Disregarding State Deadline, Council Defers Recycling Plan

December 22, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,SUN STAFF

The County Council has voted to ignore a Jan. 1 state deadline for filing a plan to recycle trash.

The council's 4-3 vote on Tuesday to delay action on the plan until at least Jan. 7 could result, some county administrators warn, in stiff penalties, such as a state ban onthe issuance of building permits in Harford.

State regulators would not say what action they are considering in response to the delay.

"We are disappointed they decided to holdoff a decision on the recycling plan until next year," said John Goheen, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment. "The county's really hurting itself because it's leaving less time to actually implement the plan, which must be done by 1994. We're hoping to get the plan as soon as possible. If not, we'll take whatever action isappropriate at that time."

Of the state's 24 jurisdictions, Harford is the only one that has not filed a plan to reduce the waste stream into landfills. The original deadline set by MDE was 1989, but Harford has been granted several extensions since then.

Council members who voted against the delay argued that the county has had plenty of time to consider the plan and now needs to move on to new legislation awaiting debate. Voting against the delay were Susan A. Heselton,R-District A, Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, and Philip J. Barker,D-District F.

But council members who voted to buck the deadline said they did so, in part, because the state Department of the Environment ignored their requests for state records about a company seeking to expand an Abingdon rubble fill.

That was the reasoning behindthe votes of council president Jeffrey D. Wilson and council membersJoanne S. Parrott, R-District B, Barry T. Glassman, R-District D, and Robert S. Wagner, R-District E, to delay action on the recycling proposal.

"I'm to the point where I'm prepared to vote on this, but I feel rushed," said Glassman.

"I felt the council took a courteous, cooperative decision toward the Maryland Department of the Environment and all we got was a non-answer," said Wilson.

Wilson added that in a telephone conversation he had this week with Secretary of the Environment Robert Perciasepe, Perciasepe said it was the council'scall whether to comply with the deadline.

"They knew we were having a public hearing on a solid waste management issue and didn't forward the information we requested. That kind of undermines my willingness to work things out," said Wilson.

The council had requested state records on Spencer's Sand & Gravel Inc. of Abingdon, which is seeking to expand its 51-acre rubble fill by 18 acres.

MDE provided no records on Spencer's or information about any possible environmental violations, despite numerous requests from council members, said Thomas M. Thomas, county health officer.

"I don't know what they'll do to us," said Larry Klimovitz, director of administration, after the vote. He had warned the council at its Dec. 10 meeting that missingthe deadline could carry stiff penalties, including the ban on building permits.

Council members voted Dec. 10 to write to the Secretary of the Environment, asking for an extension of the deadline until Feb. 4. Perciasepe responded by letter that his agency would not sanction a delay. He urged the council to act before adjourning for the holiday break, which lasts until Jan. 7.

Wagner said he believes the public needs another chance to comment before the council votes on the recycling plan, which has been discussed since the council took office in December 1990. He and the other three council members supporting the delay also want more time to consider a proposed $60-per-tonfee trash haulers would pay to dump refuse in a landfill or the county's waste-to-energy plant.

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