17 acres will buffer the landfill Arundel buys farm in Severn

November 15, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County has purchased a Severn farm to create a buffer between the county's new, $10 million trash disposal area in Millersville and neighboring homes.

Dennis Parkinson, the county's chief administrative officer, has signed a $298,000 deal for 17 acres on Constant Avenue at the northwest corner of the Millersville Landfill, said Anne Mannix, an assistant press secretary to County Executive Robert R. Neall.

The property, owned by Gary W. and Karen Denton, lies within 500 feet of Cell 8, a plastic-lined disposal area that opened last month.

Neighbors complained that the county violated two health codes at other disposal areas at the 18-year-old facility. The laws

prohibit landfills from being built within 1,000 feet of a home and bar dumping within 500 feet of a road or dwelling.

Faye Scheibe, a spokeswoman for the Department of Utilities, which manages the Burns Crossing Road site, acknowledged that a buffer was "one of the issues that was important to #F neighboring residents."

But, Ms. Scheibe said, the county negotiated the purchase agreement with the Dentons "as a good neighbor, not because we had to."

Ms. Scheibe said legal questions about siting the landfill and its operation were turned over to the county Office of Law, which has not responded, she said.

The landfill has come under increased scrutiny since residents learned last spring about plans to extend its life by 25 years and the state cracked down on environmental violations at the 567-acre facility.

Ms. Scheibe said the county Department of Utilities cannot ease residents' concerns about practices at the landfill that occurred before this spring, when it took over management from the Department of Public Works. "It's hard to reconstruct what happened 17 years ago," she said.

Instead, the department is concentrating on the construction and operation of Cells 8 and 9, she said.

"We're trying to build some confidence in the Millersville area. One question that keeps coming up is they want a 500-foot buffer," Ms. Scheibe said. "One way of doing that is buying [the] Dentons' property."

The Dentons, who neighbors say have moved to North Carolina, could not be reached for comment.

In April, during a public hearing on the landfill, Karen Denton complained that she and her husband had been unable to sell their home after more than a year on the market. She attributed the problem, in part, to its proximity to the landfill.

County officials are weighing whether they need to purchase any additional buffer property, Ms. Scheibe said. "We are looking at a couple of other properties. We may or may not buy them," she said.

James Pittman, deputy director of the state Waste Management Administration, said the county has brought the landfill into compliance within the past five months.

"All the things that were broken are now fixed. The question that remains is, can they stay that way?" Mr. Pittman said last week. "It's going to be our job to make sure they do."

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