Rubble Fill Is Chess Board For Site Owners, County

Officials Ask Fordismissal Of Company's Lawsuit

July 14, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

The county has asked that a lawsuit challenging zoning regulations for rubble dumps be dismissed.

County officials and the County Council contend that the company that filed the suit did not follow proper channels to court.

Responding Wednesday to a suit filed by Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc., the county asserts that the company should have appealedto the county zoning hearing examiner before taking the case to the civil courts.

Maryland Reclamation, the Churchville-based company,filed suit June 20, challenging two county laws.

The firm maintains that the laws were adopted to disrupt its efforts to get a state permit for its proposed asbestos and rubble dump near Havre de Grace.

One zoning regulation 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 other regulation requiresan applicant to obtain a state operating permit for a rubble dump within 18 months after the plans are introduced.

The company says the council approved the laws last spring knowing the firm could not meet the standards at its 68-acre site on Gravel Hill Road near Havre de Grace.

County Attorney Emory A. Plitt Jr. disputed Maryland Reclamation's claims.

"It's our position the bills are certainly legaland proper," he said.

The council adopted a resolution June 11, removing the Gravel Hill site from the county's solid waste managementplan because it no longer met the standards for rubble fills.

Maryland Reclamation is asking the court to overturn the laws and the resolution.

Plitt argued that the company is jumping the gun with its court suit because the firm has not yet gone before the zoning examiner and the county Board of Appeals with its case.

Citizens are permitted to seek variances and special exceptions to county zoning bygoing to the examiner and then the appeals board.

Citizens who don't agree with the board's decisions can appeal to the Circuit Court.

Maryland Reclamation has filed an appeal with the zoning examiner, but it then received a stay of the zoning proceedings from Circuit Judge Cypert O. Whitfill while it pursued its case in civil court.

The company claims in court papers that it would not receive a fair ruling from the appeals board because it is made up of the seven-member County Council, which already has stated its opposition to the dump.

The attorneys representing the county and the council also saidin their responses that Maryland Reclamation should have included the state Department of the Environment in its suit.

"In our opinion, if (Maryland Reclamation) really wants to compel the state to issuea permit, the state has to be a party to the suit,"Plitt said.

Inprevious court proceedings, however, Maryland Reclamation's attorneys compared suing the environment department to playing Russian roulette, since the department must be the agency to issue a permit for itsproposed dump.

Further court proceedings have not been scheduled yet.

Maryland Reclamation has requested depositions from five council members and two county staff members.

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