County Asks Judge To Order Cleanup Of Helsel Property

Lawsuit Continues Lengthy Zoning Dispute

July 12, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

The large, rusting fuel tanks, steel drums and abandoned cars that Howard E. Helsel has collected during the last three decades must go.

Strewn across 45 acres on Hog Farm Road in Gambrills, they violatecounty zoning laws, said County Attorney Stephen R. Beard.

Beard asked the Circuit Court yesterday for an injunction ordering Howard's brother, William F. Helsel, to clean up the property or face fines and imprisonment. William Helsel, a West Virginia resident, owns the property where his younger brother resides.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Judge Bruce C. Williams granted one injunction this spring, allowing the county onto the Helsel property to clean two illegal sewage lagoons. About 100,000 gallons of sludge was removed.

When the county gained access to the property, itfound additional violations, said Assistant County Attorney Jamie B.Baer. Steel drums, mercury batteries, abandoned vehicles and rustingstorage tanks littered the property, which sits adjacent to the Jabez Branch, a small, endangered trout stream.

The county received ananonymous tip that led inspectors to the sewage lagoons May 9. County Executive Robert Neall ordered Beard to pursue the Helsels. Yesterday's suit continues the dispute.

"We're doing everything humanly possible to clean up the site," Beard said.

Neighbors have long complained about the rusting gasoline storage tanks stacked two and three high on the rural property, said Lina Vlavianos, a member of the county's Severn River Commission. Vlavianos said she delivered a written complaint to the county two years ago.

On March 13, zoning inspector Mary Ann Roesler issued a notice of zoning violations to Williamand Howard Helsel, citing them for operating a junkyard and solid waste facility. The notice, sent by certified mail, asked the Helsels to clear the property by April 5. The brothers never responded.

William Helsel, who purchased the property in 1962, told Williams last month that he has had little contact with his brother in recent years.He was unaware, he said, of any illegal dumping until a granddaughter telephoned him with a newspaper account.

Beard said Williams' injunction allows the county to recover the more than $23,000 from the Helsels for cleaning up and monitoring the sewage lagoons.

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