The county is asking 14 Gambrills, Millersville and Severn residents for advice on the troubled Millersville Landfill.
In an attempt to defuse concerns about the 567-acre site, County Executive Robert R. Neall has appointed the residents, who live in nearby communities, to a citizens advisory panel.
County officials hope the committee will be a "conduit" of information to and from residents, said Jody Vollmar, a spokeswoman for the Department of Utilities, which assumed control of the Burns Crossing Road facility and other county landfills last month.
"The committee is meant to provide Utilities with a cross-section of community opinions and concerns," Vollmar said.
That, in turn, will allow the Utilities Department to consider and respond to residents in a timely fashion, she said.
The landfill has come under increased scrutiny by nearby residents who are angry that the county did not inform them of 3-year-old plans to extend the facility's life by 25 years or the 1985 discovery of toxic chemicals in two ground water monitoring wells.
The committee is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. May 6 in the Patuxent Water Reclamation Facility.
John Scofield, whose Severn home sits 1,500 feet from the site, has been appointed chairman of the advisory panel.
"I want the committee to be the eyes and ears -- and unfortunately, the nose -- of our community," said Scofield, who moved in a year before the landfill opened 18 years ago.
His first goal, he said, will be to ensure that the county operates the landfill properly and complies with state environmental laws. He said he also would like to focus on cleaning up the tainted ground water.
Some of the appointees worry that the county will not heed their concerns.
Lina Vlavianos, a Millersville resident, said she wants the advisory committee to delve into the landfill's history of environmental violations and management problems, into its current operation and what plans the county has for it in the future.
"I don't know if this advisory committee is something I want to be part of or not," said Tom Fales, a Seven resident who lives within 500 feet of the landfill. "I don't want to be part of the redesign of this place to keep it open another 25 years."
Fales has filed suit in Circuit Court on behalf of several hundred residents, asking that the landfill be closed permanently.
"My first reaction because I live here is to close the place down," Scofield said. "But I'm practical enough to know that even if [the courts order it closed], it will take forever. The county's attorneys will tie it up."
Still, Scofield said, he plans to keep a "healthy skepticism" about any county proposal.
"We ended up with too many years of lies to be taken in again," he said.
Other members of the committee are: Rebecca Stephens of Gambrills Road; Karen Owens and Denise Hood of New Cut Road; Karen Denton of Constant Avenue; George Tabak of Aurora Hills; Joseph Everett of Villa Bella; Robert McMurtrie of the Greater Severn Improvement Association; the Rev. Jack Cox of the Severn Covenant Church; Ann Lewin of Dichus Mill Road; Jack Roberts of Bretton Woods; and Michael Gunther, a trash hauler and Villa Bella resident.