The trucks were rolling again yesterday, 30-footers heading south onSt. Stephens Church Road loaded with stumps and brush, bound for Robert E. Gertz's horse farm. With the consent of a Circuit Court judge,Gertz has resumed the job of filling the ravines on his property andcollecting dumping fees from haulers.
Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr.ruled on Feb. 19 that a county ordinance governing landfills does not apply to Gertz's work, thereby lifting a court order that has prevented Gertz from accepting rubble fill for nearly two years. Gertz hasbeen using the fill to smooth the ravines and the slopes on his property and create more land suitable for boarding horses.
Gertz is pleased with the decision, but the county says the dispute -- the first challenge to the April 1990 landfill ordinance -- is not over.
"We're considering an appeal" Assistant County Attorney Cheryl Boudreau said yesterday. "We don't think it's settled."
Shereferred to the question of whether the 1990 landfill ordinance applies to Gertz's 86-acre farm near Davidsonville. Boudreau said the county has not decided whether to file its appeal now, or wait until Gertz's damage claim is settled. She said the county has not decided theground on which it would appeal the decision.
If the county had prevailed, Gertz would have been required to get a license to operate a landfill. Gertz believes that would stop him cold, as his farm doesnot meet the 100-acre minimum specified by the ordinance.
The ordinance also says that when the landfill space is full, the owner mustgrant the county the right to use the land as a public park or otherrecreation area. That does not jibe with Gertz's plan to establish ahorse farm surrounded by homes for himself and his children.
"Twojudges have said I have the right to do this," Gertz said yesterday."How can the county continue to defy these judge's decisions?"
Hereferred to Duckett's Feb. 19 ruling and to a December 1989 decisionby Circuit Court Judge Martin A. Wolff, which addressed two different legal issues. Wolff ruled that Gertz was not in contempt of court and did not violate a 1985 court-sanctioned agreement between Gertz and the county. The agreement specified the conditions under which Gertz could fill the ravines to create more farmland. Duckett ruled on the effect of the landfill ordinance on the Gertz operation.
Duckettmade a similar ruling last July, only to reverse himself in September, thus continuing the ban on filling at the Gertz farm that has beenin effect since July 1990.
Gertz said the ban has cost him a lot of money, and he's suing the county for $250,000 in damages. For nearly two years he's been barred from collecting about $150 per load from haulers emptying 30- and 35-foot trailers on his land.
Within 10minutes yesterday afternoon, two trailers loaded with stumps and brush cleared from a 12-acre site on College Parkway rolled down St. Stephens Church Road, headed for the Gertz farm.
Gertz also claims that because of the ban, his land has been damaged by erosion and a once-clear pond has turned into a pool of mud.