Maryland Reclamation asks judge to lift injunction

May 24, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

1/8 TC A Churchville-based company has asked a Harford Circuit Court judge to lift an injunction that would allow the company to start some operations at its controversial rubble fill near Havre de Grace.

The company, Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc., received a state permit for the rubble fill, but the injunction prevents the company from starting operations at the dump until several court cases are resolved.

Attorneys representing the county and the County Council have objected to the company's request, saying it is too soon for the courts to lift the injunction.

Circuit Judge Cypert O. Whitfill made no ruling on the company's request after hearing arguments from the two sides at a hearing on Tuesday.

Maryland Reclamation wants the injunction lifted so it can start operations at a 24-acre portion of its Gravel Hill Road site. The company has 68 acres at the site.

The company and the county have been in court for nearly two years over the county's efforts to block the rubble fill's opening. Two suits remain unresolved.

Maryland Reclamation and the county are in court over a county zoning law that set strict regulations for the dump that the company cannot meet. The law requires dump sites to be at least 100 acres and a minimum of 1,000 feet from the nearest structure.

Meanwhile, the county and citizens opposed to the dump also have appealed a state Department of the Environment decision to grant the company a permit for the rubble fill.

William Hooper, a Bel Air attorney for Maryland Reclamation, charged that the county is deliberately setting up legal roadblocks to "drag us out of business."

Maryland Reclamation has spent several hundred thousand dollars on engineering reports and legal fees because of the lawsuits, Hooper told the court. The company needs the injunction so it can recoup the expenses, he said.

Meanwhile, the state permit issued for the rubble fill will expire in March 1997, the attorney said.

"Every day we're unable to operate, we're losing one of those that permit is limited to," he said. "It's conceiveable [the lawsuits] could be going on the next five years."

But Deputy County Attorney Jefferson Blomquist argued that the court should not lift the injunction because Maryland Reclamation has only a "provisional permit," as a result of the pending lawsuits.

"They do not currently have a permit to operate a rubble landfill," Blomquist told the judge. "Their request goes well beyond what they're allowed to do."

Hooper argued that the company should be allowed to use the site now because the land was once covered by a permit for

similar operations in the 1980s.

The tract's previous owner, Johnson Construction Co., held a state industrial waste permit that allowed the company to dump stumps, brush and concrete at the site, Hooper said. That permit expired in 1991.

The attorney noted that Maryland Reclamation would dump the same kind of materials at the site under a state refuse disposal permit that the company received last March.

Even if the county wins the lawsuits, Hooper contended, Maryland Reclamation will most likely be allowed to operate its rubble fill because it will be "grandfathered" under the county zoning law.

But Blomquist argued that the company would not be grandfathered because the old permit was for a specific company and operations. He added that such permits are no longer issued by the state.

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