Bill to provide tax relief for landfill neighbors dies

April 03, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

A bill that would have given property tax relief to residents who live near private rubble landfills in Harford County failed to win support in the House Ways and Means Committee, which effectively killed it for this session of the Maryland General Assembly.

The proposed legislation, which was introduced by the Harford County delegation, would have authorized the county to grant a tax credit on certain owner-occupied residential properties within feet of a privately owned and operated rubble fill.

"It's very disappointing," said Donna Hausmann, a neighbor of the Oak Avenue rubble fill in Joppa, on hearing that the bill had been killed.

"The state is aware there are problems associated with these sites, but we're not compensated in any way."

Mrs. Hausmann, who says her front door is within 100 feet of the perimeter of the Oak Avenue rubble fill, has lived in her Joppa Road home 13 years.

She says that since Pappy's Inc. began operating the rubble fill on its Oak Avenue site in 1988, the neighborhood has had to endure excessive noise, odors, truck traffic, dust and roaches, which has made life next to the operation miserable.

"I pay the same taxes as others in the county, but I don't get the same quality of life," she said.

The Oak Avenue operation, which accepts construction debris, such as concrete, lumber and roofing material, is the only private rubble fill operating in the county.

Spencer Sand & Gravel Inc.'s rubble fill was closed by the state in August 1992.

A controversial proposal for a rubble fill on Gravel Hill Road near Havre de Grace is being litigated in federal court.

Robert Hockaday, the county's director of government relations, urged the county delegation last week to seek reconsideration for the rubble fill legislation.

But Harford Del. David Craig, a former member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the committee never reverses an unfavorable report.

The District 34 Republican said Harford's proposed legislation bothered some delegates, particularly from Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties, who thought it had statewide implications.

"They felt that any bill would open the door for pressure from constituents in other counties" where similar nuisances exist, Mr. Craig said.

He said Baltimore Washington International Airport and the proposed new stadium in Laurel were cited as potential sources of similar requests from other counties if the Harford bill were approved.

"I feel very sorry for any neighborhood in this situation and think this is the least the state could do," said Jan Stinchcomb, a member of Harford County's Ad Hoc Committee on Solid Waste, which advises the county executive. "It would have been a bone to throw at these residents."

A neighbor of the now-closed Spencer rubble fill in Abingdon, Mrs. Stinchcomb said that rubble fills are an important issue not only to those who live nearby but to the entire county because of the threat of pollution and the potential cost of cleaning them up.

"Almost everywhere you have a landfill, you end up with ground-water contamination," she said.

"Harford has had more than its share of landfills," she said.

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