They've Had Their Fill Of Big Dirt Pile

June 13, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

Ed Suddreth's dirt pile rises menacingly above West Meadow Road.

"It reminds me of that Japanese movie monster Godzilla rising above the sound barriers," said state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park. "It's rather shocking. It's not a pretty sight."

Residents of the Belle Grove Road community say living with the 500-foot-high, 32-acre dirt pile -- a "clean fill" for dirt and construction debris -- is just as monstrous.

Dust, grime and grit blow off the hill through their backyards, clinging to their laundry, scratching the finish on their cars and yellowing their vinyl siding and windows.

Noise from rumbling diesel engines and slamming tailgates skip across the 20-foot-high sound barriers, which the state erected four years ago to protect the community from the Harbor Tunnel Thruway.

"The Tunnel Authority spent a million dollars on the sound barriers and they really helped with the traffic noise," said Judy Roberson of West Edgevale Road. "Now, we have the noise from dump trucks and bulldozers echoing off our buildings."

Yesterday, Jimeno, residents and Baltimore City officials met with the mound's owner, Suddreth.

Located across the Patapsco River from Roberson's neighborhood, the site has been a fill for more than 40 years, a Baltimore City spokesman said.

The bulk of the dirt has come in recent years from a subway extension, Camden Yards stadium construction, expansion of Johns Hopkins Hospital and light-rail construction.

Suddreth, owner of Patapsco Excavating, said he has operated the fill since 1980.

The property sits in Baltimore City, adjacent to the Anne Arundel line.

Jane Hall, a West Meadow Road resident, said she and her neighbors only noticed the dump 18 months ago, as the dirt creeped higher and higher above the sound barriers. Hall, who moved to Brooklyn Park in 1950, said she had believed the property across the river was a bird sanctuary.

After the meeting, Suddreth promised to make changes to control dust and stop the noise. He said he would plant trees and shrubs along the embankment facing the community.

"I don't want todestroy these people's homes or their community," said Suddreth, a Glen Burnie resident.

"I just came down here a few weeks ago. I didn't realize how ugly it was until then. I didn't realize these peoplehad this problem."

Suddreth said he would have to continue dumping for several months to even the slope properly. But he promised to begin planting trees and shrubs by fall.

City officials, who issuedSuddreth a permit to operate, said he agreed formally to additional restrictions on his operation yesterday afternoon.

"We want to stop the more serious environmental problems that the people have righteously complained about right away," said James Kapplin, spokesman forthe Baltimore Department of Public Works.

Kapplin said the agreement called for:

* Immediately planting grass on the hillside, to prevent erosion into the Patapsco.

* Planting trees and shrubs,using an approved landscape plan, by fall.

* Keeping soil damp to control the dust.

* Posting signs advising drivers not to slam their tailgates.

Residents weren't thrilled to learn yesterday that the site may become a storage yard for tractor-trailers and containers when the dumping is finished.

But, "if we can keep the dust down and it looks better, I guess we'll have to live with it," Roberson said.

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