Charles McCullough, owner of a North Point landscaping business, wants to start what he's calling a "waste wood recycling" operation on 11 acres across from old Norris Farm landfill in eastern Baltimore County.
McCullough is promoting the plant, which will require $3.3 million worth of wood chipping and mulching machines, as a "clean" operation good for the environment.
But critics and nearby neighbors already are opposing McCullough's plan. They're calling it "the new stump dump."
Residents fear that noise from buzzing saws and dust from 40 tractor-trailers a day will create a nuisance, in addition to a fire hazard, if McCullough allows the stumps, trees and other debris to pile up. They pointto the trouble Granite residents have experienced by a stump dump that has burned for months, sending smoke and odors into the air for miles around.
The two sides will square off tomorrow at 7 p.m. at a public hearing at North Point Library, 1716 Merritt Blvd., on McCullough's county permit application. Under a 1989 county law, anyone who wants to store or process waste products, including wood, must have a permit.
Under McCullough's plan, he would accept about 40 commercial truckloads a day of old stumps, tree limbs, roots and other waste wood, then turn it into reusable products such as mulch and wood chips.
The wood stuff would come from new construction sites, from damaged trees and from old wooden pallets used in the shipping industry. The facility would operate during normal working hours, five days a week.
"We're keeping it out of the landfill," McCullough said. "And we're recycling it. If you recycle all the material you can . . ., you don't need as much space in the landfill."
Janet Wood, president of the Wells-McComas Citizens Improvement Association, said, "It's the wrong location. I'm all in favor of recycling, but in the proper site."
Several residential streets are within two blocks of the site, she said.
"He says it's only going to be as loud as a chain saw," Wood said. "But who wants to listen to a chain saw eight hours a day, five days a week? And he's wrong. It's going to be much louder than a chain saw."
Her biggest fear is of fire.
Wood said she's afraid that if McCullough is allowed to, he will follow the practice of James F. Jett at the Granite stump dump. Jett piled up stumps and logs for years. The huge mass caught fire last winter and the county Fire Department hasn't been able to put it out.
McCullough noted that under the permit he could store materials up to 72 hours. But he said he would have the stuff brought in, processed and immediately trucked away.
McCullough said he would use wood-chipping equipment that uses water to reduce dust and would provide a buffer of trees to reduce noise.
One critic of the plan, Guido Guarnaccia, also a member of the Wells-McComas Citizens Improvement Association, noted that McCullough had tried to build a warehouse on the same land and failed.
Baltimore County Circuit Court records show that McCullough filed for bankruptcy in May, after being sued for more than $50,000 in the failed warehouse deal.
McCullough insisted that if he gets the permit, he will be able to proceed quickly because he has financial backing of several investors, whom he declined to name.