County Bogs Downon Management Of Environment

14 News Story

January 05, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

The county commissioners won't receive rave reviews for their performance on environmental issues in 1991.

Plans for a countywide recycling program inched along most of the year, picking up steam and taking amorphous shape only by year's end. Carroll is the only jurisdiction in the Baltimore region that has yet to launch a pilot curbside recycling effort.

The commissioners placed additional pressure on the operating budget by keeping the landfill "tipping" fee at $15 per ton, a bargain compared with fees in other counties. The fee is supposed to make solid waste operations self-sufficient and to have those using the landfill pay for its costs.

A significant increase in the tipping fee isexpected this year as recycling becomes mandatory.

The commissioners tabled a recommendation from the county's environmental director to charge all homeowners an annual $47 trash collection fee to pay for solid waste programs.

Some suggestions have been made to divide the county into districts, then have trash haulers bid for franchise rights in order to lower residential trash collection costs. But the commissioners have been reluctant to intervene in private enterprise matters.

County environmentalists objected when the commissioners dismantled the 2-year-old Department of Natural Resource Protection during the midyear govern ment restructuring. They charged that the act showed diminished concern for environmental issues.

Controversy also surrounded two other measures. Developers protested the county'swriting its own ordinance and administering a state-mandated forest conservation program. The commissioners waffled on the issue, then made a late-hour decision to run their own program, rather than deferring to the state.

Developers also complained that the county's enforcement of its landscape ordinance, which requires minimum landscaping standards in developments, has been too zealous. Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said he wants to modify the 2-year-old ordinance.

In other environmental issues:

* The federal Environmental Protection Agency found 10 Pennsylvania companies liable for contamination of Pennsylvania's Keystone Landfill, less than a mile north of theCarroll border near Silver Run, and ordered them to submit a plan tocap the facility and clean surrounding ground water. Nearby residents have feared that contamination from the landfill could pollute their wells.

* Westminster resident Monroe Haines, a self-appointed watchdog of an unnamed stream along Railroad Avenue in Westminster, persuaded the commissioners to write the state Department of the Environment expressing concern that industry and urban runoff could be polluting the tributary to the West Branch of the Patapsco River.

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