County set back in bid to close stump dump

May 24, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

Because of a editing error, an article in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly stated which days James F. Jett had agreed not to accept debris at his western Baltimore County stump dump. The agreement applied only to today, tomorrow and Monday.

Also a caption under a photograph that accompanied the story should have stated that the picture was taken soon after the fire was discovered in Februrary.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Neighbors of the western Baltimore County stump dump that has been burning since February and fouling the air with wood smoke will have to wait until Tuesday to find out whether a county judge will close the operation.


Circuit Judge James T. Smith Jr. refused yesterday a request by county attorneys to order James F. Jett to close his dump in the 8700 block of Dogwood Road, citing conflicting information from the operator and the county about activity at the site.

He agreed to hold a hearing Tuesday so that Mr. Jett and county fire officials can testify and respond to cross-examination.

"There were definitely contradictory contentions as to what the facts are, so we'll have to resolve those contradictions," Judge Smith said yesterday.

Mr. Jett has agreed not to accept any new stumps through


County Attorney H. Emslie Parks, who had requested an injunction yesterday to close the dump, said that in recent weeks Mr. Jett has brought in up to 60 trucks a day filled with

debris from construction sites, effectively creating a mountain of stumps the size of a football field 18 feet high in places.

Mr. Jett also has added new material to the burning stumps and has dumped material on an access road, keeping firefighters from getting to the periphery of the burning piles, Mr. Parks said.

In an affidavit accompanying Mr. Parks' injunction request, Deputy Fire Chief John F. O'Neill said Mr. Jett was not making safety improvements that had been ordered by fire inspectors and was creating a more serious fire hazard by continuing to accept new material.

Chief O'Neill said Mr. Jett had promised May 9 to remove a pile of new material that was within 100 feet of the burning stumps. But when firefighters returned three days later, the chief said, "The pile wasn't removed, but was added to."

But Michael P. Tanczyn, an attorney for Mr. Jett, denied those allegations, citing lists provided by his client that show much lower truck- traffic counts, with fewer than 10 vehicles on many days.

He added that Mr. Jett continued to keep areas clear for firefighters and was working with them in cleaning up the site, allowing them daily access to his operation.

Mr. Jett's neighbors, who have been fighting the stump dump for 10 years, said yesterday that they were disappointed but not surprised.

"The county says it would like to see the operation closed, but all we know is that it remains still open," said Kathleen Skullney, a community activist and past president of the Greater Patapsco Community Association. "I guess we're in the same position we've always been in. We'll believe it when we see it."

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