Council Bill Uses Another Tack To Attack Proposed Rubble Fills

June 09, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

A County Council resolution expected to come up for a vote as early as Tuesday has angered the owners of the two proposed rubble fill sites whose projects would be jeopardized by the measure.

The resolution, proposed jointly by all seven council members, would amend the county's Solid Waste Management Plan "to delete the Gravel Hill Road rubble landfill and the Fort Hoyle Road rubble landfill from the plan."

The move could ultimately kill the two projects because a rubble landfill must be included in the county's master waste disposal plan to be eligible for a state operating permit.

However, state officials, asked about the resolution last week, said passage of the measure would not automatically halt the state permit reviews being conducted by the Department of the Environment on both sites.

At a publichearing Tuesday night on the resolution, the owners of the two sitesat stake, Richard D. Schaefer, president of Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc., and Larry Stancill, president of Harford Sands Inc., told the council they believed the outcome of a vote on the resolution was "a foregone conclusion."

"The council has already proven that they will not let facts, logic or fairness get in the way of what they intend to do," said Schafer, whose company owns the Gravel Hill Road site. "This anxiety has caused the council to use its political arsenal to attempt to destroy MRA's operations."

MRA obtained an $800,000 loan to purchase the site and open it as a rubble fill. Stancillwas one of four guarantors of the $800,000 loan to MRA.

Schafer and Stancill, whose company owns the proposed Fort Hoyle rubble landfill site, were the only two speakers at the public hearing who opposedthe resolution.

About 10 county residents spoke in favor of the resolution.

"We're fighting for our community; for a church that will become non-existent if this rubble fill goes through. Can you imagine a roach-infested church?" said the Rev. Violet Hopkins-Tann, pastor of the St. James AME Church located on Gravel Hill. "Who is going to come to a church where, when the windows are open, the stench willcome through? Would you come?"

State officials said that, should the resolution pass, they will want to hear from both the council andthe property owners before deciding whether to cease the Department of the Environment's partially completed five-step review of the sites.

"We would want to hear something from the other side before we made a decision because of how complicated this issue has become," said Michael Powell, principal counsel for the department. "I couldn't say that this resolution would lead automatically to suspension of permit processing without further discussion."

The resolution, introduced May 14, is the council's second attempt to remove the Gravel Hill Road site from the Solid Waste Management Plan. After the council last spring reversed its 1989 decision to include the site in the plan, MRA sued and won.

Circuit Judge Cypert O. Whitfill ruled that the council had no authority to remove the site from the plan on the basis of protecting the environment and that the council had ventured into matters that should have been left to the state. The council hasappealed Whitfill's ruling to the Court of Special Appeals.

"Evenif the rubble fills disappeared from the face of the earth overnight, Whitfill raised issues that needed to be resolved concerning the council's jurisdiction," Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson said. "Thecouncil's action that is in dispute was based on the laws of that time. Since then two bills have been enacted, and it behooves us to ensure the Solid Waste Management Plan agrees with county law."

The bills Wilson referred to are emergency legislation, which means they take effect upon the county executive's signature.

One of the bills, already signed by Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, established zoning regulations for the approval and operation of rubble fills, includingsetting a 100-acre minimum size and a 1,000-foot setback from neighboring properties.

The second bill, passed last Tuesday and awaiting the executive's signature, would allow the council to remove a rubble landfill from the Solid Waste Management Plan under two conditions:

* It doesn't meet the just-passed zoning requirements.

* It doesn't obtain a state operating permit within 18 months after the site has been included in the master waste disposal plan.

Both the Gravel Hill Road and the Fort Hoyle Road sites fail to meet the 100-acre minimum and the 1,000-foot setback requirements. The Gravel Hill Road site is 55 acres, and Fort Hoyle site is 78 acres.

The owners of both proposed rubble fills have spent more than two years trying toget state permits.

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