Environmentalists Balk At Proposed Auto Parts Plant

November 01, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

Rumblings of discontent are rising in the Pasadena environmental community over a proposed "automobile dismantling and recycling operation" that opponents say will be a new junkyard on Fort Smallwood Road.

But the architect of the would-be recycling plant says the environmentalists are cutting off their noses to spite their faces in opposing a modern facility that would recycle cars cleanly and in an environmentally sound manner.

"It seems to me sometimes that people are really short-sighted when, under the guise of environmentalism, they oppose a plant that canimprove the environment," said landscape architect Charles Brenton, who drew up plans for the 3-acre warehouse facility in the 6600 blockof Fort Smallwood Road in Marley Neck. Brenton designed the 10,000-square-foot warehouse and 2-acre gravel storage area for Mike Loher, who runs an auto parts yard in Hanover.

Mary Rosso, president of the Maryland Waste Coalition, looks over color photographs of Loher's Hanover facility and sees it differently.

"The operation that they are running on Dorsey Road is truly disgraceful," she said. "There are vehicles stacked four and five rows -- higher than a 10-foot privacy fence, batteries strewn all over, stuff in storm drains, gas tanks and engines that are clearly covered with oil right on the ground. Myunderstanding is they want to move this to Fort Smallwood Road."

Loher, Rosso and others will make their case at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, when Loher's proposal comes up for a public hearing at the Arundel Center in Annapolis.

Loher needs a special zoning exception to build a car recycling facility.

In 1985, in an attempt to phase out old junkyards, the county changed its zoning laws to forbid all but modern recycling facilities -- at least in theory.

"It really put some strict controls on what we can do. It's really model legislation," Brenton said. In the new facility, he said, all fluids will be stored and removed from a 500-gallon tank, and only cleaned shells of cars will be taken out of the warehouse on to the yard. The plant would alsohave an 80-foot wooded buffer between itand a creek off Curtis Bay.

But Patrick Dougal, who manages more than 1,600 acres of property in the neighborhood for CSX Transportation, is skeptical of the strength of the county's laws.

Dougal has mailed letters to neighbors urging them to come out to the public hearing in force to oppose the recycling plant.

"Our experience with junkyards in general is they become bigger, encroach on neighboring properties and have a problem with environmental contamination," he said. "We are trying to clean this area up to protect our property interests and the interests of the neighbors."

Loher said the Pasadena facility would be nothing like his Hanover yard, but he said he would withdraw the plans if strong community opposition persists after Tuesday.

"I'm not into aggravation. If a bunch of people complain, I'll say, 'All right, I'm out,' " Loher said.

AH Owner says he will back out if opposition persists

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