as his.
Councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, who represents the southwestern area of Baltimore County, including Granite, proposed an addition to the amendment to require operators such as Jett to erect fences around their land to keep out arsonists.
Councilman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-3rd, said arsonists are unlikely to be deterred by fences, and added that the expense could cripple some other business owners.