An Abingdon rubble fill operation says the company won't negotiate giving the county property easements for access to a major water line unless the county moves quickly on granting a permit for the company to expand its operation.
The company, Spencer's Sand & Gravel, hasbeen seeking county permission for the expansion for more than nine months.
If the operation were to close because it could not expand, Harford would be left with only one licensed private rubble fill area for dumping -- Pappy's Inc., Oak Avenue in Joppa.
"Spencer's has been put into a difficult situation," said George Harrison, a spokesman for County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann.
"We are working with Spencer's attorneys to resolve the situation, and the administration has been in touch with the County Council."
The county needs the easements to complete a connection to Baltimore City's aqueduct, known as the "Big Inch," so it can improve water pressure for customers.
The aqueduct starts at the Susquehanna River and runs through Harford County parallel to Interstate 95. The rubble fill, Spencer's Sand & Gravel Inc., is on Abingdon Road near Route 7 and I-95.
Spencer's, which has a permit for a 55-acre rubble fill on its site, Goheen said, wants to expand its operation by 13 acres. That expansion, however, cannot proceed unless the county includes the 13-acre expansion in the its Solid Waste Management Plan, an action Spencer's sought more thannine months ago, said William Geary, a company spokesman.
Geary said the delay has cost Spencer's $1 million in revenue.
"They needour property to tie into the 'Big Inch,' but I'm going to stop negotiating on that because they're not dealing in good faith," complainedGeary. "Effectively what they're doing is putting us out of business."
Spencer's has about a half-acre section of the rubble fill leftthat is empty, said Geary.
Without the 13-acre expansion, the rubble fill can remain open to the public for only about two more weeks before the remaining half-acre is full, Geary said.
But state administrators cannot proceed unless the county takes action, said John Goheen, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment.
A final phase of the state's approval process has been delayed because the state needs confirmation from the county that the expansion is inthe county's Solid Waste Management Plan, said Goheen.
Another reason that state has delayed granting a permit, Goheen said, is that there is confusion over whether a law passed by the County Council in March that established more stringent requirements for rubble fills applies to Spencer's.
The county law, which requires sites for rubble landfills to be located on tracts at least 100 acres, exempted rubble fills with existing state permits. Spencer's had an existing permit for 55 acres, Goheen said.
However, the state Department of theEnvironment treats an application for an expansion as a new permit, which requires a company to meet anew all local regulations and be included in the county's solid waste management plan, Goheen said.
Efforts to determine the effect of the new county law have in turn been hampered by legal challenges to the law, Goheen said.
Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc. and Harford Sands, have filed separate suits in Harford Circuit Court challenging the law, saying it was adopted to disrupt their efforts to obtain state permits to operate rubble fills.
Meanwhile, Geary said the delays mean Spencer's has operating losses of between $12,000 and $15,000 a day. "We're going to have to make a decision about whether to remain open," said Geary.