Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc. has received a state permit to build and operate a rubble and asbestos fill near Havre de Grace.
Maryland Reclamation's proposal for the 68-acre dump on Gravel Hill Road has stirred controversy for more than two years. The dispute has resulted in several lawsuits between the company, the county and residents opposed to the plan.
The Churchville-based company was granted the permit by the stateDepartment of the Environment. The department said, however, it willnot allow the company to begin construction until a county zoning dispute is resolved.
"While they have a permit, they do not have ourpermission to violate local land use and zoning rules," said John Goheen, a spokesman for MDE.
"Those issues are between the permit holder and the county."
Maryland Reclamation and the county are in court over a new county zoning law that sets strict regulations for dumps.
The law requires that dumps be at least 100 acres in size and1,000 feet away from the nearest building.
County Council memberssaid the environment department's decision to issue the permit was not unexpected.
"It's disappointing but not surprising," said Councilman Barry T. Glassman, R-District D.
"This thing has got to run its course," Glassman said, referring to the court case over the county zoning law.
"I feel the law is in our court."
The MDE permit, issued Friday, would allow Maryland Reclamation to accept construction, demolition and land-clearing debris, the department said. The facility can handle asbestos under strict conditions.
Maryland Reclamation will be prohibited from putting refuse within three feet of ground water supplies, the department said. MRA must install water monitoring wells and a seven-foot fence around the site.
The company also will be required to provide the environment department with annual laboratory analysis of ground water from the monitoring wells, the department said.
Maryland Reclamation also must receive a ground water discharge permit from the state before it can start operations, Goheen said. A hearing over the permit will be scheduled before it will be issued.
The environment department's decision to issue the permit comes after the state Court of Special Appeals ruled that the County Council exceeded its authority in 1990 by removing the proposedrubble fill from its solid-waste management plan.
In that opinion, a three-judge panel of the state's second-highest court upheld a ruling by Harford Circuit Judge Cypert O. Whitfill, who said it was up to the state Department of the Environment to approve landfill sites.
In the appellate court opinion, Judge Paul E. Alpert noted that counties have had a lesser role in the permit-approval process since 1988 when a state law turned most of the authority over to MDE.
However, the council last month voted to ask the state Court of Appeals for a ruling on whether the county can block the proposed landfill.
Maryland Reclamation has been trying to establish the rubble fill since September 1989.
The Churchville-based company first sued the council and the county after its rubble fill, which had previously been approved by the council, was removed from the solid waste management plan in May 1990.