In its final session, County Council OKs waste management guide for the future

October 30, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

The Harford County Council unanimously approved a 10-year, countywide solid waste management plan Thursday in its final legislative session before the general election Nov. 8.

The 500-page document, which was 2 1/2 years in the making, establishes the goals, policies and plan of action for managing solid waste disposal in Harford County through 2004.

It will serve as a guide for waste reduction, recycling, collection and disposal, alternatives to landfills and landfill use.

"It seemed for a long time that we might never get to this night, with all our revisions," said council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, who sponsored the legislation.

"But once this [revision] is enacted . . . no longer can anyone say it is a hard document to follow. It will be comprehensive and organized, and it will say where we are today and have a vision for the county for the future."

"It will be one of the landmarks for this council," Mr. Wilson said before voting in his final meeting as head of the council.

The measure -- actually a revision of the previous solid waste plan -- was two years overdue. The Maryland Department of the Environment requires a revision of the document every 10 years and a review of it every two years.

The county's last comprehensive revision of the plan was in 1982, and its last review was in 1988.

Among other things, the new plan increases to 50 percent the amount of Harford waste to be recycled by 2004. It also requires any new rubble landfills to be publicly owned and subject to county regulations.

Private rubble fills have been a source of controversy in the county because they are regulated by interstate commerce laws rather than local government.

The new law also authorizes periodic household hazardous waste collection days in the county. The first will be in July.

The administration of County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann initially had balked at moving ahead with the 10-year plan when it was introduced in September, noting that the Department of the Environment had not finished reviewing a draft plan.

But council members insisted that the plan could be enacted now and revised by resolution later if state officials objected to any part of it.

"I think we've made the next council's job easier by giving it a base from which to work," Mr. Wilson said.

In their final session, council members also unanimously approved two bills authorizing the county to share with the state in the $2.5 million purchase of Swan Harbor Farm near Havre de Grace.

The 467-acre farm, just south of the city, will be purchased from the Johns Hopkins University as part of an open space program to protect Chesapeake Bay shoreline property.

Swan Harbor Farm is one of the last undeveloped properties in the county beside the bay. It includes more than a half-mile of shoreline, county Parks and Recreation Director Robert Staab told the council.

The legislation authorizes the county to accept $2 million in financing from the state's Program Open Space Advance Option and Purchase Fund. The remaining $500,000 will come from state open space funds allocated to Harford County.

Harford County will hold the title to the land and will be responsible for maintenance and oversight.

The state Board of Public Works approved the expenditure Oct. 19.

"It has tremendous recreational potential," said Mr. Staab, noting that suggested uses include hiking and biking trails and a living farm museum.

"It is a beautiful farm with historical aspects and we would like to maintain the character of it."

Larry Klimovitz, the county director of administration, said Parks and Recreation will put together a plan by the end of the year on how the property might be developed over the years.

He added that "we will take as much community input as we can get on future use."

Councilman Robert S. Wagner said the land had potential for use aquatic education, perhaps in conjunction with the Harford Board of Education.

Councilwoman Susan Heselton, an avid bird-watcher, suggested establishing a bird-banding station there.

"Whatever its ultimate use, we're talking about environmental recreation here," Mr. Wilson said. "This gives us the opportunity to put the 'parks' back in 'parks and recreation,' " he said.

The farm is the major portion of a 522-acre tract donated to Hopkins in 1986 by W. John Kenney, a Washington lawyer who owned it for more than 30 years and had used it as a summer home for his family.

The remaining 55 acres of the property, zoned for industrial development, will remain under Hopkins ownership.

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