Administration Won't Join Mra Appeal

March 08, 1992|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

Although the County Council voted, 7-0, Tuesday to appeal the state's decision allowing an asbestos and rubble fill near Havre de Grace, county government won't join in the appeal.

County Attorney Emory Plitt said Friday the appeal may be unnecessary, since county zoning laws will prevent Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc. from operatinga landfill.

"The permit says that it does not allow MRA to operate in violation of county zoning laws," Plitt said, citing new laws restricting the size and location of rubble fills. "We believe this issue must be decided on zoning, and we are prepared to litigate that issue," Plitt said.

MRA, which has been trying to start the 68-acre rubble fill on Gravel Hill Road since September 1989, has sued the council and county government. Company officials contend the new laws, passed in 1991, should not apply to them.

Two weeks ago, the Maryland Department of the Environment issued the Churchville-base company, owned by Richard D. Schafer, an operating permit.

H. Edward Andrews III, thecouncil attorney, said the council will request an administrative appeal hearing on the grounds that MDE's decision was "arbitrary and capricious" and ignored the testimony of opponents. Area residents and experts they enlisted said during a public hearing that they feared ground water in the area could be contaminated by a rubble fill.

The MDE permit, issued Feb. 28, would allow MRA to accept construction,demolition and land-clearing debris, a spokesman for the department said. The facility also would be allowed to handle asbestos under strict conditions.

Before beginning operations, MRA would need a ground water

discharge permit from the state and a court order from Harford Circuit Judge Cypert O. Whitfill. Last year, Whitfill prohibited MRA from taking any action pending the resolution of two lawsuits MRA had filed against the council.

In one case, the state Court of Special Appeals ruled Jan. 29 the council exceeded its authority in 1990 when it removed MRA's site from its solid waste management plan. Inclusion in a county's solid waste management plan is a prerequisitefor receiving a state permit to operate a rubble fill.

The council is appealing the case to the state Court of Appeals.

The second suit, challenging the council's contention that new zoning laws approved in March 1991 should apply to MRA, is pending before the state's highest court.

The new regulations require a rubble fill site be at least 100 acres in size and 1,000 feet from residential areas. MRA's site would not meet either requirement.

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