Wilson presses for 10-year waste plan

October 09, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

In what is shaping up to be Jeffrey Wilson's last battle with the Rehrmann administration during his presidency, the Harford County Council president has proposed legislation to adopt the county's 10-year solid-waste management plan.

The huge document, 2 1/2 years in the making, is long overdue, Mr. Wilson said at a public hearing Tuesday. The last comprehensive revision of the plan was in 1982 and the last review was in 1988.

The Maryland Department of the Environment mandates revising the document every 10 years and reviewing it every two years, he said.

It is meant to outline the goals and policies for the county in managing solid-waste disposal. As such, it is a guide for waste reduction, recycling, collection and disposal of wastes, alternatives to landfills and landfill use.

Goals through 2004

The last of its five chapters is devoted to a plan of action that recommends implementation of the county's goals through the year 2004.

Among other things, the plan proposes increasing to 50 percent the amount of county waste to be recycled by 2004. It also states that any new rubble landfills will be under public ownership. Private rubble fills have been a source of controversy in the county because they are regulated by interstate commerce laws rather than local government.

Administration officials say it's too soon to move on the &r legislation. They note that the state Department of the Environment only recently sent the county 19 pages of comments after reviewing the draft plan.

"The administration feels it's premature to move on the plan until all those comments have been considered and reviewed," said George Harrison, a spokesman for County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann.

"Our plan has always been to get comments from the ad hoc committee and MDE first and then meld them all together before putting the legislation before the council," said Larry Klimovitz, director of administration.

But at Tuesday's council hearing, members of the administration's Ad Hoc Committee on Solid Waste, appointed by Mrs. Rehrmann more than two years ago to add community input to the plan, urged the council to pass the document as it is.

"We have worked several years on this plan and great detail has been written on it," said Bob Dillon, an environmental activist and committee member. "We have had lots of meetings and workshops, and MDE is requiring its completion. I urge the council to move on it now."

He agreed with Mr. Wilson that any changes to the plan suggested by the Department of the Environment after its passage could be added later by resolution.

"The solid-waste management plan is meant to be a highly flexible plan and it's supposed to be reviewed every two years," Mr. Wilson said. "Given that we began work in the spring of 1992, this should be the second time it is before this council."

"If one thing good comes out of this plan, it is that we will handle our own waste," Mr. Dillon said after the hearing. He said that if all new landfills are public, as the plan proposes, the county can limit waste from other counties and control where the landfills are located.

E9 The plan also appears to have strong council support.

'It's ready to go'

"I would like to have the MDE comments available to us now, but we don't and it's essential that we go ahead and pass the bill," said Philip Barker, D-District F. "It would be a great task for a new council to undertake."

Theresa Pierno, D-District C, agreed. "We're supposed to review this document every two years. It's constantly updated," she said. "But what we're dealing with now is a very old document. The longer we put it off, the harder it is."

"This document probably cost the county $180,000," said Robert Wagner, R-District E. He noted that the first consultants hired to write it were dismissed, paid and replaced by a second firm. "It's ready to go. We can make amendments to it later. I'm going with it," he said.

The council would have to vote on the plan by Oct. 27 to pass it before a new council takes office.

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