Council Fumes Over Rubble

March 22, 1992|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

Here's a dump, there's a dump, there's yet another dump.

That wasthe refrain at Tuesday's County Council meeting, as council members expressed their irritation at finding out earlier in the day that a proposed subdivision between Aberdeen and Riverside would be located within 300 feet of an illegal dump.

As part of an update of the county's master water and sewer plan,council members were being urged by Department of Public Works administrators to give priority development status to the planned 1,600-home Hollywoods subdivision.

Council members were further outraged to learn that the Planning and Zoning and Public Works Departments have had access to a county Health Department list of 39 illegal and legal dump sites.

Council members did not know of such a list until Tuesday night's discussion of the so-called Lieske dump site, located between Aberdeen and Riverside.

The site's existence became publicknowledge only after council members discussed a proposed amendment to the county's master water and sewer system plan that would give the Hollywoods subdivision permission to develop in six to 10 years. Priority status, which DPW was urging, means the project could proceed in the next five years.

Councilman Barry T. Glassman, R-District D, expressed his anger to Public Works administrators.

"I'm surprised the administration was going to recommend to us that we go ahead,"said the councilman.

"The administration has to take responsibility for public safety and welfare," Glassman said.

"You're placing some 400-odd units when we know we may have a possible environmental problem, yet you negotiate the deal in eight hours. It's time you take responsibility for public health and safety."

William G. Carroll, planning and zoning director, said Wednesday that he had never heard of the illegal dump site until Tuesday afternoon.

"The project was approved by the Board of Appeals as a community development project in 1982, but nothing much was done after that," Carroll said.

"Recently, the developer presented us with a revised, and we thought much improved, concept plan. We were pleased with what they were doing.

"When the rubble fill issue came up, that was the first I'd heardof it," he said.

Told by county Health Officer Thomas M. Thomas that his department had been providing a list of dump sites -- including the Lieske site -- to Public Works for about six months, Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, wanted to know why the council had not been given the same list.

"Here's a rubble fill, there's a rubble fill, there's another rubble fill. I'm tired of these little surprises," Parrott said.

Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, also was upset.

"There's more than just rubble at (the Lieskesite). There are pictures that show leaking drums. We have seen at least one other site slip through the process," Pierno said.

"This is the council's own doing. If we hadn't asked questions, it would not have been mentioned."

The council voted, 6-1, to put Hollywoods on a list of projects to be developed six to 10 years from now.

Parrott voted against the motion, saying she thought the project shouldbe delayed indefinitely until some answers were provided.

"I've been upset numerous times, but nothing has upset me more than the apparent unwillingness of DPW personnel to make information available to the people most directly affected," Pierno said.

Pierno said she also was upset to learn that the state Department of the Environment had been asked to investigate the Lieske site, but had apparently not reported its findings to the county.

She said she would ask the state for those records.

It was not the first time the council has expressed their frustration over the state Environment Department's responsiveness.

In the case of the Spencer's rubble fill in Abingdon, council members asked repeatedly for all state Department of the Environment documents pertaining to the site.

After much pressure, council member's received a year's worth of inspection reports.

In January, the council approved an 18-acre expansion of the site.

Last week, council members learned of state documents that show the presence of 55 drums on the Spencer's site, including at least one drum clearly marked as containing a hazardous material.

In frustration,Pierno made a rare motion, passed unanimously, to use the council's subpoena power to get all state Environment Department and county Health Department documents related to the Spencer's site before a March26 state hearing that is part of the permit process for the Spencer's site.

"I want this information so that when the state has a hearing March 26, they'll have all the information and documents," said Pierno.

"You would think we wouldn't need to do that. It would feelmore comfortable to just ask and get everything, but we've done thatbefore and it hasn't worked."

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