Neighbor fights plan for trash-handling facility

June 16, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

A major waste-hauler's plans to build Howard County's first trash-handling facility in 14 years was opposed last night by a neighboring landholder concerned that the project could discourage businesses from moving into the Elkridge area.

Bluestream Limited Partnership, the neighbor, sought an immediate dismissal of Browning-Ferris Industries' petition for a solid-waste zoning classification for the 17-acre property off U.S. 1 on Cemetery Lane in Elkridge. The Zoning Board denied Bluestream's motion and agreed to hear the case.

But Browning-Ferris is not home free because its request will again be challenged by Bluestream when the hearing reconvenes June 28.

Bluestream's managing partner, Arnold Sagner, said the group's opposition was sparked by a New York Times Magazine article six years ago that labeled that section of Route 1 the "ugliest stretch of highway in America."

"We've gone light years toward bringing this into the 20th century, and in one fell swoop, BFI is going to take us back to where we were," Mr. Sagner said during a break in the three-hour hearing.

Bluestream has owned 79 acres next to the Browning-Ferris site for 20 years, and investors plan to develop a warehouse and distribution center there.

David Carney, a Columbia zoning attorney representing Bluestream, vigorously cross-examined Browning-Ferris' witnesses on land planning, waste management and traffic last night, and he plans to present expert witnesses opposing the proposed facility when the hearing re-convenes June 28.

The proposed 21,000 square-foot facility would provide an enclosed area where garbage collection trucks could dump their loads, which would be compacted into 25-ton tractor-trailer loads for shipment to landfills or incinerators outside of the Baltimore area.

In arguing for dismissal at the opening of the hearing, Mr. Carney charged that the rezoning petition was invalid because the county's 10-year solid waste management plan, approved June 6 by the County Council, has not been approved by County Executive Charles I. Ecker or the Maryland Department of the Environment. The solid waste zoning category allows only facilities that conform to the plan.

Mr. Carney also argued that the board would not have enough time to deliberate on the proposal before the Sept. 13 primary election, when the zoning board recesses until new County Council members take office.

County Council members serve as the Zoning Board.

After a closed-door consultation with senior assistant county solicitor F. Todd Taylor, the board denied the motion and allowed the case to proceed. Board chairman Paul Farragut said reasons for the denial would be spelled out in the final zoning decision.

The proposed transfer station could become the key to the county's 10-year solid waste plan which calls for temporarily shipping the county's trash out of the area to allow for closing of the contaminant-leaking Alpha Ridge Landfill in Marriottsville.

Browning-Ferris intends to ship trash from the facility to a regional landfill in Morgantown, Pa., and to another landfill in King and Queen County, Va.

While trash is shipped for about three years, the Howard plan calls for the county to join in a regional waste plan with other Baltimore-area jurisdictions. Failing that, the county would consider other options, including long-term shipping of waste.

County officials had considered building a public waste-transfer facility, but decided to drop the proposal from next year's capital budget, in part because of Browning-Ferris' plans to build a private facility.

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