Anne Arundel, Baltimore counties likely to OK composting plant

March 30, 1995|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Officials of Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties are expected to approve next month an agreement that would clear the way for construction of a $5.9 million regional composting plant near Jessup for yard debris from those counties and Howard County.

Howard officials already have approved the unprecedented pact. Previous attempts by large suburban Maryland counties to cooperate on waste disposal have flopped, with no jurisdiction willing to take another's debris.

Anne Arundel's administration is to introduce the 20-year agreement at the County Council meeting Monday, said James Pittman, the county's deputy solid waste chief. That is the same day Baltimore County officials are to vote on it.

Anne Arundel County Council members are expected to vote on it April 17. County Executive John G. Gary said he expected the legislation to pass.

"What we want to do is be ready for the leaves in October. We'll be able to do that," said Lee Zuni, program director for environmental monitoring and waste management at the Maryland Environmental Service. The quasi-governmental agency is designing and building the plant in Howard County.

Anne Arundel is to send half of the grass clippings, leaves and brush it collects every year to the plant, which will be able to process about 30,000 tons of yard debris annually. The county will continue to send yard waste to two other places, Top-Pro International in Gambrills and the Prince George's County composting facility near Upper Marlboro.

Top-Pro has not been able to take as much waste as expected, and county officials fear that Prince George's will turn away debris from outside that county someday.

Meanwhile, Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary is considering asking the council to allow composting facilities in certain agricultural districts, Mr. Pittman said. They are allowed in heavy industrial districts.

A broader zoning bill that included a similar proposal died last year.

Under the tri-county agreement, Anne Arundel will pay $36.17 per ton to dump yard waste at the plant. Because the county is contributing the most yard waste, it will get the most compost in return.

Anne Arundel will get half of the 10,000 cubic yards made available to the counties annually, and Baltimore and Howard counties will split the remaining 5,000, Mr. Pittman said. Whatever's left over gets sold.

Baltimore County will be obligated to deposit at least 7,000 tons of yard waste each year, about one-third of its total collection. Howard County, which approved the pact on March 6, agreed to send a minimum of 8,000 tons a year.

The operation will have open-air rows of compost about 8 feet wide, 6 to 8 feet high and 50 to 200 feet long, according to the Maryland Environmental Service. Compost rows will be turned periodically by a machine. The yard waste becomes compost in 120 to 180 days, depending on weather.

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