An Abingdon rubble fill seeking to expand by 18 acres is exempt froma law passed by the County Council in March that set stringent size and other zoning restrictions on such dumps.
At least that's the view of Jefferson Blomquist, deputy county attorney, and William G. Carroll, director of the Department of Planning and Zoning. They made that assessment at a public hearing Tuesday on the expansion proposal of Spencer's Sand & Gravel Inc. Its 51-acre rubble dump is on Abingdon Road near Interstate 95.
Abingdon resident Diana Lee Hughes was one of seven who testifiedat the hearing, which was attended by about 30 opponents of the rubble fill's expansion.
"This is not an expansion, it's a new permit," said Hughes. "The residents of Harford County are willing to be responsible for their rubble, but we need a county-owned facility in which it can prohibit out-of-county and out-of-state waste."
The company must have the site included in the county's Solid Waste Management Plan before the state Department of the Environment will issue an operating permit for the new section.
Carroll said Spencer's owners"met the requirements for exemption because they applied for expansion before Feb. 12, 1991, and because they already had an operating permit for a portion of the property before Feb. 12, 1991."
In addition, he said, the Spencer family's property totaled 137 acres -- morethan the 100-acre minimum set by the new law.
Council members delayed a decision on incorporating the expanded area in the county's Solid Waste Management Plan until MDE provides state records on the rubble fill, including any environmental violations.
County planners have recommended approval of the expansion, provided the company complies with 12 requirements. These include allowing a county employee on site to check rubble being brought in, creating a 200-foot buffer, and putting a gate at the rubble fill entrance.
Harford's new rubble fill law is one of the toughest in the state, restricting the size, location and operation of rubble dumps, state administrators say.
Provisions include a 100-acre minimum lot size, and a 1,000-foot buffer between the site and neighboring buildings.
Elwood V. Stark Jr., a lawyer representing the company, said Spencer family members live on a portion of the rubble fill property.
"They've tried to be good neighbors. They have attempted to respond to complaints. They'renot perfect," said Stark.
Council member Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, questioned Stark closely about his statement that the expanded section of the rubble fill would last about four more years.
"In 1984, you came before the prior council and stated that expansion would last about 10 years," said Pierno. "Was a promise made that people would only have to put up with the nuisance for a few more years?"
Stark said the family made no promise but is attempting to fill in an area that had been excavated for sand and gravel. He said the rubble dump was filled more quickly than expected due to the construction boom Harford has experienced in the last five years.
"I don't think anybody expected the amount of land clearing we've had," said Stark. "There was no subdivision there at the time. The other houses have been built in the last 1 1/2 years."
One of those who testifiedin support of the proposed expansion was Werner K. Ferrone.
"Overthe last five years, I've watched the Spencers diligently clean up dirt in the road. I wish county employees were that diligent," said Ferrone, who lives near the already-closed section of the rubble fill.
"I don't really have any fears," he added. I am not a member of the family, I do not work for them, I don't owe them anything. I have abrand new baby. I have my well tested by the county every four or five months, and so far there's never been a problem. Every person in this room makes rubble and makes trash, and we simply cannot send it all to West Virginia."