Planning panel to arbitrate complaint by Genstar

September 21, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

The company that operates a Wakefield Valley limestone quarry won a promise yesterday that the county planning commission will arbitrate what quarry officials see as unreasonable county government staff demands.

Representatives of Genstar Stone Products Co. sprang their complaint on the Planning and Zoning Commission, leaving county staff members without an opportunity to prepare answers.

County personnel "are trying to impose on our business the same sort of demands they'd impose if a residential subdivision were coming in," said Charles O. Fisher Sr., Genstar's lawyer.

He listed as examples of what he called unreasonable staff demands: a traffic study in conjunction with the Arundel Corp., which owns nearby quarrying land; maps showing greater contour detail; schedules of activities, such as blasting, during hours of quarry operation.

"I think we need a little influence of the commission," Mr. Fisher said.

Some of the points Mr. Fisher cited, such as a schedule for blasting, were requested by the planning commission in January 1993 after a site tour and public meeting.

John H. Gease, Genstar's technical services director, said the site development plan is designed to be an "end of mine" plan, showing in general what the quarrying operation proposes to do until the site is exhausted. He said some details cannot be specified, such as the timing of a new crushing plant, which will depend on how good business is.

Genstar asked the commission not to require proof of permits until the company is ready to make a change requiring a permit. Mr. Gease said a state permit to move a stream is good for only two years, so the quarry doesn't want to apply for one until it is ready to open a pit that will require redirecting the stream.

Quarry officials also asked the commission to waive a staff requirement to identify all wetlands on the property; approve the quarry's plans, subject to final design review when it puts the plans into effect; waive a detailed map requirement; and accept the company's interpretation of landscaping requirements, which differs from the staff's.

Neil M. Ridgely, the county landscaping program manager, disagreed with the idea that the landscaping requirements are unreasonable. "I feel it is extremely important that the community needs to be buffered from a mining operation," he said.

Mr. Ridgely, who was not at the commission meeting, said he didn't like having no chance to offer his views on the landscaping issue.

Edmund "Ned" Cueman, the county planning director, said Mr. Fisher declined to say why he wanted time on the commission's agenda and that as a result, the staff was not prepared to respond.

Mr. Fisher said he told Mr. Cueman, "I just wanted to discuss Genstar."

The commission asked Genstar to submit its version of a site development plan that meets county requirements. The commission staff will have 90 days to review the plan and comment.

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