A Harford judge has ruled that a Churchville company can seek a state permit for a proposed asbestos and rubble dump while it fights a county law prohibiting its operation.
Harford Circuit Judge Cypert O. Whitfill on Wednesday granted the Maryland Reclamation Associates, Inc. an injunction that stops the county from enforcing a new law that would prohibit its rubble fill because it doesn't meet new standards for such operations.
The company wanted the injunction so the state Department of the Environment would continue to review plans for the dump while the suit against the county proceeds.
County attorneys opposed the injunction, saying that Maryland Reclamation has no legal basis for the suit aimed at the new rubble fill law.
But Whitfill said: "I can't come up with any harm that would be coming to the government of HarfordCounty if the permitting process continues."
However, the companycannot start the rubble fill if the state issues a permit before thecounty suit is settled, Whitfill ruled.
Robert J. Carson, an attorney for Maryland Reclamation at Wednesday's hearing, said the company needs to seek the permit to protect its financial investment. "Maryland Reclamation can't afford to lose any additional time in processing its permit," Carson said. "If you don't grant this . . . its fortunes will come to a dead halt."
Maryland Reclamation paid $730,000 to buy the 68-acre site near Havre de Grace for the rubble dump, Carson said. The company also has spent about $275,000 for technical and legal services.
The Churchville company filed suit June 20 challenging a new county law the firm contends was adopted to disrupt its efforts to get a state permit for the dump, proposed for the site on Gravel Hill Road.
The law, approved by the council March 19, requires rubble fills to be on tracts of at least 100 acres, at least 1,000 feet from the nearest building, and at least 500 feet from a flood plain. The County Council passed another bill that requires applicants to obtain a state operating permit for a rubble dump within 18 monthsafter the plans are introduced.
The company contends that the council passed the bills knowing the firm could not meet the standards.
The council adopted a resolution June 11, removing the Gravel Hillsite from the county's solid waste management plan because it longermet the standards for rubble fills.
In addition to the injunction, Whitfill granted a motion to allow seven Gravel Hill area residentsopposed to the rubble fill to be allowed to take part in proceedingsin the case. They are the same residents who were allowed by the court to do the same in an earlier Maryland Reclamation suit.
Maryland Reclamation sued the council May 11, 1990, after the former councilfirst voted to remove the Gravel Hill site from the county's waste-management plan. That suit is pending in the Court of Special Appeals.