A plan by Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden to convert a burning stump dump in Granite to parkland or a county tree nursery may be easier said than done.
Hayden announced yesterday that the county will buy the 35 acres where a fire has burned since last February, sending smoke and odors for miles.
The land belongs to James Jett, owner of Patapsco Valley Farms Inc., whose 215 acres contain the dump and a Christmas tree farm.
Hayden said he will ask the County Council to condemn the 35 acres if Jett refuses to sell or if he won't agree to a price.
The county will have Jett's land appraised and make an offer, he said. He said a nearby similarly sized parcel recently brought $250,000.
Michael P. Tanczyn, Jett's attorney, said the county would not only have to pay for the 35 acres but compensate Jett for the loss of the business, which he said generated $750,000 last year. The dump of construction debris was closed by court order this summer.
Tanczyn said the county would have to have a good public purpose for buying the land, rather than acting to "put a guy out of business."
TC Hayden said the site could be left in a natural state as a park or used to grow trees and plants for public projects. The purchase would be made with parkland acquisition money in the capital budget.
County Councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, praised the plan, saying community leaders would be pleased.
Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Balto. Co., criticized it for "rewarding Jett for running a terrible environmental hazard."
Manley said the purchase would not reward Jett but would protect residents and relieve the county of future legal bills.
For the past five years, Jett has successfully battled the county, the state and community groups trying to shut down his operation.