BGE, residents at odds over buffer for pond

November 21, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

The Solley community is challenging Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s interpretation of where a buffer to shield residents from the utility's Marley Neck fly ash landfill and storm water pond should start.

BGE says the buffer of trees and shrubs should begin at the existing edge of Solley Road. Solley is tentatively scheduled to be widened by about 50 feet, with the land coming from the utility's side of the road. Residents believe a county Board of Appeals ruling indicates that the buffer should start from the edge of the widened Solley.

The relationship between the community and the utility, which owns and operates the 41.4-acre Chestnut Hill landfill to collect ash from nearby coal-fired generators, has been tense for some time. At residents' behest, the County Council passed legislation restricting fly ash operations in the county.

The widening of the road would leave a 35- to 40-foot buffer between traffic and BGE's planned 50,000-square-foot storm water management pond.

"The pond is out into the buffer," said Carl Hackmann, a spokesman for the Coalition of Communities and Citizens Against Fly Ash.

Mr. Hackmann said the community wants BGE's storm water pond moved farther back onto the utility's property. But talks between the two haven't produced an agreement.

"[That] just emphasizes the fact that they are not willing to bend an inch," he said.

BGE spokesmen said the pond's location is restricted by land characteristics and that the utility has no plans to move the site. Work on the pond will begin soon.

Also at issue is what the Board of Appeals meant when it ordered an 80-foot buffer in June, after the community had appealed a BGE grading permit for the site that includes where )) the pond would be. Wording in the opinion requires a buffer "as has been maintained for the previous grading permit," which was for a neighboring site. That buffer takes the proposed widening into account, Mr. Hackmann said.

Solley Road will have to be widened when development occurs nearby so that it meets the Adequate Facilities Law. But no one knows when the development will start.

Becki Kurdle, vice president for planning at BGE's subsidiary Constellation Real Estate Group, said no decision has been made on where the land will come from for the Solley Road widening.

The community coalition has asked the Board of Appeals to clarify its ruling, but the board does not give opinions on its opinions. Coalition members also have gone to the county's Permit Application Center. Director Frank W. Ward wrote the coalition that he goes by the wording of the board's order.

Now, the coalition is asking the county's legal office for help.

Robert M. Pollock, senior assistant county attorney, said he will ask the board's attorney to poll the board members who considered the case. The board is not obligated to respond.

He also said he will discuss the issue with Permit Application Center officials, but most likely will not take up the matter with BGE or with fly ash opponents.

"I don't want either one telling me what they think," he said. "We want to do what's right."

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