Pet crematory foes step up opposition Residents gearing up for August hearing

June 14, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

SILVER RUN -- Residents trying to stop a pet crematory from opening here raised almost $1,000 Thursday to hire experts to represent them at a state hearing that has been postponed until August.

The Howard County businessman who wants to open the crematory said he asked the county Office of Administrative Hearings to postpone the hearing because the maker of the incinerator would not be able to testify July 27 and 28.

About 120 residents requested the hearing after the Maryland Department of the Environment announced in February that it would grant a permit to Jerry Rosenbaum, owner of J.R. NOW Inc.

Rosenbaum plans to open the crematory in an old cannery in an industrially zoned area off Littlestown Pike near Mayberry Road.

The hearing, which will deal only with air quality issues, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 25 and 26 at Western Maryland College.

The postponement is fine with residents.

"Every single day we can stop pollution from going into the industrial park is a victory," said Charles J. Barnhart of East Mayberry Road.

The delay also gives residents more time to raise the $5,000 they say they'll need to pay an attorney and an environmental expert for the hearing.

About 50 residents met Thursday night at St. Mary's Evangelical Lutheran Church and voted to form the Silver Run-Union Mills Citizens for a Healthy Environment.

The group elected officers and voted to seek a court injunction to stop the crematory from opening if necessary.

Residents fear the crematory will hurt air quality and their health, contaminate wells, harm property values and generate more traffic.

Rosenbaum, who operates a pet cemetery in Dorsey, said he owns a 10,000-square-foot building in the industrial area. He has said he plans to install an incinerator that can handle 240 dogs and cats -- one at a time -- a month.

MDE officials said Rosenbaum's incinerator could meet state emissions standards.

Residents said they don't have much hope that the state will reverse its decision to grant Rosenbaum the permit, but said it's important to make a good showing at the August hearing.

"I don't think our chances of winning that thing are very good," Barnhart said. "It's all going to get down to politics. It's going to take a lot of support and a lot of money."

Iven Rathbone of Littlestown Pike, who was elected to head the citizens group, said he is encouraged that the county Health Department has not yet approved a building permit for the crematory.

But Charles L. Zeleski, assistant director of the county's Environmental Health Department, said the department can't approve the building permit until the state issues its permit.

The Health Department has no specific problems with Rosenbaum's plan, but paperwork shows one inconsistency that must be resolved before a building permit can be issued, he said. It is not clear whether Rosenbaum wants to operate the incinerator five or 10 hours a day, Zeleski said. If it operates more than five hours, the county would require him to install bathrooms and a septic system, he said.

Rosenbaum would not comment on his plans Friday.

Edward Wilkowski of Littlestown Pike said the county should not allow an industrial area so near homes. Several homes are adjacent to the industrial site.

But county Zoning Administrator Solveig L. Smith said the land was zoned for industrial use in the early 1960s when the building lTC was used as a cannery and before the county's zoning ordinance was enacted in 1965.

Assistant County Attorney Brian M. Bowersox researched the issue and found that setback requirements that would apply to a new industrial park do not apply here, she said.

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