The way Jan Stinchcomb sees it, somebody has to look out for the health of her future neighbors in Abingdon.
So she's organized a group of about 30 Abingdon residents to keep watch on county reviews of aproposed Abingdon development of more than 700 homes that would be built near four closed landfills.
One of the dumps is on the federal Superfund list of hazardous waste sites.
Many of the concerned citizens don't live near the development site, but want to make sure that health and environmental questions about the dumps are answered before the development is allowedby county planners to proceed, Stinchcomb said.
"Maybe it's not my business. It's not in my backyard," said Stinchcomb, who lives about a half-mile from the development site. "I just want to make sure people are in a good, safe environment."
The proposed housing development, named Hidden Stream, would include 719 town homes, condominiums and single-family houses built on 137 acres on both sides of Old Philadelphia Road, near Abingdon Road. The project awaits preliminary approval from the county.
Last month, the county Health Department ordered Hidden Stream's developer, Morris Wolf of Baltimore County, to conduct studies to determine if the site is polluted with toxic chemicals and methane, a flammable gas.
Wolf is working with the county to determine if a problem exists and a schedule for the studies.
The Hidden Stream property is surrounded by three illegal dumps andlocated just across the street from the Superfund landfill.
"I don't know why there's a sudden interest in this project," said Frank Hertsch, a Bel Air attorney representing Wolf. "I can't tell you what generated it."
Florian Svitak, another Abingdon resident concernedabout the development, said he questions "the wisdom of building this thing next to a landfill when we don't even know what's in there."
He said he is concerned that youths from Hidden Stream will play in the forest covering the Superfund site, unknowingly coming in contact with toxic materials.
The forest, overgrown with vegetation, will be an attractive playground for youths looking for adventure, Svitak said.
Stinchcomb said she is not demanding that the county reject the development plans, provided that the materials buried in the landfills don't pose a health threat to the subdivision's residents.
Meanwhile, Svitak said he thinks the studies should be expanded to include properties bordering the Hidden Stream site.
Svitak, who lives about a half-mile from the proposed development, said citizens must act now or face the possibility that today's apathy will cause big problems in the future for Abingdon residents.
"Is this really where we want people to live?" Svitak asked.
"I think we have to ask those questions. We are the ones to make those decisions. I think we have a responsibility to think about 10, 20 and 30 years beyond."